Perplexing Political Punditry: 'Palin's Perfect-Pitch Populism'

David Broder, the dean of the Washington punditry establishment, has penned quite the column in the Washington Post:

Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.

Top of her game? Really the top of her game was back in the summer of 2008 at the GOP convention. Since then it has been one more embarrassing debacle after another. She's got her fan base to be sure and it's not an insignificant number but most sentient beings see Palin as an on-going political train wreck. There's an entertainment value in Palin-watching for certain but it's more a morbid curiosity than any deep yearning for her pearls of political insight.

Broder continues on:

Blessed with an enthusiastic audience of conservative activists, Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington.

Touch is the right word because any details were sorely lacking. One really has to wonder about David Broder's senility at this point. Full repertoire? Of what? Of meaningless stock phrases such as "commonsense conservatism"? Her national security policy was "we win, they lose." Her economic prescription was more of the same policies that got us in our present predicament.

And there's more:

Freed of the responsibilities she carried as governor of Alaska, devoid of any official title but armed with regular gigs on Fox News Channel and more speaking invitations than she can fulfill, Palin is perhaps the most visible Republican in the land.

That's not necessarily a good thing for the Republican party. In a recent poll by the National Journal of 85 GOP strategists and insiders, Palin was the top response when they were asked, "Which voice in your party would you most like to mute?" Twenty-eight percent listed Palin with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael coming in second, with 12 percent.

That's among the GOP's elite but among the GOP base her support is also faltering. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 71 percent of Americans do not feel that Palin is qualified to be President. That includes a sharp drop in Republican support, where 45 percent believe she is qualified compared to 66 percent who thought she was last fall. Overall, 37 percent have a favorable view while 55 percent have an unfavorable view of the former Alaska Governor.

Still Broder presses onto his inevitable conclusion:

Palin's final answer to Wallace showed how perfectly she has come to inhabit that part. When he asked her what role she wants to play in the country's future, she said:

"First and foremost, I want to be a good mom, and I want to raise happy, healthy, independent children. And I want them to be good citizens of this great country.

"And then I do want to be a voice for some common-sense solutions. I'm never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I'm not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I'm going to fight the elitist, because for too often and for too long now, I think the elitists have tried to make people like me and people in the heartland of America feel like we just don't get it, and big government's just going to have to take care of us.

"I want to speak up for the American people and say: No, we really do have some good common-sense solutions. I can be a messenger for that. Don't have to have a title to do it."

This is a pitch-perfect recital of the populist message that has worked in campaigns past. There are times when the American people are looking for something more: for an Eisenhower, who liberated Europe; an FDR or a Kennedy or a Bush, all unashamed aristocrats; or an Obama, with eloquence and brains.

But in the present mood of the country, Palin is by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty -- and potentially, to Obama as well.

Palin did not wear well in the last campaign, especially in the suburbs where populism has a limited appeal. But when Wallace asked her about resigning the governorship with 17 months left in her term and whether she let her opponents drive her from office, she said, "Hell, no."

Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand. The lady is good.

I'm surprised that David Broder got through all that without comparing Palin to Reagan but that aside, all of the aforementioned had one talent that Sarah Palin doesn't have: the ability to talk intelligently on a wide range of subjects in depth and with awareness to details. She can spout talking points and not much more. She is a political parvenu plucked from the frozen tundra and a pitiful parody that is a product of her own flamboyant self-invention.

Tags: Sarah Palin, Tea Party Movement, David Broder, conservative movement (all tags)



Unfortunately Palin actually is saying something

I don't know; I have been watching a bit of the train wreck and it is occasionally possible to catch her drift, even when she is being her usual incoherent self. She is pretty nervous in the spotlight and tongue tied but, if you try listening, she is saying something. For example the quote about Obama acting like a know-it-all from the "lectern" is, on the one hand, incoherent and, on the other hand, spot on.

The problem with out liberal analyses of Sarah Palin is that we are listening to her with a critical ear (like people going in to see Avatar knowing it is "Dances with Smurfs") and so we miss what she actually trying to say. We are analyzing what we hear but not what is being heard by people who support her. Both might be worth analysing.


by pwax 2010-02-11 06:31AM | 0 recs
the critical eye

That's the problem, and its very similar to the other side of the aisle and how they percieve Obama. But, they seem fated to be involved with eachother. She really gets under his skin, he's beaten her. The media has loved the entanglement from the get go, so I don't they'll do anything but make it a bigger drama.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-11 11:20AM | 0 recs
RE: the critical eye

We know exactly what Palin is (trying to) say. It's the same shtick used against dems and progressives for dozens of years. She is good with the zingers. The problem is however is that she is incoherent. For example the TARP bail-outs - which she now attacks she was once in favor of - calling it in fact an essential part of "job creation" back in '08. That alone should inform you of the GOP belief that shovelling money to big businesses is a "job creator". But anyway....

by vecky 2010-02-11 08:51PM | 0 recs
Broder supports pseudo right-wing populism, but not real populism

The reason Palin has garnered any attention at all is that powerful voices like David Broder are promoting her. Real populists, like Rocky Anderson, get ignored by Broder. Broder only supports right-wing pseudo populists who criticize liberal elites, but he will never support any left-wing populists who actually want to improve the country.

by RandomNonviolence 2010-02-11 08:52AM | 0 recs
Run, Sarah, run

With David Broder cheering her on, I hope Palin runs in 2012. She is not only incredibly polarizing, women hate her. Palin could not win a general election with such low female support. It is shocking her poll numbers are this low when she has not undergone harsh MSM media critique in over a year.

by Lolis 2010-02-11 09:47AM | 0 recs
Sarah Palin, tea party convention

The highlight was to be Sarah Palin's speech, and the highlight it was. The Alaskan Barbie was in great form and the audience loved it, handing her many ovations.

The speech itself was in no way historic or substantive. But it was a fitting keynote speech, better than one that might be given here by, say, Newt Gingrich, or at a gathering of Democrats by,say, Al Gore. Palin criticized Obama and his policies and filled her speech with platitudes and tea party beattitudes.

The conventioneers got what they paid for.



by altara 2010-02-11 10:06AM | 0 recs
It would be okay with me

if no one at mydd spent another electron on Sarah Palin.  The liberal blogs are half the reason she's still around.

by the mollusk 2010-02-11 10:28AM | 1 recs
That ices it

Now that The Lord Broder has set his seal of approval on Our Lady of Wasilla, the rest of the Village Idiots in the DC punditry will fall into closely ordered ranks behind him.  Any coverage of Palin's shallowness will be converted into fawning plaudits to her "authenticity"; any incidents of her having to scrawl on her palm to remind herself of age-old conservative nostrums will magically change to approving choruses of her showing what a down-to-earth Every Woman she is; displays of ignorance of the world and the complexities of its affairs will be trumpeted as demonstrations of the moral clarity of her vision.

She's definitely going to be the GOP nominee in 2012, and if the Idiots have any say in it, she'll be our next president.




by dricey 2010-02-11 10:42AM | 1 recs
RE: That ices it

I think its still up in the air. The Republicans have seen the game plan, Scott Brown-Bob McDonnell, that wins, and its a bland center-right, don't talk about the social issues but instead focus on economics and big government failures.

Palin has the sense to get the pulse on the populist-libertarian feeling that is deep right now in the US. I think she also really rants to be a mover in the sense of a CoS, rather than as a Executive. She's very pragmatic, look at her backing of McCain against the rightwinger alternative.

Palin as the weathervane, and then some candidate like John Thune or Mitch Daniels is more likely.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-11 11:10AM | 0 recs
RE: That ices it

Mitch Daniels would be a formidable candidate.

by Charles Lemos 2010-02-11 12:28PM | 0 recs
Reagan History

Democrats dismiss Palin at their risk.  It may very well be that, even having positioned herself at the head of the populist parade (a position that I personally believe Obama was very unwise to have abandoned), she doesn't have the political skills to get the Republican nomination and get elected President.  That was certainly the conventional thinking when Reagan announced that he was considering a run for the Presidency.  I can remember some of that now - "what, Reagan for President?  a movie actor? nobody in their right mind would believe that this country - one of a stable, right thinking middle class - would ever believe a movie actor could be President!" Well guess what.  Those who don't understand my point here are clearly too young to recall how earth shattering it was to the conventional thinking crowd for movie actors to be politicians much less President.  Well guess what, Palin can't be discounted as a threat - many events can conspire in a way that might make that happen (not the least of which in my mind is the bad politics the Democratic leadership is playing right now).  Show me in Broder's article a statement he makes where he thinks she would make a good president - it's not there.  He simply understands that if Reagan can become President, Palin can too.

by TJ1 2010-02-11 12:59PM | 2 recs
RE: Reagan History

Right, but we instead have a slew of uneducated political novices that just came in after Democrats won a gravy train wave in '06, and Obama's '08 triumph. They don't realize that the norm in this country is quite the opposite, and thus, how much has been lost by the failure in the last year.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-11 07:39PM | 0 recs
Are you surprised?

This is the inherent problem with bipartisanship concern-trolls like David Broder. They fall for an image, even though Palin epitomizes the "poisonous partisanship" he decries. Unfortunately this WH is out to placate unprincipled old farts like him, while losing the base, you know the very partisan Democratic base that actually does all the leg-work of getting Democrats elected.

by tarheel74 2010-02-11 01:41PM | 2 recs
RE: Are you surprised?

Amazing analysis. Truly. Amazing. Rec'd

by QTG 2010-02-11 01:51PM | 0 recs
RE: Are you surprised?

Thank you I try my best. Remember how I said HCR was heading for disaster in June last year while you were being......oh well you know the rest ;)

by tarheel74 2010-02-11 02:09PM | 0 recs
On Huffpo's Politics page

The best headline ever:

WATCH: Glenn Beck Accuses Tea Party Candidate Of Being A 9/11 Truther

A whackjob pointing the finger at a idiot for being a doofus.

And several of our esteemed colleagues think we need to fear these people.

Fear On!

by QTG 2010-02-11 05:06PM | 0 recs


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