“Is this bus tour a trial run for a planned race, or is it an attempt to remain visible and relevant?” asked Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. “You can count all the people who really know what Sarah Palin is thinking and planning on one hand.” – Bloomberg

video via TPM

How’s Jon Huntsman going to compete with a good looking woman in leather?

He can’t, no one can, and the fact that Sarah Palin shows up at Rolling Thunder like this is one reason the establishment GOP has given up attacking her; they’ve simply got no play but to wait her out.

Congratulations, Sarah Palin, you have turned the Washington press corps into a bunch of paparazzi stalking your every move. – Jay Newton-Small

Newton-Small gets it. Palin is playing hard to get, with a little elusive butterfly thrown in, playing her sex appeal for all it’s worth. It’s part of what makes her irresistible to the press, but also why she can play them so well. Who’ll get the scoop the moment she decides? She’s the first woman to mine political sex appeal for millions.

John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, all these presidential hopefuls courted the political press. But since the age of Sarah Palin dawned, her ability to draw a crowd, create chaos and make news, made possible by Roger Ailes and Fox New channel, has altered the journalistic playing field.

It’s annoying to be dragged around by a woman in leather, but that’s exactly what Sarah’s doing. Whether people like it or not she’s a story demanding to be covered.

Who can resist a woman in leather straddling a Harley?

A woman who won’t let her obsession with what people think or say about her keep her from tying everyone in knots all the way to the bank.

There’s just no way this image is either presidential or will win over enough Independents for Palin to be competitive in the general election, though after her Harley stunt I’m even less convinced she’ll run. The first thing she’ll have to do is turn the blue collar, disaffected white voters in the rust belt her way; these are the people who were skeptical about Obama in the first place, with the economy making them pull away again. Sarah’s got a very hard sell ahead, very hard. She’s half the politician and one-eighth the policy acrobat of Hillary Clinton, the last woman these same voters trusted.

The GOP’s problem, however, is that the rest of their field looks neutered compared to Palin’s political parade. All Palin has to do is get the nomination to make U.S. history. With the men she’s currently up against it doesn’t look that hard from her vantage point.

The scuttlebutt is she’s off to Pennsylvania on her “One Nation” bus tour (h/t Mike Allen’s Playbook), using a theme that’s very familiar.

That’s it from me, after all it’s Memorial Day and I smell barbecue. What are you cooking today?

front page of the Times of London