Sarah Palin is sometimes compared to other candidates and political figures in a way that is often unfair, unwarranted, or downright sexist. The comparisons to Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, were absurd, since the two women are dissimilar in both ideology and approach to politics. The comparisons to GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann are a little less out of right field, since they are, at least, both conservatives. But Bachmann is more appropriately compared to fellow Minnesotan and GOP primary rival Tim Pawlenty than she is to Palin; linking the two women reduces both to sex symbols—or rather, gender symbols. And comparisons to Republican heavyweights such as Ronald Reagan are also inappropriate, since while Palin has a devoted following, she has not displayed the consistent galvanizing power of someone like Reagan. Surely, there is no reason to believe she will have such an historical impact.
So to whom should Palin be compared? Increasingly, the answer is LeBron James.
Palin still hasn’t revealed whether or not she is running for president, and the dance—with or without the stars—is getting a little tiresome. But like James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers to play basketball for the Miami Heat, Palin is reveling in the drama. And the theater is beginning to overwhelm the actual substance of a possible candidacy. [See political cartoons on Sarah Palin.]
Palin attended a screening of a movie about her this week, adding fuel to speculation that she would announce. Her daughter Bristol, meanwhile, herself practiced in playing the press corps, told Fox News that her mother has "definitely" decided whether or not she will run. She’s just not telling any of us yet. What will we see next—some sort of Fox special during which Palin, like James, sits for an extended and deliberately excruciating "interview" before revealing her choice? That stunt by James added insult to the injury Clevelanders suffered when he abandoned the team and its fans. [Check out photos of Sarah Palin and her family.]
Arguably, Palin benefits from being coy about her presidential ambitions; as long as people think she might run, they’ll continue to contribute to her PAC. But if she’s serious about running, she might learn from the fallout of James’ high-drama move. And the Heat, after all, lost to Dallas in Game Six in the NBA playoffs.