Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Governor Palin and Cherry Picking Media Memes





In another display of the media’s complete lack of objectivity, McClatchy published a piece last week arguing that even Republicans activists do not want Governor Palin as president. In doing so, they attempted to cram in as many of media talking points and memes as possible that are consistently parroted about Governor Palin. She’s not serious in her decision making to run for the presidency. Her poll numbers show she’s not electable. She doesn’t have the leadership skills or policy chops needed to be president. She’s a quitter.

First, McClatchy writer, Steven Thomma, states:

As Sarah Palin wonders whether to run for president, she might want to talk to people in places such as South Carolina.

The word "wonder" in a decision making process generally refers to what you’re going to make for dinner or what kind of jeans you’re going to buy. In using that wording to describe Governor Palin’s decision making process in potentially running for the presidency, Thomma attempts to paint Governor Palin as one who would make such a decision on a whim or flippantly. In the numerous interviews where Governor Palin has been asked about 2012, she has mentioned that she would look at the "lay of the land", pray, and consult her family in addition to contemplating her electability and potential to add to the presidential discussion. Moreover and arguably most importantly, Governor Palin frames a decision to seek the presidency as a "call to serve" not as a decision be president. Should she choose to run, she will make the moves, albeit as she says, unconventionally, necessary to forge a solid campaign throughout America in general and in early primary states like South Carolina specifically. Let’s not forget she ran a successful primary and general election gubernatorial campaign in a state twice the size of Texas, and she is a masterful retail politician.

Next, Thomma trots out Governor Palin’s poll numbers:

While national polls show that Palin still would win the support of about one in five Republicans in a national face-off today for the nomination, she no longer can claim the dominant role she enjoyed when she burst out of the 2008 campaign as the undisputed star of the party. She’s also losing ground quickly among independents, who hold the keys to the White House.

A Gallup poll taken in September 2008, for example, found that 53 percent had favorable views of her and 28 percent held unfavorable views. Last month, the same poll found the numbers were almost reversed, 38-53.

It is amazing how much the media think polls matter at this point. No one has officially announced they are running for president. There have been no debates to allow candidates to juxtapose their positions and records against one another. At this point, polling data are only used as a talking point to paint Governor Palin as unelectable. If polling data a year prior to the first primary were a predictor of presidential nomination, then we would have seen a Giuliani vs. Clinton race in 2008. Additionally, even if one puts stock in the polls, then it must be noted that Governor Palin is indeed statistically tied with Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee in the polls, despite how Thomma tries to represent where potential candidates stand. If Thomma reports a loss of support by a potential candidate, he really should note that Governor Romney has lost 15% of his support since November while Governor Palin’s support has remained steady. While Thomma claims that Governor Palin loses support among independents, the most recent Gallup poll shows that Governor Palin is statistically tied for the lead with Governor Romney among both Republican-leaning independents and moderate to liberal Republicans.

Thomma also egregiously brings out Governor Palin’s poll numbers from just weeks after she was announced as Senator McCain’s running mate to compare them to last month’s favorability numbers. In the last two and a half years, the media has created a caricature of Governor Palin that has become the false perception of many Americans. After all, Governor Palin has been portrayed as unintelligent and unaccomplished when in actuality, she negotiated the largest private sector infrastructure project in the nation’s history. She has spoken to business leaders in Hong Kong and on Long Island, yet the focus when she speaks is that she supposedly requests bendable straws. She is involved in a medical mission visit to Haiti where she spent time touring earthquake ravaged Haiti and holding cholera infected children, yet the false takeaway is that she brought a stylist on the trip (who, of course, was simply her daughter Bristol fixing her hair in an AP photo). Just last month (when the poll cited was conducted), the media reached a new low with constant, scurrilous assertions that a campaign map and political analogies used by Governor Palin were the driving force behind a madman killing several Arizonans and attempting to kill Congresswoman Giffords. With this media drawn caricature, it’s no wonder Governor Palin’s favorability has decreased. Should Governor Palin run, she will be given a greater opportunity to create her own narrative and correct the fallacies reported by the media. Ian addressed some of the other issues with Thomma’s polling assertions here.

Thomma also cherrypicked GOPers at a South Carolina fund raiser to promote their false narratives. He also fails to detail the fact that the event he drew his quotes from was a fundraiser headlined by Congresswoman Bachmann:

"I like Palin," said Joseph Kejr, a Republican from Rock Hill who works in information technology for a Christian ministry. However, he added, "she’s not polished in national government. In terms of leadership, I don’t know about her."

She’s not really creative," said Swain Shepperd, a retiree from Rock Hill. "She just repeats what’s already been said by others."

The word "polished" has been used to describe our current president, and we’ve seen how that has worked out for us. "Polished" doesn’t provide economic solutions or lead on foreign policy. The assertion that Governor Palin simply repeats what others have said is quite laughable, as is the claim that she cannot lead. In 2008, she first showed her prescience when she warned of then candidate Obama’s stance on jobs, taxes,energy, spending, growth of government, foreign policy,etc. She drove the debate against President Obama’s government takeover of health care. She was the only one of the potential 2012 presidential candidates to lead on border security issues when she stood with Governor Brewer. In addition to Congressman Pence, she was one of the few to address the dangers of quantitative easing. In her support for Congressman Ryan’s roadmap, she was the first potential candidate to seriously addressing entitlement reform. Not to mention that with increased turmoil in places like Libya, potential issues with oil transport through the Suez canal, and the Obama administration’s complete disregard for drilling for oil, Governor Palin leadership on energy issues will be at the forefront of a 2012 campaign.

The last meme Thomma addresses is the ubiquitous "quitter" meme:

Some said she hurt herself by quitting halfway through her term as governor of Alaska, robbing herself of a platform in government.

That shortfall’s become more glaring as party activists have cheered on people who are now governing and fighting to cut spending, such as Govs. Chris Christie in New Jersey, Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Rick Scott in Florida and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, as well as Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives such as Bachmann.

Through three legislative terms as Governor, Palin reduced state spending by more than 9% (part of which was during of time of economic prosperity, which shows great fiscal discipline), reduced earmark requests by 80%, forward funded education, signed ethics reform, addressed oil tax structures, and initiated the largest private sector infrastructure project in American history. Needless to say, her platform in government is quite strong. As much of Governor Palin’s staff’s time was taken up by dealing with frivolous ethics complaints, her resignation allowed for state government to be less inhibited while still maintaining the same platform. As a byproduct of stepping aside from office, Governor Palin has been able to constructively criticize the Obama administration, provide conservative solutions, and endorse candidates without the potential for a baseless ethics complaint to be levied against her. In actuality, her platform has broadened.

It must be noted as well that if a resignation from office disqualifies one from the presidency, Congressmen Gingrich is not qualified. Additionally, if currently holding office is the only way one’s budgetary record can be highlighted, then potential candidates like Governor Romney, Governor Huckabee, Governor Pawlenty, Senator Santorum cannot be considered either. Such "qualifications" would essentially reduce the field to zero.

Thomma attempts to highlight almost every meme directed against Governor Palin by cherry picking poll results and comments from GOPers. However, campaigns are run by creating one’s own narrative, and campaigns are won by the voices of the whole of the electorate, not a small portion.



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