The Campaign Spot

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

For Palin Fans, ‘The Undefeated’ Is Worth a Bloody Foot or Two


The Great Chili Dog War of 2011 and some questions about an upcoming GOP debate feature heavily in the first Morning Jolt of the week, but front and center is the new documentary that the political world will soon be abuzz about:

The Undefeated: Unmissable for Palin Fans, Unwatchable for Her Detractors

How much will fans and supporters of Sarah Palin like the new documentary, “The Undefeated”?

Let me put it this way: If you are a Sarah Palin fan, and you lose your shoes, and you have to walk to the movie theater where it is showing barefoot, and if the sidewalk and parking lot in front of the theater is covered with broken glass, then you had better John McClane your way across the broken glass because you will tell yourself that the film is worth it as you pick the pieces of glass out of your grotesquely sliced-up feet.

My full review/article, with quite a few comments from filmmaker Steven Bannon, can be found here.

When Sarah Palin was governing, she was a pretty darn good governor. I have what is probably best described as a traditionalist view of the best way to prepare for the presidency – be a governor, preferably two terms, enact major reforms that can be national models, innovate in policy, and demonstrate a real knack for connecting with your constituents, that you understand their concerns, and that you can persuade them that your ideas can work for them. The Undefeated reminds us that for a year and a half, Palin did that. By the time the film arrives to the phone call from John McCain, what seems surprising isn’t that McCain picked her but that so many in political circles on both sides of the aisle overlooked the quickest-reforming, and at one point, an approval rating hitting 80 percent in Alaska.

A quick note: I watched a cut of the film that may differ in certain details from the final version.

Jordan Fabian of The Hill was at the same screening I was: “The film seemed to have an endless supply of anecdotes to paint a positive picture of the former governor’s rise. Palin identifies the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as the as the spark that lit her interest in politics. “I can see that tragedy planted a seed in me,” Palin says. Later as governor, one supporter recalls that Palin hung in her office a photo from the Frank Capra film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” whose protagonist is a lonely political reformer. A seminal moment of the second act shapes Palin’s image as a political fighter. Stapleton says that when she worked for Palin she witnessed her stare down an oil executive who threatened her, telling her ‘you don’t know who you’re messing with.’”

It will not surprise you that some mainstream reporters quickly find reasons to complain. McClatchy: “It repeatedly cites great poll numbers from her days as governor, but doesn’t mention how they’ve collapsed since then. It brags about her role in pushing for a natural gas pipeline and raising taxes on oil companies – but doesn’t mention that the pipeline hasn’t been built or that her Republican successor now blames the oil taxes for slowing exploration. And it revels in her successful challenge to former Gov. Frank Murkowski, but never mentions the family feud with the Murkowskis or the fact that Alaska voters last year sided with the Murkowskis against Palin’s pick for a Senate candidate.”

You know, The Star Wars trilogy really didn’t spend much time laying out the benefits of the Empire, either. Of course The Undefeated isn’t a purely journalistic enterprise. Bannon wouldn’t claim it, and he wouldn’t claim objectivity. It’s a film, with a story to tell, with a distinct, passionately pro-Palin perspective. It has a narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end.   The Undefeated is a documentary, but Bannon’s story of Sarah fits a lot of the classic underdog tales of literature; I specifically picked his brain about Joseph Campbell’s discussion of mythology and The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Of course, with Palin’s decision on a presidential bid not yet clear or revealed, Bannon may soon get the material for a sequel.

Tags: Sarah Palin , The Undefeated


Subscribe to National Review