Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Last weekend Sarah Palin began her “One Nation” bus tour, barnstorming around the Northeast, with news organizations scrambling like flies around media manure to keep abreast of what she will do next. Palin has some serious talents. Governing and holding an executive office are not two of them. What this woman does have is an innate gift to create a media buzz around herself.
Mrs. Palin is the political edition of made-by-TV junk-food celebrities like the personality cults of Paris Hilton, Heidi Montag or Spencer Pratt. She has built a career around being that most coveted word of mass marketing: Likable. From beauty queen to governor-n-go to the national stage, Sarah is good at being Sarah.
On the One Nation tour, Palin and her family are traversing the Northeast in a large tour bus, stopping at historical sites along the way. Her people are refusing to give the media an itinerary, suggesting to those who inquire to “check her website” www.sarahpac.com. Updates on the website are primarily postings after-the-fact, replete with pictures and musings on her adventures.
Mrs. Palin will not say that this is a run-up to a GOP presidential bid, and it may not be. Many people are eyeing this as the potential jumping off point of her presidential campaign. She is rumored to be ending her tour in New Hampshire, a critical primary state. However, when last checked she had not let the New Hampshire Republican Committee know of her intentions to visit.
Donald Trump took a lot of wind out of Sarah Inc. with his promotional bid for attention to his reality show that was supposed to be his tossing of the hat into the ring. It is no coincidence that yesterday her tour bus made a stop in Manhattan so that she could have dinner with The Donald himself.
Her benefit to the Republican Party is that she has the marketing power to make large sections of their base listen to her, even if they can’t always understand what she is saying. Her speaking style is often referred to back in Alaska as “word salad.” Grammar and spelling are not things to which she paid much attention in school, but then again, neither did many of her fans and followers.
As a basketball player in high school, Mrs. Palin learned a valuable lesson that she would carry on in her life. Take down your opponents and win at whatever cost.
A look back at her political history will show that, despite promising to hold herself at a higher standard, this is how she still deals with political foes. She wasn’t able to run the court with were President Obama and Vice President Biden, and she still has a terrible time dealing with the “gotcha” media, which is why her handlers limit access to the press.
She began at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride in Washington D.C., despite not being invited by the people who run Rolling Thunder, a Veterans group who calls attention to POW/MIA and those soldiers lost in war. MSNBC reported:
“‘She wasn’t invited. We heard yesterday she came out with a press release she was coming to Rolling Thunder,’ Ted Shpak, national legislative director of Rolling Thunder, told ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports. Shpak is one of three members of Rolling Thunder’s current leadership who says he had no idea Palin was coming until it was posted on her website.”
According to Right Wing blog Hot Air, though:
“The invitation came from a retired board member, Michael DiPaolo, who had connections in Alaska and got Palin to agree to attend.”
This is one symptom of the many liabilities, though, that the personality cult of Sarah Palin brings along with her followers to the GOP.
Personal responsibility, a hallmark of American leadership, is not one of her strong suits. In “The Lies of Sarah Palin,” the Governor-in-Brief’s executive go-to style is put on display: Blame someone else. The mishandling of the Vice Presidential campaign was the fault of McCain’s people, , and the “gotcha” press. Granted, there is no Vice Presidential campaign, just a Presidential campaign, but Mrs. Palin made many fatal decisions of her own, avoiding the advice of her handlers, that derailed the McCain campaign.
The loss to President Obama has stuck like a thorn in her side. He has often been the target of her grammar gaffe-filled attacks. She never refers to Mr. Obama as the President, simply Obama. Giving him the prestige of his rightfully earned title is more than denying the victorious his gravitas. It also caters to that majority of registered Republicans who will not, under any circumstances, acknowledge President Obama because of his skin color.
She attacks the media in speeches like other speakers use an exclamation point, railing against them for even the smallest slight against her. Her lack of access as a private person is well within her rights. As a Republican candidate, though, failing to pass through fourth estate vetting will not be possible.
Mrs. Palin’s most successful PR campaign remains something of a liability with independent voters too. She was as the point person whipping up the racist fears of white Republican voters in 2008. She pushed the McCain campaign to continue to bring up President Obama’s former cleric, Reverend Wright. A New York Times editorial quoted her frequent ad-hominem attack that appealed to the closet racism of scared white voters: Mr. Obama “is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America.”
People who have worked on her campaigns or for her in office have considered her to be paranoid and mentally unstable. Many people in Alaska have wondered if she had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. .
The Palin protectors, her spokespeople, staff, and family spend many hours poring over the Internet to find articles about Mrs. Palin. In response to books, blogs and articles that have been written by people speaking out against her, they attack anyone who dares to criticize Mama Grizzly, even though that is like trying to stop a tidal wave with a sponge.
Former campaign volunteer turned Director of Commission and Boards, Frank Bailey, has been the most damaging of Palin’s detractors, because he is the first of the inner circle to turn publicly on his boss.
Mr. Bailey’s book, Blind Allegiance now stands at #150 on Amazon’s best seller list. It provides an intriguing glance of the psyche of the Palin team.
Bailey was with Mrs. Palin when she was just entering into the Republican Primary for the Governorship of Alaska. He stayed with her almost until the end. Bailey cut ties with the Palin camp when he felt that he could no longer stomach being the scapegoat for one of the former Governor’s public missteps. He also has stated repeatedly on the book tour that he wanted to atone for the things that he had done as part of Team Palin.
When the former Governor first entered into politics, Mrs. Palin served two terms on the Wasilla city council, then two terms as the Wasilla Town Mayor. She was also on the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). She left after a two year stint due to ethic rules that prevented her from speaking out about the ethics violations that she had discovered against the Republican Party Leader Rudy Ruedrich. Ironically enough, she would have the same ethics violations brought against her during her term as the Governor of the State of Alaska.
She was governor for a little less than half her term when she was thrust into the national spotlight: Senator John McCain picked her to be his running mate in the 2008 Presidential election.
There are many accounts of what went on during the campaign, but it is clear that she “went rogue”. She is described by campaign insiders as “unmanageable”, “unwilling to work”, and a “diva”.
This is the biggest liability of the personality cult of Sarah Palin for the GOP. She enjoyed the spotlight, but she bristled at being the runner-up. Clearly, she saw her steps into the National spotlight as her first steps towards a presidential run in 2012.
She is also being seen as a liability by those who had been her backers in the not-too-distant past. Former pro-Palin propagandist Roger Ailes, President of the Fox News Network described Palin as “stupid,” Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine reports:
“He thinks things are going in a bad direction,” another Republican close to Ailes told me. “Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”
Will she run for President in 2012?
The bus tour is a statement, and a test marketing of how that will be received. Donald Trump chumped her in the news cycle for weeks. Mrs. Palin needs to feel relevant again, as her fifteen minutes of fame is years overdue to end.
Beyond Trump, Mrs. Palin has other attention-grubbing competitors in the GOP. She is frequently upstaged by Tea Party three-term congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Some think that Bachmann is much better suited to actually hold an executive office.
SarahPalin is not about to fade gently into the night, not if she can help it. With millions of dollars in speaking engagements, reality TV shows, and more on the line, she is contemplating how to further her own newly rich lifestyle as much as she is considering a run for President Obama’s chair at the White House.