Palin and Huckabee are wasting their celebrity

It’s possible to be a celebrity and a serious politician at the same time: Barack Obama’s career proves as much. But Obama’s celebrity status is frequently a political liability, and he’s (usually) wise enough to know it. That’s why he plays the wonk as often as he plays the global icon.

For now, no Republican leader projects a similar level of seriousness. Late in the Bush years, it was easy to dismiss conservatism as brain-dead. Among policy thinkers, that isn’t true anymore: the advent of Obama seems to have provided just the jolt that right-of-center wonks needed. But innovative proposals are useless without politicians willing to champion them…

[T]here are substantial political rewards awaiting the politician who becomes the voice of an intellectually vigorous conservatism. It probably won’t be Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin. If Republicans are lucky, though, it will be somebody who shares their charisma — but who prefers the responsibilities of leadership to the pleasures of celebrity.