Sarah Palin’s Comeback Tour

palin oprah photoSarah Palin is kicking off the promotional tour for her book Going Rogue with an appearance today on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and an interview tomorrow on “Good Morning America.” The book’s already a best seller, so the main benefit of the campaign is a chance for Palin to rebuild her image.

She needs it.  A recent CNN poll showed that, while two-thirds of Americans see her as “a good role model for women” and a strong majority think she’s caring and trustworthy, a mere 23 percent think she’s qualified to be president.  Indeed, 47 percent of Republicans think she’s unqualified.

Politico‘s Johanna Blakely thinks Palin’s appearance can be good for both Winfrey, whose ratings have slipped since she inserted herself into the 2008 campaign by stumping for Barack Obama, and the erstwhile Alaska governor.

Palin’s book lays out the trajectory of a self-made woman who rose from humble roots to the national stage, a career description — and cause — that Winfrey has embraced. Palin’s attraction is strongest in the flyover states, where Winfrey’s devoted audience has made her talk show No. 1 in the nation for 23 consecutive seasons. A Lear Center/Zogby survey conducted in August 2008 found that, among 26 celebrities who had publicly endorsed a political candidate, Winfrey was far more likely to be considered “well-informed.”


[T]he presence of Palin on “Oprah” will most likely produce a ratings blockbuster, which may attract new viewers who stick around to watch future shows.
Will the two women reminisce about beauty pageants past (Winfrey was, after all, Miss Black Tennessee) or bond over their mutual love of Burberry cashmere scarves? Will Palin mention the story about her sister who thought it was awesome that she’d been elected governor of Alaska, because she might get to be on “Oprah”?

The problem, though, is that the book itself could be a problem for Palin.  While it’s getting good reviews in the Wall Street Journal and will likely solidify her support among Republicans unhappy with the moderate direction John McCain was taking the party, it’s rather clear that many parts of the book are self-serving if not outright lies. HuffPo’s Sam Stein has several emails sent during the campaign that directly refute many of Palin’s assertions.

When Palin resigned as governor, she gave away her best chance at rebutting the impression that she was unprepared for the highest office in the land.  Had she worked to enact a bold agenda and then gotten herself re-elected, she could have brought a more impressive resume to the table.  Instead, she decided to double down on her pop culture celebrity.

Right now, people think she’s a lightweight but one who’s likable, charismatic, and decent.  It’s not at all clear how putting out a book that alienates a prominent wing of her own party and calls her integrity into question will help her.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Franklin says:

    … and people think *liberals* have a victim mentality.

  2. floyd says:

    Smart move….Oprah!

    Note to Palin… You’re being used, wake up!
    (or is being a useful idiot worth it for the cash?)

  3. Wayne says:

    IMO by the time 2012 election comes around, the people will be weary of a Presidential candidates with limited experience and people with “bold agendas” unless it is to roll back government. Palin will be hurt by the first part by could be help by the second.

  4. sam says:

    David Frum’s take, Why be Evita When You Can be Madonna?, is interesting.

    Here’s my guess. She has no real interest in being president. She does, however, have great interest in making a lot of money speechifying. But to do this, she must keep her political celebrity alive, and this will require a faux run for the presidency.

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Right now, people think she’s a lightweight but one who’s likable, charismatic, and decent.

    You mean kinda like Barack Obama?

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    … and people think *liberals* have a victim mentality.

    lol, Liberals are victims, Period!

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If you are a progressive, liberal or a democrat. Be afraid of Palin. Her last presence in the national stage was controlled and guided by McCains people and her main message was McCain’s. When she carries her own flag you will see something rare in politics and leadership. The attacks on her person will not dampen the fire she is capable of starting. If this woman wants the Presidency, she will have it. She rings the same bell Reagan rang. Americans hear that tone well. Dismiss her if you will, but this one is not governed by normal rules.

  8. Herb says:

    When she carries her own flag you will see something rare in politics and leadership. The attacks on her person will not dampen the fire she is capable of starting.

    I agree, it truly is rare for such an embarrassing mess to inspire this kind of devotion.

    Palin’s future is in the tabloids or the right wing press. Not in any kind of elected office.

  9. Gustopher says:

    I was really unaware that people think she is “likable, charismatic, and decent” — I guess I must be very out of touch.

    Whenever she isn’t speaking from a script written by someone else, she strikes me as vapid and weird, with an overinflated sense of self worth, and a victimization complex.

    She instantly reminds me of the obnoxious woman on the condo board who everyone has to learn to work around.

  10. floyd says:

    Gustopher & Herb;
    You guys are projecting from Resident Obama.
    So, where you draw your conclusions is a mystery, since he sits in the Oval Office! (for the two minutes a day that he’s not on TV).
    BTW; I’m guessing Axelrod is starting to get frustrated with the puppet’s incompetence since he is starting to make his own public appearances to make his own speeches instead of having them read by you know who[lol]!

  11. SenyorDave says:

    She’s a liar, not sure if it is intentional or she just doesn’t even recognize truth at all. The AP caught her in a number of lies.

  12. Franklin says:

    If this woman wants the Presidency, she will have it. She rings the same bell Reagan rang.

    Reagan was never a complete buffoon.

  13. Dantheman says:

    The title is misleading, as a condition for having a comeback tour is that one has gone away. In the case of Little Miss Barracuda, that never happened.

  14. Highlander says:


    Despite the title of your blog, occasionally you have the tone deafness of those who spiritually if not physically reside Inside the Beltway of our sagging Imperial Capital.

    Based on 40 years of my professional campaign experience( both Democrat and Republican, 3 presidential elections).Additionally based on my personal live observations of her charisma, and the unmatched frenzy of the American establishments to delegitimize her(they know danger when they see it). I would say you got this wrong James “old boy”.

    In 1976,77,78. and 79’the American establishment(both parties and the MSM) bent over backwards to label Reagan as a washed up B grade movie actor,who was goofy if not out right mentally incompetent. “Who was this Reagan guy to think he could be elected President, much less competently lead the free world? Why Hell he didn’t even go to an Ivy League school.”

    I believe history shows that our “Best and Brightest” of both parties and MSM got it miserably wrong with Ronald Reagan, and you could well be doing it again with this”Damn Woman Sarah Palin”.

    Now I normally agree with you James, but in this case your pronouncing Palin’s chances DOA 3 years ahead of time. Well,it just smacks of DC conventional thinking. That’s always an iffy proposition in this world.

  15. steve says:

    In a just world, McCain would have won and he would have kept his promise to put her in charge of domestic affairs.


  16. narciso says:

    It seems the McCain campaign was more interesting in combating their own base, than Obama. It’s the kind of argument where they stick by Specter and now Crist, for more than is seemingly, Schmidt
    having effectively given up by the end of September, because apparently there was little at stake. By all occasions he seem to be among the ones, badmouthing her as soon as the campaign ended. Having moved on to team up with David Plouffe, teaching how to lose gracefully I suppose

    Frum of the Frum forum, (formerly New
    Majority)was less myopic, than David “Obama is like the Mountain, he’s just there” Brooks, who also called her a cancer on the Republican party. But where has he been right in predicting Obama’s supposed centrism, on economic and or foreign policy, and who has been more right than wrong.