My first reaction to the love letter David Broder just wrote to Sarah Palin ("a public figure at the top of her game... The lady is good") was: OK, it's on. Three years from now, we won't be able to say we didn't see this coming. I've been saying that the new media message about teabag-style populism, as exemplified by recent NPR and New Yorker stories, is that these folks are admirable; they're both the salt of the earth (which is good again -- NASCAR! NASCAR! -- as Obamania fades) and the new '60s idealists. And I assumed we'd soon starting reading stories about their queen that had titles such as "Taking Sarah Palin Seriously."
Well, here's Broder:
The snows that obliterated Washington in the past week interfered with many scheduled meetings, but they did not prevent the delivery of one important political message: Take Sarah Palin seriously.
But then I saw this at Talking Points Memo, about a poll conducted by Broder's own newspaper:
The Post itself has a new poll out with interesting Palin numbers.
55% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Palin while 37% have a favorable impression of her. That's actually a bit worse than other recent polls of this question have shown. But the really revealing number is how many people consider her qualified to be president.
Over 70% say no, she's not. And that's up from 60% just last November. Even a majority of Republicans say she's not qualified to serve as president.
So the public doesn't think Palin's "at the top of her game." (Or at least it didn't February 4 through February 8, when the survey was conducted; Palin's speech was on the 6th.)
But will it matter? As I say, it's clear that most mainstream journalists are totally over Obama, the Democrats, and any sense that Republicans have demonstrated that they can't be trusted with power. That's just so 2006-2008. Stimulus? Health reform? Financial reform? Cap and trade? They're much more interested in that issue right-wingers love to use as a frame -- deficit reduction.
They're going to follow Broder's lead. Just as they've surrendered to the tea parties, they're going to surrender to the demagogic populism of the next crop of GOP presidential aspirants.
Now, this may not benefit Palin specifically, because every Republican candidate is going to hit the same populist/demagogic/know-nothing notes she hits. Broder and the rest of the media mandarins may develop a much bigger crush on demagogic populist Mike Huckabee or demagogic populist Tim Pawlenty or demagogic populist Newt Gingrich.
But they all may decide Palin's the one. They all may decide that her flat vowels and inept syntax are the realest. And that media consensus may, paradoxically, create a populist wave that delivers the GOP nomination to Palin, if not the election. The people will hear "Take Palin seriously!" so often, they'll start to believe
Go read Broder's column now. Or, hell, don't bother. You'll get to read it a hundred times between now and the Iowa caucuses, by a hundred different pundits.