Since Governor Palin's On the Record appearance Tuesday night, the blogosphere and media outlets have been buzzing with opinions that she's not running for president in 2012. Her conversation with Greta Van Susteren left some to ponder, perhaps more than ever, if she has decided not to relinquish her freedom--not to be shackled--for the sake of a title. Comments left in various and sundry places revealed that some people were angry, some were confused, some were frustrated, while some remained encouraged. No one was unmoved, however. No one was without some type of reaction. No one was neutral. It was, quite simply, that consequential an interview, if for no other reason than that viewers deemed it so.
I saw the same interview everyone else saw. I saw the full interview twice, and I saw portions of it several times. Allow me to offer my perspective. Please note that this is just a theory. It is one that some will dismiss immediately, and perhaps that's the deserved response. However, it may also be a theory that some will think long and hard about, and I'd like to think there's merit in that as well. Which category you fall into remains to be seen.
Last night, as I rewatched the Governor's exchange with Greta, something jumped out at me that had not caught my attention the first time. It begins at 9:25 into the video. Please watch it again. Governor Palin says:
Through my process of decision-making with my family and with my close friends as to whether I should throw my name in the hat for the GOP nomination or not for 2012, is a title worth it...does a title shackle a person? Are they--someone like me who's maverick, you know, I do go rogue, and I call it like I see it, and I don't mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively and to find solutions to the problems that our country is facing, somebody like me--is a title and is a campaign too shackling? Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box, not allowing handlers to shape me and to force my message to be what donors or what contributors or what political pundits want it to be? Does a title take away my freedom to call it like I see it and to effect positive change that we need in this country? That's the biggest contemplation piece in my process.
So here's my theory, which I offer in the form of a question: Is it possible that Governor Palin is contemplating a third party/Independent run for the presidency in 2012? Is it possible that the title she's referring to, that she repeatedly says she doesn't need, is not the title of President of the United States, as some are fearing, but rather the title she mentions in the above quote: GOP nominee? Again, some will dismiss this idea automatically because 1) it doesn't make sense in their political minds, 2) success would be a nearly impossible task, or 3) she said previously she wasn't in favor of such a strategy.
To point one, I offer this: she's unconventional and has prognosticated, "Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process." What would be more unconventional than what I am theorizing?
To point two, Neil Cavuto offers this perspective on the prospects of a third party success story:
How many outside-the-Petri dish candidates would have made it if so many weren't so busy insisting they couldn't possibly make it?
Me? I can't take it.
Remember, no one has voted.
So I hardly think it fair anyone's voted off.
Besides, we could do worse than looking for our next leader outside the usual Petri dish...
Furthermore, Governor Palin told Greta she believes she can win. She said she wouldn't even be considering running without that confidence. Does that confidence disappear when she contemplates a third party run? I think not. I submit, rather, that she believes she has the name recognition, the record, and the boots on the ground to win period.
To point 3, let's have Governor Palin speak for herself. She told Sean Hannity as recently as June:
You know what? A year ago, I would have said, "Please don't even consider a third party. We've got to sure up what is good and strong and principled within the Republican Party, and we've got to run on a Republican ticket, stand strong on the planks and a strong platform that is the GOP." Well, I think conditions have changed in this last year...Well, too many in the GOP are still resistant and resisting that movement of this new crop of common sense conservatives. And if they're not careful in the GOP, there will be a third party rise-up, just like back in the day when the Whigs finally went away and Republicans rose up. That is what the GOP should be fearing today: the electorate will get fed up with business as usual in the GOP, and a third party will rise up--not that I want to see that because I still have belief, strongly, that the GOP planks are best for our country, but just the machine that runs the GOP has got to be very careful.
See that video here.
This takes us back to her conversation with Greta Tuesday night. Her biggest contemplation--perhaps what she's been struggling with and what's been delaying her decision--is whether securing the GOP nomination title is worth the cost of being shackled to the machine, to the establishment--with all its cronyism, permanent middle class pandering, and resistance to common sense conservatism. In other words, there's too much business as usual going on. Perhaps this is Governor Palin's struggle. And yes, Greta did go on to discuss that one could be more effective as President than on the sidelines. And yes, the Governor responded to Greta by insisting she could have an impact regardless. But what did the Governor then say? She commented that one must decide, "Which is the place for that candidate to be?" She spoke about the process of decision-making a candidate endures, not a private citizen simply deciding whether or not to be a candidate. Is it possible she and Greta were having two different conversations? You decide.
Some supporters went to bed discouraged after the interview, and some were furious, for they thought Governor Palin, when talking about "which is the place" to be, meant inside or outside the race altogether. I'm suggesting that maybe "the place" she's pondering is something completely different. I'm suggesting she might be pondering whether she should fight this battle for America's future inside the Party or outside, if she should take the road less traveled, as Robert Frost would say, or go the way most others have gone and all are expected to go.
Governor Palin intends to do things her way, for her previous national experience as a GOP candidate left her with a bad taste in her mouth. Did she not mention to Greta the 2008 VP campaign in which she was "being molded, being shaped...being caricatured by those around [her], which prohibits the freedom that one needs to really make a difference, and influence, and begin some aggressive debate that is needed"? Indeed, she did.
Again, this is simply my theory, for I certainly have no inside information. Each of you must weigh its value for yourself. If nothing else, it should provoke some thought and hopefully some conversation. As for me, upon watching the interview the second time, I no longer felt the suffocating blanket of heaviness that rained down via social media comments Tuesday night. Instead, I felt encouraged that Governor Palin is in a struggle to decide, not whether to right America's ship, but the best possible method she should use to do so--and this is as weighty a decision as the first.
Is it possible I'm wrong about this whole thing? Sure it is. But is it possible that I might be on to something? The answer to this is the same as the first. I don't know which road Governor Palin will take in all this, but I am certain of this one thing: wherever the road leads her, she'll find me still walking beside her when she arrives.