Krauthammer on Palin

Charles Krauthammer is getting a lot of attention for his observation on Fox’ Special Report that Sarah Palin “is not a serious candidate for the presidency.”

As regular readers know, I think he’s right on this score:

She had to go home and study and spend a lot of time on issues in which she was not adept last year, and she hasn’t. She has to stop speaking in clichés and platitudes. It won’t work. It could work for eight weeks if you’re the number two candidate, as she was last year. But even so, she got singed a lot in that campaign.

But I have to seriously question his observational skills for his next sentence:

You cannot sustain a campaign of platitudes and clichés over a year and a half if you’re running for the presidency.

Yes. You. Can.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Teresa Kopec says:

    I think there’s a difference between having a good campaign slogan and saying that is ALL Obama ran on. Obama gave numerous, substantial interviews on any number of subjects as well as participated in debates both in the primary and regular election. There was no doubt in the minds of most Americans that he was well qualified for the position.

    There was considerable doubt about Sarah Palin.




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  2. grisjuan says:

    I agree, my friends.




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  3. Patrick T McGuire says:

    The only thing that kept the Obama margin of victory in the last election from reaching double digits was Sarah Palin. Qualified or not, are there are many out here in fly-over-country that would vote for her?

    You betcha!




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  4. Thanks for the laugh to start off my day Teresa. There were many of us who doubted that Barack Obama was qualified for the job. Somehow, a cv of community organizer, three terms as an unaccomplished state legislator, failed congressional candidate, and two years as an undistinguished US Senator didn’t strike many people as matching the qualifications of an actual state governor. Have you already sent all the comparisons between Obama’s experience and Palin’s experience that found her more qualified than him down the memory hole? Not to mention that she was running for vice president while he was running for president.

    But he’s great with a teleprompter!

    One side question James, even though you regard her as unqualified, would you rather have Sarah Palin as President in four years or another term of Barack Obama if that indeed is the choice?




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  5. James Joyner says:

    I think there’s a difference between having a good campaign slogan and saying that is ALL Obama ran on. Obama gave numerous, substantial interviews on any number of subjects as well as participated in debates both in the primary and regular election. There was no doubt in the minds of most Americans that he was well qualified for the position.

    I largely agree. Aside from their both looking good in swimsuits and having thin resumes for the presidency, there’s not much similarity.

    However, even his wonky policy speeches were carefully crafted to be platitudinous so that he could be everything to everyone.




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  6. James Joyner says:

    One side question James, even though you regard her as unqualified, would you rather have Sarah Palin as President in four years or another term of Barack Obama if that indeed is the choice?

    I honestly hope it isn’t. I’d have to see the campaign unfold, really. Obama seems to have the right instincts on foreign policy, which is the president’s most important job, and I don’t have any confidence that’d be the case with Palin. I’d prefer Palin on domestic policy, of course, but presidents are less powerful there. That’s doubly true if, as appears likely, we’d have Democrats controlling Congress.




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  7. Herb says:

    However, even his wonky policy speeches were carefully crafted to be platitudinous so that he could be everything to everyone.

    You’re on to something there. I think the “everything to everyone” part is actually what pushed Obama over the edge. There’s no question that much of Obama’s rhetoric is platitudinous and cliched. I heard his Father’s Day message back in the 90s from Larry Fishburne in Boyz N the Hood. (Almost word for word, although it was decidedly more PG coming from Obama.)

    By contrast, Palin wasn’t concerned about being “everything to everyone.” She made no bones about the fact that she represented a very narrow slice of the population and really didn’t have much regard for the rest.

    Such contempt, unsurprisingly, did not serve her campaign well and bodes ill for her future.




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  8. Dave Schuler says:

    In the trade the term for having every utterance be platitudinous and cliched is “staying on-message”. Not only can a modern candidate “sustain a campaign of platitudes and clichés over a year and a half” a modern candidate must do so. Anything else can be ramped up into a negative.




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  9. Boyd says:

    She made no bones about the fact that she represented a very narrow slice of the population and really didn’t have much regard for the rest.

    Okay, Herb, stick with making it up as you go along (or as many folks call it, “lying”). It can work for a while, but before too long, people figure out the truth of the matter and you’re left standing with your Durbin in your hand.




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  10. mpw280 says:

    Of course it doesn’t hurt to have none of your platitudes and cliches ground up and mulled over and analyzed by the press. Or not have your homelife and all your contacts investigated by an inquiring press, but those things are only necessary for a candidate from the party with an R in front of it. Imagine if the O had all his bs was investigated like Palin, and she was only the vice candidate, maybe the election would have been different. Never hurts to have the media in your pocket when running for office, that way the rubes don’t know what you really stand for or how qualified you are. mpw




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  11. odograph says:

    However, even his wonky policy speeches were carefully crafted to be platitudinous so that he could be everything to everyone.

    You can’t have missed that this is a substantial policy in all Presidental contests. A fuzzy answer has the best chacge of being viewed by voters as a confirmation of their existing beliefs. A detailed answer will always disappoint a subset. So … everybody does it, every time.




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  12. Herb says:

    Hey, Boyd, here’s a campaign story I made-up in the Washington Post for ya:

    In an interview on CNN, Palin said comments she made last week in North Carolina praising small towns as “the real America” and the “pro-America areas of this great nation” were not intended to suggest that other parts of the country are less patriotic or less American.

    “If that’s the way it has come across, I apologize,” she told CNN’s Drew Griffin.

    Yeah, she had to apologize for her divisive diarrhea of the mouth campaign rhetoric, but I’m the one making it up as I go along…




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  13. Furhead says:

    JJ:

    However, even his wonky policy speeches were carefully crafted to be platitudinous so that he could be everything to everyone.

    odograph:

    You can’t have missed that this is a substantial policy in all Presidental contests. A fuzzy answer has the best change of being viewed by voters as a confirmation of their existing beliefs. A detailed answer will always disappoint a subset. So … everybody does it, every time.

    Well I think you are both largely right. All politicians give fuzzy answers when the intended audience is diverse, but Obama is particularly adept at this, especially the way he emphasizes key points from both sides of an argument.

    /See what I did there?




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  14. You can sustain a campaign on cliches if you have the support of the press. Palin won’t have that since she comes from the right of center, so he is right in her case.




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  15. Steve Plunk says:

    Krauthammer is essentially right. I hope she doesn’t run. It still fascinates me how much the press likes to talk about her and how much the left hates her. She will likely fade and a real candidate emerge.




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  16. Furhead says:

    Krauthammer is essentially right. I hope she doesn’t run. It still fascinates me how much the press likes to talk about her and how much the left hates her. She will likely fade and a real candidate emerge.

    Agreed on all counts. Even the HuffPost of all things just published a piece yesterday by Douglas MacKinnon telling the left to get over her. (I’d provide the link but the filter thinks I’m spamming.)




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  17. DavidL says:

    The media air dropped troops into Wassilla to delve into Sarah Palin’s PTA records and her husbands past political associations.

    Yet the one has been president over six months, and nobody has seen his birth certificate, his medical records, two sets of college transcripts or his records as state senator.

    It is easy to run for president on rhetoric and platitudes when the media is the tank for you.




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  18. Furhead says:

    Yet the one has been president over six months, and nobody has seen his birth certificate

    Oh, geez, we’ve got birthers here? Time to add the ignore feature.




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  19. anjin-san says:

    You can sustain a campaign on cliches if you have the support of the press. Palin won’t have that since she comes from the right of center, so he is right in her case.

    Well, stick with that if it makes you feel better. But if you want reality, go back and watch the across the board love-fest over Palin after her GOP convention speech. Campbell Brown was positively gushing.

    Palin’s fallout with the press was caused by her own lack of accessibility and her haste to blame anybody but herself for her own poor performance. Remember when the press was told they would be granted access to Palin when they first pledged to show her the proper deference?




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  20. Eric Florack says:

    Frankly, it’s early yet to be making such judgments. This fight really doesn’t start in earnest until such time as the 2010 mid-term elections are up and gone.

    That’s a point that even Krauthammer stipulates to. and here’s the thing; if Obama was not a democrat, there would have been a large number saying that he wasn’t a serious presidential candidate, either. Indeed; then there was a large number of democrats who during the primary process said exactly that.

    Let’s face it; half of this process of running for high elective office has nothing to do with one’s qualifications. Indeed if we’re to take the election of Obama and active, far less than half.




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  21. Steve says:

    Obama has written more books on public policy than Palin has read on it.




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  22. Eric Florack says:

    Heh. Well, he’s had them written, at least.




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  23. Eric:

    He wrote his own books. No one else is credited, no one else has made a claim, therefore your insinuation is incorrect.




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  24. Brian says:

    I’m surprised. Krauthammer is one of my favorites. My guess is that he lost his train of thought and what he meant to say was …

    “You cannot sustain a campaign of platitudes and clichés over a year and a half if you’re running for the presidency, IF you don’t have the Media blocking for you.”




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  25. Steve Plunk says:

    But Michael, how do we know Steve’s insinuation is correct about how many public policy books she has read?

    Like I said I’m no fan of her running but the unfair chants from the left need to be answered. Let’s forget about the birth certificate and just ask why the other info in being withheld. I’ll get my transcripts out for anybody, what’s his problem?




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  26. Ja'far says:

    Palin’s ineptitudes have been insulated among the Republican “base” by the charge that the media and liberals have unfairly attacked her, thus those criticisms and perceptions of her incompetence can be brushed aside easily. So far, she’s merely had to continue to play the victim of a conspiratorial boogeyman without becoming proficient in the policy areas she was so weak on last year. Things will change for her tremendously when these criticisms begin to come from the likes of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and whoever else throws their Republican hat into the ring. Gone will be the days of playing victim as she will be forced to discuss policy with Republicans who know it far better or accept the exposition of her weaknesses. And I don’t see how she will keep her head afloat.




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  27. Matt says:

    I can’t believe you people are still trying to claim OBama was never vetted by the press. Dear god Jeremiah wright or Ayers on the news 24/7 for months on end wasn’t good enough? Yet there was barely a peep about Palin and her Alaskan secessionist connections (real patriots secede from the union right??!!). Then Erik like clockwork pops in and starts spewing more lies but surprisingly doesn’t delve into birther terrority.

    There was solid policy details behind Obama’s platitudes and only partisans would claim otherwise. The better question is how much of those policies has he actually followed once in office.




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  28. Matt says:

    What would you of had the press do differently? Do you think Jeremiah wright or Bill Ayers or bittergate or any of the other things that came up just magically appeared without vetting? DO you really believe that the republicans weren’t doing all they could to dig up dirt and get it out there? Do you really believe that there’s a tape with Michelle dissing “whitey”? Who is this mythical liberal that controls all of the media that you keep bitching about?




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  29. Eric Florack says:

    He wrote his own books. No one else is credited, no one else has made a claim, therefore your insinuation is incorrect.

    I don’t recall anyone else credited for Hillary Clinton’s books, either.

    Try again.




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  30. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Does anyone have any doubts about where Palin would stand with regards to Hamas, Israel, Bail outs of GM, Chrysler, AIG, the purchasing of 2/3rds of the auto industry for the UAW, turning the census over to ACORN, the illegal firing of an IG, suppression of environmental information from the EPA, Cap and trade, government health care or huge ineffective stimulus (pork) packages or Air Force One flights over NYC. If Palin were president, she would have stood with the Iranian people. Obama thinks it better not to increase sanctions on Iran and is blocking the G8 from increasing them. His foreign policy is amateur, James. Sarah seems to be able to give a speech without a teleprompter in fact, she just gave a very good one without many times referring to notes. Charles may not think much of her chances to win the Presidency but that is an opinion. We all know we all have opinions, some stink. By the way James, are you really all the happy with Obama’s foreign policy concerning the situation in Honduras. How about bowing to a Saudi king?




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  31. Eric Florack says:

    There was solid policy details behind Obama’s platitudes

    REally? How’s that ‘solid policy’ working out for you?




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  32. Herb says:

    Hey Michael, Eric’s insinuation that Obama had his books written “for” him comes from certain conspiracy enthusiasts that William Ayers, Obama’s BFF, actually wrote Faith of My Fathers.

    PS. The folks who are blaming the left or the media for Sarah Palin’s downfall is giving them way too much credit…and not enough to Palin herself.

    It used to be that “personal responsibility” was a conservative trait, and “aggrieved victimhood” was a left wing trait. That so pre-Palin…




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  33. An Interested Party says:

    Yes. You. Can.

    It certainly did work out well for the man from Chicago, didn’t it…

    Qualified or not, are there are many out here in fly-over-country that would vote for her?

    Sadly for her, most of the electoral votes to be had aren’t in fly-over-country…

    As for the president’s strategy of “be everything to everyone” as opposed to Palin’s rabid following among a particular niche…while some might be more impressed with her principals, which strategy is better to win the presidency, which is something of a popularity contest anyway…

    Such contempt, unsurprisingly, did not serve her campaign well and bodes ill for her future.

    Exactly right…she can sneer at community organizers and people on the coasts all she wants in her special “gee willikers” way, but that will turn off far more voters than it will impress…

    Imagine if the O had all his bs was investigated like Palin…

    *Cough*Tony Rezko*cough*Jeremiah Wright*cough*William Ayers*cough*…certainly these names must ring a bell…

    Yet the one has been president over six months, and nobody has seen his birth certificate…

    Keep chasing that whale, Ahab…

    I don’t recall anyone else credited for Hillary Clinton’s books, either.

    Try again.

    You have absolutely no proof whatsoever to back up your specious insinuation…the onus is on you to try again…perhaps you could even dig up some credible sources next time…

    Finally, as Ja’far typed, the real attacks on Sarah Palin will come if she is foolish enough to enter the GOP presidential primaries…everything that has ever been said about her will seem like a picnic by comparison…




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  34. Matt says:

    GOod ol ZRIII hitting every wingnut talking point there is 😛

    REally? How’s that ‘solid policy’ working out for you?

    See post above for

    The better question is how much of those policies has he actually followed once in office.

    Erik is exhibiting his usual selective observational skills..




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  35. steve says:

    “(pork) packages”

    Alaska has led the nation in pork for ages. I wold imagine she would support it.

    “would have stood with the Iranian people”

    Please cite any of her foreign policy statements or papers. Do we have any idea what she reads on foreign policy besides “everything?”

    Palin’s economic background is weak on paper. What does she read? Any idea of what economists are influential with her? Her state functions on oi revenue and Federal monies. How will that translate into national policy?

    Israel, Hamas? There are zero statements by her about any foreign policy prior to her VP run. I suspect she will follow the AIPAC position, but how would we know?

    Steve




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  36. Franklin says:

    Hey Michael, Eric’s insinuation that Obama had his books written “for” him comes from certain conspiracy enthusiasts that William Ayers, Obama’s BFF, actually wrote Faith of My Fathers.

    Why in the heck would Ayers have written John McCain’s book?

    🙂




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  37. Herb says:

    Ha! Good catch, Franklin. Dreams, faith…whatever.




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  38. Franklin says:

    What’s funny is that I bought both Father books for my father for Father’s Day last year.




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  39. Eric Florack says:

    The better question is how much of those policies has he actually followed once in office.

    Erik is exhibiting his usual selective observational skills..

    So, big government works, it’s just he hasn’t done it right. Is that the sound of backpeddling I hear, already?




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  40. Matt says:

    You’re an extremely intelligent yet ridiculously narrow minded person Erik and it’s really sad. You attribute all kinds of bullshit to people just because you believe they are the “enemy” instead of bothering to actually get to know their positions. This was best summed up in the other discussion where you declared there is no such thing as grey only for me to provide examples of how grey exists. You naturally stopped responding to the conversation and ran off to hunt some other libruls. To think I wasn’t even remotely considered a liberal in the 90s… How the party has fallen.




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