Everyone in the press and the Republican establishment seems equally confused by Sarah Palin's bizarre run-up to her near-certain presidential run. What they don't get is the depths of Palin's messianic delusion: She really believes she's been sent by God to save America, and she can run any way she wants.
Karl Rove was on Fox News yesterday morning (actually working on Memorial Day!) pointing out the stark contrast between Michele Bachmann's run-up to her presidential bid -- making nice with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, building connections with local Republicans, and all the traditional things that are part of a presidential run -- with Palin's:
ROVE: Sarah Palin -- much different, which is: 'I'm gonna conduct a bus tour, where I go not to -- ' I mean, she's about ready, sometime in the next couple of weeks, to make her first visit to New Hampshire in over two years. That's, that's really unusual. And then you've got the situation of -- you know, she's going to Antietam and Gettysburg and to Philadelphia. And I'll bet you a dime to a dollar that those visits to those areas are not preceded by courtesy phone calls to the local Republican Party chairmen and a request that they generate volunteers. She's just gonna announce her schedule and show up. So that's what I mean by unconventional.
That's right: Palin is not concerned about any of the ordinary aspects of running for the presidency, especially not the party-building that has been successful Republican nominees' bread and butter since the days of Nixon. She has bigger fish to fry. She's on a mission from God.
The WaPo's Chris Cilizza seems equally taken aback:
The trip, which was announced via her political action committee website Thursday, resembled nothing so much as an episode of “Amazing Race” — a helter-skelter series of stops at historical sites with little (if any) advance notice given of her plans.
The lack of details left reporters confused and scrambling, and the political world wondering just what she was up to. Which is, of course, exactly how Palin likes it.
Asked about a potential 2012 campaign on Sunday night, Palin said “it would definitely be non-conventional and untraditional,” a comment that amounts to the political understatement of the year.
Palin added in an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren (one of her go-to members of the mainstream media): “I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media ... I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this, and that would include not necessarily telling them beforehand where every stop’s going to be.”
That translated into Palin punking the reporters following her on the tour:
Palin reportedly faked out reporters at her Gettysburg, Pa. hotel Tuesday morning. She snuck out early with her family and a few staffers, leaving her unmistakeable bus behind and giving the press the impression that she was still readying for the day ahead. When her staff came out to load luggage into the bus, reporters and tourists swarmed to get a glimpse of the former Alaska governor herself, but she was long gone, off to the historic battlegrounds.
As Cilizza observes, Palin is trying her own formula here:
Instead of communicating via the media, Palin will use her massive Internet and social media presence to push her message out. Rather than a regimented schedule of travel to early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Palin seems likely to opt for a more fluid schedule that allows for surprise drop-ins on average Americans.
No presidential campaign in the modern era has been run in such a manner and succeeded. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson sought to minimize his travel to early states and focus on communicating with voters through cable televison and web videos. He didn’t win a single primary or caucus.
Meantime, rumors are that Palin may punk Philadelphia, too.
In Sarah's world, of course, this lack of conventionalism makes perfect sense. The press isn't a free publicity on the hoof (the way, say John McCain treated them) -- they're Satan incarnate and the more they can be bedeviled, the better. Because Sarah speaks directly to the people you know -- so long as they don't ask her any tough questions.
And party-building doesn't matter when the Lord is going to make everyone come together behind her. It's more important she get her message out to as many people as possible.
There are folks who think all this is really proof that Sarah's not running. All I can say is: Wait and see.