Sarah Palin can see China from Hong Kong
As politicians like ex-President George W. Bush prefer when they leave public office, the event was closed to the evil, distorting media that's probably too cheap to buy a ticket anyway. And as with teenage dating, there's nothing the pursuer wants more than something he can't have.
So, of course, some details always leak out. Palin was reportedly well-received and folksy at times, but gone was any hard-edged partisanship so familiar from the campaign a year ago. She did not mention what's-his-name in the White House who clobbered her Republican presidential ticket last November.
''I'm going to call it like I see it," she said, according to the Associated Press, "and I will share with you candidly a view right from Main Street, Main Street U.S.A.''
She made an argument for a private industry solution to U.S. healthcare problems, for lower taxes and reduced government. She suggested that China play a more responsible role in international affairs, especially concerning North Korea and Afghanistan.
Her first post-resignation trip abroad will be seen by many as the start of her campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination. It is, of course, way too early for that decision to be made. She'll be testing the waters here and there, gaining experience and being seen in new positive locales, not so much because she's decided to run but in case she decides to run.
Meanwhile, what's often forgotten is that the old-fashioned lecture circuit -- especially internationally where curiosity and interest in American public figures are strong -- is a lucrative gig for former American politicians.
Palin signed with the Washington Speakers Bureau, the same prestigious agency that booked Bush into a closed business forum in Calgary last winter and a discussion with ex-President Bill Clinton in Toronto in spring. Despite his personal scandals as an Oval Office incumbent, Clinton became a multi-multi-millionaire from whopping speaking fees around the world.
Palin's reportedly received more than 1,000 invitations.
Put 2012 aside a moment and recall that in addition to her book advance, Palin needs to make some big money to pay off lingering legal debts from partisan investigations that she blamed for her premature gubernatorial resignation in July. And without ongoing publicity, the shelf life of an out-of-office politician can be short -- and the appearance price tag small.
For the opposite, think of someone named Newt Gingrich, who resigned as GOP House speaker after a bad election outcome 11 years ago. And yet he lives -- and talks -- on. And on. And on.
-- Andrew Malcolm