This is Sarah Palin’s big week. Her book is out. She’s doing Oprah and Barbara. She’s got a bus and is hitting the road (Ft. Wayne, Grand Rapids, Roanoke) on a book tour that looks more like a campaign swing. And her fans say this is a moment—yet another moment—in which she can redefine herself and set up a presidential run. Well, maybe. As I note at PoliticsDaily.com, polls show that while 76 percent of Republicans want her to be a national political figure, only 45 percent of Americans have that desire. And up to 71 percent of the public believes she’s unqualified to be president. There’s a Palin Gap between GOPers and the rest of the county. It’s hard to see how a few fun moments with one or two diva talk-show hosts will change these numbers.
Past is prologue. And given Palin’s past, the potential for a turnaround seems low. Mark Murray, the savvy deputy political editor of NBC News, has compiled a useful reminder of her greatest—or worst—hits of the past year.
* Immediately after the presidential contest was over, McCain campaign officials told reporters about Palin committing apparent acts of insubordination, like her unprecedented (and rejected) request to deliver her own concession speech
* In March, Levi Johnston—the father of her grandchild—announced that he and Palin’s daughter, Bristol, had ended their relationship
* In April, Palin’s spokeswoman criticized Johnston’s tell-all appearance on the “Tyra Banks Show,” saying: “We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration and even distortion of their relationship.
* Also in April, the Alaska legislature voted to reject Palin’s pick for state attorney general, Wayne Anthony Ross, who had been criticized for calling gays and lesbians “degenerates.”
* In June, after comedian David Letterman made a crude joke about one of her daughters, Palin fired back calling his comments “sexually perverted,” while her husband Todd said, “Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable.” Letterman later apologized.
*Also in the summer, Vanity Fair published a devastating article that recounted her troubles during and after the presidential campaign.
* And after all of that, Palin shocked the world in July when she resigned from office—with some 18 months left in her first term.
Palin offered a rambling explanation for her retreat from Juneau: “A good point guard…drives through a full-court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket. And she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And that is what I’m doing.”
Murray notes that her resignation did not end the embarrassments:
* In August, the Alaska legislature voted to override her veto of $28.6 million in federal stimulus funds.
* This fall, in that attention-grabbing special congressional election in New York, she led the charge of national Republicans endorsing the third-party conservative candidate over the more liberal GOP nominee. But that divide helped a Democrat win the seat.
Last month, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 27 percent of Americans have a positive view of her. That was a drop of five points since her resignation, and 19 points since John McCain picked her as his running mate.
Can a book tour boost Palin’s credibility as a possible presidential candidate? That’s a tough mission—especially when the book being pushed is called Going Rogue. How many Americans want a rogue president? No doubt, Palin will sell a lot of books. But there’s still plenty of doubt that Palin can sell Palin.
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