Last week she gave a fireside chat that was to connect her with “average Americans,” a straight-look-into-the-camera moment for eight minutes without a cutaway or even a camera push-in or pull-out, an attempt to show that she could be “presidential” on the very day the president was in Tucson delivering one of the most compelling speeches of his life.
The Republicans, who follow politics closely, work in the campaigns, and run the party, have known for a long time that Sarah Palin could not win a general election. Their great fear was that she might just be able to win enough primaries and caucuses and Tea Partyers to get the nomination. [See editorial cartoons about Sarah Palin.]
They have watched as she has played the national press like a fiddle—how she came across on Sarah Palin’s Alaska as June Cleaver, Harriet Nelson (of Ozzie & Harriet), Annie Oakley, and Oprah all rolled into one. Republicans have watched as she stirred the passions of the right, solidified the support of local pols with her endorsements, rallied thousands to sell books and listen to her stump speech and, most important, put together the makings of a fundraising machine that would leave a Ferrari in the dust.
Scary to say the least, but not any more.
Sarah Palin, in the latest poll, trails Barack Obama by 26 percentage points (56-30 percent); in early December she was behind by 12. Only 30 percent approved of her response to the shootings in Tucson. [Photo Gallery: Gabrielle Giffords Shooting in Arizona.]
The problem for Palin is that she was way off the mark and not in the least bit presidential. Having her staffer deny there were gun cross hairs on a map was ludicrous. The “other people do it” defense from Palin, especially after Congresswoman Giffords had called her on it last year, was equally weak. The "blood libel" line was unexplainable and historically devastating. [Read Robert Schlesinger: Palin Reloads on 'Blood Libel']
Even her defense on Sean Hannity’s puff-piece TV show was pitiful. She wandered and wallowed in her own self pity, was woefully unprepared for Hannity’s soft ball questions, and showed herself to be just another self-absorbed politician. Those kinds of performances are even more dangerous when they are supposed to be set-ups! [See 10 reasons Palin would make a bad president (and 10 reasons she'd make a good one).]
So, my Republican friends, I think you can breathe easier. Sarah Palin may still run for president, but the bloom and the luster are most definitely off the rose.