Back when Barack Obama began publicly flirting with the idea of running in the fall of 2008, I wrestled with both sides of the argument, and noted that the downside of not running would be the Matt Leinart (not striking while the iron is hot) syndrome. So I don’t necessarily disagree with Stacy, though I think challenging Lisa Murkowski in 2010, while it would be a risk, would have upside in terms of staying in the national spotlight via the Senate and gaining more understanding of policy, should she wait until 2016. But whenever she runs, she’d have to do the following to become a viable conservative leader:
— Show that she’s a conservative on more than social issues and gun rights, and actually convey an appreciation for conservative economic philosophy (empty platitudes about “putting government back on the side of the people” that could easily be uttered by John Edwards, do not count).
— Get through a tough interview without embarassing herself.
— Display a grasp of important foreign and domestic issues.
— Demonstrate governing competence and accomplishments (without having to lie about the “Bridge to Nowhere” or exaggerate her record as Mayor of Wassila).
If she can do that by 2012 and combine it with her star power, she’ll be a great asset to the conservative cause. Otherwise, let’s hold off on the Reagan and Thatcher comparisons.