Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rove thinks Palin will run (maybe)


Byron York writes:

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove says he believes former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will enter the Republican presidential race sometime around Labor Day. Appearing on Fox News Saturday morning, Rove said Palin "has a schedule next week that looks like that of a candidate, not a celebrity." Rove also cited a new campaign-style video Palin has released on her recent visit to the Iowa State Fair as evidence Palin is gearing up for a run.

Palin will be the keynote speaker at the Tea Party of America's "Restoring America" event in Iowa September 3. The event location was recently moved from Waukee, Iowa, to Indianola, Iowa to accommodate a larger crowd.

"This is her last chance," Rove said. "She either gets in or gets out [after the Iowa visit]. I think she gets in."

I think it's a mistake ever to take Rove at his word. There's always something else going on, something between the lines, some agenda he's pushing. So what's going on here?

In Republican terms, Rove is certainly anti-Palin, just as he is anti-Perry. With the latter, most of it seems to have to do with old Texas rivalries between Perry and the Bushies. With the former, most of it has to do with the fact that she's a joke. In each case, though, Rove the strategist is concerned about electability, something neither one has much of, particularly Palin. (He's not big on Bachmann either -- and of course Romney isn't a terribly popular candidate among conservatives. It's not a good time to be a smart Republican strategist. And, yes, Rove is certainly politically smart.)

But does Rove really think Palin will jump in, that's she's effectively in pre-campaign mode? Sure, she's acting like a candidate, but she's done that a lot already. Think back to the bus tour. What she craves is not so much political office but attention (and an enhancement to her celebrity status, and, of course, money), and she gets a ton of attention by tantalizing us with a possible presidential run. It's an old story by now, and we shouldn't be taken in by it. Palin can appear to be on the campaign trail, can go to Iowa and steal the spotlight, and can offer herself as GOP kingmaker -- for Perry, one would think, who gives her a way out, as she has said all along that she wouldn't run if someone else suitable were to run instead, and the two are very much on the same page. That doesn't mean she's running, just that she's being herself.

So is Rove being taken in? No, surely not. Instead, Rove's words can be taken as a warning to Palin: This is your last chance. Stop messing with Republicans. We need to get on with it. Get in the race by Labor Day or get the hell out of the way.

Sure, he says he thinks she'll do it, but she doesn't exactly have a lot of time to make up her mind, and Rove knows there's a big difference between acting like a candidate and actually launching a presidential campaign. Maybe she'll do it, but it's hard to know if Rove is actually being serious, or how serious.

But here's another possibility: Maybe Rove actually wants Palin to run as a way to split the right even further. With Palin, Perry, and Bachmann dividing conservative support, a more electable figure like Romney would have an even better shot at the nomination despite whatever low ceiling of support he may have in the party generally.

Who knows what Rove really thinks? Who knows what he's really up to?

It's all a big mystery.

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