For starters, every time I see you on TV, you’re whining about unfair press coverage. Don’t get me wrong: Much of it is unfair, and some of it deserves a response. But it’s not presidential. It’s not even gubernatorial. You are constantly taking the bait, taking up the fights your biggest fans want you to take up.

But here’s the thing: Don’t listen to your biggest fans. Don’t alienate them either, but don’t think that because the Palin4Pres crowd cheers, you’re making progress. Politics is ultimately about persuasion, and you seem entirely uninterested in that, preferring instead to play the victim. Well, victims don’t get elected president. Ronald Reagan was a laughingstock for liberals and despised by the press. But he didn’t whine or take the bait.

Second, peddling a few platitudes and truisms about free markets and limited government is no substitute for really knowing what you’re talking about. Yes, you can talk well about the stuff you know — oil drilling, energy, etc. — but beyond your comfort zone, you fall back on bumper-sticker language that sounds fine to the people who already agree with you but is useless in winning over skeptics.