Playtime is over

Sarah Palin, 5 Sept 2011 The woman who opened the door for the Tea Party

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Sarah Palin's decision will have disappointed some.

Not the American people who clearly didn't like her as John McCain's running mate in 2008. Not Republicans: 72% of party supporters did not want her to run.

Some are fervent supporters, of course. One says America doesn't deserve her.

But the disappointed are mainly journalists who yearned for this colourful character to enliven the Republican race.

British journalists in particular, who knew that she embodied just about everything the British left loves to hate about the American right.

Come to that, I can't think of many British conservatives who would want her at their conference.

But for a certain type of Brit she is as good as a ghost story to send shivers up the spine, a spookily attractive perfect fright night.

Shriekily filled with venom against a president she branded a socialist and suggested was un-American; in love with guns, God and the unborn; apparently ignorant of the outside world; indeed not fully clued up on the lower 48 (the USA outside Alaska); she was portrayed as a caricature of American conservatism at its crudest.

What her decision is not, is a surprise.

I will come clean.

I always thought her motivation was political, and disagreed with those who thought she was stringing this out for stardom or money.

I still think it is true belief that drives her, albeit tinged with a heavy dose of self-promotion and a measure of self-interest.

But she must have seen what was obvious.

Not just that she could never win the presidency, but she could never win the Republican nomination.

It must be galling. She's too glam to play a good John the Baptist.

But her vice-presidential run was the first public manifestation of the Tea Party spirit, and she opened the way for their existence.

The political phenomena of Palin made a certain narrative about Obama, not just acceptable but essential on the Republican right.

As a result we have Michele Bachmann in the race. Herman Cain in the race. Rick Perry in the race.

They are all more authentic, more intelligent, more acceptable than Palin.

Her candidacy would have made a few days brighter for the likes of me, but would have made little difference.

She wouldn't have outshone her opponents, only put four more paws and a few sharper claws into the cat fight on the right.

Romney would have smiled ever harder, and looked on with even greater glee than he observes the current conflict.

With Christie out of the race as well, playtime is over.

It is Mitt versus somebody, almost certainly Perry. This is the way it is.

Will we miss the spills, the thrills, the glamour and the charisma?

You betcha!

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Mind you Mitt Romney is pretty far out too- I mean he is a mormon!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Who is Beth Cha? Orthography please. You betcha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @14 Most people said similar things about civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam war protests, but history came to realise those people were on the side of justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Let's see... What choices have Democrats still left?

    Ah, Obama, Obama, and Obama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Does this mean she['s going back to Alaska?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why no thread on the far more important story on the death of Steve Jobs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    ref #9

    Most of us see thee people as self entitled bums want frebies and refusing to get a job.

    There are jobs(unglamarous) out there.

    Having the unions and Michael Moore on your side does not resonate with most of America.

    Most of America is anti union and anti entitlement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Herman Cain and Mitt Romney have more to lose by siding with the protesters than by going against their financial backers from Wall Street. They calculate, probably correctly, that these people are not significant in elections, and especially not the primaries, because it is unlikely they will vote in large numbers. If you want them to effect real change, you've got to get them to the ballot box!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    "More intelligent", Bachmann, Perry, Mr. 999? How low can you go and still look up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Herman Cain called the activists "jealous" and "un-American"

    I can't think of a more American thing to do than to peacefully protest for what you believe in

    former Mass Governor Mitt Romney was quoted as calling the protest "class warfare"

    Peaceful protest is the root of democracy

    Even if Congress doesn't want to work together
    Americans do

    The protests are bringing USA together

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Palin's a charmer but USA is a big challenge right now on many fronts

    Foremost the economy's so rough a lot of people wouldn't want to be President + inherit such

    Congress is at its lowest approval rating in USA history- Repubs and Dems both- less than 10%

    Thousands of Americans are now taking to the streets to peacefully protest in support of American jobs + against corporate greed

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Herman Cain called the activists "jealous" and "un-American" on Wednesday at a book signing in Florida.

    On Tuesday former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was quoted as calling the protest "class warfare" while campaigning in Florida.

    In all honesty being against the protesters will likely lose a lot of votes

    Choosing Wall St over Main St is not very popular right now after bailouts etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Mark, first time poster though I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and must say I love your insights.
    While you say the British media are the ones who will miss Palin's campaign the most, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will be equally deprived. Both will miss the comedic material Ms. Palin provides, though Mr. Perry is sure to do his best to fill that void.
    Keep up the good work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    @6 Romney and Perry both lacking a base. They have plenty of money, but their support is based on favouring the "likely candidate," or lack of enthusiasm for others. Cain's picking up, but foreign policy lets him down. Ron Paul's gaining a lot of support from "Blue Dems" dissatisfied with Obama registering GOP, so he could ghost in unexpectedly. Esp. if he gets Gary Johnson onto his ticket!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Forget Romney and Perry. It's Herman Cain that is about to emerge as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, don't be surprised to see Sarah Palin in a cabinet position if/when the Republicans win, her political career is far from over, this is merely the beginning...

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The reality of what the Tea Party is to its adherents is incredibly different from the caricatures portrayed in the media. The politics of the Tea Party, if adopted, would prove quite dangerous for vested interests in the media. This explains the media's attempts to downplay its significance and denigrate participants as extreme, quasi-fascist fringe thinkers. It's anything but these things.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Sarah Palin is a political joke. It's a shame that she's even being given coverage by grown up media outlets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I think you're mistaken Mark. The Tea party started with a money bomb Ron Paul held on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party during his last campaign. Sarah Palin was selected to be John McCain's running mate in order to co-opt these votes; she was also to help in securing female votes, and was more malleable than Ron Paul. Except Katie Couric exposed the cause of her malleability; stupidity!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    What a pity. The more of them who run, the less likely is any one to get the nomination and the presidency


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