Too Late For Palin?

There's still time for Sarah Palin to burnish her political reputation. But she probably won't.

Despite new polls showing rapidly declining support for Sarah Palin even among Republicans, liberal political scientist Jonathan Bernstein insists it’s not too late for her to recover.

Alas, there’s a caveat: she must begin “to play by the rules that normal candidates follow.”

Policy expertise can be bought and faked; party leaders, whether they’re national columnists, interest group leaders, or locals in Iowa and New Hampshire, can be schmoozed. It increasingly appears that either she is constitutionally incapable of doing those things or just has no interest in it, and even if she does them there’s no guarantee she would be nominated…but it is clear now, as it has been from the start, that the normal rules of politics apply to her regardless of what she or anyone else thinks.

This strikes me as exactly right.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: By presidential candidate standards, Sarah Palin is an ignoramus. That is, she’s “utterly lacking in knowledge or training about matters of public policy, law, or international affairs” one expects of someone contending for the presidency. That was my assessment more than two years ago and it has only been buttressed with the passage of time.

But the fact that she’s not particularly studious or intellectually curious doesn’t mean she’s unintelligent. I’m guessing she’s within swinging distance in terms of raw IQ to George W. Bush or, certainly, Mike Huckabee. And she’s enormously charming and good in front of a friendly crowd.

Bush the Younger was thought by many to be a lightweight at this point in the 2000 presidential cycle. Granted, he’d finished his term as Texas governor and was into his second by this time in 1999. And he had his MBA from Harvard, so people presumed he had at least passing knowledge with business and economic affairs. But, aside from perhaps Mexico, there was little evidence that Bush had any particular interest in foreign policy.

But Bush surrounded himself with smart people and studied. Recall the great “Saturday Night Live” sketch about the second debate with Al Gore, in which he gratuitously cited the names of various obscure world leaders in an attempt to shake off a weak performance in the first debate. It worked.

When this debate last mattered, during the 2008 general election campaign, Republicans who disagreed with me on Palin rightly pointed out that her resume favorably compared with then-candidate Barack Obama’s. Even Democrats who ultimately supported Obama, like our own Dave Schuler, were concerned about his lack of experience. But, by the time the debates rolled around, Obama had mastered the playbooks and could intelligently debate matters of domestic and foreign policymaking. Yes, there were some early stumbles. But few thought he was stupid or ill informed by the time it mattered.

Palin has the inherent talent to apply herself and win over skeptical Republicans and centrists. Many people really want to like her. But Bernstein is right: There’s no evidence thus far that she’s willing to do what it takes.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Sarah Palin, US Politics
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. wr says:

    Sarah Palin has apparently never uttered the phrase “57 states,” so in the minds of some Republicans she is completely qualified to be president.




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  2. Drew says:

    Doesn’t this website have anything better to do than engage in serial Palin angst? I can name you 20 current officeholders and wannabees right now who have no business being in the race, including Palin. What’s with the Palin obsession?




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  3. Trumwill says:

    This is not far from what I have been saying about Palin for some time now. Running for president is hard (or requires good delegation. Palin has given no indication that she does “hard” (or delegation) very well. I was thinking more of the campaigning aspect (and the running of a campaign), but I think it remains true for being prepared, knowledge-wise. It’s one thing to be taking potshots at a Democratic administration. It’s another thing when she’s on stage with other Republicans.

    I still think she would be done in by work ethic alone.




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  4. ponce says:

    “What’s with the Palin obsession?”

    She’s the only Republican that a majority of Democrats support in the primaries.

    Well, maybe besides that nutty Bachmann.




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  5. Jay Tea says:

    How could Palin redeem herself — perhaps by rhetorically eviscerating the Obama administration’s “anti-energy” policy?

    Nah. Never happen. Not Caribou Barbie.

    J.




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  6. jwest says:

    Wr,

    Nailing down the number of states is a good start for a president. From there, you move on to learning how to pronounce “corpsman”. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move along to foreign matters like what language is spoken in Austria.

    If the press hammered on Obama for these mistakes like they do Palin, people would be ready to fit him for a drool cup.




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  7. James Joyner says:

    @Drew:

    Palin was the most recent Republican vice presidential nominee and is at least being coy about running for president. If she does, she’ll be one of two or three frontrunners for the nomination. It’s an important topic.




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  8. jwest says:

    James,

    Let’s start with this phrase: “she’s “utterly lacking in knowledge or training about matters of public policy, law, or international affairs”.

    I’m assuming that you have read through the numerous policy statements she’s released and her articles on foreign affairs and find them lacking in basic knowledge of the subjects. Fair enough. But to illustrate where she falls down on these items, could you pick out of few specifics that show how she’s uniformed or her reasoning is wrong?

    By giving a more detailed reason why you hold the opinion you do, the rest of us could better understand your position.




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  9. mantis says:

    You’re now posting Palin’s absurd Facebook posts in every thread you can find, Jay? So pathetic.




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  10. But now that we know Obama is good at cramming for a test and was lucky enough to always get the benefit of the doubt (if not Kennedy-like protection from Big Media) but otherwise completely over his head, where are the twice daily articles pointing this out? Seriously, OTB has endless hypothetical concerns about what Palin may do when the financial disaster Obama is leading the charge for seems to merit apologetics along the line of “it doesn’t matter how big government is”, much less not even managing to vote present on Egypt, Libya, Iran, and maybe even Japan. Without checking, I’d wager you have 10 negative Palin posts on OTB for every negative Obama post. Is she really that important? Or is Obama just that good?

    Last I heard, Obama definitely will be running in 2012, whereas we think Palin may be running, and he’s certainly going to be a frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination. It’s an important topic.




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  11. mattb says:

    James, really solid analysis. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    As far as running — it’s in Palin’s best interests to make an extended ‘semi-serious’ run (shooting for a few top 3 finishes, and at least one outright win), but not to win the nomination. I say “semi-serious” because if she doesn’t at least try to compete in key states she goes the route of Giuliani (folks remember him?).

    Like James, I don’t think she *wants* the nomination – and unless something radically changes (not just unemployment stays high and the economy stays down), she is too polarizing of a candidate to win a general election at the top of a ticket (possibly even as VP).

    If she was to reinvent herself, perhaps she could win. Personally, I think she is smart, and she knows that she can maintain a more than comfortable living (doing work I think she largely agrees with and sees as valuable) by keeping a strong, core base of supporters (this is more or less the right wing radio model — there’s a reason btw, that most radio hosts are still on her bandwagon).

    The moves towards the center necessary to win the nomination would alienate her from a lot of her base. Given that even with those moves there’s no guarantee of either the nomination or the election, AND the amount of work necessary to make those moves, AND the amount she stands to lose if she made them and lost — I don’t see her caring enough about the presidency to do any of that.

    So yes, expect her to run — because she needs to run to sustain her aura. But don’t expect her to run particularly seriously.




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  12. James Joyner says:

    @charles austin

    There have been hundreds of posts about Obama’s public policies, most of them negative. The longrunning commentary on ObamaCare is the most obvious example.




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  13. mattb says:

    @jwest – I’d suggest paging through Larison’s archives (http://www.amconmag.com/larison/) for some of that critique from a solid conservative thinker.

    The problem Palin faces (and this is going to draw a lot of fire) is that she’s the epitome of a teleprompter candidate on policy issues. If someone’s writing the material she can read it fine (we can debate over her choice of policy advisers).

    When she has to offer off the cuff critique, she largely fails the moment she’s asked something off message or to go deeper (put another way, there are only so many prearranged “ambush” interviews one can have — and her move to tightly control who has access to her, largely restricted to softball, friendly interviews).

    Like it or not, take the total number of Obama speaking on issues of substance (without notes) and he acquits himself far better than she does (and frankly, if someone is incapable of admitting this, then you are demonstrating that you are constitutionally incapable of divorcing reality from your ideological baggage).

    @Charles – The Media always gave Obama the benefit of the doubt? Really? There’s little doubt that he had a good relation with the media, but when it comes down to it, which stories were surpressed? And if you lead with either “Birth Certificate” or “Reverend Wright” or “Bill Ayres” then you just disqualified yourself from this conversation.

    As far as “not even managing to vote present on Egypt, Libya, Iran, and maybe even Japan” and OTB’s supposed lack of critique — do you actually read the articles here? If so, how did you not notice that like a lot of smart conservatives (including Larison referenced above) the folks here at OTB (Joyner, Mataconis, Schuler, and Taylor) are pretty much non-interventionist pragmatists when it comes to foriegn affairs situations we have little control over.

    And didn’t you post, just a few weeks ago that you had “come to the conclusion” that radical non-intervention/isolationism was one of the things this country needed to do to save itself?

    And, given your concerns about “big government” and costs, please to be explaining how any major response to any of those situations won’t either:
    a. add to our present debt and overcommitment in the world
    or
    b. be empty “jibber-jabber” (as mentioned by another conservative commenter on a different thread here) — more style than substance?




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  14. jwest says:

    Mattb,

    As with my curiosity about James’ views, I would like to know more about the perception of how Palin is “polarizing”.

    I doubt you found her exposing Alaskan republican party corruption (as described in my comment on Doug’s post) as polarizing, as it was aimed internally. When she appointed a former board member of Planned Parenthood to the Alaska Supreme Court, against the wishes of the pro-life Alaska Family Council, I would think that would be perceived as the antithesis of polarizing.

    What is it exactly that makes you associate her with that word?




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  15. Jay Tea says:

    mantis, if it fits twice, I’ll cite it twice. And it’s a damned good piece of analysis. I don’t do Facebook, but saw a link to it — and it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

    MattB:

    The problem Palin faces (and this is going to draw a lot of fire) is that she’s the epitome of a teleprompter candidate on policy issues.

    Yet another affirmation of the principle I noticed about two and a half years ago — a great deal of the criticisms leveled against Palin by her detractors tend to fit Obama even better.

    J.




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  16. mantis says:

    And it’s a damned good piece of analysis.

    The fact that you think that reveals a lot. As I said, pathetic.




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  17. James Joyner says:

    @jwest:

    Polarization: A concentration, as of groups, forces, or interests, about two conflicting or contrasting positions

    Look at Palin’s poll numbers. She has an ever-shrinking number of ardent supporters and an ever-growing number of people who think her extremely unqualified for the presidency. That’s polarization.




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  18. wr says:

    jwest — Well, you’ve got us beat. I can’t wait for the presidential campaign, where they Republicans will run on a platform criticizing Obama for three slips of the tongue. I’m sure America will rise up to eject him from office based on that.




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  19. ponce says:

    “I’m assuming that you have read through the numerous policy statements she’s released and her articles on foreign affairs”

    I think Palin would have to film herself writing these to get anyone to believe she wrote them.




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  20. Jay Tea says:

    Look at Palin’s poll numbers.

    Yes, for god’s sake, look at those numbers. How DARE you think for yourself! Subsume yourself into the herd! Jump off that bridge with everyone else!

    J.




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  21. mattb says:

    @JWest

    [1] – I doubt you found her exposing Alaskan republican party corruption (as described in my comment on Doug’s post) as polarizing, as it was aimed internally. [2] – When she appointed a former board member of Planned Parenthood to the Alaska Supreme Court, against the wishes of the pro-life Alaska Family Council, I would think that would be perceived as the antithesis of polarizing.

    Actually, these two points are considered within my argument.

    On [1] – The corruption work is critical to her status with the Beck/Tea Party crowd. It establishes her credentials as an “outsider” (as memory serves Beck had her on the show long before her selection as VP candidate). It was also this that put her on the radar of Kristol and others. It’s critically to her story. But it’s in the far past now.

    On [2] – This is exactly what I mean in that she could no longer govern effectively and keep her base. All truth told, she wasn’t a super conservative Governor. If you re-read my post I said she got progressively more conservative on the campaign trail. If she returned to governing, and she wanted to be effective, she would have gone back toward pragmatism (which would have destroyed her base support).

    Put it a different way, one can often forgive past decisions (or explain them away) – but you cannot repeatedly take those positions and expect a pass. If she was to be that pro-life friendly now, what do you honestly think would happen to a significant portion of her support?

    In other words, she knows (on some level) that she has to keep doing a lot of #1 and cannot do much #2 if she wants to keep her cred as a “true conservative outsider” intact.




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  22. jwest says:

    James,

    I’ve been asking for weeks for you to lay out the specifics of why you feel Palin is unqualified for president. All you seem to be able to muster are vague slams based (it would seem) on Saturday Night Live sketches and MSNBC talking heads.

    If you actually have a reasoned position that is grounded in something concrete you can point to, please let us in on it. Otherwise, some people will get the impression you are auditioning for a “conservative blogger who thinks Palin is an idiot” slot on Hardball.

    I would hate to have people think that you would sell your integrity for a chance to rim Chris Mathews on air.




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  23. mantis says:

    James, you simply must stop discussing polls. Jay Tea doesn’t like it, and we all know he’s a super-genius. Look how he outsources his arguments to Sarah Palin’s Facebook wall. Genius!




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  24. mantis says:

    I’ve been asking for weeks for you to lay out the specifics of why you feel Palin is unqualified for president.

    Sometimes you just have to read the post, which seems obvious, but you’re not too bright, so I’ll help you out a bit:

    she’s “utterly lacking in knowledge or training about matters of public policy, law, or international affairs” one expects of someone contending for the presidency. That was my assessment more than two years ago and it has only been buttressed with the passage of time.




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  25. mattb says:

    @Jwest

    Me: The problem Palin faces (and this is going to draw a lot of fire) is that she’s the epitome of a teleprompter candidate on policy issues.

    Yet another affirmation of the principle I noticed about two and a half years ago — a great deal of the criticisms leveled against Palin by her detractors tend to fit Obama even better.

    Thanks for not reading the rest of the paragraph. As I said, clearly you are incapable of having a conversation on this topic that is not fundamentally governed by ideology.

    Look feel free to pretend that Palin is a better off the cuff speaker and had more command of policy topics. But I won’t be engaging because you are incapable of having a real discussion on this topic.

    Feel free to chalk my punch out as a “win” and “proof that liberal elites dont knoz and feerz teh realz Palin…”

    (though, should she announce she’s runing, I’m completely open to a monetary or alcohol or some other good of value (including a promise to stfu) bet that she will neither win the election or the nomination, and that her campaign will largely follow the path I laid out).




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  26. Tano says:

    “How DARE you think for yourself! ”

    Irony alert!

    It seems, JayTee, that what you are doing is trashing James for exactly this sin – he has an opinion that you don’t like, and, even on his own website, he is apparently not allowed to express it as often as he damn pleases.




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  27. jwest says:

    Mattb,

    Are you confusing me with Jay Tea?




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  28. mattb says:

    @Jwest:

    I’ve been asking for weeks for you to lay out the specifics of why you feel Palin is unqualified for president.

    Beyond what is articulated here, please see:

    This subset of Larison’s posts on Palin’s Qualifications (via Google)

    A good start is I’m Telling You, Palin Has No Chance from July 22nd, 2010 on her being the second coming of George W. Bush.

    @Jwest – can you put forward an argument, on the merits, as to *why* Palin would make a good president? And please include things that she has accomplished in the last two years along with mentions of her as a reform candidate.




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  29. Trumwill says:

    Mattb’s 14:43 comment needs to be read and re-read. It really hits the nail on the head.

    When Palin was first picked, there was a good deal of potential there. She wasn’t really who people made her out to be. But conservatives needed to believe that there was a true-blue (red?) conservative and liberals needed a bogeyman (woman?). And so she became that. She fit into the role that everyone put her in.

    And it’s that role, not her brief and long-past governorship of Alaska, that she would be running on. It is, as Mattb says, long-since past. Had she continued her governorship, not veered so far to the right, and not designated herself the decider of who the Real Americans are, it might be a different story.




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  30. mattb says:

    @JWest — I totally did. Sorry about that. I mixed up my conservative J/Jay’s.

    It’s Jay_Tea who has defeated me with his unwavering ability to put ideology/Conservative-Radio-Talking-Point before observable fact. Which reminds me a favorite phrase I heard years ago: Art prof to student who just went on an extended rant about how bad a painting the Mona Lisa is: “If you don’t like the Mona Lisa, it says more about you as a person than Da Vinci as an artist.”*

    (btw, if anyone knows the source… I’d be much obliged for that reference)




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  31. James, it isn’t so much the negativity but the incredulousness with which Palin is treated compared to Obama in the OTB as a whole. How many negative Obama posts imply something like “Can you believe how stupid he is?”, which is pretty common when it comes to Palin. JMHO, but it is your site and I in no way wish to censor or inhibit any thoughts.




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  32. mattb says:

    @Trumwill – Thanks…

    Again, I don’t think she’s a stupid woman (any more than I think GWB was stupid). But, given her last two years, it’s difficult to come up fight the realization that faced with having to, on one side:

    > step out of the spotlight and govern effectively, the mounting legal challenges and related fee’s (this is something I failed to emphasize in the past and I do think it plays an important role)

    and on the other

    > maximize her fame, influence and popularity (not to mention income) doing something that she enjoyed and, on some level believed in (and probably felt that she earned)

    She made the choice to foster her credentials and base (I think she also felt it was on some level good for Alaska). If she had waited two years, she would never have been able to sustain her fame (but probably would have still been welcome as a pundit, though probably at a lower starting salary).

    You can’t be ideologically pure and seriously run for office (or in that case you do need to be much more book smart to balance the articulation of policy and not emotion). Her support is based on being ideologically pure. So her balance is to stay relevant while not alienating her supporters – which, as long as talk radio/Fox doesn’t turn on her, she’s fine. But she also cannot afford to Giuliani out.




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  33. Jay Tea says:

    mattb, I quite possibly get more annoyed with the Birthers than you. But you don’t get to take Ayers and Wright off the boards by fiat. Obama spent literally years in relationships with them that would most fairly be called a “protege” role, and it is entirely fair to judge someone by the company they keep — especially when one chooses to tie themselves to those people. Obama chose to work closely with Ayers on multiple projects, praised his educational work, and launched his political career in Ayers’ home. He spent 20 years in Wright’s church, was married by the man, had his children baptized by the man, praised him highly, and even took the title of one oh his books from the man. He did all these things willingly, and he’s way too damned smart to not know who they were and what they had done and what they were saying. And he didn’t walk away from either until it became too politically inconvenient to keep those associations.

    As far as Palin… I guess it’s my mild “white knight” complex. I dunno if she’ll run, dunno if I’d vote for her, but I get cranky when I see her unfairly maligned and subjected to proven lies. If she’s as awful as her detractors say she is, they shouldn’t have to make up crap about her — the truth should be more than sufficient.

    J.




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  34. mattb says:

    @charles:

    How many negative Obama posts imply something like “Can you believe how stupid he is?”, which is pretty common when it comes to Palin.

    Art prof to student who just went on an extended rant about how bad a painting the Mona Lisa is: “If you don’t like the Mona Lisa, it says more about you as a person than Da Vinci as an artist.”*

    It’s all contained in the initial post: Say what you want about Obama’s policies on a policy level, the man isn’t stupid on a policy level.

    Disagree does not equal stupid.

    Again, if Palin had done the work over the last two years to get educated on policy, versus running, fundamentally as an identity politics* candidate, then you wouldn’t see that many “she’s stupid posts” (well perhaps except from Doug ;P).

    She fundamentally hasn’t done the work.

    * – Note: I’m not saying that Obama is right because he’s smart. I’m not saying he is brilliant. Nor is he the smartest politician or policy person we currently have. I’m not saying that he didn’t/doesn’t run a campaign that draws heavily on identity politics or emotional work.

    But if you think that Palin is in his league in any of these areas (with the possible exception of energy policy), or that there needs to be some sort of false equivalence in critque, please see what I wrote in these two comments (1 & 2).




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  35. mantis says:

    How many negative Obama posts imply something like “Can you believe how stupid he is?”, which is pretty common when it comes to Palin.

    Yeah, well she actually is pretty stupid. He’s not.

    As James pointed out, his criticisms of the president tend to be on policy grounds. His criticisms of Palin aren’t, because she isn’t in a position to drive policy, doesn’t think about policy, and basically never talks about policy (sorry, Facebook posts she doesn’t understand and written by someone else don’t count). She thinks about her own celebrity. I would be worried if someone like that had the potential to take my party’s nomination for president.




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  36. wr says:

    What is it about the Palin lovers here that after they spend thousands of words gushing about the genius of the Fair Lady and screaming about how terribly unfairly she’s been treated by all the big meanies in the world, they then feel compelled to pretend that they don’t really care about her, it’s just simple fairness that makes them gush about her like a tween girl talking about her new idol.

    Just admit the slavish devotion, guys. You’re really not fooling anyone.




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  37. steve says:

    It was too late whebn she resigned as governor. She had tmhe chance to govern. When oil was not over$100 a barrel. When it would be more difficult to govern. Held foreign policy statements are platitudes. She doesn’t do interviews, so we don’t get to heat her own thoughts.

    Steve




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  38. Trumwill says:

    mattb, to some extent I think it depends on how you define intelligence. On an IQ scale, I would say that she’s probably about average. But on the national political scene, being average means that you’re less intelligent than those standing to your right and left. So she comes across as dumb in a way that she wouldn’t if she were your next door neighbor.

    On the other hand, I think that she has superb social instincts. Good at communicating what ideas she has and to some degree able to boil down bigger ideas into something easily understood and viscerally powerful. That last part is itself a sort of intelligence, and possibly a result of what I refer to in paragraph one.




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  39. mattb says:

    @trumwell,

    totally agree that intelligence (like “taste” and “creativity”) is a cultural category. And you’re completely right that (if you add policy people in there) in the field of national politics, average tends to be less-than-average (though there are definitely representatives from both parties that are “dumber” than Palin).

    As far as your second paragraph, the only *slight* critique I have is that saying that her smarts are “instinct” is selling the work she did short. She probably had a natural affinity for that type of work, but, from what I know about her history, she put a lot time in developing those skills.

    Perhaps that’s the real disappointing part — there’s no question the woman can work. The problem is if she has the discipline to start to build skills that she doesn’t have, rather than falling back on a bag of proven tricks and a stable base of rabid defenders.




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  40. mattb says:

    @Jaytea

    I get cranky when I see her unfairly maligned and subjected to proven lies. If she’s as awful as her detractors say she is, they shouldn’t have to make up crap about her — the truth should be more than sufficient.

    Bull.

    No offense. I call bull. At least be honest and admit this is pure politics for you.

    Or, I look forward to seeing you defend your fellow countryman and President, Barak Obama, from the countless proven lies that continue to circulate about him, so we can get to the substantive policy debates.

    James’ post (like Larison and others), and the substantive comments have almost always pointed not to lies, but to those pesky gaps in her resume and the various real reasons that she is not a serious candidate. In fact, many of these same people were quick to call out Andrew Sullivan’s birther like obsession with Trig.

    Put a different way, point out what’s unfair or a lie in James critique.

    So no, this isn’t about being a white knight. Or rather, it’s being a so called “knight” for only certain people.




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  41. Jay Tea says:

    mattb, would a ringing denunciation of the Birthers suffice for you?

    ‘Cuz I got several of those under my belt.

    I also got furious when some Iranian jackwagon thought it was funny to call him the Farsi equivalent of “the n-word.”

    Further references available upon request.

    No, on second thought, they’re not. There’s four; you want more, YOU do your own homework.

    J.




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  42. john personna says:

    You know, when James posts something that rankles me, I sometimes call it a troll.

    The amusing thing about these Palin posts, that some of you hate to hate, is that the troll catches such goofy fish. The reactions are self-parodying.




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  43. Jay Tea says:

    mattb, would a ringing denunciation of the Birthers suffice for you?

    ‘Cuz I got several of those under my belt.

    And I got thoroughly ripshit when some Iranian jackwagon thought it was funny to call him the Farsi equivalent of “the n-word.”

    I tried posting links, but the Moderation Monster kept eating them.

    J.




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  44. Jay Tea says:

    Besides, mattb, Obama doesn’t really need me to defend him. He’s got the media, the unions, and the entire Soros empire — among legions of others — to wear his garter into battle. I’ll save my efforts for when I think it might do some good.

    J.




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  45. anjin-san says:

    > Well, maybe besides that nutty Bachmann.

    That’s right, Mini-P has her toe in the water in New Hampshire…




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  46. An Interested Party says:

    He’s got the media, the unions, and the entire Soros empire — among legions of others — to wear his garter into battle. I’ll save my efforts for when I think it might do some good.

    It’s utterly amazing that conservatives can achieve any political success at all, considering the vast left wing conspiracy that is arrayed against them…meanwhile, poor dear Sarah only has people like Jay Tea and jwest to defend her honor…the poor dear, life is just so darn unfair…




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  47. Jay Tea says:

    Interested, it’s because the “vast left-wing conspiracy” is so damned incompetent. And they’re so arrogant, they are incapable of learning from their mistakes, and keep trying the same stupid tactics over and over and over again. That helps enormously.

    J.




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  48. An Interested Party says:

    And yet, despite their incompetence, they’re doing such a good job protecting the president…funny, that…




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  49. Jay Tea says:

    Interested, there are always plenty of fools eager to be fooled.

    J.




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  50. mattb says:

    @Jay-Tea: I really wasn’t thinking of the Birthers – I’m typically far more concerned about the Muslim and intentionally socialist stuff.

    I’m happy to stand corrected.

    Though I will point out again that the media isn’t in the bag for Obama. And I see your Soros and match you with a Murdoch in the corner for Palin.

    But ultimately, I ask again, in terms of James’ critique of her seriousness (or a lot of these other critiques) please find the lie.

    What I think we agree on is that she would be a bad candidate for the right and no the best person to be elected president.

    Where I know we part company is that I’m guessing you think she (or Bachmann) would be an improvement over the current office holder. I feel differently.

    Serious question: can you think of any Republican on the national stage that you don’t think would be an improvement over Obama?




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  51. Kylopod says:

    A while ago, I used Google News archive to test the hypothesis that the media in 2007 was “in the bag” for Obama. I checked every liberal columnist for the NYT and WashPost, and I could not find a single one who greeted Obama’s candidacy with anything but extreme skepticism. Several of them, from Maureen “Obambi” Dowd to Paul Krugman, openly ridiculed the Senator in their columns.

    Of course, if you’re the sort of person to think that anyone who ignores a candidate’s close relationship with a reverend who believes Jews control the media is “in the bag” for that candidate, this may not convince you.




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  52. Jay Tea says:

    mattb: Serious question: can you think of any Republican on the national stage that you don’t think would be an improvement over Obama?

    Huckabee and Ron Paul. There’s two. And I used to like Romney a lot, but I wouldn’t want him any higher than Cabinet now.

    Kylopod — here’s a key question: were they skeptical about how good a president he’d be, or were they skeptical about whether or not he could be elected? My money says most of those pieces were of the latter. ‘Cuz I think I remember some of those, and they all had the “if only he could win, it’d be all unicorns that crap skittles” variety.

    J.




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  53. mantis says:

    ‘Cuz I think I remember some of those, and they all had the “if only he could win, it’d be all unicorns that crap skittles” variety.

    We already knew your memory was extremely faulty. By design.




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  54. Kylopod says:

    @JT

    Their chief critiques of him from most pundits was that he was unready for the presidency and was a “rock star” with vague ideas and little substance.




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  55. mattb says:

    On Obama and media coverage:

    In general, outside of the editorial press, reporters are trained not publish information about the promises and current takes on electability. So in both the case of McCain and Obama, these were largely the questions that were asked.

    The 2008 race is an interesting study in questions of bias and coverage.

    There is a wealth of data to show that Obama, as a candidate, got more total coverage than McCain (and I believe no other candidate in recent memory — btw, this include # of stories on fox and other conservative media). Clearly race played a huge role in this. Expect to see the same thing happen to the first female candidate from a major party (and that uniqueness was also underlying the attention to Palin as well).

    Now, when coverage was negative (for example during the Wright controversy in late Spring and Summer), this meant that Obama got a significant amount of negative coverage (far more than McCain – source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=media-bias-presidential-election). But when the coverage was good in comparison to McCain (see the latter’s erratic behavior during the stock market crash) then that was really good for Obama.

    BTW: for a series of well researched articles on the entire election, check out this page:
    http://www.cmpa.com/studies_election_08.htm




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  56. mattb says:

    @JayTea

    Huckabee and Ron Paul. There’s two. And I used to like Romney a lot, but I wouldn’t want him any higher than Cabinet now.

    Ok… huh.

    So, continuing the serious/good-faith questions: would you prefer a President Palin over Obama? (That can be just a yes/no)

    And would you prefer President Palin over Pres Huck, Paul, or Romney? If so why? What is it that makes you think she’s more qualified for the position than these folks?

    Where do you stand on GWB? Would you take him over any of these choices? Or Obama?




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  57. Jay Tea says:

    mattb, I’m flattered by your attention. But this isn’t a thread for me to hijack and opine on. I’ll just say that I’ll take Palin over Paul, Romney, or Obama. As far as Bush was, he was better than either of the alternatives, but had his flaws. And most of those flaws are things that Obama has siezed upon and turned up to 11.

    Funny, Kylopod, I recall a considerably higher amount of fawning (witness all the “Obama with a halo” photos, for just one example), and not too much of the “he was unready for the presidency and was a “rock star” with vague ideas and little substance” stuff.

    Which was quite prescient.

    And I notice you tapdanced around the gist of my point — focusing on what composed the majority of the criticism, not the majority of the commentary. Nice dodged.

    mantis… bah. (Dogbert-like wave of hand.)

    J.




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  58. mattb says:

    @jaytea

    I’ll just say that I’ll take Palin over Paul, Romney, or Obama. As far as Bush was, he was better than either of the alternatives, but had his flaws.

    Last comment (to stop thread hijack)… From understanding your position, all of this makes total sense. And it helps me understand your take on Palin. I think there’s a strong argument to be made that she is the “second coming” of GWB.

    Note that isn’t a dig or anything else along those lines. In fact, if anything, take it as me starting to understand and appreciate your consistency (and what qualities you look for in a candidate).




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  59. wr says:

    Mattb — And those would be? I’m guessing arrogance, a complete lack of intellectual curiousity, contempt for everyone who isn’t one of the clan… what other qualities do W and Palin share that you think might appeal to Jay Tea?




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  60. Jay Tea says:

    I think there’s a strong argument to be made that she is the “second coming” of GWB.

    Well, some try to paint her as the “second coming of Reagan,” and I think that’s a bit of a stretch. There are some similarities, yeah — and while I hadn’t thought about it before, there are some similarities between her and Bush. For one, they both have a down-home way of speaking off the cuff with a bit of cornpone that sets my teeth on edge. For another, I think that they’d get along quite well socially. For one more, they’re also people of exceptionally strong religious faith, but don’t fall into the trap that turns quite a few deeply religious people into self-righteous a-holes.

    They also have a lot of charisma with average folk, and it’s easy for people who aren’t intensely political (as in, pretty much everyone who regularly reads or writes for blogs) to feel a connection with them.

    Just thinking off the cuff myself here… Obama supporters tend to respect and admire him; Palin and Bush supporters tend to like them. It’s an intellectual vs. an emotional thing — at least to them, on the surface. The Obama people tend to get seriously angry and dismissive and arrogant when their guy is dissed; the Bush/Palin folks tend to want to argue the points.

    Hey, I could get an actual full posting out of this… and I just might. Thanks, mattb.

    Oh, and I see I pulled a whoopsie in where you quoted me — hands got ahead of brain again. I meant “as far as Bush goes.” Sorry about that; it looks like you got the gist of what I was saying.

    J.




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  61. Kylopod says:

    >Funny, Kylopod, I recall a considerably higher amount of fawning (witness all the “Obama with a halo” photos, for just one example)

    Anyone who shows Obama with a halo is almost certainly mocking the idea, not endorsing it.

    >and not too much of the “he was unready for the presidency and was a “rock star” with vague ideas and little substance” stuff.

    I’m simply reporting what I found among the liberal columnists for the NYT and the Post. Maureen Dowd dubbed the Senator “Obambi” and called him an “empty suit”; Paul Krugman said his ideas were pretty and vague and that he was dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality; Ezra Klein (who didn’t yet work for the Post) called him an “attractive cypher”; Bob Herbert and Ruth Marcus said he should wait to a future race to run; Richard Cohen, meanwhile, wrote that he would make a wonderful addition to the race, before adding “In some respects–in the Roman way of cursus honorum–an Obama candidacy would be a joke.”

    As they say, not exactly a ringing endorsement.




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  62. Jay Tea says:

    OK, Kylo, I see our disagreement here. You’re citing the official “opinionators;” I’m talking about the ones that are technically not supposed to opine. It wasn’t any columnist that chose to publish all those pictures of Obama with a halo, for example. Or declared certain elements of Obama’s history officially off-limits — such as his relationships with Ayers and Wright and Rezko, or his academic records.

    And do a Google image of “Obama halo” — I’m not talking about a cartoon photoshopped halo, but Obama with some kind of halo image above/behind his head. It’s pretty subtle, but once a few folks picked up on it, examples jumped out all over the place.

    One final point — how many of those opinions were from early in the primary season, and how many were from after he pretty much clinched the nomination?

    J.




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  63. Kylopod says:

    I googled “Obama halo” and came up with some webpages showing a series of photos allegedly from the media in which his head is framed by a circular campaign poster, a lamp in the background, a camera flash, etc. Then I typed in “Bush halo” and came to various bloggers in the mid-2000s noticing the exact same thing about various Bush photos.

    It’s an intriguing idea, that media photographers and editors are so enamored by the pol they’re filming they don’t realize the photos they’re releasing feature subtle halos. Or maybe they do realize it, and it’s all part of their propaganda campaign to make the nation think he’s an angel. And when you run a Brian Williams broadcast backwards and really crank up the volume, it turns out he’s saying “Gobama.”




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  64. wr says:

    Or maybe that just makes for an attractive photo…




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