Palin and Obama: Who’s Fooling Whom?

February 11th, 2010 at 4:10 pm David Frum | 72 Comments |

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A blogger at HuffPo worries that Sarah Palin has brilliantly suckered the Obama White House into enhancing her credibility.

Addressing the Tea Party, Sarah Palin wrote three notes on her hand: “Energy, Taxes, Lift American Spirits.” Why? She already had notes in front of her on the podium. Surely she could remember three simple themes. Why write notes on her hand?

Here’s my take on why: she knew that they would be visible when she gave the speech. And she knew that she would be made fun of — as so stupid that she needs to write notes on her hand. And that’s one of her most effective tactics — to be made fun of. It’s an integral part of her strategy of standing in for hardworking, Middle Americans, derided by the condescending, know-it-all liberal elites.

So what does the Obama administration do? Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had a great idea: he made fun of her. He wrote a grocery list on his hand at a White House briefing, and belittled Palin for not being able to remember her message. Thus the White House became a vehicle for Palin’s narrative of the snooty elites who think they’re better than average Americans.

… Sarah Palin is playing chess. I don’t know what game the Administration is playing, but they just walked right into her carefully laid trap. Palin, the strategist, is amazing to watch. Her brilliance is her ability to tap in to the class conflicts that drive American politics these days. Obama, whom I have supported since Iowa, just doesn’t get it.

Julian Sanchez and Andrew Sullivan concur on the cleverness of Palin and the cluelessness of the Obama administration. Except … all this presupposes that the Obama administration wants Sarah Palin to go away. It does not!

Palin is Obama’s preferred opponent. What is good for Palin is good for Obama. Of course the White House builds her up, of course it seems to play into Palin’s ink-stained hands! The White House is counting on those hands to deliver them in turn an easy romp to re-election.

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72 Comments so far ↓

  • Jim_M

    Who cares? Palin ain’t in charge. She is no more than an interesting (to me) political pundit. A universe away from the White House.

    Anyone see Barry’s numbers today. I been around since Ike. Boys and girls. This guy is TANKING. I don’t believe he’s sinister or purposely trying to destroy anything. He is, no doubt, in my mind, very intelligent. His problem is this, he is DANGEROUS.

    He absolutely does not know what he does not know. Savvy?

    NOT GOOD.

    I could not care less who annoys him, his followers, fans or worshipers. WE ELECTED AN AMERICAN IDOL. Not a chief executive. We screwed this up. Somehow we got to fix it.

    Jim

  • teabag

    Jim_M

    Get back to me when Obama get to Bush lows. 24% approval was it not?

  • teabag

    Jim_M

    Also please state in plain words why the President is Shout “DANGEROUS”

  • kevin47

    “And the continued “teleprompter” meme is ridiculous, of course.”

    First of all, the 6th grader speech was pretty ridiculous. He looked like he was watching a tennis match.

    The bigger issue is that he is hailed as some sort of brilliant orator. I don’t care if he needs (very much so) a teleprompter. They even use them on SNL. The issue is that I don’t get the sense that he grasps the content outside of what is written for him.

    He has a remarkable cadence. It is the perfect combination of authority and folksiness. His rhetorical tics sell the message. But if you read the transcripts of what he says off the cuff, he does not come off as any different from George W. Bush. At all.

    And, should Palin secure the nomination, I don’t think she’ll be as underwater as people think. She did just fine against Biden, who (inability to hold tongue aside) is a much better impromptu speaker than Obama.

    That’s why if I were Obama, I wouldn’t put so many eggs in the “Palin is a stupidhead” basket. She had one big advantage, which is that, unlike him, she largely believes the stuff she says. If I were a betting man (and I am, and you are too) I’d take the under on the debater with conviction.

    Just let her be. If she is as stupid as some pretend, it will reveal itself on a broader platform soon enough.

  • Jim_M

    Apples for apples? Bush had very high approval numbers at month 13 of his first term. I can not recall a faster fall in job approval than this one. And their is a reason for it. The private sector is frozen. Obama spoke today about businesses, the same ones that are frozen with little or no prospects today, getting bank loans to spur activity or !?!? What? Suffering businesses do not take on (more) debt. Viable (healthy) businesses barrow to take advantage of an opportunity they might miss otherwise. Now, one might conclude from this that President Obama is stupid. I know he’s NOT stupid. Far from it. He just does not know, but believes to his core that he does. DANGEROUS. Very much so.

  • anniemargret

    arctos: I liked your honest commentary. And someday I wish to see Alaska, because I bet it is one of the most awesome states in these US. Palin ‘ruined’ Alaska’s image for me, a state I always dreamed of visiting in my lifetime, God-willing, but I know there are wise and wonderful people there, just like the rest of the states, who are aware, who are honest.

    kevin: she has yet to put herself through a one on one interview where there wasn’t a softball question leveled at her. She won’t do it because she might have to go off script, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, I’m sure.

    Is she stupid? No, I don’t think she’s stupid. I do think she is woefully ignorant of the enormity of the issues, because she has gotten away with (so far) sound bites and platitudes that she can memorize. And for me, is it. I want a person in leadership who knows what they’re talking about and not just ad-libbing what someone tells them to say. She’t got a lot of pretense and frankly we cannot afford pretense when she talks glibly about bombing Iran!

    What does she stand for? She gives all the right wing talking points but has no real solutions. Like the majority of the tea-partiers, they got a lot of angry rhetoric and no solutions. It’s easy to slam the president if you haven’t any real ideas. Can someone please ask her what she would cut? What she thinks about the thousands without healthcare? Does she think climate change is a liberal plot? Or is her pat answer going to continue to be no taxes and drill baby drill?

    She’s got a loyal following, a sizeable percentage of social conservatives within the Republican party . Whether or not she can take the klieg lights, her influence is real. Ergo…..why there’s 54 responses to “Palin and Obama: Who’s Fooling Whom?” and why she’s all over the media. Republicans will not able to shove her aside as some political celebrity until and when she is not taken seriously any longer.

    That hasn’t happened yet.

  • micjahi

    Kevin47-

    “The issue is that I don’t get the sense that he grasps the content outside of what is written for him.”

    Oh really. You seem to be describing Palin perfectly. So he takes on a room full of Repub congressmen and more than holds his own, but in your biased eyes he is nothing more than an empty suit. Yet, you can’t seem to see that Palin is the one who obviously has no clue what she is talking about.

    “She did just fine against Biden”.

    Oh really? Was it her winking, or her “Can I call you Joe?’ shtick, or her repeated peeks at her note cards, or her telling the moderator that she would only address the questions that she felt like answering, that impressed you so much? Or maybe it was when she called him Obiden.

    Biden was actually in a tough spot. He had to be careful to not come off as mean and condescending, since he was in a “debate” with a woman who just happens to be, shall we say, intellectually challenged, to put it mildly, but had the advantage of such low expectations that if she managed to get through the night without drooling on herself, the MSM would fall all over themselves hailing her great performance.

    Let me ask you, why is it that she never held a press conference? Ever. Highly unusual for a VP candidate. In fact unprecedented. After her disastrous interviews with Gibson and Couric, it was pretty clear to her handlers that any questions from the press outside of Fox News would be a huge mistake.

    I would not hesitate to bet on Obama in a face off with Palin. But it will never happen. I wish she would, but she will never have the guts to run for the Presidency. Deep down, she knows better than anyone how utterly limited she is. What really amazes me is that so many people like you actually think she has anything to offer beyond her canned talking points and platitudes.

  • Jim_M

    Palin is becoming a legend, in the lefts imagination. I must admit that I do enjoy their confusion.

    From the poorly disguised sexist insults to the fanatical hate, todays statists really struggle with the “why” of Palin.

    The Washington Post’s liberal columnist David Broder in his piece yesterday turns down all the noise for you and put things in perspective. If you haven’t read it, please do.

    Jim

  • micjahi

    Jim_M-

    David Broder is a liberal columnist? Right. He seems to be the one who is confused. Right after his column, Sarah’s new plummeting poll numbers came out. His praise of Palin is very similar to his praise for Bush, right before Bush’s numbers dropped to about 24%. The only thing his columns put into perspective is how badly he is losing it.

  • Jim_M

    Palin’s poll numbers ??….count for absolutely nothing.

    All of the Presidents job approval polls regardless of source, are in free fall.

    Palin, Bush, Cheney and the bogeyman polls are of no consequence. No meaning what so ever, other to

    quite the troubled psyche of the left.

  • BoolaBoola

    What do you think is in Palin’s medical history that made her refuse to divulge it?

    My bet: an involuntary hospitalization for danger-to-self.

  • Mandos

    Broder is a liberal in the same sense that the human species is herbivorous.

  • JeninCT

    CentristNY wrote: “These weren’t obscure statistics that she wanted to keep handy. She had to write down the four ideas that were MOST IMPORTANT to her. That’s how little she grasps this stuff. (And to have done so only minutes after taking another swipe at Obama’s teleprompter use makes her look even stupider.)”

    Just keep believing that if it makes you feel better.

    JimM wrote: “Palin is becoming a legend, in the lefts imagination. I must admit that I do enjoy their confusion.”

    Me, too! It’s fun to watch everyone become so unhinged!

    Micjahi wrote: “I would not hesitate to bet on Obama in a face off with Palin. But it will never happen. ”

    That’s right. Just like those town hall meetings with McCain never happened. Obama will back out.

  • anniemargret

    jenin: 71% of Americans think she is not qualified (including thinking conservatives).

    But the more important question is why would you want to support a woman who dumped her job as governor to charge $100,000 speaking fees, wasn’t sure why her son was in Iraq (she still doesn’t really know if it has anything to do with Saddam), did not know anything about the surge, thinks there are ‘real Americans’ and not ‘all Americans,’ still doesn’t know if the Bush Doctrine is wise or not, but now wants to bomb Iran?

    You guys are the scary ones that keep defending this obvious self-serving self-promoter. Keep living in that alternate universe. It is more important to you Palinistas to support a person so devoid of contemporary political knowledge about the world around her, in order to make brownie points off liberals .

    How pathetic is that? Very.

  • JeninCT

    What’s pathetic is you repeatedly using the same, tired talking points over and over again. She left her job, she made a mean comment about city-dwellers, she didn’t know what the Bush Doctrine was, blah, blah, blah.

    Movin’ on…

  • anniemargret

    Not ‘talking points’, Jenin, (she’s got those) but *facts.*

  • kevin47

    “Oh really. You seem to be describing Palin perfectly.”

    Fine, but I am also describing Obama perfectly.

    “So he takes on a room full of Repub congressmen and more than holds his own, but in your biased eyes he is nothing more than an empty suit.”

    He took eight questions. He didn’t more than hold his own. He somewhat held his own, largely by pivoting to prepared material. I think any politician in the country could do that, and if you read the transcript, he didn’t do it particularly well.

    “Yet, you can’t seem to see that Palin is the one who obviously has no clue what she is talking about.”

    If Obama is the standard-bearer in this regard, I think she’s doing just fine. That said, I am not impressed with her ability to answer questions off the cuff. But my point wasn’t about Palin, it was about Obama, who is lauded for his supposed communications genius.

    “Oh really? Was it her winking, or her “Can I call you Joe?’ shtick, or her repeated peeks at her note cards, or her telling the moderator that she would only address the questions that she felt like answering, that impressed you so much?”

    Thank you for the compendium of talking points about the debate. In response: Hairplugs, Teethcaps, fictional diners on Main Street… There, that was useful.

    She was able to articulate McCain’s vision for the presidency, and wasn’t thrown off by anything Biden said. If you want to decide she’s an idiot because she awkwardly pivoted away from a question to get her talking points in, fine, but keep in mind not everyone hates her as much as you do, and that she would have a lot more debate prep by the time she encountered Obama.

    “Biden was actually in a tough spot.”

    He also did fine.

    “Let me ask you, why is it that she never held a press conference?”

    Campaign mismanagement from the get go. That said, any press conference would not have featured the same questions as those posed to Biden, Obama, or even McCain, and any poorly delivered answer would have received ten times as much scrutiny.

    Imagine if it had been Palin who announced that FDR got on TV in 1929 to assure the American people after the stock market crash. She was a liability in that she had no margin for error, whereas the other candidates had a rather substantial margin.

    “I would not hesitate to bet on Obama in a face off with Palin.”

    Okay. I think it would be close to a draw, and everyone would talk about how low expectations were for Palin… After all three debates.

    “But it will never happen.”

    Probably not. My guess is that someone who isn’t being talked about right now will get the nomination. Whoever it is, the left will paint him or her as a rube and/or diabolically evil, and you will embrace the characterization.

    “I wish she would, but she will never have the guts to run for the Presidency.”

    I think she already does. The question is whether she has the internal polling numbers.

    “What really amazes me is that so many people like you actually think she has anything to offer beyond her canned talking points and platitudes.”

    I think she has convictions, many of which I share. That, and not her speaking abilities, is the source of her popularity, and also the hatred of those with whom she disagrees. To disbelieve that she has anything, at all, to offer is rather myopic.

    I believe Obama has a lot to offer. If he wanted, he could make a big difference in Iran, and could go a long way toward finding a moderate political path, a la Bill Clinton. He is inherently likable and projects a lot of confidence. The problem is that he holds boilerplate leftist views and doesn’t understand why anyone would disagree with them, which means he doesn’t properly understand them, which means he cannot defend or modulate them.

  • JeninCT

    Kevin47 wrote: “The problem is that he holds boilerplate leftist views and doesn’t understand why anyone would disagree with them, which means he doesn’t properly understand them, which means he cannot defend or modulate them.”

    Very well said! As to Palin, I admire her convictions, but to me her best quality is her fearlessness.

  • JeninCT

    Anne wrote: “Not ‘talking points’, Jenin, (she’s got those) but *facts.*”

    Like I said before, just keep believing that if it makes you feel better.

  • Mandos

    What boilerplate leftist views does Obama hold again? He recently defended bank execs for their bonuses.

  • JeninCT

    He recently defended bank execs for their bonuses because ‘he’s knows those guys’! Otherwise, he believes we need big government to run the lives of everyone else, because we’re so stupid we’d blow our kids’ college savings in Vegas if he didn’t tell us not to.

  • Mandos

    I know of no boilerplate leftist who thinks you are personally incapable of saving for college if you have a job with sufficient pay to do that and keep a roof over your head at the same time.