Guest Submission by John Smith
“And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him”- Sun Tzu
Everyone is getting all wee-weed up lately about Sarah Palin’s supposed indecision about a run for President, especially after her interview last night with Greta. Some here are nearly suicidal. Others are begging for people to have faith and keep their powder dry. For my part, I’ll just offer a simple statement: Sarah Palin has already decided to run for President.
Suppose that you, like me, believe that she believes what she says. Phrases like ‘I’d rather sleep well than eat well’ and ‘a ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built’ aren’t empty slogans. They’re words that capture the essence of a life lived so far. In this world, Sarah remains UNDEFEATED if she tries but fails to win. She only is defeated if she fails to try for fear of failure. Simply put, for someone like me, Sarah running makes perfect sense. Sarah not running would be tantamount to her saying ‘all those things I’ve said and done . . . never mind, THEY were right about me’. Could you see her doing that? Could you see yourself basically ‘refudiating’ so much of what is exemplary and good about your life so far.
Now, suppose that you are like Joe McGinniss. You believe that Sarah Palin is evil and manipulative. She only cares about the money. She only cares about her brand. She’s using her supporters, especially those O4P folks who have put their lives on hold chasing a false dream. When the rubber meets the road, she’ll pass. That sounds really convincing sometimes, especially if you say it enough and even more especially if you say it after an interview like Sarah had with Greta. There’s just one tiny flaw with the theory: If you believe all of that, then it makes more sense for Sarah to run. If she’s all about the money, then “alienating” an employer who pays her a million dollars a year makes no sense. If she’s all about the “brand,” then she’ll keep more of her followers by running than by not running.
In other words, in all of this talk about whether Palin will run or not, one question is NEVER asked: Does Palin have more to gain (or lose) by running or by not running? The reason that question is never asked is because, no matter your frame of reference when it comes to “analyzing” Sarah Palin, the conclusion would be the same: She’s running. She’s always been running. She has more to lose by NOT running. And, she is playing this “to be or not to be” game for a political reason that I will articulate presently:
Everyone knows that if (when) Palin runs, she will run a grassroots campaign. She will rely on deep enthusiasm among an often underestimated group of supporters and a lot of small donations to drive her campaign. Win the nomination, and the deeper pockets will come along for the ride. That pretty much was her strategy in Alaska in her run for governor in 2006. But, the beginning is the tricky part. Like 2006, she has to strike hard and fast this time in order to diminish the organizational and monetary advantages that the so-called frontrunners have.
Think of this like Blitzkrieg. The opposition is on two flanks. One or both has more resources and more immediate access to resources. How do you win? You plan well, and, when the time comes, you strike hard and fast. That’s what she’s set up. Three months ago, Sarah was facing a two front war, with Mitt Romney (the Russia of the race) on one flank and his ally Michelle Bachmann on the other flank. Why commence the battle on that field and at that moment?
As I wrote in my previous submission about Sarah being “alley cat smart” she knew that it would be tough enough to beat Romney one on one. A two-front war would be infinitely more difficult. So, she baited Perry in to neutralize Bachmann. Perry has done just that. At the same time, I suspect that she knew her friend well enough to know that he’d (a) neutralize himself and (b) be the perfect crony capitalist foil when the time comes.
And so it was that everything was in place for an entry into the race about 10 days ago, right after Perry’s debate meltdown. Yet Sarah did the oddest thing: She not only didn’t enter the race (or give strong indication that is her intention) but also gave last night an interview to Greta that dropped a lake full of water on the Palin for President fire. Why? Doesn’t she realize that the first state filing deadline is October 14? Doesn’t she realize that she’s been giving us all of these “announce by” dates, first the end of August, then the end of September, and then that talk about November with Hannity a few weeks ago? And, why does she have all these paid speeches early next month, including one in South Korea on October 11? Why? Why? Why?
Perhaps the answer is suggested best in something George Bernard Shaw once wrote: “You see things, and you say ‘Why?’ But, I dream of things that never were, and I say ‘Why not’?” Listen to this clip from an interview with Bob & Mark on November 6, 2008. Listen to Sarah talk about grassroots and about needing the mood of the country to reveal itself in the 2010 elections. Think about the new media. We often hear Sarah talk about an “unconventional campaign.” Perhaps the more appropriate description is a “revolutionary campaign,” a campaign the likes of which we never have seen and which Sarah has spent about three years envisioning and amending as conditions changed.
Here, the doubting Palinsta may interject: ‘That’s all well and good . . . why hasn’t she announced yet?’ The answer: Because until last night THEY were expecting an announcement by the end of September or first few days of October. Ooooh! The light bulb goes on. Everything crystallizes. The tactics become clear. And, here is what I expect to see over the next two weeks:
Sarah Palin will announce that she is running for President by October 9. I don’t know how she’ll do it. I don’t know where she’ll do it. She may do it in one of those speeches before her trip to South Korea. Personally, I’d announce on October 6. Let the media scramble to get to the speeches on October 7 and 8 and then turn the South Korea speech into an “all eyes on Palin” moment. Yes, she could announce later, but I’d like to think she doesn’t plan to waste that trip to South Korea. As a non-candidate, next to nobody in the country will cover it. As a candidate, everyone will cover it.
It is as a moment like this that I remember more Sun Tzu: “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment- that which they cannot anticipate.”
Sarah has set that up. After last night, what is the last thing in the world they’d expect her to do in the next 10 days? Is it, perhaps, to go relatively dark and then pop out with a surprise announcement, maybe something like a tweet that simply says #GAMEON?
At this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t interject three quick comments:
1. While I am speculating that she will announce later next week, it is entirely possible that she may wait an extra week until after the trip to South Korea but before the first filing deadline on October 14. This is, however, not what I expect for reasons previously articulated.
2. If Sarah announces before the trip to South Korea, then I do not expect her to participate in the October 11 debate. While logistically it would be feasible for her to get back just in time to attend, I doubt that she would be expected to attend under the circumstances. I would expect her first debate to be the CNN debate on October 18.
3. I don’t care whether Christie runs or not. If he doesn’t run, then that’s fine. If he does run, then he’ll hurt Romney and Perry a lot more than he’ll hurt Sarah. I keep saying this is why she keeps saying “the more, the merrier.”
Oh, by the way, I have not ignored the possibility that I could be wrong about all of this (and in the process more wrong about this than I’ve been about anything else in my life). Perhaps THEY are right about her, even though I think she’d rather die than admit this. Perhaps she sincerely has other reasons like family not to run, even though I think that “staying safe” is not why Sarah does what she does.
Ok, never mind . . . she’s running. She’s always been running. The indecision isn’t genuine; it’s feigned. The tactics may confound because they’re unconventional, but the strategy always has been obvious. “All warfare is based on deception.” “Every battle is won or lost before it is fought.” Everything is in place. She has occupied their minds with the mixed signals, and the extraordinary moment is upon us. They should have been able to anticipate it, but Sarah isn’t playing their game anymore. She’s playing her game. Still doubt me? Just look at how she approached the 2006 Alaska governor’s race (and her entry into that race), and then remember yet again that “the past is prologue” and that Sarah remains, as Tony Knowles once observed, “alley cat smart.”