Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman
Juan Williams says Sarah Palin is no intellectual match for Barack Obama. She's no intellectual match for a match.
That was a line I could not resist tweeting. Someone on Twitter got annoyed at my little joke: "So cheap and weak." But I was actually emulating Palin's style.
Palin's rhetoric is often cheap: she has a habit of calling reporters and even Republicans who diss her "limp" and impotent" "“ a cheap polemic that in other times would have self-discredited a politician due to its vulgarity. Her arguments are mostly weak snark or feud-fueling barbs: weak assertions for someone who must let America know specific affirmative ideas to help get the country out of a mess created by both political parties.
The bottom line is that Sarah Palin is an acquired taste that even some Republicans are finding hard to acquire.
To Palin's many fans she's "authentic," fresh, says what she thinks, speaks like the person on the street, doesn't mince words, is physically beautiful and her voice is an angelical voice of truth. To those not enchanted by her she never met a sarcastic remark she couldn't use, uses factoids to exaggerate or flatly misrepresent, sounds more like a polarizing talk show host than a serious leader "“ and her voice is akin to the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard.
To those who don't adore her, Palin is one reason why many Americans are now getting down on their knees and thanking God that John McCain was not elected President. Even atheists.
Some Republicans are now almost taking as many potshots at Palin as she is at caribou. Salon ran anti-Sarah quotes from prominent GOPers: Jonathan Tobin, Peter Wehner, Charles Krauthammer, Sig Rogich, Christine Todd Whitman, Joe Scarborough, Matt LaBash, Barbara Bush, David Frum, Mona Charen, Peggy Noonan, Karl Rove, and Ann Coulter. A Wall Street Journal editorial criticized her for distorting Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign comments.
Palin's problem isn't becoming a punch line. She already is ("Palin's book just came out. It has just over 300 pages and just fewer than 900 made-up words." "“Jimmy Fallon"¦"Sarah Palin says she wants limited government. Does she mean fewer elected officials or more officials who resign in the middle of their terms? I think limited government will be perfect for her limited abilities." "“David Letterman"¦"A new poll shows President Obama ahead of Sarah Palin 54 percent to 39 percent in a potential match up. You know what that means? John McCain could get Barack Obama elected twice." "”Jay Leno).
The problem is that she will become negatively defined by comedians and become the subject of recycled jokes. A comedian in Vegas might do this:
Hey, I ran into Sarah Palin the other day. I said, "What do you think of Red China?" She said "It's OK as long as it doesn't clash with the orange table cloth." I later met her at a read-a-thon for kids. I asked her, "What do you think of Kipling?" She said, "I don't know. I've never Kippled -- but I bet Obama does." These are the jokes folks. Actually the REAL jokes are serving in Congress. Take the Republican Party. PLEASE. Take the Democratic Party. PLEASE. What no takers? There are fewer takers for the political parties than Sarah Palin fans in the Bush family or at Karl Rove's strip poker games.
Palin -- who ranks second in Gallup's poll of the most admired women and first in USA Today's Religion Newsmaker poll -- is emerging as a quintessential polarizer in a country suffering from polarization abuse. (Is there a Country Protective Services we can call?)
A strident Palin as GOP nominee would risk losing independent voters and disgruntled Democrats and set back the conservative movement. That's why some prominent Republican politicos and pundits are trying to ensure she'll spend the next six years enjoying the view of Russia from her Alaska home. Because some tastes are impossible to acquire.
Copyright 2010 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at your event at mavenproductions.com.
Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter @joegandelman