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Sarah Palin Can Do Many Things to Help Republicans -- Running for President Isn't One of Them

There’s one thing die-hard liberal Democrats and hard-core conservative Republicans have in common: They both want Sarah Palin to run for president. That’s where the similarities end.

The hard-right wants her to run because they think she’s brilliant – a word they use a lot – and would make a great president. Liberals want her to run because they think she’d get clobbered by President Obama. It doesn’t happen often, but here’s a case where the libs are right and the right is wrong.

A recent CBS News/New York Times poll (taken June 3-7) found that two-thirds of all voters -- and 54 percent of Republican voters -- don’t want Palin to run. Nearly 6 out of 10 of all voters have an unfavorable opinion of her.

The hard-right (like all true believers) lives in a bubble. They don’t care much what people on the outside say. Listen to conservative talk radio for 10 minutes and you’ll “learn” that the only reason Palin isn’t doing well in the polls is because the mainstream media have convinced the American people that she’s a dolt. And since conservatives can’t let the liberal media call the shots, that’s another reason they want her to run.

But they give too much credit to the “lame-streams.” It’s true that the media have bashed her maliciously and often unfairly since she first came on the national scene in 2008. But that’s not why her poll numbers are low. 

Sarah Palin is why Sarah Palin’s numbers are low. The American people have seen her, they’ve heard her, and they’ve formed their opinions about her. Let’s just say they’re not impressed.

This means nothing to the hard-right. They love her and therefore, they figure, the voters will come around and love her too. This is how bubble people think. The hard-right always wants the most conservative candidate out there to win the GOP nomination in any primary battle. That’s why they're so passionate about Sarah Palin.

Then there’s the William F. Buckley wing of the party, of which I count myself a member. We want the most viable conservative to win the nomination. The key word being viable, as in the most conservative candidate who can actually win. And if that means voting for a Republican who isn’t the most conservative in the field, but one who has a better chance of beating the liberal Democrat, that’s just fine with us.

The ideologues on the right see this as selling out. Compromise, to them, is tantamount to treason. As articulate as some of them are, especially the ones who make a living on the airwaves, they don’t really understand politics. They come off as incredibly unsophisticated, not understanding a simple rule of politics and of life: You can’t always get everything you want.

For the rest of us, the second -- or even third -- most conservative Republican is better than any liberal Democrat. We don’t see that as selling out or as treason. We see it as smart politics. Or as Charlie Sheen so elegantly put it: Winning!

Sarah Palin can do many things to help the Republicans. But running for president is not one of them. And she surely knows this. If a majority of voters in her own party won’t support her, then there’s no way she can win. She won’t run.

If that makes some conservatives sad, this ought to cheer them up. It’s another number from that CBS News/New York Times poll. It shows that only 37 percent of the American people think President Obama is doing a good job when it comes to handling the economy.

And, for most voters, it’s still the economy, stupid.

Bernie Goldberg is a journalist, author and Fox News analyst. He is the winner of 10 Emmy Awards and has written five books on the media and American culture, including the No. 1 best-seller "Bias." His most recent book, "A Slobbering Love Affair," is about the mainstream media's fascination with Barack Obama. You can learn more about Bernie Goldberg by visiting his website at www.bernardgoldberg.com.