Those are the two big questions that hang over the most spectacular book-a-palooza since Colin Powell’s “My American Journey” in 1995. “Going Rogue” ( according to AP leak) appears to spend a little more time settling scores than “Journey.” Former McCain aides have already fired back at Palin’s contention that she was lulled into the Couric interview by Nicolle Wallace’s assurances that Couric would be sympathetic because she is a working mom with a “self-esteem” problem. Didn’t happen, says one: “Who ever heard of anyone in network news with a self-esteem problem?” McCain aides also deny that Palin was charged $50,000 for her own campaign vetting. McCain did pile-up about $50,000 in legal bills from investigations launched by the Alaska legislature after the campaign began, and she did send reps to John McCain after the campaign to get some help paying them back. But that turned out to be unnecessary when Palin backers stepped in to raise the cash. On the big question, only Palin knows if she even wants to run for President in 2012. But as Matt Continetti points out in a smart Wall Street Journal piece today (link), she can put herself in a position to run with a successful book tour aimed at two goals: 1.) Softening up her personal negatives, with humanizing stories, a sense of humor, and a refined version of that “you-betcha” charm that made her a political super-nova in 2008 2.) Hardening up her political profile, with smart – and substantive – takes on the most important issues Americans care about right now: Not just “drill baby drill” but a broader playbook focused on jobs, the economy and health care – the issues independents care most about right now. Can she recapture the Palin magic that made her a political phenomenon? Make herself a force beyond her staunch cultural conservative base? I suspect that Palin, like Powell, will ultimately decide that a race is not for her. But the opportunity is there. No one else in politics aside from Obama can attract more cameras, mikes and blog posts. “Going Rogue” shows what Palin thinks about her last campaign, but will she show the world now how a future one could be better, smarter and more successful?
- George Stephanopoulos