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July 13, 2009


As someone who lives in Alaska and lived in Minnesota at the appropriate time, I think that this post is spot on, and that Palin has reminded me very much of Ventura in this regard of being completely unwilling to ignore media criticisms.

"Indeed, one of the overlooked benefits of political experience is that you develop scars. Sure, experience helps you learn issues and the media game and all that. But it also hardens you."

I'd include the specification that it helps to have lost at least one race. Bill Clinton lost his second race for governor. He and the now Secretary of State may have overlearned from that too much need to "triangulate," but overall the experience was likely more valuable than not in tempering him.

Similarly, Barack Obama over-reached in his first bid for Congress by running against Bobby Rush when he, Obama, was relatively little-known, and Rush, for all his flaws, was an icon of the Chicago political community, and the Black Congressional Caucus.

One could go on with examples, but losing brings a number of valuable lessons, the most simple of which is to temper arrogance, and remind yourself that you can't always get what you want.

"But even Obama developed scars before it was all over."

This overlooked both his Congressional loss, and the vast limitations he found a position as a junior member of the Illinois State Senate, as well as the limitations of being a community organizer.

It's unclear to me what potentionally positive lessons Palin's biography holds for her, beyond that you can keep transferring to different colleges if you don't like one, which might arguably suggest a lesson of learning that quitting won't harm you in the long run.

On the other hand, it's clear that you can lose more than once, and still not remotely learn to cease being obsessed with criticisms, whether from the press, or elsewhere. Richard Nixon, as in so many other things, serves as an exemplary example of this.

Tough emotional skins develop many ways, and there's no one clear path to them.

"Tomorrow's NYT"

Today's. I read it a couple of hours ago, and your post says it was written at 1:41 a.m.

People must not be wrong on the internet!

"an exemplary example"

Urg. From the Department of Redundancy Department. "As an exemplar," I meant.

gary -- good points all. i should have included the loss to Rush

As for necessary redundancy, better add a 'not Limbaugh' to every Rush not the BFI*

*this does not refer to the British Film Institute but to the title of a book by a certain US senator**

**not Santorum***
***the person, not the... |NSFW, NSFW, NSFW|****
****no Nazi organisation

I'm not saying I could do better --

Yeah you could. I don't mean that I know you'd be any good at politics. Maybe you wouldn't. But you're way brighter and more educated than Queen Sarah, you understand knowledge as a concept, and you also know what you don't know and how to learn it.

I think Sarah's starbursts will always work for her base, and in doing so will continue to scare the crap out of many of the rest of us. But no matter how many image consultants she hires, we are now in the age of video lives forever, and I don't think even the second coming of a Rove/Atwater combo could change that.

This is a face-saving way of casting the Palin debacle. But one must have a minimal degree of insight and discipline to get to the point where one can have the experiences that toughen. While Palin's selection by McCain clearly did artificially accelerate that process for her, I think if you look at her history, you see someone profoundly small-minded with a history of personalizing conflict, creating an "enemies list," alienating anyone no longer immediately useful to her, and similar dysfunctional interpersonal behaviors. Such people, if they do manage to rise to the top, never really develop the kind of thick-skin necessary to thrive and succeed.

Sarah Palin is very much like Richard Nixon.

Some people are born with the kind of "water-off-the-back" smoothness that allows them to deflect criticism and resist the virus of personalization. Obama is one of them, as was Reagan. Most of us have to acquire the skill, if we're lucky to have the right kind of experiences and mentors - witness Hillary Clinton. But there are also those, like Palin and Nixon, who are too fundamentally paranoid, divisive and bitter to ever transcend their personal weaknesses.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think Palin ever really addressed her critics beyond the initial defense of her qualifications. Palin stuck with the story crafted for her by her handlers and rarely deviated outside of that for the rest of the campaign. Just think about how long the 'Bridge to Nowhere' line was in her stump speech even past when her lie was exposed.

But as a fellow blogger of mine pointed out today, Sarah Palin digs this attention. So, we should stop giving it to her and move on to more pressing matters. Like the death grip Wall Street has on DC, or the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's hard to believe you can raise that many children and never learn the "sticks and stones" lesson.

Of course, the fact that criticism so clearly gnaws at her is part of her attraction for the people attracted to her.

With Sarah, it isn't that she couldn't handle criticism. She couldn't handle anything except worship.

For example: a protestor held up a sign which allluded to Todd's membership in the Alaska separatist group. Her reaction was to get hysterical annd demand that her campaign run straight out to the media with a bunch of lies and demand that the media promote the lies.

She seemed to think that she could make up her own reality and got pissed when she couldn't.

I was thinking what ChrisWWW was.

That it was odd for someone so obsessed with criticisms to go on repeating blatant falsehoods that were...bringing out the critics.

As someone who lives in Alaska and lived in Minnesota

Funny, my mother grew up in both locales.

Her career seems to be like getting to your freshman year of highschool, then suddenly leaving early and going to college, then in your freshman year of college leaving early and entering the job market... all without actually completing any of your degrees.

And then once your first job falls through, largely because you lack the skills you would have learned had you completed your earlier curriculum, declaring that now that you've been out in the workforce you're too good to go back to college (or high school), and that you'll be going out into the world to "find yourself."

That it was odd for someone so obsessed with criticisms to go on repeating blatant falsehoods that were...bringing out the critics.

those blatant falsehoods drew cheering crowds all across the country. and poor Sarah just wanted to be left alone to lie to the gullible without all those mean media people wagging their fingers at her.

To me, this hair-trigger sensitivity was a function of her inexperience. It's easy to forget just how meteoric her rise was. She went from a small-town nobody mayor in 2006 to governor. And even then, most people had never heard of her until McCain picked her. Basically, she went from nobody to world celebrity in 24 hours.

This reminds me of something that always bugs me. Normally I wouldn't mention it just for the sake of being pedantic, but in this situation it's also on topic: meteors don't rise, they fall.

Ever since the campaign ended Palin has seemed to me exactly like a small-time grifter who clever and got lucky but then got in over her head and is now getting the comeuppance a Disney movie would have in store for her.

Palin lacks the connections of Bush or McCain, and worse, she's dumb and lazy and doesn't realize it, so she hatches a crazy plan which works for a while - partly because it's not totally crazy, but mainly because the Republican party was reaching the apogee of the corrupt, intellectually bankrupt mess that began with Nixon if not earlier and she fits right in. So she rides her image all the way from the mayor's office to the vice presidential ticket and getting away with it so far. But then... she has to answer questions? She has to remain composed even when the questions are stupid? She can't ignore people who don't like her? Oh no! She cracked under five minutes of scrutiny; she just didn't notice it herself. Now for company she's stuck with the conservatives who were dumb enough to imagine there were any ideas hidden in her gibberish and are stubborn enough not to want to admit that they were wrong.

It's like the scene in Richie Rich where John Larroquette's character, after exiling Richie's parents and finally figuring out how to break into the cartoonishly massive vault, gets inside and finds not the money vault suitable for Scrooge McDuck he expected but photo albums and childrens' stuffed animals and skis. Where's the Rich family's money? Well, it's in real estate and the stock market and their company, of course, because they might be dumb enough to trust John Larroquette with their son's welfare but they aren't completely stupid. Likewise, the American public might vote for Bush when the biggest issue is the Y2K bug, but in the middle of two wars and a recession we want leaders who don't claim to read "all" the newspapers, thank you very much, sorry, best of luck.

Unfortunately, the comparison to a John Larroquette character breaks down because her marks will continue to keep her rich for years to come.

I was hoping that someone would blog this NYT article, because I just finished reading it and had to fight to retain my breakfast, let alone my appetite.

You can read it yourself, but I'll save you the trouble and boil it down to a shorter version: "Waah! The media, bloggers, and the McCain campaign were mean to Sarah Palin, and left her with no choice but to quit. She was failed by everyone around her. But she'll be back, you betcha!"

I'm serious. It was that bad. Every page was filled with bleating about how unfair everything and everyone was to Palin, and how she was just swept up in events. There's a nod here and there to her incompetence, but most of the blame gets leveled squarely on the media.

I hope they didn't waste ink on that whiny piece of crap.

She's ignorant, incurious, and incompetent with made for cable sexual charisma, the cunning of a middle school leader of the girl pack, and an appeal to the dwindling fortunes of the undereducated underbelly of the white working class, religious fanatics, and gun nuts. The rest is blah, blah, blah. I mean, come on.

It's a bit like the "your ego just hit a brick wall at 90 mph" that law students experience their first year; as everyone is warned, 100% of the class is used to being in the top 10% of the class.

Alaska really is a big small town, and I don't think Palin understood that clawing her way to the top of Alaska politics did not seamlessly transfer to the rest of the nation.

Fair enough publius, but I need some evidence that Palin has ever learned from her mistakes. Experience is one thing, but temperament is another, as others have pointed out.

Don't get me wrong: I think Palin has a strong skillset. She has razor sharp elbows, an everywoman demeanor and of course she looks terrific. She could do quite well publishing books, touring the wingnut circuit and even working with Hollywood. Palin just needs to stay clear of policy making and political office: political commentary is an entirely different activity.

"Sarah Palin is very much like Richard Nixon."

As I noted, down to the "you won't have Sarah Palin to kick around any more" last press conference. The similarities are quite striking. It's all about the enemies, and perceiving them, and getting them back, and as the cherry on top, a profound lack of interest in domestic policy.

Where Palin differs from Nixon is that she doesn't give a damn about foreign policy, either, which of all the negative things one can say about Richard Nixon, lack of interest in foreign policy isn't remotely one of them.

I'm also willing to believe Palin genuinely cares more about her family than Nixon did. And drinks vastly less. And, of course, there are other differences. But there are quite a few similarities in personality: primarily, that it's all about the politics of resentment.

Also, Nixon, for all his faults, was a grind, as in always, one way or another, working towards his goals. Palin doesn't seem to be so much of one.

...and as much as I disliked Nixon, by the time he ran for prez again in 1968, there was no doubting his intellect or his two decades of experience on the national stage, along with his foreign policy credentials.

Unfortunately for him and for us, his paranoia and his insecurities overrode all of that.

I've spent a lot of time working the small town political circuit and that is exactly what Sarah Palin is and always will be.

Many small time, small town polls have remarkably thin skin for some reason. They feel that they are making sacrifices for their community and they don't brook opposition very well. Over time, the ones who are capable of moving on do go after higher office and can be successful, but Palin strikes me as an anomaly.

The comparison to Nixon is not apt. She is Agnew, pure and simple.

From complaining about her finances to a lack of ethics to whipping up hysteria to being shut out by the top of the ticket to speaking a steady torrent of gibberish to a non-existent track record, she is Agnew.

What "fall"?

What heights had she attained, exactly?

It's nothing like childhood vaccinations. Additional vaccinations are given because the protection from the earlier vaccinations has worn off, not so that the child becomes progressively more immune. Why would you want a 5 year old to be more resiliant than a 5 month old? The 5 month old has a much greater need for protection.

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