The Rehabilitation of Sarah

After a Fox News interview yesterday, Sarah Palin continued her rehabilitation media tour this morning on The Today Show and will be back in the lower 48 for the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami later this week. In other words, she will not go away and two people benefit from this: Sarah Palin and John McCain.

From what I've seen from these interviews, Palin, now unfettered by the campaign, comes across as genuine, especially in her praise of John McCain and her deference to the results last Tuesday ("this is Barack Obama's time.") She also comes off way smarter than the caricature of her and as a result of the "leaks" claiming that she didn't know Africa is a continent and which countries are in NAFTA, the media is now in the position of defending Palin rather than ridiculing her, since those accusations do seem fairly unbelievable, even for Palin.

As for the benefit the focus on Palin is accruing to John McCain, Jonathan Martin gets it:

The Palin obsession...obscures the mistakes McCain made in his own campaign (though some would say one of those was in picking the Alaska governor).  The central debate in the GOP is not now what typically takes place after a party loses -- what the candidate did wrong or whether he ran too far to the left, right or middle.  

Instead, it's entirely forward-looking, and based around whether Palin represents the future of the party. [...]

So now, as the battle over Palin begins, McCain can quietly begin to reclaim his own legacy and place in public life.  That begins tonight with an appearance on Leno and will accelerate as he re-engages in the Senate.

Which brings us to whom Palin's rehabilitation hurts. It's no accident that certain McCain staffers with the complicity of FoxNews have been trying to put a nail in Palin's coffin post-defeat. They know that if Palin is a credible face of the GOP moving forward, they will remain a minority party. Just look at the exit poll numbers on Palin (from First Read):

NBC's Ana Maria Arumi crunched exit poll numbers on Palin for David Gregory's "1600" on MSNBC. The results: The voters who found her to be qualified to be president were Republicans (74%), from the South (45%), and from rural areas (45%). She greatly underperformed among college grads (35%), independents (35%), and in the suburbs (40%).

David Brooks elaborates on the fight for the soul of the Republican Party that's currently underway between Traditionalists:

...the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed. [...]

To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.

...and the Reformers who get that:

...conservatives need to pay attention to the way the country has changed. Conservatives have to appeal more to Hispanics, independents and younger voters. They cannot continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.

Brooks concedes that in the short term, the Traditionalists will win, both because they control the right-wing institutions and because they make up the vast majority of the GOP congressional minority. Brooks predicts Republicans have many defeats ahead of them before the Reformists are able to attract the sort of institutional support to really change the party and while Brooks doesn't overtly make the connection, it's clear that the rehabilitation of Sarah Palin only makes the Traditionalists stronger. Taking down Palin was the first attempt by the Reformists to save the party. So far it seems to have backfired.

Tags: Republican Party, Sarah Palin (all tags)



Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

I see it differently... It seems to me that she is digging her hole deeper every time she talks.  for example he can't stop talking about the stupid clothes incident.  She keeps it in the news by bringing it up time and time again...  That's shows her naivete as a national politician...  If she wants "Sarah to be Sarah", that's great.... for our side!  She's a major gaffe machine, making Joe Biden look absolutely polished in comparison!

I know she is trying to rehabilitate herself, and she certainly can succeed doing so, but she won't be able to do it on her own.  Since she doesn't listen to anyone else, and she's not very bright (despite what wingnuts think), it doesn't seem like she will improve her standing very much in the long run.

Her danger is that she may steal some votes from us due to identity politics... If she were running for president, some women might vote for her just because she's a woman... but, she has to present herself as credible first... so far, that hasn't happened... being somewhat more likable isn't the same as being more credible... and as soon as she starts attacking, her likability factor goes way down as well.

Still, she scares me 'cos she is the embodiment of evil, and too many people are swayed by her siren song...

by LordMike 2008-11-11 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

The obsession with all things Sarah Palin will continue well beyond the election.  Although I disagree with her on all cultural/social issues, the treatment she has received does generate some personal sympathy. Despite her ideology and inexperience, she does strike me as someone who loves her children, her husband, her state and her country. The personal shots (i.e., the crap about her faking her pregnancy) sicken me.  We can beat her on the issues, but trying to destroy her personally will only cause her more sympathy. Besides, that is just not how good progressives should act.

The McCain/Palin campaign was horribly managed. Even had they done everything right, it was a Democratic year and Barak Obama ran a nearly flawless campaign that provided few real openings.  The operatives who are "leaking" gossip on Sarah Palin are trying to dodge the blame for how bad of a job they did, pretty much saying, "it was all Sarah's fault."  And I though Republicans were supposed to be testosterone tough.

I would like to believe this election was a lurch leftward, but I am more of the mind that it was a repudiation of W and the Republicans and not a great embrace of liberalism.  We intellectual/elitist coastal liberals should not underestimate the appeal of Sarah Palin's twang and folksiness.  Sorry, but she is clearly one of the most charismatic candidates around. And, since 47% of the voters cast ballots for someone other than Barak Obama, she could (unfortunately have a bright national future.

by darrenfelipe 2008-11-11 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

Loves her children?  You're kidding, right?  She exposes her teenage daughter to the wolves of the press, bounces her newborn around like a literal AND political football, and her husband has openly complained that she has no time for the family now...

She treats her family like cattle and it shows...

by LordMike 2008-11-11 02:00PM | 0 recs

"She also comes off way smarter than the caricature of her ..."

Well of course, she won't appear stupid in these interviews, because she no longer has to talk about policy and other things that require facts and some understanding of current events.  Instead, she's being asked soft-ball questions that require her to only appear "genuine" and "honest" to pass.

To be able to recite the appropriate Oprah platitudes does not make one smart (or smarter).

by Sieglinde 2008-11-11 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Smarter??

I agree. I watched some of her Greta interview and then a Lauer interview and she doesn't look smarter at all.  

In Greta's show, she did her usual thing of repeating the same phrases over and over again, for instance talking about how feminist women should not reject her because they have some common ground -- while ignoring that the majority of women, particularly women don't agree with much of her policy views at all.  Somehow the fact that she's a working mother is supposed to trump all that - and it doesn't.

And in Lauer, she said that she was "annoyed" in her Couric interview.  But he never asked why and her answer was, again, absurd. She focused only on the "what do you read" question, which was NOT (as she said) "what do you read up in Alaska." And, in any case, Couric asked lots of other things. Was Palin annoyed in answering every question and so couldn't explain in a rational way why sharing a border with other countries gave her foreign policy credentials, she couldn't discuss Supreme Court cases, she mistakenly thought that the bailout had to do with health care costs, etc.???

Palin keeps digging herself deeper, particularly if analysts care to actually write about what she said and comparing it to what she said before.

Having a mydd frontpager conclude that she was any more smart or rational recently, well, why would you? She wasn't - She continues to be an embarrassment and certainly a bullet the country dodged.

by politicsmatters 2008-11-11 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah
Oh I hope they rally behind Palin
any party that think she can win deserves to lose
by wellinformed 2008-11-11 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

I think Jed Lewison has a good point:

Palin doesn't control her 2012 destiny: Barack Obama does. As long as he has an effective first term as president, Palin can rehab herself all she wants, but she won't be able to win, because the pursuit of the 2012 nomination will simply be a contest to win the right to lose to Obama.

Jed Lewison - Palin's Irrelevant Rehab Jed Report 11 Nov 08

And just while we're on Palin, it occurs to me in the aftermath of the election that her own position, as opposed to McCain's, in the political spectrum could be described as the 'national socialist' wing of the Republican party.  Godwin's Law notwithstanding, look at the virulently nationalist, populist, anti-communist xenophobic and falsely mythologised traditionalist NSDAP of, say, 1932 and tell me it isn't a little spooky.  Kraft durch Freude with Joe the Plumber.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-11 10:01AM | 0 recs
Republicans are split all over the country

Right now Iowa Republicans need to pick new leaders, and the party is badly divided between what you might call reformers and traditionalists (also knows as moderates v. social conservatives):

Taking a spin round the Iowa conservative blogs while writing that piece, I noticed that several of them think Palin has been unfairly maligned.

It will be interesting to see how much of his base Huckabee can hold onto in Iowa.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-11 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

I continue to be amazed at her inability to form an intelligible sentence.  I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, yet after reading some of her responses on the Fox interview multiple times, I still have absolutely no idea what she's talking about.

Of course, our current President doesn't seem to be able to speak well, either, and that didn't prevent him from winning two elections.

by LanceS 2008-11-11 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

Given what little one has gleaned of her actual position on the issues, as opposed to the dog-whistle jingoism of her rhetoric, it's pretty safe to say that her ability to garble the simplest sentence is one of her most significant assets.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-11 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

The image of Palin as an illiterate hillbilly is going to be hard to shake off no matter how much time passes, and those YouTube videos are going to be around for a long time. I don't care what way the media paints it, no one is going to forget that she cannot name one journal or newspaper she reads on a regular basis. Did not see any reading materials in the video of her home.

The thing about parties is that when they are fractured, they tend to move far to whatever side of the political spectrum they represent. Rehabilitating Palin means someone is going to have to make her appear more moderate, whereas the base is going to respond to someone more right wing. I see her being in the 2012 campaign the same way Edwards was in 2004 and 2008. I see the GOP nominating another cryptkeeper with a war record over her any day. Or Jeb, one of the two.


by techsoldaten 2008-11-11 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rehabilitation of Sarah

Democrats need to tout ourselves as the party of American values.

We are the party of liberty and justice for all.

We are the party that provides for the care of human life and happiness and not their destruction.

We are the party of good government.

We are the party that supports the First Amendment of freedom of speech, press and religion and the separation of church and state.

We are the party that supports the Second Amendment in the event that people ever have to overthrow an oppressive government should that time ever come.

We are the party that recognizes that we're not angels and for that government must learn how the control the governed as well as how to control itself.

And what do the Republicans offer? Traditional values, family values? Those are pretexts to attack American constitutional values.

Republicans are the party of small or less government. Those are not American values. American values are good government.

by Hempy 2008-11-11 05:41PM | 0 recs
Got bored watching Palin on Fox.

Here might be the real problem with Palin - she's actually quite dull.  She's captivating only when spewing incendiary hate or saying something outrageously ignorant.  

You need an interviewer willing to ask follow-up questions of Palin.  That's when the fireworks go off.  

by ProfessorReo 2008-11-11 06:24PM | 0 recs


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