Friday, November 25, 2022


In The New York Times, Jeremy Peters tells the story of Sarah Palin's rise and fall, and gets much of it wrong. Here's Peters on Palin's rise:
Ms. Palin, 58, started on the road to political fame after her upset victory in the governor’s race in Alaska in 2006, when the Republican Party was in need of a fresh face. Republicans had just lost badly in the midterm elections — what President George W. Bush called a “thumping.” The G.O.P.’s conservative base was angry with party leaders over their support for an immigration reform bill. And the broader public was war-weary after five years of conflict in the Middle East with no end in sight.

Ms. Palin was as different from a Bush Republican as they come.
Palin was as different from a Bush Republican as they come? She became John McCain's running mate in 2008 when McCain promised to continue George W. Bush's war in Iraq in perpetuity. Bush was the son of an oilman, and one of Palin biggest applause lines was "Drill, baby, drill." And while Bush had preppy roots, he cosplayed at being a good ol' boy, the kind of guy who might have flirted with Palin the hockey mom.
She promised to do things as governor that politicians in her party typically didn’t, such as restoring social welfare funding and scrutinizing tax breaks her state gave to large corporations. She appealed to Alaskans’ insularity, too, channeling mistrust of outsiders like oil companies, fisheries and federal agencies.

She prided herself on being able to work across party lines.
None of that, of course, was why she became a national celebrity. That happened because she was a partisan attack dog.

Peters writes:
She was, in many ways, undone by the same political currents she rode to national prominence, first as Senator John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee in 2008 and later as a Tea Party luminary and Fox News star....

... as the next generation rose up, Ms. Palin’s brand of politics no longer seemed as novel or as outrageous. Next to Mr. Trump’s lies about a huge conspiracy to deny him a second term, or Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s casual allusions to political violence, Ms. Palin’s provocations more than a decade ago can seem almost quaint.
That's not why she faded. She faded because it was clear she wasn't very effective at owning the libs. She scored a fat book deal in 2009, than quit as Alaska's governor. In 2010 she became a comically inarticulate Fox News commentator and did a reality series that was quickly canceled. She still had a large right-wing fan base that wanted her to run for higher office, but by the fall of 2010, even a plurality of Republicans thought she did not have "the ability to be an effective president." By 2011 -- after a bizarre bus tour across America that ended prematurely, after the great cheerleader for Alaska bought a pricey house in Arizona, and around the time when her daughter Bristol's estranged boyfiend published a book claiming the ex-governor used to flirt with him -- even Tea Party Republicans, in overwhelming numbers, believed she shouldn't run. We mocked her too effectively. She wouldn't fight us -- not in Alaska and not in the 2012 or 2016 presidential elections. She wasn't seen as someone who could battle the hated libs and win. She had too many distractions.

I don't think that's why she lost two elections in Alaska this year -- the voters there chose candidates who promised to work across party lines, a style of politics Palin has rejected since 2008 -- but it's why she's not a national figure anymore. Angry GOP base voters knew she couldn't hurt us, and that she only occasionally seemed interested in trying.

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