Thursday, January 08, 2009


I think Sarah Palin has finally found her voice -- her bitter, resentful, put-upon voice.

We heard that voice in her Republican convention speech, and in some of her campaign appearances, but she struggled in interviews, and never really came close to finding that truly aggrieved, persecuted note.

But now -- freed from the rigors of actually having to try to communicate with non-Dittoheads -- Palin has given a lengthy interview to John Ziegler, the right-wing propagandist pollster and filmmaker responsible for the forthcoming Media Malpractice ... How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Smeared.

The key excerpt, to me, is about 6:21 in. The feisty, I-get-knocked-down-but-I-get-up-again pit-bull hockey mom is gone -- replaced by the spirit of Nixon in a skirt. Substitute a proper noun here and there, lower the pitch about an octave, add a five o'clock shadow, and you could be listening not to Palin whining about the press, but to Tricky Dick seething about the Kennedys:

ZIEGLER: If, by chance, you'd been chosen as the vice presidential candidate for Barack Obama --

PALIN: Uh-huh.

ZIEGLER: Let's pretend he wanted to be really post-partisan. And there's this governor in Alaska who's a reformer, she's an expert on energy issues, all this would be great for the country -- how do you think your candidacy would have been treated?

PALIN: I think they would have loved me as a candidate, and I've already lived through that more on a local level. There have been times where, here in Alaska, I've taken on my own Republican Party, where there has been corruption, and I've been one to say, "No, enough is enough, we're going to clean up this party, and the leaders got to go, and we've got to start anew" -- well the
[makes air quotes] "mainstream media" here in Alaska, they've loved me through those episodes. And then, though, the minute that it is that I have done something that is, you know, conservative roots, and we're not going to grow government here in Alaska, and we're going to develop our resources, and -- that's when the [makes air quotes again] "mainstream media" here in Alaska, they turn on you. So there's so much hypocrisy in it all. It's pretty baffling. But, yeah -- had I been chosen, perhaps, to run as a reformer on the Democrat ticket, you would have seen an absolutely different and, I think, if you will, a much prettier profile of Sarah Palin and the Palin family and my administration.

Palin still resents the people responsible for the baby-rumor story (and people she seems to think are responsible, like much of the mainstream press, even though I don't recall any mainstream figure apart from Andrew Sullivan treating the story as in any way credible); she still resents Katie Couric ("Katie, you're not the center of everybody's universe"); and she still thinks she has somehow been prevented from telling her side of the story to those of us in "the Lower 48" (where, I guess, we're prevented by law from watching her many Fox News interviews or reading Bill Kristol's column). Oh, and she anticipates that Caroline Kennedy "will be handled with kid gloves" in her Senate bid, because there's a classist double-standard applied to the two of them. (Kid gloves? Er, no, as we in New York have recently seen.)

Look, I don't expect her to have warm feelings toward everyone who said unpleasant things about her. I don't imagine Barack Obama has warm feelings toward, say, Larry Johnson. It's Palin's decision to dwell on this stuff, to refuse to let it go, to choose her Lower 48 interviewers on the basis of who's going to give her the best chance to hold forth in this way, that's sick and unhealthy. Acknowledge bad press? Sure. But then try to get past it, for heaven's sake.

But she won't. Barack Obama became president in large part by not responding angrily to racism in general or attacks on himself in particular. But success in the GOP is likely to come exactly the opposite way -- by stewing in bitterness -- and Palin knows it.


I'm noticing -- in the Palin interview and in Ziegler's comments on it -- an attempt to make the media a new front in the GOP's class war. We know Republicans think they stand for ordinary Joes while Democrats represent slickster elites; well, the Palin interview itself is, according to Ziegler, a blow against the Democratic elite empire, because Palin, though entitled to act like a swell, refuses to do so, which makes her a class traitor of sorts:

What’s particularly valuable about my perspective is that I am not Charlie Gibson, Matt Lauer or Greta Van Susteren (who I understand now gets her mail delivered to the Palin home) -- the conductors of the three most prominent interviews done in this Wasilla home on a frozen lake at the end of a drive with the sign "Palins" posted on a tree. I am virtually unknown nationally and there was absolutely no reason for anything to be done differently as "show" for us. We saw the genuine Sarah Palin and it is patently obvious this is the only one who exists.

She is the real deal.

As a former TV sportscaster and radio talk show host I’ve interviewed a lot big-time "celebrities," and can honestly say that even though you could argue Sarah Palin was the most prominent, she is also by far the nicest, most sincere and seemingly honest subject I’ve ever questioned.

... Our interview started early and ended late (ask Barbara Walters how often that happens at this level)....

By giving this interview (to a right-wing Michael Moore wannabe), Palin is at the forefront of the GOP's desperate effort to develop "new media" outlets. The interview write-up appears at Big Hollywood, the new site developed by Matt Drudge's pal Andrew Breitbart to buck up the spirits of allegedly besieged Hollywood righties. All this is meant to be class-based, I think, old media being "elite" by comparison (except when it's lefties using the new media, I suppose).

This is what the GOP thinks is the path to the future; in reality, it's just the same old preaching to the choir right-wingers have always done, in a few newer formats. But it provides a sense of group solidarity, and Palin is right there to help.


APOLOGIES: You probably could have skipped this entire rant and just gone straight to Gawker's take, which is much shorter and a lot funnier. (Headline: "Sarah Palin: Media, its Subjects, and Viewers are All Jerks.")

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