Now that the election is over, it’s not too soon to contemplate Sarah Palin’s future in national politics.

Though she’s only been on the national stage for less than three months, I’ve seen enough to proffer a point of view.   I think the evidence is clear: Sarah Palin was a huge net drag on the ticket.  I’ll concede that she energized the conservative base, and was a firebrand on the stump, but she also drove away moderates and independents by the bushel.  Does anyone doubt that the race would have been tighter with Mitt Romney on the ticket?

Her appalling interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric revealed a total lack of preparedness for the commander in chief position, and effectively torpedoed McCain’s chances in the blink of an eye.

But the critical question is: did she torpedo her own political future at the national level? Or can she be a viable candidate in either 2012 or beyond.

The answer may lie in another question: did she stumble because she lacked the requisite experience at the national level, or was it because she simply doesn’t have the native intellect, temperament and gravitas to be a player.

I think it’s a little of both.  She was green, and her inexperienced showed — no doubt about it.  She made a bunch of rookie mistakes that are common to newcomers.

But she also had waaaay too many Dan Quayle moments, and those had nothing to do with her inexperience, and everything to do with her limited intellect and gravitas.

And it’s hard to acquire intellect and gravitas.  Sure, she can spend the next four years boning up on domestic policy, meeting with world leaders, inserting herself into the national dialogue, and so on.  But where does that leave the Republican Party:  with an intellectually insular, govern by the gut, it’s-my-way-or-the-highway governor with a missionaries zeal.  Sound familar?  I’m not sure Republicans want to go through that again.  I’m positive the country doesn’t want to head down that path again.

At the end of the day, she has the misfortune of closely resembling President Bush, and irrespective of what happens over the next four years, the party is likely to move away from the Bush/Palin model and towards a more intellectually curious, magnanimous, secular, policy-wonk type.  Maybe someone like Louisianna Governor Bobby Jindal.

If she runs in 2012, she can certainly make noise in the Republican primaries.  Iowa would be fertile ground for her, as would South Carolina.   But I just don’t see her as a legitimate contender, at least not the next time around.

  • Joshua

    Volokh Conspiracy’s Todd Zywicki suggested that Palin might not even want to run in 2012 simply because family demands will be too great:

    Let’s face it–a person with 5 kids, including a special-needs child, can take off two months of her life and run for Vice-President. And let’s further face it–Vice-President is not that hard of a job. But taking off two years away from home to trudge around Iowa and New Hampshire? Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to do that[.]

    That she’s not calling for Ted Stevens to resign his Senate seat could be another indicator that she’s not interested in the national stage. It seems to me that the seat would be hers if she wanted it, and that it would be the best route to gaining national credibility.

  • How in the hell did John McCain get the nomination? His campaign was on life support-he was done. I agree, Romney or even Huckabee would have been a better choice. Just didn’t look right. And choosing Palin? Well, it may have been a landslide anyway. When continuing a very unpopular war is the centerpiece of you campaign, the vp pick probably doesn’t have much impact.

  • mike mcEachran

    Let the GOP keep her around, and lock in their reputation as the “party of the ignorant”. My god.