Sarah Palin's Spring Break
Did her trip to India and Israel signal anything about her intention to run in 2012?
It's been a busy few days for Sarah Palin. After the New York Times ran an unflattering article about her Alaskan energy legacy late last week, Palin struck back on Facebook with an extensive note. ("The New York Times just can't seem to get much of anything right lately. No wonder they're facing economic and reputation woes.") Her energy bona fides would be a major part of any Palin presidential campaign, and so her quickness to defend them seems telling. Then again, maybe media criticism will be a greater part of her evolving future role at Fox News.
More importantly, there was Palin's big trip abroad. In India, the first stop, she warned of the looming Chinese threat and took President Obama to task for "dithering" on Libya, with talking points that came across as stump-speech warm-ups (even if they could use a bit more burnishing). Palin also said that it's time for a woman to become president; it's doubtful she means frenemy (at least in our imagination) Michele Bachmann, who might be trying to steal Palin's thunder.
Israel is the destination that most strongly signals she's shoring up support among evangelicals and looking for a quick pump of foreign policy cred. While touring the Western Wall, Palin said she thinks Israel is too conciliatory toward Arab nations—a hawkish, whistle-to-the-base stance indeed. Even though she kept her visit as private as possible, reporters still caught her in a minor blunder: Her team scheduled a trip to Bethlehem, but had to turn back literally at the checkpoint after they realized they'd failed to make the necessary formal request for permission to visit the holy sites, a move that doesn't exactly reflect well on the organization's execution skills. More crucially, her visit to Israel—unlike the visit of nearly every other Republican politician—was not organized through the Republican Jewish Committee, an influential behind-the-scenes group that raises tons of money, notes Salon's Alex Pareene. (Palin doesn't like David Frum, among other RJC members.)
Stateside, there was another bump on the potential road to the White House for Palin. We've known for a while the conservatives intellectuals have abandoned Palin, but William Kristol was more blunt than ever on the topic of Palin at Vanderbilt University: "I think she's unlikely to be the Republican nominee, and to be honest I think she probably shouldn't be the Republican nominee for president," he said, adding that he thinks she's "unlikely" to run. And so the Palin Meter ticks ever-so-slightly down to 53 percent; even Palin's best efforts abroad expose the obstacles to her nomination at home.
Previous Palin Meter Readings
Tuesday, March 8, 2011: 35 percent
Monday, March 7, 2011: 40 percent
Friday, March 3, 2011: 45 percent
Noreen Malone is a staff writer for the New Republic.