Do you want to cling to your assumptions, or do you want to be right?
December 4, 2010 4 Comments
I talked to a savvy GOP politico early this evening, who told me that he believed the Palinmania of her backers — which, as I said above, I consider the gamebreaker for the primaries — will peter out once she goes to Iowa or New Hampshire for the umpteenth time. At that point, he said, she will be seen as just another candidate, and therefore judged on a more even playing field. —Mike Potemra, NRO’s The Corner
Mike Potemra’s piece is good – really good. This passage brought to mind something, to borrow the phrase from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, that may interest only me: when have GOP politicos been right about anything over the past four years? When I read a quote from a GOP politico who won’t give a name, I immediately assume it’s a Sarah Palin Concern Troll, or a Troll-Troll. Hater’s be hatin’, and trollz be trollin’!
In the paragraph before that one, Potemra writes:
The choice between Palin and Obama, phrased in the least flattering (to Palin) possible way, is a choice between a woman who may turn out to be seriously inadequate to the job and, therefore, become a failed president; and a man who has already convincingly demonstrated that he is seriously inadequate to the job and, therefore, already is a failed president. This rather changes the “electability” issue, doesn’t it?
And so, Potemra perfectly illustrates the problem with people who dismiss Palin: they are dealing with something theoretical without accepting the present as it is to say nothing of what is already known.
If that sounds snooty, it was meant that way, which is why I italicized it.
The enduring frustration of the Palinista ranks is that she is criticized in generalizations rather than what is actually known about her through her words and deeds. She is the only politician I can remember who is repeatedly advised to “study up” even though she is the only potential GOP nominee for ’12 who regularly talks about policy in non-general terms. She is said to be incurious by people who don’t read her writing and have already decided that she is, well, incurious. How do they draw this assumption? I have no idea – were I guessing, I’d say the Katie Couric interview, something that was heavily edited, a poor go by Palin (by her own admission), and something that happened more than two fucking years ago.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what’s true so much as how it’s perceived (at least that’s what I think his feeling is). To a large degree, I think that is unfortunately true. Yet, perception is largely inculcated and harvested by the media, a body that loathes Conservatives, hates principled Conservatives and is scared beyond-shitless of Palin.
Returning to the GOP politico’s assertion: on what planet will Sarah Palin not be the most brightly-lit star in the galaxy? Love her, hate her, dismiss her, mock her, belittle her, but know for certain without a doubt that the dozen or so people mentioned in the same breath as Palin have a Herculean task to get even a smidgen of her name recognition, even in Iowa and New Hampshire. I’m not saying this is good, right or fair, but we are talking about politics and perception – a globally famous, attractive woman in a red suit tends to stand out from a cadre of a dozen white men in navy blue suits reciting boilerplate talking points structured by unnamed politicos while working the rubber-chicken circuit.
Sarah Palin is getting stronger by the day, which in the eyes of many GOP types means she is getting dangerous. Recently, I’ve noted what I focus on in the news has nothing to do with Liberals and what they say about Sarah Palin – it is Conservatives and what they are saying.
Many Conservatives understandably fear speaking out about Palin – the negative comments, depending on the person speaking them and the substance of them – can make a popular pundit anywhere from less popular (Krauthammer, Will) to a modern version of the Devil herself (Kathleen “Not a Conservative, Nice Shoes Client #9” Parker). The reason for this fear or reticence is twofold:
- Like her personally or not, almost everything she is saying, writing and doing is Conservative
- The pundit knows that her career as an established “Conservative” pundit will come screeching to a halt if anything she says about Palin is already provably false
Some would argue that Palinistas big and small are fostering an environment of fear around criticizing Palin, but like the straw man I used to introduce this sentence, their arguments are just that: straw men. The biggest Conservative criticism of Palin stems from the idea that she’s not smart/sophisticated/learned. These sentiments are provably false, yet to many who do not like her and resent being attacked by those who love her, the insistence becomes personal, which is a butterfly effect of how personally hit Palinistas were in the first year of her rise and subsequent resignation after being battered like no pol in history.
We do not forget. She has the money and exposure to fight back now, but that has not always been the case. Conservatives4Palin exists because no one else would consistently take up for a woman who was a strong Conservative getting beaten down by the press and hemmed in by a slew of ethics charges, all of which were ultimately dismissed. Before she resigned from her governorship on July 3, 2009, I had argued until I was blue in the face with people who diminished her while knowing nothing about her; the same people who took an SNL-sendup as Gospel were now using that to illustrate Sarah Palin as they wanted and needed her to exist, not as she actually was.
I think part of the concern of Sarah Palin among certain Conservatives is they don’t want her to get too big, even though that horse left the barn ages ago. They rightly understand that Sarah Palin made an end run around the media and is now beating it handily at its own game – who’s to say the GOP primary process won’t be the same way? There are certain things she might have to do that are expected, but Palin, if she chooses to, can fly far above the fray. She’s already been vetted, most people already have a strong opinion of her, so there will be little need for her to be perched on a stage with seven other GOPers who have zero chance of defeating her in a primary. It’s not that they’re not playing on the same field as Sarah Palin, they aren’t even playing the same game.
Palin was the first to refuse to play along by the rules established. At first, she represented the opening line from Howard Roark’s defense of himself in The Fountainhead: she was the first GOPer to discover the power of the media’s fire and she was burned at the stake for it. Unlike the fate of that first man, though, she rose like a phoenix from ashes, and now she is soaring.
There are no sure things in politics, or anything else for that matter. For Conservatives unsure of how to react to Palin, it was once comfortable to assure oneself that she could never, ever be elected POTUS.
That time is coming to an end. The time is nearing to go big or go home, to join the bandwagon, to read her books, her Facebook Notes, her op-eds and YouTube a few speeches. As is being learned by a growing cadre of Conservatives, it’s no longer enough to say that she is not electable – the New York Times Magazine profile of her blew the lid off that idiotic observation.
The question I ask of all Conservatives is simple: do you want cling to your past prejudices about Palin to prove something, or do you want Fred-6 ousted from the White House? Sarah Palin, for now, is the only person on the planet who potentially has that power, and that potential is not some wishy-washy, hope-springs-eternal cock-eyed optimistic wishful thinking projected out of delusion, it is palpable, and it is becoming real.