The Corner

Andrew Sullivan: The Randall Terry of Anti-Palinism . . .

. . . or the Inspector Javert?

According to this CNN poll, only 28 percent of Americans believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be president. For a person as well known to the public as Palin, that is an appallingly low number. For someone who is already so firmly fixed in the national consciousness – more: who has already reached a stratospheric level of celebrity — where is the room for growth in popularity? Who are the people who could possibly move from the 70-odd percent who declare Palin unqualified, into the 30-odd percent who believe she is qualified?

The answer is: people who become convinced that her current low public image is largely the result of unfair depictions of her in the media. I have little patience for victimology, specifically the self-pity of politicians who whine that they are being unfairly maligned by a dastardly media (conservatives who complain about the MSM, liberals who complain about Fox). I suspect that most Americans, who have an even lower opinion of politicians in general than I do, agree with me on this. So if the former governor of Alaska goes out and makes this assertion of unfairness, that in itself will not convince many people. Indeed, it would more probably backfire, with the typical citizen responding, “Geez. Self-absorbed much?”

But: If prominent media figures show an obsession with Palin that is so deep that they put the rest of the world on hold just because she wrote a book — then people might start suspecting that, yes, maybe there really is some animus in media elites, and maybe we should give Palin another chance. That’s when the 70-some percent starts to melt away, and a Palin presidency becomes conceivable. The second step, from “conceivable” to “likely,” is an even shorter step than the first.

Andrew Sullivan is, on many issues, an interesting writer. But when it comes to this hobby-horse, it wouldn’t even be accurate to say that he has let Sarah Palin jiu-jitsu him; no, what’s happening here is that he is jiu-jitsuing himself — an act of which Sarah Palin is the most conspicuous beneficiary.

I’ve never met Palin, but people who have tell me she is an intelligent and talented woman. She’ll have a interesting and happy future in whatever line of work she ends up in — but if she chooses presidential politics, she will succeed only if she can count on some help from her enemies. So far, she’s getting it.


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