Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sarah Palin Is on the Media Track, Not the Government Track

Here, we see Sarah Palin waving goodbye to the Republican nomination for President. It should come as a surprise to no one that she is happy to do so. Why? Because Sarah Palin isn't interested in government.

Last night, Judy Woodruff talked with Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist, and David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, on PBS' "News Hour" program. The conversation turned to Sarah Palin, and here is PBS' transcript of that portion of their discussion:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, while we are talking about one man, one woman, David, Sarah Palin, she has -- not only has a new reality show out. She has a new book out. She is going to Iowa, I guess this weekend, and then again next week, important state for the presidential election.

What are we to make of where she is in the political firmament in the middle of all this?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, let's not forget "Dancing With the Stars" and Bristol's strong run there.


DAVID BROOKS: Very impressive, I guess.

You know, the question with Palin has always been, is she on the government track or is she on the media track? Where is her career going? And, in the last six months, she's headed a little more toward the governing track, suggested a little more that she wants to run for president.

I still fundamentally think she's on the media track, wants to be a major media/political activist player, but will not run and will certainly not get the nomination. I base that on the fact that, to run for office, you have actually got to care about government, and those people don't quit the governorship in the middle of your first term.

Second, she couldn't even beat a write-in candidate in her own home state. She couldn't beat Lisa Murkowski. That doesn't suggest that she has tremendous political legs, even in her home -- own home state.

And, then, when you look at her statements, the tweets, all the stuff that comes out of camp Palin, it has to do with the media or her slashing back at the media for this or that insult, not so much about government. So, I still think she is mostly a media player.

JUDY WOODRUFF: More of a media track than a political track?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she certainly is a dominant figure, I mean, make no mistake about it. I mean, you mentioned the media reality show, but she is a bestselling author. She is a dominant -- she dominates the debate.

I think it's fair to say, in the campaign of 2010, she was a major, major force in selecting and backing candidates. Yes, she -- the embarrassment in her home state, but, I mean, she really is the dominant female politician in the country and perhaps in the country's recent history, I mean, as a serious political -- presidential candidate.

She is liked by Republicans. The problem that she faces is that, when asked just before the election in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, do you think Sarah Palin, irrespective of how you feel toward her, is qualified to be president, only 27 percent of voters said yes, and 67 percent said no. And, most importantly of all, among independents, the swing group which they determined the last two elections, 23 percent thought she was qualified; 70 percent didn't.

That is what she has got to address, is that seriousness of purpose and sort of a mastery of the issues.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, when -- when she told Barbara Walters, I guess this week, that she thought she could beat President Obama two years from now, he was asked about that. And he said: I don't pay much attention to her.

He was pretty low-key, but he said he respects her political skills. Does it matter how much -- how he handles her right now?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he -- they, of course, would love it if she got the Republican nomination.

I assume Republican primary voters can read the polls that Mark referenced. And, even if she did run, I still think, even among Republican primary voters, they would say, we like her, but we don't think she can win, and so we are not going to vote for her.

But I think Obama, the best thing for him is to have her trundle along there and maybe, if not win the nomination, control the Republican nomination, because, as Mark says, and as we saw in Delaware and Nevada and various other states, the sort of candidates she sponsors is not the kind that win over independents.

The consensus seems to be that Palin is on the media track, not the government track. David Brooks, a conservative, cites Palin's resignation of the governorship as evidence that she is not interested in government, and, I think, Palin's decision to appear in tabloids and on gossip shows confirms Brooks' view.

Video of the discussion, which touched on other subjects and lasted for more than twelve minutes, can be seen here.

For an article about what serious candidates have done in Iowa during previous campaigns, The Des Moines Register has an interesting article: "Political advisers: Sarah Palin's 'star power' alone isn't enough."

The bestseller Game Change described what candidates went through in Iowa, in 2008: it's a lot of work and requires a lot of organization; two things Sarah Palin isn't famous for. You can read from Game Change, here, at Amazon.

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