This piece is republished courtesy of TheLoop21.com for which author Keli Goff is a political blogger.
In the week since Sarah Palin first confirmed that she has not ruled out a run for the presidency, I have lost track of the number of people who have laughed her off. Some have dismissed her latest revelation as just another attempt to remain politically relevant and extend her 15 minutes of fame a few seconds more. Others believe that while her presidential ambitions may be genuine, her presidential qualifications are not. According to a Washington Post poll this perspective is shared by a majority of Americans, 71% of who do not think Palin is qualified to be president. This perspective is not limited to Democrats, with more than half of Republicans polled deeming her unqualified as well.
During our recent appearance on a news program, conservative writer Debra Saunders reiterated this perspective, likening Palin to Britney Spears—all flash, with little actual talent to back up the attention she garners. I argued, however, that a run by Sarah Palin for presidency could be one of the best things to happen to the media in a long time, because as she (and her former minders on the McCain campaign) have made painfully clear, this is a woman who -- advisers and consultants be damned -- calls her own shots, no matter how ridiculous they may make her look.
So below are a few tips for the former governor on how to transition from presidential punch line to presidential contender. Before my more liberal friends either A) have a coronary or B) start inundating me with hate mail, a disclaimer: The good news for you is that the likelihood of Sarah Palin actually taking my advice (or anyone else’s) is about as likely as Britney Spears running for president.
HOW SARAH PALIN CAN BECOME A CREDIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
3. STOP WRITING ON YOUR HAND (AND ACT LIKE A GROWNUP). Okay, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but apparently for Sarah Palin it’s not (as evidenced by her recent crib notes at the Tea Party Convention). While conservatives have argued that her writing on her hand is no different than President Obama using a teleprompter (something she has derided him for), actually it is. The issue is not that Sarah Palin required notes for her speech. Most people do. (That’s why this high-tech device known as note cards exists.) The issue is that she wrote her notes NOT on a set of note cards, or a sheet of paper or even a teleprompter, like most adult professionals do. Instead, she resorted to the note-taking method most of us abandoned in junior high. That is not a recipe for being taken seriously in any job—but especially if you are applying for the most powerful job in the land. (Question: If you walked into a meeting with your boss to discuss your advancement within the company, and you had your agenda written on your hand, how likely is it that you would walk out of that meeting with a promotion?) If she wants to be taken seriously, she needs to act seriously. And after quitting her last job half way through, she already had a deficit in the serious, “yes I am a grownup,” department. So she needs to do something—anything—to denote that she can be serious, substantive and professional—and just being a talking head and author (albeit a bestselling one, but with a ghostwriter) doesn’t count.
2. DEVELOP A THICK SKIN—AND SHOW IT OFF. One of Sarah Palin’s biggest problems, biggest obstacles and worst enemies, has been, dare I say it: Sarah Palin. Her bestselling memoir, “Going Rogue” was intended to showcase how the McCain campaign done their woman wrong. Instead, it showed Palin to be petty, vindictive and unwilling to shoulder any of the blame for her own shortcomings—most notably her inability to name what newspapers she likes to read, a misstep she blames on everyone from Katie Couric to McCain campaign aides. If Sarah Palin had actually published a memoir in which she accepted some of the responsibility for her failings, she could have won over some new converts, particularly among the Republican establishment. Instead, she came across as childish, immature and incapable of accepting criticism, a necessity for anyone hoping to survive and thrive in a career in politics. She also engendered the lifetime enmity of many of her former 2008 presidential campaign colleagues; many of whom will likely be working on the staffs of her primary opponents should she decide to run in 2012.
1. DEVELOP DISCIPLINE. Most of Sarah Palin’s many public gaffes, from the disastrous Katie Couric interview, to her rambling resignation speech, to her Tea Party convention crib notes, have something in common, namely the fact that they demonstrate her immense lack of discipline. Whether during an interview, debate, or speech, she often comes across as unprepared—like a student who waited until the night before to cram for a test. (Hence the crib notes.) The only problem of course, is that running for president, and running for re-election as president, essentially consists of years of non-stop tests, or more accurately, never ending pop quizzes. Though no one would ever confuse George W. Bush for Albert Einstein, it is worth noting that after a disastrous interview during the 2000 campaign revealed him to be a foreign policy neophyte, he hunkered down with then-adviser and eventual Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and immersed himself in the subject enough to not only survive, but to be viewed as on equal footing with former Vice President Gore during the series of presidential debates, which were viewed, at least in part, as crucial turning points of the election. Palin could follow suit—if she so chooses. It remains to be seen whether she does.
The bottom line is if Sarah Palin begins to spend less time on paid speaking engagements, and more time on intensive private tutorials with the leading thinkers within the party she is seeking to lead, she might have a shot at the White House. But so far it appears that she’s not interested in doing that. So instead of anticipating a Palin presidency most of us are anticipating more wild and wacky Palinprompter (aka Hand-O-prompter) media moments.
Contributor for Loop21.com