Thursday, July 15, 2010


I told you last week that the importance of Sarah Palin's "Mama Grizzlies" ad was that it impressed the people who are going to try to tell us what to think, and try to tell us what they think we think, in 2012 -- the mandarins of the mainstream media. Today Mark Halperin proves my point:

Sarah Palin in '12? Why She's for Real

The music swells and then picks up tempo. Sarah Palin is talking about how 2010 will be the year that "commonsense conservative women get things done for our country." She's worried about "these policies coming out of D.C. right now, this fundamental transformation of America," and reports that she is not alone. "Moms kinda just know when something's wrong," she says. "You thought pit bulls were tough? Well, you don't wanna mess with the mama grizzlies!"

Can a two-minute Internet video reshuffle a Republican presidential race before it has even started? Palin's glossy yet authentic clip, released without any fanfare July 8, did just that....

Hold on a second. "Authentic"? Look, maybe it's no phonier than most other political ads, but it sure as hell isn't "authentic." It's a sales job, selling Palin and a gimmicky slogan, and it's hard not to think that Palin, who in 2008 tried to rally men wearing Carhartt and steel-toed boots, has glommed onto Female Power because she thinks it's a better, or more useful, marketing gimmick. Or maybe her numbers are still higher among the Carhartt guys than among women, and she wants to reverse that. In either case, the only thing "authentic" about this is her "authentic" desire to be seen as the most important politician, or at least politician-manque, in America.

And in what way did it reshuffle the race? Well, in one way only: it impressed insiders. Political pros loved it and pundits like Halperin loved it.

Halperin says:

... If Palin can inspire GOP and independent women to turn out for the party's candidates in November, she could decisively influence the outcome of the midterms.

Earth to Halperin: she's not going to inspire independent women. Not real independents, in any case -- maybe women who define themselves as "independent" because they think both parties are too liberal, but not genuine centrists.

But see what's happening? Palin is trying to become the rooster taking credit for the sunrise. There's a tremendous amount of discontent out there, most of it being directed at Obama and Democrats, and it would exist whether Palin talked about it or not. But now, when she's done about all the influencing she's going to do for this year -- i.e., by motivating wingnuts in primaries to vote for some of her endorsees -- she and her handlers are whispering to pundits like Halperin that if Republicans win in November, it's Palin's doing. Say what? If a Republican wins the South Carolina governor's race, say, that wouldn't have happened without Palin? Are you joking?

But Halperin will believe it.

I'll skip the parts where Halperin tallks about Palin's "charming ... way with words" and calls her "savvy and sophisticated," and jump straight to a fact that Halperin tosses off as if it doesn't completely invalidate his entire argument:

The majority of voters are still skeptical. A new TIME poll shows Palin losing to Obama 55% to 34%, a lopsided margin that leads some Republican strategists to predict a wipeout if Palin is eventually chosen as the party's nominee.


So she's a dynamo, a juggernaut, the biggest thing since sliced bread -- and yet the latest poll says Obama would wipe the floor with her in 2012? So what are you saying, Mark -- that she's going to send independent women to the polls in 2010 even though they dread the thought of her as president? Doesn't this slight contradiction matter?


But that might not matter.

Oh. Sorry. Never mind.

...The question for Palin now: Can she build on this moment? ...

Excuse me: what moment? The average voter paid no attention whatsoever to this ad. Her fanboys and fangirls cared about it. Her new fanboys and fangirls in the media cared about it. Nobody else did. There is no moment going on. We're just where we were a month ago -- everyone who doesn't think Palin is God's gift to America thinks she's a pathetic joke, and the latter group is larger than the former -- except that the media is now purring at Palin's feet, Halperin most of all (and you know he's only going to get worse).


And no, I'm not impressed with the Public Policy Polling survey that says Palin is running neck-and-neck with Obama. If this is a typical PPP poll, it's done via robocalls -- and poll analysts know that that tends to mean more respondents than usual are (as one analyst puts it) "politically engaged citizens who are more likely to think and act as partisan[s] or ideologues." Palin voters are engaged and passionate; likely 2012 Obama voters are, well, like you and me -- grumpy these days. Remember, PPP thought Doug Hoffman would win by double digits. So take the pollster's numbers with a big grain of salt.

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