Maybe Governor Palin’s outreach to CNN lately is paying off. The news site today ran an intriguing guest column by Paul Sracic, chairman of the political science department at Youngstown State University in Ohio, basically calling Palin the optimistic heir to Ronald Reagan. He says that he formerly had his doubts about Palin even running, but the campaign-style video changed his mind.
Enjoy his commentary:
Sarah Palin’s political action committee has produced a two-minute video that is stirring up quite a buzz among political commentators. Whether the video, entitled “Iowa Passion,” actually proves that the former Alaska governor intends to enter the 2012 presidential contest or is instead just the latest installment in the ongoing “Palin plays the media like a fiddle” show is unclear.
The video, however, does clearly demonstrate one thing: If Palin decides to run, she will be a formidable candidate, both in the primary and perhaps even the general election.
Now, one campaign ad does not a campaign make. But it was not the clip itself that caused me to rethink a Palin candidacy. It was more that the clip looked so familiar. More precisely, it was who, or whose campaign, the images in the commercial immediately brought to mind.
In the video, the initial scenes of bright sunlight shining over Iowa cornfields lead into uplifting images of young people and young couples with children smiling and enjoying the day at the Iowa State Fair. In a phrase, it is “Morning in America.” Those of us of a certain age remember the Reagan campaign’s seminal commercial of that name, an advertisement that helped to secure his crushing landslide re-election in 1984.
Of course, since Reagan was already completing his first term in office, his commercial referred to what he claimed to have already done. Palin, on the other hand, is speaking to the future. In quasi-religious terms, she criticizes the lack of “faith” that Washington has in the American people, while confidently championing the coming “great awakening.” What this shows more than anything else is that Palin understands what Reagan always knew: Americans want to be optimists. More important, she is media savvy enough to know how to deliver that message in a captivating fashion.
My point is not that Palin is Reagan. [...]
Palin … has risen to prominence in a different age. Twenty-four-hour news stations provide much more exposure in a shorter period. Compared to Bachmann and Perry, at least, Palin is a veteran on the political scene. More significant, however, is the fact that, like Reagan, Palin has the correct media skills for the age.
What is most Reaganesque about Sarah Palin, however, is that on camera, her optimism about America appears natural. This is a quality that should not be underestimated, since it allows her the leeway to be negative without turning off voters by appearing mean-spirited. This offers at least the possibility that, despite her current low standing in the polls, she will be able to leap-frog over the more negative sounding Bachmann and Perry, and compete head-to-head with Romney.
Even more than they did in 2008, Americans want hope.
I am not saying Palin will be the president someday, or will even secure the Republican nomination. If the voting in either contest were held today, she would lose. It is very dangerous, however, to count out a candidate like Palin before she has had a chance to campaign. Recall that, back in January 1980, before he had even secured the Republican nomination, an ABC news poll had Reagan trailing Carter by 30 points.
At the very end of the Palin video, there is a shot of a bear rising up on its hind legs. The camera angle, a somewhat silhouetted view looking up a hill, is right out of another 1984 Reagan commercial, the so-called “Bear in the Woods” spot. In the Reagan ad, the bear stood for the former Soviet Union. Now, the not-so-subtle reference is to the “momma grizzly” from Alaska.