Years ago, I tried a case against a lawyer who was a friend from college. After it was all over, he told me that at one point I had asked a witness a question and gotten an answer that outraged the associate who was trying the case with him. The associate leaned over and whispered, “He can’t do that!” To which my friend replied, “He just did.”
As in law, so in politics. Sarah Palin’s charm consists in part, I think, of her ability to draw from liberals, time after time, the outraged complaint: She can’t do that! But she does, with a smile that drives a stake through their hearts.
Today it was the Rolling Thunder veterans’ motorcycle event in Washington. We have written about Rolling Thunder before, but this year the highlight, as far as reporters were concerned, was Sarah Palin’s participation. She, her husband Todd and two of their daughters greeted fans and rode motorcycles. The press, naturally, couldn’t resist: this was the beginning of Palin’s bus tour of the northeastern states, which may or may not be the beginning of her presidential campaign.
In principle, other politicians could do the same thing. Maybe some have. What is different about Sarah Palin and her family is that they look natural on motorcycles. Imagine Barack Obama–or, to be bipartisan, Mitt Romney–trying to mingle with the bikers and look at home on a Harley. Heck, if one of the motorcycles broke down, Todd undoubtedly could fix it. And when Sarah greeted the crowd before the ride began, the affection from her fans didn’t need to be feigned or bused in.
Oh, one more thing I almost forgot: she looks so darned good. What press photographer could resist this?
I’m not sure why nearly all pundits are convinced that Palin isn’t running for president, but I hope they are right. She is never going to win over the fringe voters that will be decisive in 2012. But that’s OK. Sarah Palin has a unique ability to communicate with and motivate a significant chunk of the electorate that is critical to the GOP’s hopes in the next couple of election cycles. She will do a great service for her country if she devotes her efforts to tying the left up in frustrated knots, while helping to deliver for conservative candidates the voters with whom she has a unique relationship. Which, at this point, seems to be exactly what she has in mind.
UPDATE: Palin posted her own photos of today’s event here.
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