Posts Tagged ‘sarah palin’

The Gist of Vanity Fair’s “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”

September 7, 2010

THE GIST of Michael Joseph Gross’ controversial Vanity Fair-article “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”:

One of the people.

“People who admire her believe she is just like them, and this conviction seems to satisfy their curiosity about the objective facts of her life. Those whose curiosity has not been satisfied have their work cut out for them.”

2012 presidential hopeful.

“Last July, the quarterly filing by Palin’s political-action committee, SarahPAC, revealed a formidable war chest and hefty investments in fund-raising and direct mail, the clearest signs yet that she may indeed run for president. Republican leaders privately dismiss her as too unpredictable and too undisciplined to run a serious campaign. But on she flies, carpet-bombing the 24-hour news cycle.”

Versatile public voice.

“Palin’s public voice is an instrument of great versatility. In a few moments, she can turn from kind to hateful, rational to unhinged. At her best Palin can be folksy and pungent. But she needs outside help to give her voice its national range.”

Identity politics.

“Falsehoods never damage Palin’s credibility with her admirers, because information and ideology are incidental to this relationship. Palin owes her power to identity politics, pitched with moralistic topspin. She exploits the same populist impulse that fueled the career of William Jennings Bryan—an impulse described by one Bryan biographer as ‘the yearning for a society run by and for ordinary people who lead virtuous lives.'”

Dog-whistle Christianity.

“Whenever I heard Palin speak on the road, her remarks were scored with code phrases expressing solidarity with fundamentalist Christians. … But it is Palin’s persistent encouragement of the prayer warriors that most clearly reveals her worldview: she is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on.”

In public vs. In private

“Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible.”

Moose chili.

“‘This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy,’ says one longtime friend of the family. ‘That woman has never hunted. The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It’s all a joke.’ The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin ‘[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before—‘Do you got any moose?’ Desperate.'”

$$$.

“Palin is on track to earn well over $3 million in speaking fees for events this year.”

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Sunday talk show highlights, April 11, 2010

April 12, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week. In short: The White House’s defend-President-Obama’s-Nuclear-posture-review-effort was headed by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, and the roundtables’ focused on the upcoming replacement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory played a videotape of President Obama talking about the desired qualities of his future Supreme Court nominee:

It will … be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

My first reaction was that Obama was talking about a nominee who would oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens’ United case since President Obama framed his opposition to that ruling in strikingly similar terms.

Now, who will Obama pick?

The shortlist includes about ten names, including the following: Judge Diane Wood (7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals), Elena Kagan (the solicitor general of the United States), Judge Merrick Garland (judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit) and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

My view? Take it away Tony Blankley (the conservative voice on KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center”): “I’m not sufficiently familiar to really discuss that intelligently.”

On the issue of Hamid Karzai’s latest statements, Gregory posed the following question to syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker:

Kathleen, you write in a column this morning about this complicated relationship with allies like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. And, again, you saw that exchange. What was noteworthy is a shift in the administration. Here you had the secretary of Defense and the secretary of State saying, “We’re not going to react to some of these things. We’re going to be more sympathetic toward Hamid Karzai. He’s the guy that we have to deal with.” That was, that was a significant change.

Parker answered:

Yeah, that was a shift as of right this minute, right? We’ve been pretty hard on him, and he is the guy that was elected and he is our man. We, we created Karzai. And he’s been under siege from everyone. I mean, Obama pretty much came out swinging during his campaign, and he’s had, you know, every European parliamentarian coming after him. Everybody is on Karzai’s back. And, and naturally, he’s going to react. This is the testosterone axis of the world, and you don’t insult a leader in public and then expect him to just sit back and take it.

David Gregory then turned the roundtable’s focus to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held in New Orleans last week:

MR. GREGORY: Well, let me go a little bit larger here and talk about presidential leadership and put it in the political context, because there is an opposition party, the Republicans, and they’re trying to figure out how to mount that opposition, as we are in an election year. And there was a gathering of Republicans that got a lot of attention, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. And you heard two prominent Republican voices, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, talking about how, again, Republicans position themselves to counter President Obama (videotape):

MR. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): What the left wants to do is say we’re the party of “no.” …  And so here’s what I want to ask you to encourage every candidate you know, every incumbent you know, every staff person you know, every consultant you know, I think we should decide that we’re going to be the party of “yes.”

MRS. SARAH PALIN: There is no shame in being the party of no if they’re proposing, the other side, proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution. What’s wrong with being the party of no.  …  Or better said by the good governor of this state, he said, “The party of `no’? Nah, we’re the party of `Hell, no!'”

Gregory then asked The New York Times’ David Brooks to assess the GOP right now in terms “of mounting this challenge, figuring out where it’s going to be in 2010 and 2012”:

MR. BROOKS: You’re turning to the party of “maybe” over here. So this is a bad move for you. Listen, Palin is great TV. She’s really attractive. Gingrich is sort of great TV. He’s got a billion ideas, 600 of which are really good. But the fact is the, the Republican Party is not Palin and it’s not Gingrich. The Republican Party is Rob Portman, who’s running for senator in Ohio. It’s Mark Kirk, who’s running for, for senator in Illinois. It’s Governor Christie in New Jersey. These are the people who are actually governing. And I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show. But these are the people that are actually running, and they’ve actually got it figured out.They’re against a lot of what Obama’s doing, but they’re the party of “yes.” They’ve got a whole series of policies.  Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has–can wonk your ear off. And so that’s the real party. Palin, the tea parties–listen, the tea party movement is a movement without a structure, without an organization. No, no party, no movement like that lasts.

On This Week, the Roundtable focused on Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement, and George Will’s opening remarks emphasized the fact that the confirmations of Supreme Court nominees were much smoother and went much faster back in the good old days. Furthermore, and as host Jake Tapper pointed out, the confirmation of Justice Stevens was the last one that wasn’t televised.

Perhaps it was easier to be bipartisan when the voters weren’t watching?

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Tip of the hat to David Brooks for his description of Sarah Palin:

I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

Postscript: Cokie Roberts mentioned the cartoon we picked as “Political Cartoon of the Week, April 4-10” when she described the upcoming debate on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Sunday talk show highlights, March 28, 2010

March 29, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press, This Week, State of the Union and Fox News Sunday.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory interviewed Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). During the interview, Graham lost his connection with Washington twice, and Senator Schumer didn’t seem to mind:

Hey, I like the show this way. … It’s pretty good.

When Senator Graham got his audio back, he didn’t have any problems responding to Schumer’s talking points:

MR. GREGORY: But you, you have the floor here. You know what some of the discussion has been. What is your view?

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, I do, I do. Well…

During his time on the air, Graham was able to voice his own talking points as well, and he managed to squeeze in the phrase ”ponzi scheme” – referring to the cost of the health care bill – four times.

During the roundtable discussion, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin had this to say about the signing of the health care bill:

I think the key thing that the legacy is not simply what this is going to do for the future but what it’s done, which you started on, to Obama’s leadership. You know, when LBJ got civil rights through in ’64, he said it felt so incredible inside to have done something that will make life better for millions of Americans. He said, ‘Now I’m going for voting rights. Now I’m going for Medicare.’ It emboldens a president. The fact that it was so tough in the Congress, and it became difficult, they’re in the trenches together, they’ve come out more unified, the Democrats. The party has its morale back up. Even the sense of the countries abroad, he’s a winner, he won something. I agree with you that the battle’s only begun, because the battle of public sentiment was never won by the Obama people. The Republicans won it with the ‘death panels,’ they won it maybe with falsehoods, but still the majority of the people still don’t feel good about this bill. So they still have a lot to do, I think, to compress their arguments and make sure that they reach the country. Lincoln once said … that ‘He who molds public sentiment is more important than he who passes laws.’ … That with public sentiment, everything’s possible. Without it, nothing is. Public sentiment still has to be won.

As Mark Twain once said: “Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.”

Moving along, the following exchange took place between Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Mike Murphy:

MR. SHRUM: … The Scott Brown era is the shortest era in the history of American politics, and he helped us pass the bill. Because once he got there, once he got there, the Democrats said, “We can’t ping-pong this back and forth between the Senate and the House. The House must pass the Senate bill, then we’ll fix it in reconciliation.”

MR. MURPHY: That was a freight train of disingenuous sound bites, and I can’t try to address them all.

MR. SHRUM: It was actually … the march of truth.

MR. MURPHY: It was baloney. I worked on the Romney healthcare bill, you didn’t. I know you don’t. Here’s my question for you.

MR. SHRUM: I do know the Romney healthcare bill. He helped write it with Senator Kennedy.

Flashback to the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle:

QUAYLE: … I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.

BENTSEN: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

On a different note, Sarah Palin has been campaigning for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in his re-election bid against former Representative J.D. Hayworth, and in her appearance she tied herself, McCain and the Republican Party to the Tea Party movement:

And let me clear the air right now. We might as well call it like we see it, right, and not beat around the bush. In respect to the tea party movement, beautiful movement. You know what, everybody here today supporting John McCain, we are all a part of that tea party movement.

Palin’s statement led to the following remarks:

MR. GREGORY: Is that true? That’s probably what Republicans hope is true, that the tea party is part of the Republican Party.

MR. MEACHAM: I think perhaps that crowd, perhaps it was true there. … But I don’t think so. … You know, when you have these extreme, more vociferous and ferocious movements, it doesn’t always help. As Churchill once said in another context, ’It’s a good starter but it’s not a good finisher.’ And the way parties absorb these things–and we’ve seen it a thousand times; we’ve seen it with Wallace, we’ve seen it with Perot–is they take some part of the grievance, address it and press forward. I think we’re–you know, partly we’re built for argument. I mean, we–the system wasn’t created to really resolve much.

At the end of the show, host David Gregory gave a short history lesson to put Democrats’ prospects in the upcoming mid-terms into context:

Forty-five years ago in Washington there was another heated debate about providing health care to Americans. Despite vigorous Republican opposition, a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress passed sweeping reform. July 30th, 1965, the country’s largest ever expansion of public health care, the Medicare program, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in Independence, Missouri, the hometown of President Harry Truman, who had fought for a national health insurance program 20 years prior. A year later, Republicans made some big gains in the midterm election due in large part to President Johnson’s unpopularity. The GOP netted 47 House seats.

On This Week, guest host Jake Tapper moderated a debate between Governors Haley Barbour (R-MS) and Ed Rendell (D-PA). In a question to Governor Barbour, Tapper stated that he didn’t want to “pick on Mississippi”, but then he did:

Studies indicate Mississippi is last in the nation when it comes to health care, when it comes to access, quality, costs and outcomes.Your state ranks worst in the country for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, adult physical inactivity, low weight birth babies. It has one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

Ouch.

Later on, Governor Barbour stated that he was surprised to find that the percentage in favor of the bill isn’t higher than it is, considering the “liberal media’s” biased coverage in the days following the passage of the health care bill:

And candidly, I am surprised that the numbers in the Washington Post poll weren’t better. I mean, since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

During the Roundtable, George Will took a stab at Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize by stating:

Paul’s prizes in economics, not practical Washington wisdom.

Discussing Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile stated that:

For the Democrats, I don’t think it hurts us at all to have Sarah Palin out there, whipping up the base, whipping up the tea parties. Stir up as much tea as you want. It’s producing a lot of coffee drinkers within the Democratic Party.

Switching shows, host Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union focused on the aftermath of last Sunday’s tea party protest in Washington, D.C.:

SARAH PALIN: Hearing the news reports lately, kind of this ginned up controversy about us, common- sense conservatives, inciting violence because we happen to oppose some of the things in the Obama administration–

CROWLEY: FOX’s Sean Hannity had more than doubts.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: And this is denied by a lot of people. I am not seeing the videotape that confirms this yet. If anyone has it, send it to me, I want to see it, of racial slurs, anti- gay slurs being made at the tea party movement. Do we have any evidence that corroborates this at all?

CROWLEY: Two FOX reporters responded that they had seen no evidence. So we begin by trying to set the record straight. There is video. Watch Congressman Emanuel Cleaver as he approaches the man on the left. Cleaver confirms that this man spit on him. He confirms that this is the man whom Capitol Police detained. Cleaver chose not to press charges. From where they were positioned, CNN microphones did not pick up racial epithets.

As for anti-gay slurs, a CNN producer heard the word ‘faggot’ yelled at Barney Frank more than once in the House Longworth Building. The producer cannot say for sure whether it was coming from one person or more.

What to make of it? I find it astonishing that instead of simply denouncing the actions of a set of angry and hateful people, the talking heads over at Fox News and Sarah Palin (who is also a contributor to Fox News) have decided to go the usual route of attacking the “liberal media” by questioning their accounts. Come on. Attack the content of the health care bill all you want, but it shouldn’t be hard to simply denounce anyone uttering the N-word or “faggot”. The paranoid style in American politics is alive and kicking when reports of hateful remarks aren’t met with a backbone reflex to denounce, but with  questions of the truthfulness of the media’s account.

Over on Fox News Sunday,  host Chris Wallace moderated a debate touted as the “Florida Senate Showdown” between Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio.

Wallace quoted the number of jobs created or saved by the stimulus money accepted by Governor Crist (87,000), to which Rubio replied the following:

If it’s bad for America, it can’t possibly be good for your state.

I guess if you think it’s bad for America to create or save jobs, it’s also bad for Florida to save or create jobs in Florida. Crist should’ve used those words against Rubio, but he didn’t.

Like Palin, Rubio has his own vision of the Tea Party Movement:

The Tea Party movement has been mischaracterized in the press as some sort of an organization. Tea Parties are where people go and what people do. It’s not what they are …, it is not an organization. It is a broad-based group of everyday Americans from all walks of life.

To summarize the debate: Crist would’ve voted for the stimulus, Rubio against it. Marco Rubio’s favorite Senator is Jim DeMint (R-SC), while Charlie Crist’s favorite Senators are John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Rubio has been endorsed by Mike Huckabee, Senator DeMint and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Crist has been endorsed by Senators McCain, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Crist opposes parts of the health care bill, while Rubio would repeal the whole thing.

The essence of Rubio’s message: We can’t trust Governor Crist to stand up to Barack Obama. The essence of Crist’s message: Rubio can’t be trusted – he won’t even reveal his tax returns! Also, “I’ll put Floridians first, that’s why I accepted the stimulus.”

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Shrum’s “Scott Brown era” was good, but the one that stuck was Governor Barbour’s “longest wet kiss in political history”:

Since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

Happy Easter!

The Politics of a Book Release: 2012 Edition

March 9, 2010

(updated May 1, 2010)

The fact that most American presidential hopefuls write a book before they announce their candidacy seems to be a truism of American politics. Thus, most Republicans with their aims on the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will release a book upon announcing their candidacy.

It’s not exactly rocket science. Just take a look at this list, containing the names of former presidential candidates who released books upon running for the presidency:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, George W. Bush, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

And that’s just as far back as I’ve checked. Feel free to list older examples in the comment section below.

By releasing a book upon running for the presidency, the candidate can introduce his life story, the travails of his past, and his vision of America’s future. Furthermore, having a book with your face on the cover increases your name recognition, and it’s a nice way for potential voters to get to know you and your ideas.

Former Massachusetts Governor, and failed 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney just released his book, entitled No Apology. The Case for American Greatness.

The Economist (February 27th-March 5th, 2010: pg. 44) describes it as “a 323-page paean to American greatness and a thinly disguised presidential manifesto ending with a 64-point ‘Agenda for a Free and Strong America’.”

Along with Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and Jim DeMint are all potential (though more or less likely) 2012 Republican presidential candidates that have written or authored books, and Tim Pawlenty will be publishing a memoir in 2011.

According to the apparent release-a-book-before-you-run-for-president-logic, the following need to write a book pretty soon if they’re going to be among the top contenders in the 2012 Republican primaries (add other names below if you can’t find them here):

Indiana Representative Mike Pence, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Texas Governor Rick Perry (not a likely contender if he loses his re-election campaign for Governor of Texas).

Former actor, Tennessee Senator and failed 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson is set to release a book in May entitled Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. The title doesn’t really sound like a political manifesto, but who knows, maybe Fred Thompson, the self-proclaimed “consistent conservative” is gearing up for another run for the presidency?

On an end note, take a look at what could’ve been the 1990s first-couple:

POST SCRIPT: According to several reports, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has signed a book deal with Harper Collins for a book to be released next year. I didn’t mention him among the potential contenders for the 2012 nomination, but who knows? Barack Obama ran as a freshman Senator in 2008. BUT, while Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 – four years prior to his historic win on November 4, 2008 – Brown was elected to the Senate this January – just two years prior to the 2012 Iowa caucuses…


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