You’ve got to put in the time. The best way for Palin to beat the quitter rap is to show voters how hard she works. In one sense, this shouldn’t be that difficult. If she is a mama grizzly, she never hibernates. She’s everywhere, posting on Facebook, appearing on TLC, giving speeches and commenting on Fox News. The Times profile makes this point several times, referring to her 20-hour days, 3 a.m. e-mail messages and recounting stories of her prodigious study habits. If Palin appears this engaged as a candidate, she will be able to point to her campaign as proof of her qualifications, much as Obama did (though she’ll want to deny that association, of course).
But campaigns require a different kind of hard work than the stunning brand-maintenance that Palin has been engaged in since the last election. Campaigns are not fun a lot of the time. They require candidates to do lots of things they don’t want to—going to small events in out-of-the-way places, coddling local politicians, sucking up to members of the local media. Campaigns also require candidates to trust people they may not know very well because they have expertise in a state. Or not trusting people who love you but who may know nothing about Iowa. Palin will have to rewire her organization—and her personal instincts—to find this balance.
Can she avoid doing a lot of these dull things? Fred Thompson tried running a different kind of campaign. He failed. So did Rudy Giuliani, with the same result. Palin is more powerful and talented than Fred Thompson. But even Hillary Clinton was stung in the Iowa primaries when she didn’t court voters the way they’ve become accustomed to being courted.