Tag Archives: William Kristol

Vanity Fair Discovers Sarah Palin is Loud and Secretive

Excellent detailed piece on Sarah Palin by journalist Michael Joseph Gross in the October 2010 issue of Vanity Fair

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Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury

Former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin speaks at the "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28, 2010.

Even as Sarah Palin’s public voice grows louder, she has become increasingly secretive, walling herself off from old friends and associates, and attempting to enforce silence from those around her. Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits—a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family—and the sadness she has left in her wake.

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The Pit Bull in the China Shop

Sarah Palin vs. Pit Bull

Sarah Palin vs. Pit Bull

At last the American right and left have one issue they unequivocally agree on: You don’t actually have to read Sarah Palin’s book to have an opinion about it. Last Sunday Liz Cheney praised “Going Rogue” as “well-written” on Fox News even though, by her own account, she had sampled only “parts” of it. On Tuesday, Ana Marie Cox, a correspondent for Air America, belittled the book in The Washington Post while confessing that she couldn’t claim to have “completely” read it.

Going Rogue” will hardly be the first best seller embraced by millions for talismanic rather than literary ends. And I am not recommending that others follow my example and slog through its 400-plus pages, especially since its supposed revelations have been picked through 24/7 for a week. But sometimes I wonder if anyone has read all of what Palin would call the “dang” thing. Some of the book’s most illuminating tics have been mentioned barely — if at all — by either its fans or foes. Palin is far and away the most important brand in American politics after Barack Obama, and attention must be paid. Those who wishfully think her 15 minutes are up are deluding themselves.

The book’s biggest surprise is Palin’s wide-eyed infatuation with show-business celebrities. You get nearly as much face time with Tina Fey and the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in “Going Rogue” as you do with John McCain. We learn how happy Palin was to receive calls from Bono and Warren Beatty “to share ideas and insights.” We wade through star-struck lists of campaign cameos by Robert Duvall, Jon Voight (who “blew us away”), Naomi Judd, Gary Sinise and Kelsey Grammer, among many others. Then there are the acknowledgments at the book’s end, where Palin reveals that her intimacy with media stars is such that she can air-kiss them on a first-name basis, from Greta to Laura to Rush.

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The GOP Stalinists Invade Upstate New York

The GOP have gotten into a tangled mess with the ultra-conservative fringe battling the more moderate centerists for control of the Republican Party.

The GOP is in a tangled mess with the ultra-conservative fringe lead by Sarah Palin battling the more moderate centerists for control of the Republican Party.

Barack Obama‘s most devilish political move since the 2008 campaign was to appoint a Republican congressman from upstate New York as secretary of the Army. This week’s election to fill that vacant seat has set off nothing less than a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war. No matter what the results in that race on Tuesday, the Republicans are the sure losers. This could be a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats through 2010, and perhaps beyond.

The governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia were once billed as the marquee events of Election Day 2009 — a referendum on the Obama presidency and a possible Republican “comeback.” But preposterous as it sounds, the real action migrated to New York’s 23rd, a rural Congressional district abutting Canada. That this pastoral setting could become a G.O.P. killing field, attracting an all-star cast of combatants led by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, William Kristol and Newt Gingrich, is a premise out of a Depression-era screwball comedy. But such farces have become the norm for the conservative movement — whether the participants are dressing up in full “tea party” drag or not.

The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck, neither of whom has what Palin once called the “actual responsibilities” of public office, would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity. Over the short term, at least, their wish could come true.

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Pallin’ Around With The Liberal Media

Exiting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Exiting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

On Monday, Eric Boehlert highlighted Time‘s upcoming cover story on Sarah Palin, titled, “The Outsider: Where is Sarah Palin Going Next?” While Palin has certainly received her share of bad press, a great deal of it has been the inevitable result of her own statements and actions. Interpretive articles like this one, however, are different and provide journalists with the chance to use their judgment to put past actions and ongoing trials in a broader context that will help readers better understand the subject at hand.

Which is why this article is so problematic. In it, Time‘s David Von Drehle and Jay Newton-Small go to immense lengths to create a story out of thin air. In this case, it’s “The Renegade,” a tale about an unconventional politician making waves with her unpredictable behavior. The piece is deeply flawed, advancing conservative narratives without challenge and ignoring obvious realities about Palin, her home state, and the problems she faces. It’s an account that flies in the face not just of progressive criticisms of the governor, but of a growing chorus of conservative ones as well.

And it is exactly the kind of ratings-driven journalism that is, ironically, making magazines like Time less and less authoritative at a time when serious journalism couldn’t be more needed.

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Can Palin Broaden Base for 2012?

The WashingtonPost Georgetown / On Faith blog published a thoughtful op-ed by Jacques Berlinerblau on Republican Governor Sarah Palin’s political chances in a 2012 race for the US presidency.  Although 4+ years away (though 2012 campaigning will probably start January 21, 2009!!) this is something American voters need to consider even if Senator Obama is elected president on November 4th.

It’s not that I assume that Barack Obama is going to be the next president of the United States (in fact, I anticipate a furious charge from a devil-may-care John McCain in the next 21 days).

But when conservative columnist William Kristol is urging the Republican presidential nominee to divest himself of an operationally incompetent and strategically incoherent campaign apparatus, then perhaps we can at least take a peek, a look-see, at a future in which a Democrat runs the country. Which Republicans might be challenging President Obama in 2012?

In terms of 2008 aspirants we can say that McCain and Fred Thompson will be too old. Rudy Giuliani too strategically incoherent. That leaves the following (with apologies to Tancredo, Brownback, Hunter, Paul and Keyes):

Sarah Palin: If the governor of Alaska wants to run for the White House then she is going to have to spend every day of the next four years systematically rehabilitating her public image. In return for the honor of being selected by that other Maverick, Palin has been rewarded with the widespread perception that she is a dim-wit, dishonest, an abuser of power, and a religious zealot.

Similar charges were leveled at Dan Quayle in 1988, another politician who went from total obscurity to the Most Detested Person in Liberal America in a matter of seconds (I seem to recall a headline in The Village Voice: “Bush flips America the Bird!”). But at least he actually got to be vice-President.

What Palin does bring to the table and what may make her attractive to GOP kingmakers is her ability to “energize the base.” By “base” we mean White Conservative Evangelicals. And if reports from the field are accurate, then the base isn’t only energized by her, but short-circuiting. Her crowds are huge and their shout-outs are becoming increasingly inflammatory. (Incidentally, an Evangelical pastor yesterday correlated Obama’s followers with worshippers of non-Christian gods).

It will be interesting to see what type of campaign Palin would run when unencumbered by McCain’s handlers (who did not, I think, do her any favors in the last six weeks). If she strikes populist Christian themes and plays on her small-town appeal then that should be of concern to. . . . .

Mike Huckabee: I have gone to great pains to point out that the base did not–I repeat, did not–necessarily get overheated for the former governor of Arkansas. In his 2012 incarnation Huck must secure Evangelical support earlier and more often. Palin will be winking at them as well and the mind races at the thought of these two cudgeling one another for a share of the same demographic in Iowa (Chuck Norris, meet the First Dude. First Dude. Chuck).

But if there is one thing we are learning in this election season it is that White Evangelicals are less of an electoral force than they were four years ago. The leadership is in flux. Issues beyond abortion and gays interest them. A younger generation is rising.

A weakened–more precisely, a fractured–Evangelical base signals the possible re-emergence of that other GOP base composed of Free Marketeers, daredevil de-regulators, the pro-Big Business faction, and the anti-tax brigades, among others. It may also a signal an opportunity for ….

Mitt Romney: If McCain loses, it seems safe to say that it was the stupid economy that did him in. Had Romney been selected as his running mate in 2008 he could have addressed this issue with more authority than both Mavericks combined.

But let us not forget that Romney himself pandered to the conservative Christian base (which he fought Huckabee for in some sort of mutual annihilation pact). He proclaimed himself an “evangelical Mormon.” He flip-flopped on abortion. He thumped Bible. He lambasted secularists. In short, Mitt Romney ran as a Culture Warrior–a role he was not suited to play.

If Palin, Romney and Huckabee do run in 2012 they will have to learn one crucial lesson from 2008: culture warfare is not enough. Put differently, they will need to play to the bases. To win a presidential election it takes more than faith.

Can Palin Broaden Base for 2012?