Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is distinguishing herself among the many people looking to run for the GOP presidential nomination.
If you're a Democrat, you've already decided that now ex-Gov. Sarah Palin is completely discredited. Indeed, if you're a Democratic activist or party operative you may have determined that Palin is an ideal subject upon which to base a fundraising appeal.
Actually, even if you're a Republican, you may have had enough of Palin's ongoing dramatic incidents. You've decided to move on and are looking at the Mitt Romneys, Mike Huckabees and Tim Pawlentys.
If you're a member of the media, you've moved on from Palin since her two big resignation speeches. You've lumped her in with the other "GOP-FAIL" candidates of this year -- the horn-dog duo of John Ensign (R-NV) and Mark Sanford D-SC).
True as all the above may be, there's one overarching fact that everyone may as well recognize right now: Don't dismiss Sarah Palin. She's going to be around for a while; underestimating her would be most unwise.
Palin's declaration that the end-of-life-counseling procedures in at least one of the Democratic health-care bills amounted to a "death panel" elicited outrage from all corners. Blatantly using her special-needs son Trig as an example of someone that the new health order might ignore appalled even more.
But Palin refused to back down.
Then a funny thing happened: Democrats were forced to explain that there wasn't any "death panel" language in these bills. Rule Number One in politics: If you're explaining, you're losing. Headlines that say "Democrats deny existence of 'death panels'" constitute a "win" for those opposed to reform efforts. Indeed, the denial actually helps repeat the charge that opponents have introduced into debate.
Another funny thing happened: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), hardly a raving right-winger essentially gave Palin some back-up: Considering that Grassley was part of the bipartisan group in the Senate working on a bill, his words carried a lot of weight. He's not as easily dismissible as Mrs. Palin.
In any event, despite howls from the press about the non-existence of the "death panels," the Senate Finance Committee announced that it was stripping out language in its own bill related to "advance-care planning consultations." That it happened reflects how much the White House and Democrats have lost the message battle over health-care.
None of this would have occurred were it not for Sarah Palin.
Of the possible 2012 GOP candidates, she's the one who managed to introduce a meme that helped keep the "reform" side completely off-balance. Anyone heard something similar from Huckabee or Pawlenty or Romney? Palin has been the one to tap perfectly into the aggressive nature expressed in town halls across the country.
Obviously, she's no longer in office; she's no longer a governor. If the healthcare debate is any indication, she doesn't need the platform of being governor to get media coverage and get her own message out..
Hate Sarah Palin as much as you please. She's not going anywhere, folks. And she may be more successful than either detractors or supporters might have ever guessed.