OPINION:THEY ARE calling it Sarah Palin's magical mystery tour. They are calling it a cat and mouse game with the media. They are calling it a publicity stunt.
What they are not doing is calling it what it is: a completely new way of running for president of the United States while having an unprecedented amount of fun.
This week, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her family boarded their own bus in Washington DC for a tour of historic sites along the east coast. She’s calling it the “One Nation Tour” and Palin’s red, white and blue bus is emblazoned with patriotic slogans.
The first stop was the national archives for a view of the actual original documents. Next up was Mount Vernon, resting place of George Washington, the first US president and Palin’s favourite founding father.
From there, the tour took in the scene of an epic battle in the war of 1812, Fort McHenry in Baltimore; the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia; the civil war battlefield in Gettysburg; a pizza restaurant in New York; and an overnight in a New Jersey hotel.
Huh? Yes, that’s the point. If you are following Sarah Palin, you better expect the unexpected.
The American media is in a froth about this bus tour. Because Palin is doing the unthinkable; she isn’t providing an itinerary for reporters. Palin says she is considering a run for president, but she is not contacting Republican Party honchos in each state. She is not attending fundraisers along the way. She is just a private citizen travelling with her husband, three daughters and her parents.
A Washington Postreporter called a friend of Palin's and angrily demanded: "How can we cover her if she won't tell us where's she going?" The friend said: "Don't you get it after three years? She really doesn't care if you cover her or not."
That said, the media following Palin is in a frenzy.
On the same day Obama visited Joplin, Missouri, the city devastated by a tornado, the number one news story in the US was Palin’s tour. When she does speak to reporters Palin repeats her message: this is a tour of historic sites; America does not need a transformation, it needs a restoration of its fundamental values.
The media is grumbling that a presidential campaign isn’t a television episode of American Idol. Palin’s inattentive attitude is infuriating to them, precisely because they see their ratings spike up every time she surfaces.
It matters not a whit if one agrees or disagrees with Palin on issues; the fact is, to watch her in a crowd is to see a focused, determined politician at the top of her unconventional game.
With the bus headed north, expect the media to go operatic when it stops in New Hampshire, one of the first presidential primary states.
Expect pundits and Republican Party hacks to say Palin can’t win if she runs . . .
Here is the bottom line: Sarah Palin has been ridiculed, dismissed and wildly underestimated since the moment she set a high-heeled foot on the US stage in 2008.
She is a competitor. Is she running? You betcha.
Elaine Lafferty is an American journalist writing for online newspaper the
, among other outlets