Watchdog Blog

Gilbert Cranberg: Is Palin Going to Iowa? You Bet.

Posted at 9:15 am, July 15th, 2009
Gilbert Cranberg Mug

Will she or won’t she? Will Sarah Palin, that is, accept the Iowa GOP’s invitation to be the featured speaker at this year’s Ronald Reagan Dinner? The invitation was issued by Iowa Republican bigwigs immediately after Palin seemingly signaled an interest in a presidential run in 2012 by announcing her intent to retire as Alaska’s governor.

Will Palin show up in Iowa? Is the Pope Catholic? Of course she’ll be there, one way or another. Either she’ll headline the Reagan dinner or Iowans attending this summer’s Iowa State Fair will be tripping over Palins everywhere they turn.

Palin and the influential first-in-the nation Iowa caucuses are a match made in electoral heaven. The Iowa GOP is dominated by conservatives, the very types who are drawn to Palin. They also dominate the neighborhood caucuses. And, unlike the Iowa Democratic caucuses, which feature arcane formulas and that shun actual vote counts for candidates, the GOP caucuses produce unambiguous results. So, if Palin enters the Iowa caucuses, she will have a big base of conservative support and, when the votes are tabulated, undisputed numbers to prove it.

Why am I so cocksure that Palin will run for president in 2012? After all, the New York Times in its July 13 takeout on Palin painted a picture of a woman beset by problems and in no shape to mount a national campaign. My different take is based on faith in Harold L. Ickes’s profound insight into presidential ambition. Ickes, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s crusty long-time Interior secretary, uttered one of the sagest political truths of all time when he declared that the desire to be president is “a disease cured only by embalming fluid.”
Palin presents all the symptoms of Presidential Ambition Disease.

By quitting as Alaska’s governor she clears the decks to devote full time to a run for higher office. The announcement of her retirement came on the eve of the July 4 week-end, among the slowest news days of the year, surely calculated to assure maximum coverage. Which she was given. My hometown paper and the Times each made it the lead story and devoted to it 60 precious column inches, complete with big flattering pictures of Palin.

This is not the mark of a woman pining for Wasilla. Rather, it’s the sign of a galloping case of PAD — and further evidence that shrewd Harold L. Ickes knew whereof he spoke.

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