Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Palin's Got That Lean and Hungry Look: Can She Rewrite History?

Is it true that Sarah Palin was minding her business like Little Miss Muffet with absolutely no interest in becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee at all until John McCain called her up? I ask this question because last night on Larry King Live, Judge Judy, who did not vote McCain/Palin, said that she didn't like how the Republicans were infighting, back-biting, and blaming Sarah Palin for McCain's loss. The back-biting is not deserved, Judge Judy believes, unless, of course, Palin had gone after the Vice President nomination.

So, for some people the conclusion is Sarah Palin is blameless because she never asked to be the nominee. They might change their minds, however, if they discover she lobbied for the VP slot and attempted to woo Washington before she got the McCain call. There's evidence that she did just that.

Nevertheless, I still say that Republicans should not blame Palin for losing the election and exaggerate her shortcomings now because it suits them. The buck stops with the leader, McCain, for inviting and selecting her to join him on the ticket. And, as I've said before, Republicans need to take responsibility for voting her in at the RNC without first fully vetting her.

Think conservatives didn't see Palin coming? Think again. Here's YouTube video of conservative Bill Kristol columnist back in June, two months before the Palin selection, on Fox News, praising the Alaska governor, making a "prediction" that McCain would choose her, and accusing liberals of being misogynistic when it came to Hillary Clinton. Some in the liberal camp (and the conservative as well) indeed sprayed sexist spittle over Hillary, but Kristol goes further to say Republicans would never be misogynistic because they respect strong women. Hmm, how does he explain Republicans tossing Palin on the figurative funeral pyre?

But wait! There's more. Here is a link to Kristol in October 2008 saying that Palin's pick was a surprise to him and he thought McCain should have chosen Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his running mate. Is Kristol delusional? Did he forget what he said about Palin in June? Well, no, he sort of remembers, and he also shows where his head is in that he thought McCain should pick Palin mostly because President-elect Barack Obama did not pick Hillary Clinton. Isn't that what liberals said about the Palin choice, that McCain didn't choose Palin because she was the best candidate but because she was female? Oh, I get it. If you point that out and you're liberal, then you're sexist. If you're a conservative and say it, then you're savvy.
Or, I said a woman, just because I think Obama's failure to pick Hillary Clinton provided an opening. And of the women that I mentioned in the New York Times column that I wrote in the week before McCain's pick, I mentioned Palin, and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, as the two likely picks. I think I'm one of the few people in Washington who actually spent some time with Governor Palin a year ago, when we had our Weekly Standard cruise in Alaska, and I was impressed by her. I thought she would've been a bold and interesting pick and I think she was a bold and interesting pick. She's obviously been pummeled by the media, and has made some mistakes, and I think it has been mishandled by some of the McCain team. And like I said, since we speak 12 hours before the debate, it's a little hard to come to a conclusion on whether this was a smart, bold pick, or a foolish, bold pick. (Bill Kristol)
I also add this radio clip that I found at a pro-McCain/Palin blog, Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President, of Sarah Palin being interviewed on Fox radio in June 2008 about the energy crisis and drilling for oil.

If you listen to this clip, you'll see that she sounds much more relaxed and knowledgeable when discussing subjects she's tackled for a long time, causing me to say that she's definitely brighter than she came off in the Couric interview. However, as I've written elsewhere, while we may think Palin is dimwitted based on her performance during the campaign, she's actually scarier if it's true she's a brainiac. If she's got brains plus that lean and hungry look, she bears watching, especially if she's willing to persist in 2012 with the kind of divisive rhetoric she used in this campaign.

But, what was that Alaskan cruise about that Kristol mentioned while backtracking on his Palin prediction? It's his memories of an earlier time when Palin stroked the egos of the so-callled "Washington elite" that she claimed later to disdain. In 2007 she began not only promoting Alaska to the media but also herself as a potential Washington powerhouse or VP contender.
Bitney is from Wasilla, Palin’s home town, and has known her since junior high school, where they both played in the band. He considers Palin a friend, even though after becoming governor, in December, 2006, she dismissed him. He is now the chief of staff to the speaker of the Alaska House.

Upon being elected governor, Palin began developing relationships with Washington insiders, who later championed the idea of putting her on the 2008 ticket. “There’s some political opportunism on her part,” Bitney said. For years, “she’s had D.C. in mind.” He added, “She’s not interested in being on the junior-varsity team.”

During her gubernatorial campaign, Bitney said, he began predicting to Palin that she would make the short list of Republican Vice-Presidential prospects. “She had the biography, I told her, to be a contender,” he recalled. At first, Palin only laughed. But within a few months of being sworn in she and others in her circle noticed that a blogger named Adam Brickley had started a movement to draft her as Vice-President. Palin also learned that a number of prominent conservative pundits would soon be passing through Juneau, on cruises sponsored by right-leaning political magazines. She invited these insiders to the governor’s mansion, and even led some of them on a helicopter tour. (How John McCain Came to Pick Sarah Palin?, The New Yorker)
Palin supporters also started a campaign to promote her on the Internet, and I guess that's why I can link to "Draft Sarah Palin" site established before McCain announced her as his choice.

Next up, an October 2008 WaPo opinion piece on Palin's courting the media on that cruise:
In short order, important writers set themselves the task, in print and on television, of promoting Palin and, in the process, making perfect asses of themselves. They succeeded at both.

The account of that summer of love comes from yet a third magazine, the New Yorker. In it, Jane Mayer detailed the efforts of the highly ambitious Palin to become well known in the Washington political-journalistic milieu she pretends, in proper demagogic fashion, to detest. After an apparently bravura saying of grace, she wowed her guests with some excellent halibut cheeks and the Category 4 force of her personality. Some of them sank into a kind of delirium known to high schoolers and praised her as "my heartthrob" (Kristol), "a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc" (Gerson) and, so far not evident, "smart" (Barnes).

Especially in the Weekly Standard, Palin was acclaimed as a tribune of the people. As for her critics, they were dismissed as "liberal media" types who were not, like conservative editors and TV commentators, one with the people. Kristol hit this theme hard, having somehow absorbed Wal-Mart sensitivities while living most of his life in either New York or Washington where, as I can personally attest, real Americans are encountered only when summoned to carry out home repairs. You can learn a lot this way. (Richard Cohen)
And here Sarah Palin is now, cooking moose burgers and chili again back home in Alaska, hoping to improve her image and speak out on fellow Republicans slandering her name, and she's also saying that the Republican party lost because it represented the status quo and people wanted change.

But, she likes Tina Fey, and she's said Obama did a good job.

I think some of the stories that McCain aides have spread about Palin do sound like sour grapes and payback, but until Palin changes her barracuda style of political attack and stops mutilating the facts and pushing propaganda herself, I'm not buying whatever act she's peddling. She thinks it's time America stopped discussing her belts and skirts and enjoy Obama being elected office, and that's good advice, but we still need to discuss Palin as long as any crowd is chanting "Palin 2012."

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