November 17, 2009
Former Governor Sarah Palin is a rock star, according to political analysts on either side of the aisle. If that sounds like a glamorous description for one of the most influential and controversial public figures to mount the national political stage since Ronald Reagan, I beg to differ. I believe the media and pols use that term to diminish the former governor, not glorify her status or accomplishments.
There is an old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” If you’re a career politician, taking a definitive stand on anything is something most prefer to avoid. The GOP elite have found that criticizing Palin inflames her supporters and does not diminish her appeal (right, Newt?); her liberal adversaries are just coming around to that realization.
Well, if you can’t beat or join ‘em, consider a third option: spin. “Spin” isn’t just a Hollywood public relations gimmick; it’s a cornerstone of political rhetoric used on both sides of the aisle.
So, how does one “spin” Palin? How does a politician make fence-sitting or even disapproval seem favorable when questioned about the former governor by the media? Easy… introducing, Sarah Palin, Rock Star! If you’ve watched or read recent news reports or comments, it’s likely you’ve heard the governor described in those terms.
Clearly, Governor Palin is popular: “Going Rogue, An American Life” debuts on November 17, 2009. Former Governor Sarah Palin’s autobiography has topped the best seller lists for weeks; more than a million copies of book are pre-ordered. When the release date for the book was announced, almost two months before publication, the book became an instant hit.
Labeling Palin a rock star isn’t praise, although some might mistake it for such. A rock star is an ephemeral entity that thrives on glamour, spotlights and only sparkles in the delusion of smoke and mirrors. Most rockers are shooting stars whose popularity quickly fades. Very few rock stars, upon reaching the pinnacle of success, remain there for more than a few weeks or months. The list of famous names who continue to glitter under the glare of the lights for longer periods is very brief indeed.
There is nothing ephemeral about Governor Palin; this chick is no rock star. Governor Palin continues to gain in popularity with the conservative base more than a year after losing her vice-presidential bid and almost four months after resigning as governor. Her popularity isn’t based on her attractive looks or charisma; Sarah Palin’s devout following admire her strong and incontrovertible dedication to conservative issues, as well as her independent spirit. Thus far, Sarah Palin has outsmarted and outlasted her critics’ predictions of her political demise.
Liberals and Republicans are scratching deep gouges on their bewildered domes; they just don’t get Sarah Palin’s continued popularity, the fascination by the media or her strong, growing core group of dedicated supporters.
When Governor Palin resigned from office last summer, the political pundits delved into her decision and dissected it with barely-disguised delight. Most major news stories were pushed to the side while the talking heads debated Governor Palin’s political future. The consensus, particularly with liberals, is that her political future evaporated when she signed over the office to Sean Parnell. There were a few conservative and independent commentators who either supported her decision or adopted a “wait and see” attitude.
Almost four months after Governor Palin’s resignation, she is still on magazine and tabloid covers and remains one of the most talked about politicians in the country.
On Monday, November 16th, she appeared on “Oprah,” the first of many interviews in support of “Going Rogue.”
Palin critics have never found anything positive or noteworthy to say about her, so it’s no surprise that they’ve panned the book without reading it (and admitting such or, at best, read sections) and the reaction from fellow Republicans, to Governor Palin, her book and political future spans a critical spectrum from dire to enthusiastic.
Book sales and talk show schedules notwithstanding; Palin is creating a political platform for herself by utilizing an inexpensive but wildly effective means of delivering her views on national issues. Sarah Palin’s Facebook Notes are picked up by national news feeds, discussed and analyzed on the air and in prin. The former governor also uses Twitter to “tweet” brief updates and items about her views and news.
Many political candidates recognize the value and usefulness of the Internet in their political strategies, but haven’t realized the potential of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Facebook, for example, has over 300 million members; Sarah Palin has over 1,006,000 members as of November 17, 2009. Social media is fast becoming the most powerful tool for information dissemination on the planet.
Case in point: the Iranian revolt earlier this year after the much-disputed results of their presidential election. The state shut down most media outlets, including the government-controlled Internet, but details, photos and video of the revolt went global via Twitter, texting, Facebook and other social media outlets. The power of these new media tools is formidable and Sarah Palin is using them with great success.
Governor Palin harnessed the capacity of social media via her Facebook Notes to confront Mr. Obama over aspects of his health care reform and to endorse a third-party candidate, Doug Hoffman, Conservative, for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Democrat Bill Owens appears to be the victor in this race, but last weekend, we learned that Hoffman trails Owens by only 3000 votes and there are possibly as many as 10,000 uncounted absentee ballots.
Endorsing Doug Hoffman put Sarah Palin back in the top box on the cable news channels and gave her prominent placement in print publications. Pollsters questioned whether Palin’s backing would hurt, help or not even be a factor in what was a three-way race for the Congressional seat.
After Governor Palin’s announcement (former Senator Fred Thompson was one of the first to endorse Hoffman), Governor Tim Pawlenty, Senators Jim DeMint and Rick Santorum joined an impressive roster of political heavyweights and special interest groups supporting Hoffman’s candidacy. The Republican nominee, Assemblywoman DeDe Scozzafava, pulled out of the race after Hoffman surpassed her in the polls. Scozzafava’s parting gift to conservatives and Republicans was to throw her support to her opposition: Democrat Bill Owens.
Did Sarah Palin fail in her first national political endorsement since going to bat for Senator Chambliss in Georgia one year ago? No, in fact, in my estimation, picking Hoffman was a huge success for Palin. This is why:
- Doug Hoffman, a businessman in upstate New York, was an unknown entity, vying for the Congressional seat on third-party ticket. Governor Palin endorsed his candidacy just a couple of weeks before the election. Palin’s pick focused local and national media on this candidate whose poll numbers subsequently soared into a double-digit lead above the Republican Party nominee.
- Hoffman’s sudden and unexpected surge in the polls convinced his Republican opponent to withdraw.
- After former Senator Thompson and Governor Palin endorsed Hoffman, other conservative leaders followed suit.
- Hoffman may have lost (or may not … stay tuned), by only by 3% of the vote. Again, Hoffman is a political newcomer, late to the game and he nearly pulled off a win. I put a check in Sarah Palin’s column for her efforts in this race.
Regardless of the hopes and aspirations of GOP career politicians or the liberal opposition that fears her enduring and growing popularity, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made an impact on America and continues to inspire and lead conservative voters in her focus on national issues. She isn’t sprinkled with stardust, nor is she golden. Sarah Palin is an individual and a force for conservative politics, however, her future goals are known only to her. The only thing of which I can be certain is that she’ll surprise us, she’ll do it her own way and she’ll rock our world – with good, solid strategy and dedication to the best interests of our country.
Stay connected to your laptop and check your BlackBerry or iPhone – we might get a tweet regarding her future plans.
“I'm not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I'm living on.”
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