Seriously, however, if I were Sarah Palin, I'd seek out the advice of Dick Armey. When I was up in New York to cover the Doug Hoffman campaign, I asked Armey -- off-the-record, by my own choice -- what he thought about Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's GOP primary challenge to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Most conservatives have backed Perry, but Armey is supporting Hutchison. Why? Given that it was off-the-record, I'd be breaking the "never burn a source" rule to go into detail, but surely Armey won't mind my sharing this basic summary: Armey admires Hutchison's professionalism as a public servant.
To an outsider, the Hutchison-vs.-Perry matchup appears to be about ideology, and conservatives support Perry because he is perceived as the more "hard core" of the two candidates. To Armey, however, Hutchison is preferred because of her competence and dedication to the arts of statesmanship.
Remember that this is the same Dick Armey whose FreedomWorks organization has backed the Tea Party movement, the same Dick Armey who gave a key endorsement of Doug Hoffman. So it cannot be said that Armey is a snob who disdains populism and "outsider" candidates. Yet in the Texas governor's race, Armey admires certain qualities in Hutchison, qualities in which (we may infer) he finds Perry deficient.
Now, let's look at what Armey recently said about you, Gov. Palin. He praised you as a "self-made woman" but then went on to offer this advice:
"So she's kind having to dig herself out of a hole if she wants to regain standing for consideration for a future nomination. And by all accounts, it doesn't appear she's doing a very effective job of digging herself out of that hole. . . .
"I think she's probably a person of greater ability than what she's given credit to. She probably has more sense than what she's given credit for. But I do think there's this whole perception-is-reality thing right now, and she's got a terribly, terribly rough row to hoe if she's ever going to regain some standing and make her competitive."
And then he said something extremely interesting:
Armey also disputed the notion that Palin stands ready to tap into the energy of the vast crowds that have come out at the kinds of "tea party" protests FreedomWorks and others have helped pull together."You don't tap into that energy unless you join it. You've got to be there, you've got to show up. And you can't remain removed and aloof and send in a memorandum or post something on your blog, and have these folks belief that you're really part of the movement," Armey said.
"You have to really go out and walk and work among them. And I've seen very few people who are willing to do that. The fact is, these folks are saying, 'You know, the problem with all you big-shot politicians is you sit on your pedestals and make your pronouncements. Why don't you join us? Get on the street. And go to work for something. Roll up your sleeves and be involved with us.' "
"And they don't have a lot of time for someone who stands removed and says, 'Right on.' They're not looking for a cheerleader; they're looking for a captain of the team," Armey said.
So, if I were Governor Palin, besides looking good in those Manolo pumps, I'd make a point of seeking out Armey's advice and following it. As a matter of fact, if I were Palin, I'd try to enlist Armey as my political sensei. (With one caveat: Armey's kind of a squish on immigration; don't let him talk you into the Cato/WSJ libertarian open-borders nonsense; "agree to disagree agreeably" on that.)
Note especially, governor, what Armey says about "rolling up your sleeves" and getting involved in the Tea Party movement. When your book tour is finished, you ought to do that. You'll make enough money on paid speaking gigs that you can afford to do a dozen or more gratis appearances at Tea Parties in 2010.
Think back to your days playing basketball, 'Cuda: Pick your shots, and make every shot count.
Don't just book the big-city major events on the Tea Party circuit. Every once in while, you should make a late RSVP to a small-town rally -- let's say, in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, nudge, nudge -- so that three to five days before the event, the local newspaper headline reads: "PALIN TO SPEAK HERE SATURDAY." And then call in to the local talk-radio show and do a 15-minute interview with the friendly conservative host. (There is a tremendous synergy between Tea Parties and local talk radio.)
Also, governor, you should always pay attention to whatever Dan Riehl says. Dan's a straight-shooter and, whether you agree with his opinion or not, you can be sure he's not b.s.-ing you. Note his comment about your Reaganesque use of Facebook:
Reagan didn't fight with the media. The usual descriptor for what he did is, he went over the media's head directly to the American people. Is Sarah Palin really doing anything different, except for having Facebook, blogs and a great many other New Media resources today to which Reagan didn't have access? Just imagine how even more effective his communication strategy would have been if he had?
Because of media advances made in the last several years, Sarah Palin doesn't have to go over the media's head. She can go right through them.