Kent Bush: The Alaskan Magical Mystery Tour

Kent Bush

Hurricane season began this week.

Usually they go in alphabetical order, but Hurricane Sarah has already blown through New England and even parts of Iowa.

Sarah Palin has been making a whirlwind tour of selected national monuments and historic locales. The not-yet-a-candidate tour in a huge custom bus is not meant to draw attention to Palin or promote a potential presidential campaign.

"It's painted up with the Constitution and with the 'We the people,' and part of our Pledge of Allegiance," she said. "It is not pictures of Sarah Palin on this bus, because it isn't about me."

After all, compared with her Going Rogue bus with a 15-foot tall photo of herself on the side, this bus is practically camouflaged. Palin did include a huge signature on the bus and information on how to donate to her PAC, but that was probably just an afterthought.

She told fellow Fox News reporter Greta Van Sustern, "It's not about me. It's not a publicity seeking tour. It's about highlighting the great things about America."

That's true.

She is merely concerned that many of her followers don't know about things like the Constitution, Statue of Liberty and Liberty Bell. This is her way of educating them. And if a little money comes in for a presidential race that she hasn't decided on running yet, then so be it.

I think it is the first Alaskan tribute to the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. You get in a bus and go cross-country making stops to perform for your fans.

John and Paul played guitar. Palin rides a motorcycle. Both make for good shows.

And if a guy named Ringo was going to feel at home on any presidential campaign bus, it would obviously be Palin's.

I don't know how Palin can keep from running for president. Officially speaking, this tour is nothing more than a really expensive, PAC-funded, family vacation with political overtones. Yet an army of reporters is following her so close that the exhaust fumes are making them woozy.

Mitt Romney could have had a tour bus compete in last weekend's Indy 500 and no one would have noticed or cared. Tim Pawlenty could have been the featured guest on Oprah's last episode and people would have watched "The Price is Right" instead.

But if Palin has a pizza with Donald Trump, it leads the national news and is all the content needed for an entire afternoon of talk radio.

I don't know if Palin could win. A lot of things would have to go her way. No candidate has ever brought the political baggage into a race that she would. Polling data shows how polarizing a figure Palin is.

Perhaps her most successful contribution in 2012 would be as a king-maker. If she could throw her support behind another candidate she could offer voters from the conservative wing of the Republican Party without negating support from those within the GOP establishment and Independents where she doesn't fare as well.

Either way, this mysterious bus tour has provided some great political drama during a season where it is otherwise lacking.

Barack Obama entered the 2008 race in February 2007. But he was a newcomer and it was an open race with no incumbent. Palin's failed vice presidential exposure combined with her incredible notoriety allow her the luxury of entering the race very late by conventional terms and still having a good shot at the nomination.

But speaking of luxury, she would be giving up a lot of money to take up residence in the White House. Ultimately, that's why I doubt she runs.

She has made a lot of comments about "answering the call" to public service lately. I think she might prefer to answer the call of book publishers and TV producers instead. It pays better and the hours are great.

I'll be surprised if she enters the race.

But I would have been more surprised if she hadn't tried to keep herself and the Palin brand at the front of the debate.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.