Julian Sanchez header image 2

photos by Lara Shipley

Please Don’t Throw Me in the Briar Patch!

February 10th, 2010 · 26 Comments

This HuffPo piece strikes me as just about right. Look, I don’t think Sarah Palin is terribly bright, but even I assume that if she can deliver a speech without notes, she can remember four or five bullet-point “priorities” without recourse to a list scrawled on her hand. If, for some reason, she couldn’t, I expect she could at least afford an index card—so as to look slightly less high schoolish—or glance at it a little less ostentatiously. She’s playing exactly the same game she’s been playing since her big debut at the Republican National Convention: Making herself an irresistible target of “elite” scorn so that everyone who identifies with her feels equally attacked. This is not exactly a subtle strategy, but for some reason, high-level Dems who are supposed to be deeply media savvy keep getting suckered.

Addendum: David Frum makes the point that Democrats are almost certainly delighted to raise Palin’s profile, for the same reason they treated Rush Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican party a year ago: They’d much rather the face of “the opposition” be someone who’s unpopular with the general public. That’s probably right, but a it’s got to be finessed—stunts like Gibbs’ grocery list are good for a chuckle, but they end up making the administration look petty as well. The trick is to raise your preferred opponent’s status with the GOP base, and only with the GOP base.

Tags: Horse Race Politics · Journalism & the Media


       

 

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Matt D // Feb 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Eh. That frankly seems a little too cunning to me. I’m guessing the notes had some other purpose and it’s just a happy coincidence (for her, anyway) that they’ve drawn the ire of the dreaded liberal elite.

  • 2 S. Tarzan // Feb 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Sarah Palin may think that getting picked on by liberals works for her; but does it really? Last I checked, her favorability/unfavorability ratings were still in the same bad place that they were as the election ended, while Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have been becoming more popular without getting involved in as many high level disputes.

  • 3 Neil the Ethical Werewolf // Feb 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Does it really hurt Democrats that much if the Palin-lovers come to love Palin more? She’s surely a weaker general election candidate than the others. Of course, if she somehow won, it’s total disaster, but there’s a case that Democrats and Palin are in the best kind of symbiosis.

  • 4 mike farmer // Feb 10, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Regardless of Sarah Palin’s popularity or unpopularity, the adolescent put-downs from a snobbish, self-appointed intellectual perch, that’s rickety at best, are perceived poorly by the voters. If Palin is not influential, then why attack her with this silly tactic? Why not just move along and be civil, and when questioned just answer in a calm and non-judgemental way that you don’t think she is a major factor and don’t know anything about her as a person — simply move away from the issue?

    I doubt politicians like Tip O’Neil would have used such a tactic. He might have laughed it off and said “Well, she’s spunky.”

    I personally don’t think she will run for president.

  • 5 Shannon's Mouse // Feb 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I’m not so sure about the cunning, for one big reason:

    spending cuts
    (tax)

    That looks like quite a gaffe for someone playing three dimensional chess. In fact, I think that correction was much more interesting than the fact that it was written on her hand.

  • 6 DivisionByZero // Feb 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Uh, you are giving her way too much credit. Especially since she has repeated the teleprompter line about Obama over and over again. Even she is not dumb enough to pull out an index card when she criticizes him for using a teleprompter. They aren’t the same thing but the media would equate them for the media viewing public to mindlessly consume. Now she looks stupid and hypocritical. Keep it up, Sarah!

  • 7 Xofis // Feb 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Overthinking it.

  • 8 Julian Sanchez // Feb 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Shannon makes a good point. Though in my experience, people who level the charge of “overthinking” are usually underthinking. Sometimes movies really do have non-overt symbolic messages, and sometimes apparent political gaffes really are strategic. I may be wrong about this instance, of course, but it would be a pretty elementary and unremarkable kind of move if it were what she’s up to.

  • 9 Zubon // Feb 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Alternate title: “Sarah Palin successfully trolls the White House”

  • 10 Julian Sanchez // Feb 11, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    For the sake of my own sanity, there’s a hackishness floor below which I’m just going to exercise the discretion to delete comments.

  • 11 mike farmer // Feb 12, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Can you define hackish and give an example, so we can respond appropriately?

  • 12 Check it // Feb 12, 2010 at 2:50 am

    <a href="http://newsaffair.org/?p=216Sarah Palin, explained.

    And, her excessive expertise and objectivity, more pointedly illustrated, here.

    Writing notes on her hand IS NOTHING.

    She has a big voice in America, and we are allowing the almost literal opposite of our best and brightest help shape our debate and

    And Republicans are responsible for this. What’s left of the 12 or so moderate Republicans left in America (a few of whom might be on this blog).

    Democrats are too, because when it comes to framing a case against their political opponents, Democrats couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

    And the media is too. See first link above.

  • 13 Check it // Feb 12, 2010 at 2:54 am

    that first link got botched;

    less botched, here.

    Link is also for last point above, the media confusing popularity with having any knowledge on a subject whatsoever, and/or something worth saying as if one does.

  • 14 Check it // Feb 12, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Farmer,

    Agree with your points in first part (at 8:38 pm) re’ adolescent put downs (though sometimes people disagree on what that constitutes), think more needs to be done to make a powerful case, and it is one that I think needs to be made (specifically because I disagree with your second part,and I think this person is more misinformed and more misleading even than many realize) but with less seeming contemptuousness.

    This is the part I disagree with:


    If Palin is not influential, then why attack her with this silly tactic? Why not just move along and be civil, and when questioned just answer in a calm and non-judgemental way that you don’t think she is a major factor and don’t know anything about her as a person — simply move away from the issue?”

    She is extremely influential with respect to a large portion of this country, and has played a relevant, if not major role in terms of helping to shape our national discussion, including the inane ‘drill baby drill’ (among many other things).

    We have to get off of oil. It’s dirty. It’s finite. It compromises national security. It’s polluting. and it is adding to what is a fairly geologically extreme external climate forcing, with atmospheric levels of Greenhouse gases already well higher than at any point in the past three quarter of a million years based upon ice core sampling.

    Increasing supply is not the way to move the market to get off of something, or lessen what George W Bush correctly (if ironically) called “an addiction.”

    I know Julian (or at least the Cato Institute) likely doesn’t agree on this — since freedom is sometimes confused with economic freedom only rather than the right to also be free of some of the external environmental excesses of someone else’s overindulgence of common, indivisible property (say, for example the air, idea explained a little more iin beginning here, and also better, here) — but this problem can also be addressed by sensibly using the marketplace, as well.

    Julian, when are you going to debate me on the Citizens decision? I can’t get G Greenwald too (he’s always right, you know.)

    I might bring you over to the dark side of realizing that Corporations are not merely incidental apparatus’ for the robust expression of what is in fact free speech, and that the decision is far more of an impediment upon free speech (which has no meaning if drowned out and can essentially be bought, unfettered) than not.

    Then again I might not.

  • 15 Check it // Feb 12, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Sanchez, sorry about all the comments here, but agree with you:


    She’s playing exactly the same game she’s been playing since her big debut at the Republican National Convention: Making herself an irresistible target of “elite” scorn so that everyone who identifies with her feels equally attacked. This is not exactly a subtle strategy, but for some reason, high-level Dems who are supposed to be deeply media savvy keep getting suckered.”

    Democrats don’t get that they are often impugning voters in the way they make cases, rather than make this about Palin, her excessively misleading rhetoric that often appeals to and exploits our worst and most base emotions, prejudices, and ignorances, her rampant record of misleading or frankly erroneous statements, and her lack of comprehension — “made up for” by an incredible ability to spin and manipulate an issue — of most of the actual subject matters and issues on which she speaks.

    I don’t think dismissing Palin simply because she does not have high enough popularity ratings to perhaps win the presidency, is smart strategy save for those who actually support her:

    A) this could change, B) it helps move the bar, where otherwise misleading candidates become “less uninformed” looking (I hate to say it, but everyone’s favorite, Newt Gingrich, is not nearly as smart or non hypocritical as everyone makes him out to be), C) She still has an overwhelmingly disproportionate, and often misinformation promulgating, impact upon our national debate, and D) Other things I’m likely forgetting at the moment.

  • 16 explodedview // Feb 12, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Sorry, no. People are starting to debate the metadata about Sarah Palin instead of the person, because endlessly debating a person with the depth of, say, Van Halen, runs out rope pretty quickly. As if the hype surrounding a person EVER carried him to White House all by itself (cue a terrible analogy to Obama…NOW!).

    Does ANYONE remember her interviews during the election?! No matter Fox’s might, she will not survive a primary or, good heavens, an all-invasive general election process. Not because of anything else other than the fact that she is an essentially incurious person who is not interested in doing the things needed to win (e.g., learn, practice, become aware, assuming an illusory mantle of bipartisanship, etc.). She wears her ignorance and resentment like a badge, just like Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, and the No-Nothings. You see any of their faces on money lately?

  • 17 sam // Feb 12, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Bracing for the inevitable merdestorm that would ensue, and continuing the Uncle Remus thing, I’d imagine one could write a story about a Democratic strategy involving Palin, Republicans, and a tar baby.

  • 18 mike farmer // Feb 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

    “She is extremely influential with respect to a large portion of this country, and has played a relevant, if not major role in terms of helping to shape our national discussion, including the inane ‘drill baby drill’ (among many other things).”

    I agree, but I was asking those who simultaneously say she has no influence and then trash her as if she’s a threat, why not just ignore her if she isn’t influential, as they claim.

  • 19 Julian Sanchez // Feb 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, my “hackishness” comment was vis a vis a post I, in fact, deleted. Basically anything that looks like the median comment on RedState or Democratic Underground. Sadly, I cannot just euthanize people who imagine they’re being witty when they bust out moronic playground portmanteaus like “Obammunist” and “Rethuglican,” but I will oblige them to butt out while grownups are talking.

  • 20 mike farmer // Feb 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    “Basically anything that looks like the median comment on RedState or Democratic Underground. ”

    Understood.

  • 21 NHCt // Feb 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Julian, Have you seen the video of when she sneaks a peek at her hand? Not during the speech but the Q&A. When I actually saw that moment, a chill of recognition shot through me. She needed those notes. This was no ruse. And even if that moment wasn’t conclusive for you, take in all that’s been written about how horribly prepared she has been for interviews, debates, resignation speeches, etc. I won’t go so far as to say she’s not smart; maybe she just freezes in public when she doesn’t have a speech to read (oh, the irony). But this was no attempt to draw the Dems into a trap. This is someone who I suspect knows she’s overmatched even for the role she is playing now and is trying to hold it all together while the gravy is rolling in.

  • 22 Julian Sanchez // Feb 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Re Mike’s earlier comment, I think that goes to Frum’s point. At one level, of course, it’s just a self-feeding cycle: People find her absurd or irritating, and can’t help piling on once she hits a certain level of exposure. The deeper answer is that Democrats would much rather treat Sarah Palin as the face of the enemy than, say, Mitt Romney. They trash her, in other words, because she isn’t a threat.

  • 23 sam // Feb 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    “They trash her, in other words, because she isn’t a threat.”

    Well, certainly not a threat to them.

  • 24 mike farmer // Feb 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Yes, I just think the voters are going to be hypersensitive to political games, intrigue and smear campaigns, regardless of party affiliation, except for the most partisan lackeys, and that they will value and demand straightforwardness and honesty more than in the good old days when not much was expected of politicians.

  • 25 Barry // Feb 15, 2010 at 11:01 am

    “… for the same reason they treated Rush Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican party a year ago: …”

    I remember seeing a Rush back down a GOP rep and the chair of the RNC without any effort whatsoever.

    There certainly wasn’t anybody else with that sort of clout (aside from large donors).

  • 26 Barry // Feb 15, 2010 at 11:04 am

    DivisionByZero

    “Uh, you are giving her way too much credit. Especially since she has repeated the teleprompter line about Obama over and over again. Even she is not dumb enough to pull out an index card when she criticizes him for using a teleprompter. They aren’t the same thing but the media would equate them for the media viewing public to mindlessly consume. Now she looks stupid and hypocritical. Keep it up, Sarah!”

    The criticism about using a teleprompter (ignoring the fact that (a) presidents and many public speakers use one, (b) that Obama has proven the ability to verbally wipe the floor with the combined GOP political leadership) is that somebody allegedly can’t give a speech from memory. Using index cards or anything else is, in fact, basically the same thing.

Leave a Comment