Old memes die hard. The elites of both political major parties are continuing to try to lay John McCain's 2008 defeat at Sarah Palin's feet, while those with clearer heads have risen to dispel that ridiculous myth. Meanwhile, another meme has surfaced, one which some myopic conservatives are voicing to put the blame for Mitt Romney's impending nomination on Gov. Palin as well. I can't believe the myopia of those who claim, "This was her year," and that her decision not to jump into the 2012 GOP presidential race led us to this sad situation where Republicans are about to crown yet another uninspiring moderate as their presidential nominee. Make no mistake: If Romney loses the general election, many will blame Sarah. This is nonsense.
In the month of September, Sarah Palin obviously realized just how much the fix was in for Romney. The tens of millions of dollars Mitt spent to destroy Newt Gingrich -- twice, after the former Speaker had worked his way to the top of the polls each time -- would have been directed against Sarah Palin had she jumped into the race in October. With mostly small donors, she would not have been able to fight off those “scorched earth” attacks. Romney did much the same to Rick Santorum, remember, and he didn't have to spend as much to pull it off.
Gov. Palin also likely realized that the Republican Media (NRO, Human Events, The American Spectator, Townhall, Hot Air, et al) would have gleefully piled on with the Mittwits against her. In addition she knew that Mitt would have the endorsements of elected Republicans, including some she had herself endorsed in 2010. The media would have had a field day exploiting a situation in which those she had endorsed, including Ayotte, Haley and others, chose not to endorse her, but to back Romney instead. With both major political parties' establishments and the media elite against her, Sarah Palin would have faced overwhelming political odds. Had she made a presidential run in 2012, she would have suffered much the same fate as Gingrich. and by so doing, she would have risked any chance she might have had for a political future.
It is not easy to see some of the harsher political realities from inside the comfort zone where many Palin supporters live. To them, she could have vanquished any opponent, overcome the corrupt media and GOP establishment, and pulled off a major political miracle to capture the Republican Party's nomination. She would have then marched on defeat Obama in the November general election without even breaking a sweat. After all, she did the impossible in Alaska six years ago. Despite all she accomplished there, however, we must not forget that a relatively small group of leftist bloggers and serial complaint-filers managed to exploit weakness in that state's laws to tie her administration in knots. The national media used that situation to fashion its narrative of Gov. Palin, and, much as Romney's super pac used a false narrative to drive down the favorable ratings of Gingrich and Santorum, Obama's media drove down Sarah Palin's favorables among independent voters.
This is not to say that perceptions cannot be changed. They can, but it takes time. Three years was not enough time. Seven years may well be time enough. Eleven years, surely. Even Richard Nixon managed to rehabilitate himself, and he did it twice. By staying out of the rigged 2012 election, Gov. Palin remains a threat for 2016 if Mitt loses, which is very likely to happen. If he should manage to win, Romney would be remiss not to offer her a cabinet-level position. She would really shine as Secretary of the Interior, a job for which her qualifications are impeccable. The addition to her resume would make her even more formidable in 2016 or 2020. Sarah is smarter than your average bear.