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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Suspicions That Joe Is Yearning for Sarah to Punch Back



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In today’s Morning Jolt, a question or two about what really is at stake when yet another high-profile figure denounces Sarah Palin as loudly as possible . . .

I’m Not Going for Scarborough’s Fare

Can you stand a bit of cynicism about Morning Joe with your Morning Jolt?

MSNBC morning show host and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough takes to the pages of Politico to demand that the Republicans “take on” Sarah Palin: “Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private. Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.”

So what is the net impact of Scarborough launching this broadside, asserting that his green room is the epicenter of a vast secret underground of intimidated Palin doubters? Nothing much. Sarah Palin is no more or less popular than she was before Scarborough’s op-ed. If any Palin fan was shaken off the bandwagon, I have yet to find them. I doubt Scarborough’s argument was sufficiently odious to stir a backlash among Palin critics. Not one Republican doubter — let’s assume for the sake of argument that his unnamed folks exist, and they do complain loudly in the MSNBC green room — will come forward and denounce Palin because Joe Scarborough called upon them to do so. In fact, he may have made it impossible for any GOP figure of any significance to do so, since none of them want to be seen as taking their marching orders from an MSNBC host. And I doubt Scarborough’s audience will be any larger or any smaller because he’s staked out his position standing athwart Sarah Palin yelling stop.

However, Scarborough did get 20 or so blogs to link to the piece. So if that was the goal, mission accomplished.

Jim Treacher notices that Scarborough offers his scathing sneering piece, contending on the same day he announced he’s joining a group that aims to promote “civility and respect” in the public dialogue. “Say what you want about Scarborough’s laundry list of criticisms, but at least he’s keeping it civil,” Treacher observes, tongue firmly in cheek. “Yay, civility! Also: respect. Words are fun to say.”

At Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson is particularly unimpressed: “There is a lot which could be said about Joe Scarborough’s very personal and demeaning screed against Sarah Palin, but I’ll rest on this response: ‘You are the Alan Colmes of MSNBC, and I mean no offense to Alan Colmes.’ On second thought, maybe I just insulted Alan Colmes. Sorry.”

Matt Lewis tries to find the valid points, and probably invites quite a few heated responses from Palin fans himself: “Scarborough refers to Palin as a ‘reality show star,’ but is she really? Now that we have all seen her TLC program, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska,’ I’m not so sure that is a fair classification for it. When people hear the term ‘reality show,’ they likely think of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ or ‘The Osbournes.’ Calling ‘SPA’ a reality show is not entirely inappropriate, but I would argue that it is also a documentary/travelogue . . . while I think the criticism over Palin comparing herself to Reagan was overblown, I do think Scarborough’s main thesis — that Palin may not be ready for prime time — deserves consideration. Anyone running for president (and she is considering it) deserves such scrutiny. Is she serious enough? Does she have the intellectual heft or gravitas? These are all fair questions.”

Why do I suspect that Scarborough is hoping Palin will fire back on her Facebook page, guaranteeing a day or two of headlines about the “PALIN-SCARBOROUGH BRAWL” and ensuring the most attention he has enjoyed in years? How far away can a “How to Save the GOP from Sarah Palin” book deal be? Between Keith Olbermann’s suspensions and fights with management, Ed Schultz’s arson threats, Bill O’Reilly’s fireworks on The View, and Glenn Beck’s big rallies on the Mall, all the big cable hosts seem to spend as much time making the news as reporting it. Scarborough has chosen the easiest and most well-trod path to a white-hot spotlight: defining himself as a furious foe of Palin.


Tags: Joe Scarborough , Sarah Palin


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