The Rehabilitation of Sarah
by Todd Beeton, Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 09:01:38 AM EST
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.