Is Palin serious?

In case you think Sarah Palin is too weird/lightweight/extreme/ill-informed to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, Time Mag’s Mark Halperin says think again — at least as far as the 2012 Repub nomination is concerned.

A taste of Halperin’s “Why Sarah Palin is Stronger than You Think” piece:

“Palin is operating on a different plane, hovering higher than a mere celebrity, more buoyant than an average politician. Some of you are too young, or too forgetful, to recall the breathless fusses over Donald Trump and Warren Beatty when they toyed with presidential bids, or how much oxygen Ross Perot sucked up when he ran in 1992. You may think Palin is full of hot air, but there is enough of it to power her from Alaska to the Republican nomination in 2012, and until she unambiguously takes herself out of the running, or until the nomination is definitively won by another, she will remain both a force and a force field

All of you are certain she can’t win the presidency — and as of today you are right. But the nomination is another kettle of salmon, and she bears more in common with the past three presidential winners than with the passel of hopefuls clamoring for donations, press attention and straw votes. She is like Obama: the camera loves her and both sides of the political spectrum hang on her every word. She is like Bush: able to communicate with religious conservatives and Middle Americans. Most of all, she is like Bill Clinton: what doesn’t kill Sarah Palin makes her stronger. So as the world gets ready for the midterm elections and for the start of the epic contest in which Republicans will pick their champion to go into battle against Barack Obama, be advised: Palin is very much alive and, despite what you think, extraordinarily strong.”

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 09/20/2010 - 10:10 am.

    For sure, Palin *IS* very strong with “Middle Americans” as Halperin says.

    And I have come to find, over the years, that I am becoming increasingly unconnected to this group of people and its beliefs.

    And I know that *I* haven’t changed… 🙂

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/20/2010 - 10:25 am.

    Palin is definitely serious — the question is: about what?
    It sounds like actually being elected would cause a serious drop in her income.

  3. Submitted by Patricia Gundersen on 09/20/2010 - 12:09 pm.

    This comment is VERY SCARY.
    I have been thinking that she is a DITZ.
    She comes across that way, but if Mr. Black
    is concerned, then I am as well.

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/20/2010 - 12:19 pm.

    Only a Republican party that has new and enticing ideas for comprehensive yet limited government is likely to succeed. If the party is just about tax cuts it will remain a minority. Fiscal austerity will be here for the next 20 years or more. There will be no more ‘tax cuts for free’ like those of 2001. The party must get behind real tax reform, simplification, perhaps a well-executed VAT. The days when promising tax cuts without explaining how to pay for them are long past.

    There are plenty of smart, accomplished Republicans out there (more so in state government than in congress). Half term Governor Sarah Palin, Limbaugh and the blowhards on Fox need to stop being the face of the party. The next successful leader will disdain the populists. I’m not at all certain that we can see that leader now, and I have strong doubts that the Republicans will put up a strong ticket in 2012, but the policy makers and ambitious young politicians need to start remaking the image of Republicans by presenting smart policies for limited government now.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/20/2010 - 12:38 pm.

    The last polls I saw reported that even among Republicans her numbers for being ‘presidential’ were low. Establishment Republicans are learning that the TEA movement they tolerated – and hoped to co-opt for their own purposes – now threatens their control of the party. I am skeptical that she can win the establishment over as a viable candidate or wrest control from the establishment and take over as the de facto head of the party. Most particularly, I am skeptical that she can win over Iowans in their diners and living rooms, in order to create that personal relationship that is required to win the IA caucuses.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/20/2010 - 12:47 pm.

    Indeed, Like Mr. Walker, I’m increasingly disconnected from the people who are heartfelt fans of Sarah Palin, and I’ve no doubt that Mr. Brandon is correct about the drop in income she and her family would incur if she were elected.

    Neither of those points negate what Halperin is saying, and based on what I read in multiple sources and see on TV, my own dismal judgment is that he’s largely correct. She’s a serious political and cultural force, even if she did quit her job, and even if the segment of our culture that she represents is one I don’t share.

    The camera loves her (and that’s vitally important in this media-driven era), lots of people like what she has to say, and whether she should be taken seriously doesn’t at all depend upon whether or not I personally happen to agree with what she says, or think she’s weird, vacuous, shallow, or any other pejoratives I might toss out. I thought the most recent George Bush to be equally weird, vacuous and shallow, yet he served two terms in the White House. To use Ariana Huffington’s label, I’m not a game-changer, and Palin is.

    That, of course, is – for me – a problem. Palin is a quick study in public relations terms, and like many of her fellow Americans, myself included, she’s not addicted to the idea that everyone in government must somehow have magically acquired experience at the position to which they’re trying to get elected – Obama wasn’t a Senator for very long, and he’s a credible chief executive. Andrew Jackson actively spoke and wrote against the idea that experience was necessary in a democracy, and while I might quarrel with that in detail, in principle, I’m inclined toward Jackson’s argument. Abraham Lincoln didn’t have a lot of government experience when he took office, and he managed to get the country through its most severe crisis ever, at least so far.

    Nonetheless, Palin quit in mid-term the more challenging of her governmental positions – unless being the Mayor of Wasilla requires a lot more expertise and intellect than I suspect – and has walled herself off from serious examination by responsible journalism. Twitter statements don’t count as responsible journalism. I don’t see how that can continue if she hopes to really be a power on the big, national stage, but she’s obviously been able to manipulate our current journalistic establishment – the same one she labels as “lamestream,” and the same one that she and her right-wing cohorts insist is somehow controlled by “liberals,” to her advantage.

    She’s quick with a quip, and manipulates the media (not to mention her adoring fans) very effectively. My bias is not that she’s a bad person – plenty of intellectual lightweights have made good use of their 15 minutes of fame to acquire fame, fortune, and a degree of power – but as a president, I’m very much afraid she would be an unmitigated catastrophe for the country.

  7. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/20/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    Based on GOP tradition since Ike there are only 3 persons with a chance for the nomination– Romney, Huckabee and Palin.

    Since 1952 every nominee except Goldwater was a familiar, well known persona most of whom had run a national campaign. Include Bush 43 (famous name) and Ford (incumbent prez) and Ike (WWII hero). All the others had run before nationally for veep or prez.

    I hope it is Huckabee because as much has I do not agree with him he is somewhat likable.

  8. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/20/2010 - 01:40 pm.

    Ray Schoch writes
    “Nonetheless, Palin quit in mid-term the more challenging of her governmental positions – unless being the Mayor of Wasilla requires a lot more expertise and intellect than I suspect.”

    Between serving as mayor and governor, Mrs Palin also served as Chairperson of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission – a[nother] position from which she resigned prior to fulfilling her term.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/20/2010 - 02:00 pm.

    Until I listened, and watched Palin speak at the Reagan dinner I would have laughed at the notion that she was either a) a viable Presidential candidate or b) that she was any more competent to do that job than the current White House occupant.

    But the Sarah Palin I saw on CNN was a woman who has learned much in the past two years. Her speech combined her common sense, her connection with main street Americans and her genuine conservative enthusiasm with a calm eloquence I’d not seen before.

    She was riveting.

    I don’t know what she’s been doing, but whatever it is, she needs to keep doing it. And if she does, I agree that dedicated leftists have cause to worry.

  10. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/20/2010 - 02:09 pm.

    My point is that at present I suspect that she is quite satisfied to be a major media personality, and is smart enough to know that (based on all the polls so far) a likely losing presidential candidacy would offer her little.
    Four years from now, the situation might be different.

  11. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/20/2010 - 02:21 pm.

    I’ve frankly been surprised that Palin doesn’t have more support in Minnesota.

    Culturally, the Alaskan native seems more Minnesotan than most Minnesotans, what with her hunting, fishing, hockey-momming, and snowmobiling, she has more in common with us than that civil rights instructor from Chicago, that’s for sure. (I know his supporters say he was a “constitutional law professor” but’s that’s an exageration.)

    I mean, does he even know which end of the rifle to aim down range? When she was commander-in-chief of Alaska’s national guard and her son joined the army at about the same time, she qualified with a bleeping M-16 fer chrisakes! Can anyone imagine Obama even shooting a rifle?

    No, seriously, she even sounds like Margie Gunderson from Fargo. How could you not relate to Marge Gunderson, er, Sarah Palin? I mean, most of you rubes fell for Paul Wellstone who was transplanted from the Carolina’s because he learned do drop his “Gs” when he talked about “workin” and “votin” and we all laughed at John “F’in” Kerry when he came through on a campaign stop and said to the clerk at the bait shop, “How do I git me a fishin license.” I rolled on the floor “laughin.”

    But that’s the way Palin talks for real. Because she’s one of us, dammit. And when one of her TV ads plays the footage of her sinking two free throws to win the high school basketball championship, and while playing on a badly sprained ankle, no less … there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Unless of course, you’ve all gone citified metrosexual on us, which is probable.

  12. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/20/2010 - 02:24 pm.

    “Is Palin serious?” I’m not sure that is the word to apply to her. And “serious” may not make any political sense in describing personalities like Palin anyway.

    I will say she is a force of nature like Ronald Reagan or other charismatic but almost-vacuous political figures we know.

    She needs to be taken seriously, however, because she just might, through distraction and/or underestimation, become the next President of the United States. It all depends on the media that she abhors but is still drawn to like a moth to fire. They need to stay vigilant and not be guilted into giving her more slack than she deserves.

  13. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/20/2010 - 02:26 pm.

    Better add two names to my no. 7 post. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. Paul will be too old and Newt too scary.

  14. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/20/2010 - 02:59 pm.

    Until I listened, and watched Palin speak at the Reagan dinner I would have laughed at the notion that she was either a) a viable Presidential candidate or b) that she was any more competent to do that job than the current White House occupant.

    But the Sarah Palin I saw on CNN was a woman who has learned much in the past two years. Her speech combined her her connection with main street Americans and her genuine conservative enthusiasm with a calm eloquence I’d not seen before.

    She was riveting.

    I don’t know what she’s been doing, but whatever it is, she needs to keep doing it. And if she does, I agree that dedicated leftists have cause to worry.

  15. Submitted by Lance Groth on 09/20/2010 - 03:18 pm.

    I don’t for a minute believe that Sarah Palin wants to be president. She may well crave the celebrity and the power, but she does not want the awesome responsibility and the endless hard work that goes with it. Her record so far indicates a person who uses election to office as a springboard to celebrity and wealth – and then quits as soon as she has milked the position for what it’s worth.

    It is also clear that she is vindictive and mean-spirited to those she perceives as enemies. She does not handle criticism well, and always lashes out at her critics and those who get in her way. How then could she function as president? Look at the endless criticism, obstructionism, vicious attacks and outright hatred visited upon presidents Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama. How do you think Palin would react to being in that pressure cooker? The answer is not well, not well at all. How could she work with democrats in Congress, after demonizing them for years as people who are less than truly American, and from whom the tea party needs to “take the country back”?

    Fear not, there will be no Palin presidency, nor even a candidacy. But, she will have a powerful influence over the Repub nomination and campaign, and that’s exactly where she wishes to be – close enough to wield influence and be a public face of the party she helps push ever farther to the right-most fringe, while not having to shoulder the burden of office. Unfortunately, from my point of view, we will not be rid of her, but neither will we be subjected to a Palin presidency.

    Besides, even if she did run, she’d be facing either Obama or Hillary, and either one would shred her.

  16. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/20/2010 - 03:33 pm.

    //On January 21, 1997, the House voted 395 to 28 to reprimand Gingrich for ethics violations dating back to September 1994. The House ordered Gingrich to pay a $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House’s 208-year history it had disciplined a Speaker for ethical wrongdoing.//

    Perhaps the speaker was undergone political rehab but….

  17. Submitted by r batnes on 09/20/2010 - 03:35 pm.

    Author Editor Dennis Tester says:

    “I mean, does he even know which end of the rifle to aim down range? When she was commander-in-chief of Alaska’s national guard and her son joined the army at about the same time, she qualified with a bleeping M-16 fer chrisakes! Can anyone imagine Obama even shooting a rifle?

    But that’s the way Palin talks for real. Because she’s one of us, dammit. And when one of her TV ads plays the footage of her sinking two free throws to win the high school basketball championship, and while playing on a badly sprained ankle, no less … there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Unless of course, you’ve all gone citified metrosexual on us, which is probable. ”

    Dennis, I don’t care if Obama knows how to shoot a rifle and I care even less that Palin does. If you think that her prowess with firearms along with sinking a couple of free throws in high school somehow make her qualified to lead this country, you are sadly mistaken.
    This is a woman that has hid behind Facebook and Fox news since the election. She wilted under questioning by Katie Couric, not exactly a pit bull of investigative journalism. Palin would be completely eviscerated under the hot lights of a presidential run. That said and given the current climate on the Republican side of the aisle, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if she won the GOP nomination.

  18. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/20/2010 - 04:57 pm.

    I’d go with J.J Sefton: Palin is herself not serious – that is, having quit two of her three governmental positions before her term was up, she’s demonstrated that fulfilling an obligation is not her strong suit.

    That said, however, and as several have pointed out, she needs to be taken seriously, if in no other role than that of king-maker. There’s no doubt that she’s a powerful media personality, and uses her almost-instinctive skills in that area very well, indeed. I think she has the honesty and ethics of a con artist – personal advantage being near the top of the list – but she looks great on a TV screen, and if someone as usually intelligent as Mr. Swift can be bamboozled by a Palin speech, then the less-thoughtful on the right will be even easier to sweep into the mob.

    Fortunately, however, like being a Christian, being able to shoot a rifle accurately, or make a pair of free throws on a bad ankle, are not criteria for becoming chief executive.

  19. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/20/2010 - 06:57 pm.

    There’s also another option for Mrs. Palin that she has not yet explored … Evangelism, or to be more specific, televangelism.

    A lot of money, a lot of flock (sheep), and considerable power and influence behind the scenes. And very little accountability.

    Only snag … maybe Beck is going down that route too.

  20. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 09/21/2010 - 08:18 am.

    Chris Christie 2012! If he runs, everyone else will be running for VP.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkuTm-ON904&feature=related

  21. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/21/2010 - 12:49 pm.

    Need I remind Republicans that SHE QUIT THE GOVERNORSHIP? Are you OK with that? She was elected leader of Alaska AND SHE QUIT, barely halfway thru her term.

    She thought it would be fun. She thought it would be cool. Then she found out that it was ACTUALLY WORK. Then she quit. She figured, I want power, but not responsibility. I want money, but not work.

    She’s a Quitter with a capital ‘Q.’ A QUITTER. So please, Sarah, run for president. Please just do it. Barack Obama won’t have a spend a nickel to defeat this simple-minded quitter, and we can all just move on with our lives.

  22. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/21/2010 - 02:52 pm.

    Obama served 144 days in the U.S. senate before he started his presidential campaign.

    Palin served over 700 days as governor before she started hers. But she did the honorable thing and resigned her office, allowing her constituents to fill it with someone who would be actually be around to do the job.

    Unlike Obama who took the money but spent his time on the campaign trail.

  23. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/21/2010 - 06:57 pm.

    As opposed to certain local governor ….

  24. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/22/2010 - 09:40 am.

    Mr. Tester–
    Some basic civics:
    The Executive and Legislative branches have different responsibilities.
    The Senate is not always in session, while the Governor is responsible for the day to day operation of the state.
    A better comparison might be Obama’s record of missed votes compared to that of Bachmann and Emmer.

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