Palin on the loose

Sunday 12 July 2009

I'd been staying away from reading political blogs since the election hubbub died down, but Sarah Palin's resignation drew me back in. I wanted to know what her supporters would make of her latest unconventional move.

It was interesting to see that they were as divided as anyone else over what they thought it meant: was she going to run for president or not, and did the move fatally cripple that effort?

I predict that she does intend to run for president, but it won't go anywhere, and she will find a home in the conservative media. She has always seemed more Rush than Reagan to me anyway. She's adored by her fans, and has a strong following in the rightmost parts of the GOP. But she seems to have no ability or interest in bridging to the more moderate elements, much less attracting undecided and independent voters.

She does not seem to have used her time since the election to improve her weak points. If she wants to successfully run for president, she's going to have to figure out how to do a thoughtful interview. When she speaks, she often seems confused and wandering. Through all of the Palin record, the thing that scares me most about her is the Katie Couric interview where she couldn't name a Supreme Court ruling she disagreed with, or a newspaper that she read. Her latest press event was her resignation, where even on her own terms on her lawn she seemed to meander around some confusing ideas: I'm leaving office but I'm not a quitter?

She's going to have to learn to drive home a message. She's good at rallies of the faithful, but more as a t-shirt cannon than a thought leader. Lobbing slogans into the cheering crowd is very different than persuading skeptics and bringing people to your point of view.

As an early indication of the marketability of the Palin brand, Vulnerable GOPs want Palin to stay home, believing that having her on the stump with them would hurt their chances.

Whatever happens, Palin makes for interesting political theater. She and the media are drawn to each other like a moth to a flame, though I'm not sure which is which. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Comments

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andrew 10:47 AM on 12 Jul 2009

Third Party. And I am going to vote for her.

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susan 11:41 AM on 12 Jul 2009

...And good luck with that! :)

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Harry 2:02 PM on 12 Jul 2009

She's not stupid, so there must be a very lucrative offer on the table for her to resign. Or the GOP is putting huge pressure on her to not run for gov again, which made her mad so she's taking her toys and going home.

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Tony 2:53 PM on 12 Jul 2009

I'm from the UK, so don't really "have a dog in this fight". But I think the way she has been treated by the MSM is absolutely vile, and so would not be in the least bit surprised that many people sympathise with her. What this means for the future is anyone's guess - I would imagine if she decides politics is where she wants to be then its no longer 'business as usual'.

There's no doubt in my mind that there are double standards in the way the MSM treat candidates from differing sides of the 'political divide' - would Letterman have behaved the same way with prominent Democratic representatives for example?

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Peter Bengtsson 3:10 PM on 12 Jul 2009

"I predict that she does intend to run for president, but it won't go anywhere,"
Pre-2008-election you predicted that the Republicans would ultimately win. Let's your not wrong again :)

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Ned Batchelder 4:16 PM on 12 Jul 2009

@Tony: "Would Letterman have behaved the same way with prominent Democratic representatives for example?" I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this idea that Letterman picks on Republicans and gives Democrats free reign. Does anyone remember the Clinton years? Or for that matter, how Hilary was treated during the primaries? The TV comedians make fun of anything they think people will laugh at.

I think the media is hard on women in general, there's criticism if you stay with your kids, and also criticism if you leave them behind, etc. Gender and sex are two big hot buttons for media everywhere.

I think there has been some horrible coverage of Palin, but mostly in the blogs, and there's no shortage of horrible coverage of everyone in the blogs. Palin is casting herself as a victim of the "MSM" (a term I'm deeply suspicious of, especially given the prominence of conservative talk radio, etc), but it doesn't seem very presidential to me. Again, it's a good vein to mine if you want to be a radio pundit, but if she wants to lead, she'd better find other things to talk about.

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Jack Diederich 12:20 AM on 13 Jul 2009

She is far from a GOP allstar; I have no idea why she quit as governor except as some kind of shoot-the-moon attempt at getting on the senate/veep/presidential ticket next time round. Good luck with that.

My biggest beef isn't that she is a called a lightweight but that she gets harangued so much harder than her peers. Joe Biden says factually wrong things so frequently that Obama has a PR guy who just issues "policy is exactly not what the veep said" refutations. And Biden was supposed to be the experienced heavy who anchored the ticket. Dan Quayle was beaten like a drum for much smaller gaffes (he at least never screwed up the decade TV was invented or who was president).

The problem isn't that our current officials aren't Platonic Philosopher Kings but that sometimes the new guy is portrayed as a might-be. The idea of Heaven on Earth is anathema to the religious but downright infectious amongst the "realists."

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The Badger 6:55 AM on 13 Jul 2009

@Tony: It's nice to see that the buzzwords of the conservatives are now condensed into acronyms, but from the exposure I've had to US media (via globally targeted US media, not via my own regional media) Palin appeared to get a "free pass" from the conservative-leaning media, and the rest were fawning over her "hockey mom" image for long enough to buy her plenty of goodwill, even though image should count for relatively little if you're going to be number two in the administration of the most powerful nation on the planet.

If the media rounded on Palin - and to imagine that the media don't do so with everyone eventually is, to put it mildly, naive - then it probably had a lot to do with a combination of her mediocre performance and her seemingly intolerant (and ignorant) views. And this isn't just a case of the supposedly "liberal" media, for whom the latter factor would play a major part in ending her "media honeymoon". Had McCain chosen a less compromised running mate instead of pandering to Bush-adoring conservatives, he might have stood a better chance of winning the election; once the conservative media realised this, they had their reason to do what all "mainstream media" does eventually: demolish the celebrity status that they helped to create.

I'm continually amused by accusations of media bias originating amongst conservatives, given the apparent propaganda-like state of media in the US and, I trust you have noticed, in the UK as well. The main difference seems to be that while Murdoch will readily switch horses in the UK and back the Tories, airbrushing away any enthusiasm for the current government and taking most of the "me too" popular press with him - there's more money to be made that way - meanwhile, in the US, there's no apparent shortage of conservative pundits and outlets bemoaning the state of the nation in increasingly petty ways, pointing the finger of blame at everyone but themselves for their current position of near irrelevance.

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DavidM 8:10 AM on 13 Jul 2009

http://www.mediaresearch.org/biasalert/2009/20090704121508.aspx

Badger, I guess those blinders are great for sunny days huh?

You had voters in the last election who thought Sarah claimed she could see Russia from her house. You had Matt Damon saying governor Palin thought the world was 10,000 years old. You had people all over the media claiming she had no experience, when in fact she had a LOT more experience than our current President ( who had zero executive experience).

Meanwhile Obama claims we have 57 states and not a peep. The guy doesn't even know the meaning of P/E ratios.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xySAXuCWnUQ

But if Palin lack of expertise on Supreme court cases is considered 'scary'?

As far as 'conservative irrelevance':
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/the_biggest_missing_story_in_p.html

The American public is fiscally conservative by a 2 to 1 measure, perhaps more after Obama is finished with the economy.

Limited government is the only way a country can become prosperous enough for all the loony ideas for government-run-everything which inevitably comes every generation who fail to take even a casual look at history.

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The Badger 9:42 AM on 15 Jul 2009

@DavidM: I'm not even an American Badger, so like Tony I don't really "have a dog in this fight". Sure, everyone in the political arena gets pulled up for stuff they've said, done or maybe not said or done, although I doubt that the myth of the "liberal media" finds a great deal of support with, say, John Kerry, but ultimately it all comes down to the perceived credibility of the candidates in an election, not how many guffaws and cheap shots you can get out of them:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/57states.asp

(Hoping that Snopes isn't part of the "liberal media" conspiracy.)

Whether Obama was let off the hook and Palin got undeserved scrutiny, when words like "palling around with terrorists" come out of someone's mouth in reference to their opponent as they campaign for public office, at some point the media is going to stop digging in one place and start digging in another. Despite assertions about Palin's experience in comparison to Obama's supposed lack of experience, one convenient spot to start digging was in Palin's own backyard, and that certainly yielded more material than vague and tired allegations about nasty people that Obama may have met on various occasions (which probably weren't selling any papers by the time such allegations were repeated for the nth time). You can claim that all this is so unfair and that the media merely unearthed untruths about Palin's credentials (despite there being a public record around Palin's public office experience), but if so, then Palin comes across as a political amateur who all too readily slings mud without anticipating the reaction.

As for conservative irrelevance (with a conservative source to counter such claims, too!), it will be interesting to see the games within the Republican party especially since, as I noted, Palin was regarded as a liability in 2008. And not by me, either, but by the Republican party itself.

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David Boudreau 9:05 AM on 21 Jul 2009

As a conservative and one who once volunteered for McCain (long ago), I generally like Palin and think the media was a bit harsh compared to other candidates. I bet if you probe just about any candidate they will stumble on something in an interview or have that perception. After all, the guy that won the election blundered, himself, saying something insensitive about the Special Olympics on a talk show. As Palin has a child in her family with Down's syndrome, I bet that is something she would never do.

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Ned Batchelder 7:35 PM on 28 Jul 2009

@David: it's missing the point to say that all candidates blunder. You are right, they do, but other candidates have well-delivered thoughtful speeches to counter-balance their blunders. I haven't seen Palin deliver a leadership speech. She's good at pep rallies, but I just can't see her standing up in front of a crowd and convincing them of anything. Preaching to the choir is not leadership. More than once I've seen her try to answer questions off the cuff, and it's been a train wreck.

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David Boudreau 6:20 AM on 30 Jul 2009

If leadership is defined as such (standing up in front of a crowd and convincing) then maybe not, or I'm just not seeing the distinction but I liked her recent speech about a week ago reminding me that it's more about the citizen's rights and freedoms than the importance of any particular great leader (on either side). That she is leaving a little ahead of schedule might not be the best thing in the world from this standpoint but she's earned enough trust to have me be also interested in her next move after this.

btw in the looks-just-like-an-SNL-cast-member, Chad Smith, the drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, looks exactly like Will Ferrel. Chad got off so much easier than Palin though.

Also, Palin is a hottie. So I really don't see what the fuss is all about here.

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