27, 2008, after seeing the last part of Sarah Palin’s interview on the O’Reilly program the previous evening, I wrote, in an
Two and a half months later, as a result of Palin’s remarks to Chris Wallace on February 8 that she would run for president if she thought it was the right thing to do, the mainstream media are now recognizing what I recognized in November. Read Luisita Torregrosa’s well-written
. Note also how Terrogrosa’s lead sentence echoes the title of my November 27 entry.
Why Sarah Palin Drives Them Crazy
Let’s face it. We can’t get rid of Sarah Palin.
In the past 72 hours, going from the molasses south of Opryland to the macho southwest of Texas to the gambling capital of Nevada and points in between, this crazy force of nature swept through, her zigzagging path shown live and on videotape repeatedly, her words and sounds parsed, deciphered, analyzed—even the crib notes on the palm of her hand were subject of jokes at the White House and on cable TV and newspapers, on the evening news and in the blogosphere.
For a while there, with her speech on Saturday evening at the National Tea Party convention in Nashville (televised live by all three cable news networks) and her taped interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” where she breezily revealed she would run for president in 2012 if it was right for the country and her family, we had Palin live, Palin on tape, Palin in sound bites, Palin blithering.
Her casual statement to Wallace sent a seismic tremor across the mainstream media and across party lines.
At this premature stage of the presidential race, few prospective candidates would admit plans to run. Palin’s forthright admission surprised Wallace (he said so later on his program). Apparently other commentators and pundits were surprised too, and alarmed, and discussed little else on the Monday talk shows.
Liberal pundits asked, hoping, if she would run as a third party candidate (another Ross Perot, another losing campaign), but she’d already said, in Nashville and elsewhere, that she believed that the Tea Party movement would meld with the GOP, that she didn’t believe in breaking away from her party.
Palin’s off-the-cuff statement to Wallace should not have been a surprise. She’s been doing little else with her time but building a national base and feeding off adoring crowds. But it is one thing to speculate about her political future and another thing to hear her declare her interest and intent on national television.
Suddenly, on Sunday, a Palin presidential candidacy was no longer just a pie-in-the-sky dream of Tea Partiers.
That she is the leader of the most passionate and potent grass-roots movement of the moment (think Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey), there is no doubt. That she’s riding a wave, there’s no doubt. That she could galvanize that growing political force, there’s little doubt. With a flip of her hair, the beauty queen from Wasilla could change the political field, just like that.
Polls show Palin ahead of other potential GOP presidential candidates, which may or may not be saying too much. (A CBS News poll last month found that 71 percent of Americans don’t want her to run.) She is by most accounts the most popular celebrity politician in the nation, an icon to millions.
It doesn’t hurt that she’s got great looks and five children to boot, and that she speaks the language of the folks out there in middle America. They love it when she says things like, “How’s that hope-y, change-y thing working out for ya?”
She’s got that “it” factor that pundits, columnists, political junkies, and regular people go crazy trying to figure out. Now, what is it about her? Certainly only Barack Obama beats her on charisma and crowd attraction, and maybe not by that much.
Given all that, the cable news talk shows recycled the Palin weekend clips, reviewed her performance, gauged her presidential prospects (scary to most) and weighed endlessly whether the world could survive Sarah Palin.
It’s bad enough that Palin resurrected herself after a disastrous vice presidential campaign and resignation as governor of Alaska last July. Her muddled explanations for quitting the governorship made her a pariah in media and political circles, and she was exiled to the silent wilds of Alaska.
Given up for politically dead, her swift and amazing comeback as author of a No. 1 best-selling memoir, “Going Rogue,” and hero of the mushrooming Tea Party movement has been a shock to the system.
So there she is now, on center stage, Sarah 2.0, taking the shots.
“She’s a force to be reckoned with,” said Diane Sawyer on “ABC World News” on Monday.
But Palin’s critics are legion, loud, and come in all political shades. Even a fellow conservative Republican like Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” frowns at the thought of a Palin presidential candidacy. On MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Monday, he said, in part, that Palin is “not the voice of somebody who’s going to take on Obama in 2012.”
Other critics are not quite as sensible and even-keeled. Going for the jugular has become fair game when it comes to Palin. The New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica slashed her bloody in a Monday column in which he said that she seems to believe that “somehow she can go from being this kind of pinup girl for her Tea Party friends to the White House.” He also called her a bubble-head. “You listen to her long enough and actually feel yourself getting dimmer by the minute.”
Meaner and tougher Chris Mathews, the voluble host of “Hardball,” makes no secret of his contempt for Sarah Palin and her followers. Agitated by the idea that Palin might dare to run for president, he dribbled a string of jabs on his shows on Monday and Tuesday, saying, among other things, “Is she a balloon-head?” and “She’s got nothing going on mentally.”