Palin is one of the most intriguing conservatives to emerge from Republican politics in the last 10 years and is one of the most compelling presidential possibilities for 2012. Nevertheless, Palin is keeping mum about whether she'll actually run.
Palin is perhaps the Republican Party's biggest and most visible lightning rod. A rugged individualist, who abhors "politics as usual," as she puts it, she has been the subject of tremendous criticism since resigning as governor on July 26, 2009. Many of her critics believe the move was a highly suspect political gamble, considering she had just a year and a half left in her first term.
Supporters have pointed out that Palin's decision to step down was, in fact, for the good of the state; she had been spending more time toward the end of her administration dealing with personal attacks and less time on what she called "the people's business."
Palin ran a very intelligent campaign when she ran for governor and a very shrewd one when she ran for Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. While she stood up well to the Democrats during the 2008 presidential campaign, there is no sport more brutal in U.S. politics than Republican-on-Republican infighting, and presidential campaigns are much rougher than state or local politics. In light of this, there are several legitimate questions about a potential Palin candidacy. First, would she be able to stand up to the pressure put upon her by grizzled Republican veterans like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (should they run). Second, and perhaps most important, is the media capable of giving her a fair shake?
The first question is open to debate, but the second question was definitively answered in the wake of the tragic January 2011 shooting that left six dead and 18 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik claimed conservative talk radio was responsible for the shooting, the mainstream media ran with it and blamed Palin for her "violent rhetoric." The ordeal did considerable damage to Palin's reputation, but it's nothing she hasn't been able to handle before. Palin is nothing if not resilient.
Whether she'll run for president, however, only time will tell.