Saturday, August 30, 2008


You've probably seen the clip in which Sarah Palin asks what a vice president does. On the left it's being treated as just an embarrassing error -- she essentially admitted that she doesn't have a clue about the job she now seeks.

But I think there's something Rove-like about it -- she's trying to go at the strength of the Democrats' anticipated inexperience argument and trying to turn it into a weakness. (See, she's a real person in the least fancypants state in the Union who does something for a living, not like someone in a job in Washington -- boo! hiss! -- that has very few constitutionally mandated responsibilities.)

Thus, I suspect she had help with it from people in the campaign who were prepping her a month ago (the interview took place on July 31). I think they thought she was very appealing but had, er, obvious liabilities, and they wanted her to give the line a tryout on national TV (but on a low-rated show hosted by a friendly interviewer, in this case the veteran right-wing operative Larry Kudlow).

Here's the clip. The remark comes at about 2:51:

As for that VP talk all the time: I tell ya, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me, what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I'm used to being very productive and working real hard and in administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S. before I can even start addressing that question.

Smell the Rove? I do. I'm not saying it works -- I think it's a disaster -- but I think it was meant to.


In fact, I think the whole thing was part of an effort to inoculate Palin against the worst she'd face if she got the nod -- with the right-wing media providing a big assist.

The interview took place just after the appearance of an article in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal titled "Alaska's Palin Faces Probe." The Journal article ostensibly focuses on the scandal surrounding Palin's attempt to get her former brother-in-law removed from his job as an Alaska state trooper. But it's clearly one more attempt at inoculation -- the opening paragraphs actually touch on the scandal only briefly, in among assertions that read more like a Palin press release than journalism:

When Sarah Palin was elected governor as a Republican outsider in 2006, she didn't just take on an incumbent from her own party. She took on Alaska's Republican establishment.

Ms. Palin vowed to clean up a long-cozy political system that had been sullied by an FBI corruption investigation. She endeared herself to Alaskans by making good on her reform promises and showing homey touches, like driving herself to work.

...This is the first real chink in the armor of Alaska's first woman governor, whose popularity soared above 80% as she enacted an ethics bill [and] shelved pork-barrel projects by fellow Republicans....

Ms. Palin has shown similar boldness in going after Big Oil....

"People see her as the symbol of purity in an atmosphere of corruption," says Anchorage pollster Marc Hellenthal. "She is almost Saint Sarah."...

Ms. Palin's supporters dismiss the so-called Troopergate incident as trouble stoked by her enemies.

"Many of those who had been in positions of power and authority have been very envious over the past year and a half, with Ms. Palin's great popularity," says Soldotna Mayor David Carey.

The story of the scandal is in there somewhere, but Murdoch's paper buries it under all this pro-Palin gush (and more).

And this sets up the Kudlow interview. The first 2:50 of the clip is mostly Palin using this very safe media forum to do a dry run of her scandal rebuttal points.

So I think the big guns were preparing her for this moment a month ago. I don't think what she said worked, but I think it was a professional effort.

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