Palin’s Fox Debut

January 13th, 2010 at 7:38 am David Frum | 67 Comments |

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Sarah Palin’s signing with Fox struck me as a deeply bad idea for her, assuming she harbors continuing political ambitions.

1) Every time a politician appears on television, he or she multiplies the odds of a mistake or gaffe. That’s especially true for this politician.

2) Every day Palin spends in a Fox studio in New York is a day she is not campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan – or fundraising in Dallas or Orlando.

3) Combined with her policy of speaking only for pay, Palin’s Fox deal substantiates the suspicion that she resigned the governorship only in order to cash in on her fame.

As I watched her appearance on O’Reilly, however, 3 other problems became evident.

1) There’s room for only one star on any Fox program, especially O’Reilly’s. As he talked over her and corrected her (“We discussed that last night,” he said when she compared Harry Reid to Trent Lott), O’Reilly enhanced his own authority at the expense of Palin’s.

2)  Unlike Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, Palin is much less well informed and much less mentally nimble than O’Reilly and other Fox hosts. Over time, even her most starry-eyed fans will not be able to postpone noticing this.

3) The longer she appears on TV, the less she will be “from Alaska” and the more she will be “from Fox.” She’s subsuming her brand into somebody else’s. Not for the first time, one wonders as one looks at the Fox-GOP relationship: who’s working for whom here?

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67 Comments so far ↓

  • anniemargret

    She didn’t do her homework, Jenin.

    We don’t need to be convinced. She has been assessed and she has been found to be lacking . She’s had plenty of opportunities to prove herself – and leaving the governorship midway to make money put the period at the end of that sentence.

  • yonatan

    What if Palin runs with a woman as V.P. runningmate?
    Or Hillary and a woman V.P.?

  • JeninCT

    annie wrote: “She has been assessed and she has been found to be lacking . She’s had plenty of opportunities to prove herself – and leaving the governorship midway to make money put the period at the end of that sentence.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but I completely disagree.

  • athensboy

    Like Tina Brown of the Daily Beast put it, “how long can she play the victim card?” Americans are suffering in this recession, and the last thing we want to hear is her whining about how mean the media is. Get a life Palin, your an emptyheaded ditz. Your 15 minutes of fame are over.Your just another money grubbing loser. I hope the gop nominates you in 2012, just for the entertainment value.

  • anniemargret

    Jenin: Yes, and there’s the rub . When a person vies for the candidacy, and whether or not now Palin runs again (I tend to agree with you that she will not), she did attempt a run by accepting the nomination of possible V.P. to McCain’s bid at the Presidency.

    It was said that when asked if she thought she was ready to take on the V.P. slot, given that she could have been President at any time, she ‘didn’t blink.’ Although later she admitted she really didn’t know ‘what the V.P. does anyway.” But her initial acceptance means she was sure she was ready and able. That self-confidence should inspire, but in her case, it didn’t inspire. It just scared people because she had already given people pause to wonder if she was capable.

    She was then given the hot seat like any other viable candidate. There was nothing untoward or mean-spirited about any of the interviews she was given, and the fact that she consistently, to this day, refuses to meet for any real press interview unless it is in a comfortable and predictable setting, leads people to believe- rightly- that she doesn’t have the mettle. My own assessment of the Fox gig is that it will be theater. They will set her up to look like she is getting some hard-ass interviewing, and then given a chance to show she can handle it. It is a sorry sight.

    Hillary was put through the ringer. But she never backed down . Even if you or others dislike her personally, or her political philosophy, very few people believe she was weak-kneed. She is one tough lady. I say this because we all know that women have a far harder time breaking through the glass ceiling than men .

    The majority of Palin’s fans offer up reasons why they support her. I have heard virtually nothing about her abilities to lead, other than she is ‘pro-family’, ‘supports conservative values’ or ‘she’s a great mom’ or ‘she is not an elitist’, “she gave birth to Trig” etc… These are abstract values, nothing concrete. Certainly not reasons for Presidential material.

    And her ‘anti-elitist’ meme gets old fast. Over 3/4 of this country live in big cities . Cities have been the foundation of progress, so a candidate can’t get all snarky & diss them and then expect not to get criticized. What really gets to me is that Sarah Palin forgets how many blue-collar workers and poor live in the big cities. Somehow an elitist is someone with a college education/able to speak articulately on issues, or is somehow a fat cat looking down on their noses on the ‘little people. Do they not think there are ‘elitists’ in the Republican party too?

    And this absurd assumption that one must cower if someone has a ‘ivy league education’ is just that – absurd. I admire anyone who had the ability, smart-wise and financial-wise, to graduate from Ivy-league schools. It doesn’t mean, however, that it equals an ability to lead or by simple definition means they are smarter than the average college graduate. It just means they got a more silver-plated education. After all, GWB graduated from Yale and then Harvard Business School. Did Palin’s fans despise him for that?

    There appears to be an intellectual insecurity surrounding her fans – that if someone speaks better than them, or is better-educated or comes from a big city, they can’t handle it. That’s why her fans universally almost always say they like her because, ‘she’s one of us.’

    And that’s where Palin’s fans part ways with the majority of Americans . I don’t want someone ‘just like me.’ I want someone better than me. Someone who could understand the position of millions of middle-class workers like myself, but who also can make me feel comfortable that he/she has more smarts than I have dealing with the serious national and international issues in these dangerous times.

    But my family are ‘little people’ and it is only my generation that got through college and beyond. My parent’s and grandparents were all blue collar workers in NYC…..so who is Sarah Palin appealing to? She found a political divide and she milks it for what it’s worth. But a good candidate understands that this is a big country, and all Americans like to feel important. Yet….she plays up that ‘us vs them’ card with aplomb. So she gets a smack back for it. Only fair. Now she’s on Fox doing the same thing and getting paid big bucks for it. What is there to admire here about her?

    As you say, the beauty of living in the USA is that we can support whomever we choose. But the bottom line is that we support candidates for different reasons. And the reasons why her fans support her are not the same reasons the majority of people in this country support a candidate for the highest office in the land.

  • sinz54

    anniemargaret: She has been assessed and she has been found to be lacking
    After his loss in 1962, Richard Nixon had been completely written off too.

    Six years later, he captured the White House.

    In politics, six years is an eon.

    There’s no question that Sarah Palin is unqualified to be President today. But we’re not holding an election today. In 2016, seven years from now, she’ll only be 52 years old–that’s certainly not too old for a Presidential candidate.

    The big thing in Nixon’s political recovery was to lose the bitterness and the shoot-from-the-hip rabid partisanship.

    The big thing in Palin’s political recovery would be to do her homework. Actually learn about world affairs. If she invites knowledgeable guests on her new Fox show and converses with them, she might actually learn some stuff–and be able to stand on her own two feet on national issues.

    And seven years from now, voters will give her a second look, just like they gave Nixon a second look.

    One’s political trajectory can be both long and unpredictable. Reagan went from actor to governor to President in 30 years. Schwarzenegger went from bodybuilder to CA governor. (He could have had the Presidency if he had been born in America.) Al Franken went from a moderately successful comedian to being a senator.

    I’ll even go out on a limb with this prediction: I predict that Angelina Jolie will go into politics someday. At the very least, I can certainly see Angelina Jolie as Secretary of State in 20 or 25 years. President Jolie in 2028? Quite possibly!

  • sinz54

    anniemargaret: There appears to be an intellectual insecurity surrounding her fans – that if someone speaks better than them, or is better-educated or comes from a big city, they can’t handle it.
    It’s NOT “intellectual insecurity.”

    It’s the insufferable arrogance shown by so many educated people.

    It’s the attitude that since I’ve read Aristotle and Plato and St. Augustine and Carnap and all the other great moral philosophers, I am qualified to tell YOU how to live YOUR life. And armed with the power of government, I can force you to live the way I think is best for you, based on my own massive erudition.

    You can see that in the attitude of many educated liberals on the health care bill. Faced with polls showing that many Americans have misgivings about it, the attitude from these elitists is not “Let’s stump the country and show Americans that it’s a good bill,” but rather “Let’s pass the bill and then it can’t be repealed no matter what Americans think of it.”

    It was intellectual arrogance that motivated the Democrats to insert a clause into the health care bill that actually states that once enacted, the bill can never be repealed. (I think that can never stand, but another trait of arrogance is casual dismissal of laws and traditions.) If it’s a good bill, why does it need such protections from review?

    Intellectual arrogance began in World War II, when economists and social scientists were hired to plan logistics of wars and systematic bombing campaigns to break the enemy societies. By 1946, the attitude from liberals was: Technocrats won the war, now technocrats can build the peace.

    In the 1960s, intellectual arrogance caused Robert Moses to bulldoze stable neighborhoods to put superhighways through, because his analyses took precedence over the lives of ordinary Americans. It motivated liberal planners to build disasters like the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, a bunch of 30 story tall high-rise buildings for the poor that quickly turned into 30-story tall slums. In the end, they actually demolished these buildings with dynamite.

    By the 1970s, that attitude of elitist technocratic arrogance was in tatters–and ordinary Americans had revolted against it. And that has echoed for decades–politicians get a sure fire line when they rail against “elitists.”

    Here in America, we used to admire common sense even from those who didn’t have Ph.D’s. We judged competence not so much by erudition as by track record. History is replete with the names of self-made men who succeeded despite (or maybe because of) lack of formal education: Edison was homeschooled. Einstein’s parents kept moving him from one school to another because he kept failing his examinations–he wasn’t interested in anything except science.

    Edison was neither highly educated (not even a bachelor’s degree, IIRC), nor did he speak with erudition and the air of an intellectual. But his inventions revolutionized society.

    Bill Gates never graduated from college. But he seems to have done quite well anyway.

    The problem for the GOP is that they really want to uphold this tradition of self-made highly competent individual Americans–but Sarah Palin is a bad example, and the self-made men of Silicon Valley mostly supported Obama. (Google’s CEOs were among Obama’s biggest supporters.)

    The GOP has to figure out why that is, before it can make any progress.

  • anniemargret

    sinz: pardon me… but you’re dreamin!

    She just joined the snarkies on Fox! …continuing the culture war of which she has been Queen. And to think she can get an ‘education’ of sorts and then try to disprove what people instinctively know…that she is inherently intellectually lazy, it won’t happen. Sure, they will give her more talking points and she is good at that. But you just *know* if someone is capable or not, and all the ‘tutoring’ in the world is not going to get her up to a presidential level.

    In short, I don’t trust Sarah Palin. She is a victim queen as well, and it is a real turn-off. And to think *you* would equate her with Richard Nixon??? whah??? Nixon was a well read, well educated, completely capable candidate for high office. Yes, his personal qualities were lacking but no one looks back on his presidency and thinks he was ignorant of world affairs and or general US and world history.

    The woman didn’t know what the ‘Bush Doctrine’ was..while she was plying for the VP, fer crying out loud! She’s done. If this doesn’t make a voter shudder, then something is very wrong. And have you heard and listened to her word salads – she is not in leadership category. At best, she can do what she is doing now… commentary under softball lights to give her ‘us vs them’ platform more exposure.

    Her quitting the governorship to go out and plug her book to make millions, and then this new gig as another Fox Barbie, has nailed her down for good… She is a quitter, and a money-grubber. Even in four years, or ten, these facts will haunt her and no kiss-blowing or winking will change that .

    Angelina could run rings around Palin.

  • anniemargret

    “Insufferable arrogance???”" Oh please. Surely you jest. I get the feeling that rural folks think they are ‘more American’ than us city folks. Arrogance can work both ways, Sinz.

    No one forces anyone to live a certain way in this country, Sinz. We have elections. The Democrats won this time…and Republicans have to deal with it just the way we had to deal with Republican policies for 8 years.

    The majority of Americans want a healthcare bill and reform . They want it to be comprehensive and good. The Republicans have done squat about healthcare and now they’re howling. They’ve had their opportunity and they blew it.

    Go back and re-read one of my blog contributors. I said there is no formal education that will prove a person’s ability and worth. Worth comes from within, and some of the greatest contributors to this country have been from people with little to no formal education.

    Palin appeals to those who think people are laughing at them.. what they continue to fail to realize is that everyone has a mixture in their family of white and blue collar workers these days. What they also fail to realize is that people need to be assured that the person that they put in charge of leading the country is not someone who needs to be ‘tutored’ in american history . There is a world of difference here.

    And what is wrong now with having a Ph.D? Are we now wedded to the idea that if you have a formal education that it is now time for apology? There are arrogant people everywhere, Sinz. Everywhere. When I first came South from the North I got this immediate belief that southern culture was superior to the northeast culture I came from. And then I also experienced the northern arrogance for the south. I experienced arrogance that my parents were children of immigrants who worked and long so their kids to do better than they did. I experienced arrogance when I was a single mom that being married was superior to being single, etc…

    Arrogance is not intrinsic to education. Sarah Palin has led the charge of those that feel their upbringing (Christian-based/small town/rural/blue collar workers/) are superior to people who arent. If you are going to talk arrogance, please include them as well.

  • anniemargret

    Schwarzenegger has always had my respect. Even if you don’t always agree with his political philosphy he was a brilliant man, a self-made, self-educated man from the get-go. And his ability to work with people with different political philosophies other than himself is admirable (marrying a Kennedy).

    Yes, I already used Reagan in one of my contributions above. You have any doubts that he was intelligent before he put his name on the Presidential list. I don’t. He had proved his mettle.

    These are false analogies to Palin. Sorry.

  • anniemargret

    The problem for the GOP is that they keep apologizing for people being smart. It is amazing that Gingrich is not vilified for being a professor!

    Karl Rove started this stupid inane culture war and it is being kept alive and well by Sarah Palin and all the other culture war warriors.

    As long as it persists, and people are made to feel like their backgrounds and their college degrees are something to apologize for, they’re done as a party of any consequence.

  • anniemargret

    Once again, Andrew Sullivan nails it on Palin and Beck:

    http://www.andrewsullivan.com: ‘Watching Beck and Palin: God Played An Essential Role in the Founding of This Nation”

  • JeninCT

    annie wrote: “There appears to be an intellectual insecurity surrounding her fans – that if someone speaks better than them, or is better-educated or comes from a big city, they can’t handle it. That’s why her fans universally almost always say they like her because, ’she’s one of us.’

    I agree with Sinz, it’s most definitely not intellectual insecurity. People like me are no less intelligent than those who spent a decade in academia, we’re simply more plain spoken.

    You keep using the same example of how Palin apparently ‘proved’ herself incapable but none of the examples hold much water when you look at the entire person and consider her immense popularity.
    She’s always been a worker, and a fighter, and people like me prefer that type of politician.

    And frankly, the cattiness with which you express your opinion of her (“And oh yes…she will have more blonde streaks added to her locks in the coming months for sure”) is quite hippocritical since you consider yourself so morally above it all. The more you write, the more you give yourself away.

  • anniemargret

    Jenin: You are the one coming off ‘catty’ because you are making a judgment call about me, a person you know nothing about . It is a known fact fact that Fox News likes their blondes…that was my point and it was a point someone else here stated first.

    She is not a ‘worker and a fighter’ since she dumped her governorship midway to plug her book. That’s the way I see it. You can see it any other way you wish.

  • anniemargret

    jenin: Let me add one more thing and then I’ll give you all a break from my commentaries. I am not an unkind person, and if I come across here that way, that is wrong. I am also not implying her fans are not smart, etc… if anything I respect all people for all their beliefs. My own dear father who passed away last year had only graduated from 9th grade. But I revere what he taught me, since he was so wise in so many ways . I have many people in my own family that have higher educations and one of three children (all young adults now) did not graduate from college and has a disability that is very difficult for him and for us all. Yet he is smart as a whip but because he had so many difficulties in a formal education setting, many assume he is not.

    My point is that what I hear from her fans about why support her are mostly social attributes rather than concrete ones dynamic to what I believe a President should have. But any critique of Palin is usually regarded from her fans as being ‘elitist.’ I do not think she has shown the qualities I admire in a person seeking high office.

    I have very high standards . I want very aware, very knowledgable, very articulate . I think it is vitally important for a President to be able to speak very knowledgeably about many issues. That she must be ‘tutored’ to get her up to snuff bothers me a great deal.

    That’s it. If my standard is different than yours, so be it. I am entitled to my opinion of her, as you are entitled to yours. There are no double standards here. There has been a great deal of criticism of Obama (who I voted for) here on this blog. Some of it was very harsh and unjustified in my opinion, and some of it fair .

    But when a person puts themself out and front center, it is to be expected. Best wishes.

  • anniemargret

    …I also meant to say I have people in my family with little formal education. They are wise and they are cherished . I personally do not think formal education is a given that a person can be ‘smart.!”

  • JeninCT

    Annie, I am also not implying that you are unkind, I am only quoting you own words back to you. You did imply that Palin fans are not smart, in this post and in others.

    And I was not making a judgment call about you, you brought up (and continue to point out) your own high moral standards.