Fueled by her performance Monday at the debate in New Hampshire, Michele Bachmann has launched her campaign for the White House with much apparent fanfare and momentum.
Despite this newfound energy her presidential aspirations now have, the Minnesota Republican also likely is casting a watchful eye to see whether Sarah Palin jumps in to steal her thunder.
Others have long speculated on what a contest between these two crown princesses of the tea party might look like.
Yet, if the former half-term governor of Alaska is smart, she’ll take Bachmann’s entry into the race not as a chance for competition, but instead as a golden opportunity.
It’s pretty clear that Palin’s not really interested in running for president. She’s been teasing the possibility only as a means to keep her celebrity, and personal wealth, going.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell successfully has built a case that this is so, particularly by noting that Palin hadn’t been asked to leave her lucrative job at Fox News the way other, actual, candidates appearing on the network were.
If Palin were really running, Fox chief Roger Ailes would have dismissed her as he did with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Instead, she’s stayed along with Mike Huckabee, who publicly took himself out of the running.
O’Donnell’s right when he called Palin’s campaign a “mirage.”
Although Palin’s recent bus tour of the East Coast had the trappings of a nascent 2012 campaign, O’Donnell’s correct when he noted that it was really about Palin’s personal enrichment.
“Its purpose is to keep Sarah Palin‘s fame flame burning brightly and to raise money for the kind of fun she and her family can have by not running for president,” he says.
The bus tour was, in fact, a profit lap for SARAHPAC, Palin’s political fund that spent $277,000 last year on her travel alone.
“Sarah PAC is a giant slush fund for the Palins and it needs replenishing before real Republican presidential candidates start attracting the real flood of campaign contributions they will need to mount a challenge to President Barack Obama who, after all the money has been raised and spent by both Republicans and Democrats and after all the votes are counted on November 6th, 2012, will remain president of the United States for another four years,” O’Donnell says. “And Sarah Palin is smart enough to know that.”
Which is how we arrive at the opportunity for Palin that Bachmann’s candidacy represents.
Since Palin never really intended to run for president, Bachmann’s entry into the race gives the Alaskan an easy out.
Given that both are crown princesses of the tea party – even appearing together at a rally last year – Palin now can announce, “Tea party values are alive and well thanks to Michele’s historic campaign. I will not be a candidate for president in 2012, but I will fight on to see our values restored in the Oval Office.”
Or words to that effect, delivered with the requisite punctuation of eye-winks and “You betchas.”
But more than a graceful exit, this maneuver provides Palin a whole new revenue stream.
Palin need only climb back onto her bus and become a roving right-wing ambassador, basking in angry-conservative adulation and hauling out her personal cash register at each stop to raise money to replenish that giant slush fund she needs to keep topped off.
I imagine that she could ride this motherlode all through the primaries, promising all the while to work her little heart out to elect her tea party buddy president.
It’s the ultimate win-win for both women. Michele Bachmann gets the clear shot for nomination that she wants, and Sarah Palin gets what she really craves: enduring celebrity and even more fabulous wealth.