"A vicious decision is driving me mad." -Kevin Cronin
OK. First thing: I am fully aware that I am not a big enough player on RedState for any announcement of mine to seem major. But I have been one of the more consistent Sarah Palin supporters over the last couple years, and even earned a reputation among some here (especially her detractors) as one of the more rational of these supporters. So at least in my book, it would be major if I announced to support someone else! :)
Should I Follow My Head
I have heard all the unelectability arguments regarding Sarah Palin. I have argued against some of those here. But I cannot deny the fact that her Approval/Disapproval ratings are seriously in the tank (like the -30's range!). My head tells me that, though she has the ability to change this, she doesn't have time before November 2012. She has been just too caricatured by the media and the liberals, and many folks have just made up their mind about her. Her resignation as governor, though I am glad she did it and the conservative movement is the better for it, does harm her politically in a way that will be difficult to overcome in the short term.
So what should my engineering head do with this information? There isn't really (yet) an obvious alternative for me. Romney/Gingrich/Santorum/P*ul/Johnson/Huntsman are just, well, out for me. Huckabee and Barbour took themselves out. I like Herman Cain, and this might be the best year ever for a political rookie to run, but I just can't see him getting elected President as his first elected office. I like Chris Christie, but he hasn't been in office long enough and there is still a lot we don't know about him from a conservative perspective. I would really love to like Tim Pawlenty. He has a decent record, but my excitement meter just doesn't jump off zero for him. Right now, that leaves Mitch Daniels. There is much I like about him, and being a native-born Hoosier (though Boilermaker by the grace of God!), I am predisposed to support him. At first, I thought he was too charisma-deprived, but the more I find out about him and hear him, the more I like him. But he has not entered the race yet.
Right now, Daniels is my frontrunner.
...or Should I Follow My Heart
As I laid out previously on RedState, I have been a fan of Sarah Palin's since almost a year before John McCain picked her. Seeing her selected and watching her RNC speech were, next to attending Reagan's first inaugural, the political highlight of my life. Although she has made some mistakes since then, I am incredibly impressed with how she has taken political and personal barbs at an unprecedented level and maintained a positive attitude and not backed down. ALL Conservatives should take a lesson from her.
I have sported a 'Sarah Palin 2012' bumper sticker on my car since the day after Obama's election. I feel an emotional connection with her like I have only felt for two politicians in my lifetime: Ronald Reagan and my grandfather (an Indiana county councilman for 24 years). [side note: I don't know if my wife would believe that it is a strictly political connection, but I swear it is! Well, at least 95%!]
I do believe the arguments I have made at RedState in favor of her electability. While I acknowledge that she is in a tough position right now, campaigns have a way of changing things (just ask Ronald Reagan). It would be difficult, but I believe in my heart that if anyone can do it, she can. And even though her record as Alaska governor is abbreviated and mixed, I have faith that the principles she holds in her gut are the right ones and that she would make sound decisions as President.
So What's a Man To Do?
Help me, Kevin Cronin! You posed the question, but you didn't answer it.
My saving grace is that neither Mitch Daniels nor Sarah Palin has answered the bell and jumped in the ring. Thank God(!) I don't have to decide anything yet. Maybe neither will enter, in which case I will be floundering around even more! Maybe only one of them will enter, and my decision will be easy.
I have thought long and hard about what I would do if both entered. As an engineer, I am not by nature an emotional guy. My Head should win. It may ultimately triumph. But for now, try as I might, there is just something about Sarah Palin. I just can't quit this woman!