Jay Newton-Small reminds TIME readers that in the aftermath of her resignation just a little over a year ago, the elites on both the left and right had written off Sarah Palin:
What a difference a year makes.What many of these elites fail to realize is that Gov. Palin is doing many of the things she's done throughout her entire politic career, not the least of which is fighting corruption:
Palin is now more popular nationally, more in demand by conservative groups as a speaker and far richer than she's ever been. She has earned an estimated $9 million by talking and writing — her first book ended up being a best seller, thank you very much — and she has inked a reported $1 million annual contract with Fox News. Oh, and she's become the most important independent endorser in a generation: her 16-11 win-loss record in the recent GOP primaries gives her a lot of political chits to call in if — just to suppose — she were to weigh a presidential run.
This fall, as Palin looks out over Lake Lucille, she has just wrapped a reality show about Alaska (pocketing $2 million for the effort), she is penning a second book, and her every tweet is devoured by the same media that often scorn her. How, exactly, did this happen? How did Palin, with no official platform and winning little more than disdain from the GOP establishment — and contempt from the Obama-friendly media — make such a comeback? After all, she isn't just proving herself to the snobs in Washington; she's leading an insurgency against them. And she's winning.
"Everyone thought her political career was dead when she resigned the [oil and gas] commission," recalls Gregg Erickson, founding editor of the Alaska Budget Report, which tracks politics in the capital of Juneau. "But she won not only on her charisma but the solid credentials of having stood up successfully to the corrupt power structure in Alaska." He senses echoes of that past today. "There certainly seem to be parallels with what she's doing now."She has backed a number of candidates [Newton small get the numbers wrong] including several with Tea Party support:
After flirting with Washington, she retreated to Alaska and became more involved with, and [became] a de facto leader of, the Tea Party movement. There is a synergy between the Tea Party and Palin that has inflated each side, accelerated by the evolving 24-7 news cycle that has covered each nonstop.
While many — Alaska's Joe Miller, Delaware's Christine O'Donnell and Rand Paul in Kentucky, among them — were originally deemed outside the mainstream, Palin has helped change that river's course. All three won their GOP primaries against more moderate candidates.The full Newton-Small TIME article is here.
Washington pundits are already scoffing at the idea of a Palin candidacy, especially at the notion that her GOP giant-killing makes her the one to beat. Palin's "the front runner?" asked the New York Times' Douthat last weekend. "That's bunkum." But if she has proven anything this year, it's her ability to surprise — and beat expectations.