The media are still obsessing on Sarah Palin’s road tour. At the expense of everyone else in the GOP who is really running for president.

Like Mitt Romney.  Who suddenly became bigger news.

Mitt Romney launched his presidential campaign in New Hampshire today with a scathing attack on President Obama’s economic record, pointing to several lagging economic indicators he called “President Obama’s own misery index.”

“Barack Obama has failed America,” Romney said from a farm in Stratham. “When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse. And he made it last longer.

More than 16 million Americans are out of work or have stopped looking for work, he said, unemployment remains above 8 percent, foreclosures are still at record levels and home prices continue to fall. On top of that, the national debt has grown, as have food and gas prices

“These failing hopes make up President Obama’s own misery index. It’s never been higher,” Romney said. “Mr. President, you’ve had your chance.”

Somewhere else I read a blurb about the historic record of presidents who lost their job when the emplyment rate fell to a certain bench mark. We are at least there now, with no appreciable improvement in sight before the election. Regardless of the politics, I wish it weren’t so.

Then there’s the ‘rogue’ Sarah Palin, on a trip across the country, and still commanding media headlines for…what? Conducting a tour across America? It’s been interesting in its orchestration.

Sarah Palin, with her counterintuitive secret publicity bus tour, is demonstrating one of the most important rules of American politics:

There is nothing the U.S. media wants more than something it thinks it can’t have. Hence the power of news leaks that manipulate the thrust of their initial presentation. Hard-to-get is a rigid rule of human behavior. Ask any teenage boy or girl.

And there are few things more sweet to Palin and her fervent supporters cheering their TV sets this week than the image of a hungry know-it-all “lamestream media” caravan of 15 or more vehicles traipsing along behind her red-white-and-blue bus enroute to they-know-not-where to do they-know-not-what…

Polls schmolls. The tables are turned now. And it’s the best political entertainment of the campaign so farThe media on campaigns is accustomed to being courted, even catered to with assigned airplane seats, meals, transportation to events, seats waiting, transcripts, the upcoming advance schedule, self-serving secrets confided.

But now they want/need Palin more than vice versa. They know the ratings when she’s on. And they know bosses love ratings. So, they follow along in the exhaust.

“I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media,” Palin said on Fox. “I think that it would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician and doing things the way it’s always been done with the media, in terms of relationships with them.”

And if this bus junket sucks some or all of the oxygen out of Mitt Romney’s big announcement Thursday, so be it.

Thus marks the early days of the 2012 presidential campaign from the GOP side of it. At least it’s not nearly as boring as pundits predicted.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....