In an article that will be published in this weekend’s issue of the New York Times, Robert Draper quotes Sarah Palin confirming that she is interested in a run for President, which is more than she’s given any other reporter.
I am. I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.
Palin also said that there aren’t meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P. hopefuls, and that she’s evaluating whether she can “bring unique qualities to the table.” I would say that “unique qualities” is something she has plenty of, but are they the kind that get you elected President?
More about the in-depth inteview with Pain and those close to her after the jump. I’ve done my best to summarize and comment on the 7 page article, but it’s still a long post, nonetheless.
(Check it out, there’s some really good stuff in there.)
The article examines those close to Palin who have served as her guides and advisors since hitting the national stage so suddenly two years ago.
Andrew Davis, one of her advisers, describes a cult-like environment driven by “personal devotion to Palin rather than the furtherance of her political career”, and where people don’t have titles or specific jobs and rarely know what they will be doing from one day to the next. It’s “the way things always operated in Palin World.”
Davis is also the person who screened the candidates for Palin to endorse or not by trying to determine whether they met certain base-line standards (like being anti-abortion, pro-A.N.W.R. drilling and anti-stimulus). Palin would then make the final decisions. As you will see at the end of this article, she had more misses than hits.
Lessons from ’08 and Media Aversion
Draper also asked Palin about the 2008 campaign. Her answer is very interesting.
Palin said that her experience as John McCain’s running mate was for the most part “amazing, wonderful, do it again in a heartbeat.” But she added, “What Todd and I learned was that the view inside the bus was much better than underneath it, and we knew we got thrown under it by certain aides who weren’t principled” and that “the experience taught us, yes, to be on guard and be very discerning about who we can and can’t trust in the political arena.”
She went on: “I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn’t have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record. That’s the most frustrating thing for me – the warped and perverted description of my record and what I’ve accomplished over the last two decades. It’s been much more perplexing to me than where the lamestream media has wanted to go about my personal life. And other candidates haven’t faced these criticisms the way I have.”
I asked her if by avoiding the national press, she didn’t bear at least some responsibility for the way the public viewed her. “I’m on television nearly every single day with reporters,” she shot back. “Now granted, that’s mainly through my job at Fox News, and I’m very proud to be associated with them, but I’m not avoiding anything or anybody. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I’m out there. I want to talk about my record, though.” Palin was referring to “getting in there and cleaning up corruption, taking on the oil companies and the good old boys in the party, things like the natural-gas pipeline” and “getting things out of the government’s hands, like the state-owned dairy creamery in Alaska.” Asked if she believed in 2008 that these accomplishments made her at least as qualified as Barack Obama to be president, her response was immediate: “Absolutely. If I had any doubt in my ability or administrative experience that would’ve been put to good use in a McCain administration, then I never would have accepted the nomination.”
One has to wonder if she is genuinely dilusional in thinking that her limited experience qualifies her to be President, or whether it is simply her experience as a sportcaster and journalism major telling her to fake it and hope no one notices. She also said the media’s “unfairness” toward her makes her “fear for our democracy”, which is especially humorous coming from a person of the salary of Fox News.
Later on in the article, she shows how paranoid she is about anyone who has been in politics very long, describing them as “unprincipled people who are in it for power, money and job titles.” So maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to do the time and work her way up through the system like everyone else. Maybe she’s worried that she’ll become like them.
Ignoring Advice and Rejecting Help
The article highlights how Palin has ignored those tradition political manuevers, for better or worse, and disregarded the advice of the seasoned political operatives.
One afternoon in June 2009, Gov. Sarah Palin was sitting in the Washington office of her friend Fred Malek, whom she met through McCain during the 2008 campaign. She was listening to the former White House aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford map out logical next steps to her political career. Focus on amassing a good record as governor, he advised her. Run for a second term. Develop some policy expertise. Do some extensive overseas travel. Generate some good will by campaigning for fellow Republicans.
Malek said that Palin was visably displeased with that advice and told him that she wasn’t willing to stay in office as Governor where all of her mistakes would be public knowledge and easily exploited. “Under the laws of Alaska, anybody can file suit or an ethics charge against me, and I have to defend it on my own. I’m going into debt.”
So, in other words, she resigned the Governor’s seat to escape transparancy or critical review of her work as the cheif executive officer of the state of Alaska. Hm, well she’s gonna be in for a surprise if she does find a way to the Oval Office, where she and every member of her staff will be subjected to constant scrutany.
Malek also said that he hosted a foreign-policy lunch discussion with Palin, where Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, received an appreciative grin from Palin when he told her that he himself had seen Russia from an island off the coast of Alaska – “I defended you on that.”
Three weeks after the series of meetings with Malik, Palin resigned as Governor.
Palin’s New Media
On the topic of her self-driven media explosian, Robert Gates, the White House Press Secretary, talks about his frustration with the Palin phenomenon…
If I would have told you that I could open up a Facebook account or a Twitter account, simply post quotes, and have the White House asked about those, and to have the entire White House press corps focused on your quote of the day on Facebook – that’s Sarah Palin. She tweets one thing, and all of a sudden you’ve got a room full of people that want to know. . . .
Gibbs shook his head and continued: “Now, I could say, ‘You know what? I’m not going to deal with that.’ And big headline: Palin Accuses Obama of X. The White House had no comment.
Palin’s Lawyer Thomas Van Flein, who helped her get through Troopergate, says she doesn’t consult anyone before she posts her tweets and facebook statuses, and that he struggles to keep up with her, especially since her moments of “inspiration” could come at any time of the day. Said Palin about her tweets, “that’s just the way I roll.”
Loss of Bi-Partisnship
Bill McAllistar, former Communications Director for Palin, says that she used to be far less partisan than she is now and recalls a time when, “while editing a speech she was about to give, the vice-presidential candidate crossed out a disparaging reference to liberals, telling an aide, ‘We want liberals to vote for us, too.'” But when the election was over, supposedly, the democrats in her state were more interested in attacking her than working together to govern, which she gives as another reason for leaving her position there.
And y’know what, I’m sure that she’s right. If she had stayed in the Governor’s seat, every single issue in Alaska would be a national headline in no time and Democrats in the state would surely use it to garner press for themselves. When all is said and done, resigning the Governorship was probably the best thing Palin could have done for the state, even if it is going to kill her if she tries to run for President. She will be plagued with statements like “Palin didn’t honor her commitment to the people of Alaska by serving her full term. Instead, she decided to resign and go make millions with her book deal, Fox News job, and reality TV show. It’s seems like she is more interested in being a rich celebrity than serving the voters. So why should we trust her to do anything different as President?”
Overall, this article shows a picture of Palin that hasn’t really been seen before. It shows her method of strategizing (which sometimes consists of asking for advice and then dismissing it) is very intentional and at least moderately organized, while still somehow being chaotic. I fully recommend reading the whole thing.
Toward the end, it gets much more relaxed and almost settles into just being a conversation bewteen Palin and Draper.
The Missing Story: Palin’s Endorsements and Senator Murkowski
One issue that is only touched on breifly, however, is her relationship (or lack thereof) with Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who the AP just now announced is the first person to win a write-in campaign for the US Senate in over 50 years.
Palin, however, supported Murkowski’s opponent, Joe Miller and helped him defeat Murkowski in the GOP Primary. But Murkowski decided to continue her campaign anyway, not wanting to leave Alaskans a choice between “an extremist and a Democrat” (sound familiar, Colorado?), and managed to defeat not only Miller, but Democrat Scott McAdams as well. The relationship between Palin and Murkowski has been strained since Murkowski was appointed to replace the late Senator Ted Stevens. And after Palin endorsed Miller, Murkowski fired back, saying “Well, perhaps it’s time they met one Republican woman who won’t quit on Alaska,” And she didn’t quit.
Much of her campaign focused on simply helping people remember how to spell her name correctly and making sure they new how to properly cast a write-in vote. Supporters even passed out blue rubber wrist bands with voting instructions for people to wear to the polls on election. Those bands eventually became a show of solidarity for those who supported her. Maybe she should have just switched to the American Constitution Party instead.
So now, Palin has to contend with a female Republican Senator from her own state who is out to get her. And you better believe that Senator Murkowski will be using some air-time to get a few blows in. When asked whether she would support Obama and Palin for President in an interview with Katie Couric on Monday, Murkowski said
I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies. You know, she was my governor for two years, and I don’t think that she enjoyed governing.
I will tell you, I am not one of those who wants Obama to fail. If he does well, that means the country’s doing well. We don’t have time as a nation to spend all of what we do blocking. We have got to figure out how we get to a point where we can be sitting around the table and talking about these difficult problems and advancing some solutions.
If nothing else, Murkoiwski’s election should serve as a bit of a blow to Palin’s confidence about her influence, even within her own state. While she was able to boost the Tea Party backed Miller to the GOP nomination, he wasn’t able to actually win the election. Though the Washington Post reports that the results were typical.
Of the 11 Governor candidates she supported, only 5 won.
Of the 33 US House candidates she supported, 18 won, possibly 19.(New York’s 25th District is still counting, but the Palin-endorsed candidate seems to be winning)
Of the 13 candidates for Senate that she endorsed, only 6 will be in the Senate next year. (and one of them is John McCain)
That’s 25 out of 54, less than 50%. In a Republican “wave” year, most people could have picked more winners by simply flipping a coin.
So hopefully she, or at least one of her advisors, is quickly learning that there is a difference between being popular and being influential. And she is going to need both is she hopes to win in 2012.