Meghan Daum disses Sarah Palin

July 13, 2012

By John Seiler

Political campaigns always cough up a strong element of comedy. The latest is Los Angeles Times marquee columnist Meghan Daum dissing Sarah Palin. It’s amusing because Meghan believes a) Sarah was a disaster for McCain in 2008; and b) Sarah, or at least the Alaskan’s image, still is influential, even though Sarah’s 15 minutes of fame lasted precisely two weeks, then ended.

Meghan writes:

“It’s unlikely a woman will share the spotlight at the top of the GOP ticket.

“It’s not for lack of qualified candidates — former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are often mentioned — but because of the tortured legacy of one former nominee: the inimitable, unpredictable, irascible and, oh yeah, female former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

“This is the quote that turns up most often in response to the female veep question, from a source typically identified as an ‘unnamed informal Romney advisor’: ‘Unfortunately, Palin poisoned the well on that.'”

I wonder who that “unnamed informal Romney advisor” is. Romney’s staff is stacked with GOP establishment hacks who always hated Sarah. What kind of quote would one expect?

Sexist assumption

Meghan again:

“Palin has had more staying power than initially anticipated, but is she really potent enough to poison an entire well? Are we still operating under the bizarre — and blatantly sexist — assumption that American women are such a monolithic entity that Palin, whose fame is largely the result of her celebrated incompetence, is interchangeable with, say, Whitman, who’s one of the most powerful executives in the world? Is the Republican Party turning into an angry bachelor who chooses the wrong girl, gets burned and, rather than trying to love again, just writes off the whole gender?”

This has everything completely backward.

First, picking Sarah gave McCain the only boost he ever got in his 2008 general-election campaign. Doesn’t Meghan remember that? Maybe she never knew it in the first place.

Here’s the graph of the 2007-08 campaign showing McCain vs. Obama. The early part, until the summer, was the primaries. Obama wasn’t well known nationally until he started beating Hillary Clinton in the primaries. And McCain in the primaries was seen as a war hero and former POW, instead of the cranky warmonger and sellout he showed himself to be in the campaign. But look at what happened at the end of 2008:

The red blip upward, the only time McCain led Obama during the general election, was right after he chose Sarah. Meghan seems oblivious to what goes on in the minds of Republicans, especially conservatives. But McCain was widely seen by conservatives as someone who had shredded First Amendment free speech rights with his McCain-Feingold bill, worked on immigration amnesty with the McCain-Kennedy bill and was weak on supporting tax cuts.

That changed instanter when he gave the nod to Sarah. Conservatives saw one of their own: a feisty, moose-hunting cheerleader with five kids who took on a corrupt state political machine.

Meghan and Meg

Meghan mentioned Meg Whitman as supposedly being vice presidential material. Doesn’t Meghan remember Meg’s disastrous, control-freak, deer-in-the-headlights 2010 gubernatorial bid? Despite blowing $180 million of her own fortune and facing a retread Gov. Moonbeam, Meg was wiped out, 54 percent to 41 percent. Meg refused even to attack Jerry on his weak point, his lunar 1990s radio show, of which copious tapes exist in which he took up nutty left-wing positions (some of which I agree with, such as ending the drug war).

Meg also melted down on the John & Ken show.

By contrast, in 2006 Sarah defeated the incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski in the GOOP primary, besting his powerful statewide machine. Then, in the general election — despite being outspent, and in a year Democrats swept back into control of the U.S. Senate and House — she beat Democratic ex-Gov. Tony Knowles, 48 percent to 41 percent. So Sarah beat two powerful ex-governors, but Meg couldn’t even get close to one Moonbeam.

Here’s what Meghan’s own newspaper, the L.A. Times, reported on Sept. 10, 2008:

“The emergence of Sarah Palin as a political force in the presidential race has left many top Democrats fretting that, just two weeks after their convention ended on an emotional high, Barack Obama’s campaign has suddenly lost its stride….

“A series of new polls suggests that Palin has given a major boost to John McCain’s campaign, exciting the GOP base, winning over white women and all but erasing Obama’s lead….

“A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday, for instance, shows that McCain is now winning among white women 52% to 41% after having been statistically tied with Obama in that crucial category just a month ago.

“‘Whenever you see that kind of movement, you ought to be concerned; you ought to try to address it,’ said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), a strong Obama backer.

“David Bonior, the former Michigan congressman who managed Democrat John Edwards’ unsuccessful presidential bid, called the new poll findings a ‘real concern,’ adding: ‘We can’t lose white women and expect to do well in this race.'”

Economic crash

Of course, it didn’t last. I’m sure you remember what happened next: a couple of days later, the economy collapsed. On Sept. 15, Lehman Bros filed for bankruptcy.

After that, nobody cared about Sarah any more. It was all about the economy, and what President Bush and Barack and John would do about it.

President Bush, as typical of his reign, panicked. His staff came up with the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The TARP scheme bailed out Wall Street with $700 million from Main Street. In the U.S. Senate, Obama supported it. For his 2008 campaign, he received $1,013,091 from Goldman Sach, $808,799 from JP Morgan Chase & Co., $736,711 from Citigroup Inc., etc. He was bought and paid for by the Big Banks.

This was McCain’s chance — time for the self-styled “Maverick” to pounce on his opponent and win the desk in the Oval Office he always had longed for. Instead — remember this? — he suspended his campaign!

Then he backed the TARP sellout of his own middle-class voters. People forgot that, far from being a Maverick, he was a member in bad standing of the Keating Five Savings and Loan Scandal of 1987-89. He long had been bought by the banks, too.

By failing to lead, the air went out of McCain’s campaign. He couldn’t use Barack’s vote for the TARP against him, because John himself had voted for it.

Obama tied McCain to the failed Bush policies and the onrushing Great Recession. McCain was wiped out on election day. It’s McCain’s own fault that he squandered the boost Palin provided him.

Sarah cashes in

But it wasn’t her fault. Since the election, Palin cannily has used her brief celebrity to boost her family’s fortunes with book, TV and speaking deals. It’s the American way: Cash in while you can.

Her hints about possibly running for the Big Enchilada in 2012 teased naive conservatives (who are, let’s face it, 95 percent of conservatives), while infuriating clueless leftists like Meghan Daum. But I always knew Sarah never would run for anything again. She knew her time was up.

Her autobiography, “Going Rogue” (better title: “Going Rouge”), detailed her distaste for the Republican operatives who sidelined her while running McCain’s campaign into the ditch. But they’re almost the only people who know how to run modern, highly complex campaigns. If she had run for president, what was she going to do, hire Ron Paul’s people?

I also sense some class snobbery in Meghan’s dissing of Sarah. Meghan grabbed her B.A. from Vassar. Sarah graduated from the University of Idaho, helping pay her way by winning the Miss Congeniality award in an Alaska pageant. She also attended a JC, North Idaho College. Compared to the august Vassar, how déclassé.

And get this snooty Meghan sequence:

As we know, Republicans turned out to be spectacularly wrong on nearly every front. They not only lost an election, the party conveyed the idea that any GOP woman who deserved to be a heartbeat away from the presidency would get there not on substance but on a particular kind of easily recognizable and (to some) highly palatable style, one characterized by a generic suburban glamour and a bullying affect often passed off as spirited or gutsy. Think helmet-like hairdos; think Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer with her finger in President Obama‘s face. It paved the way for Michele Bachmann and made the road too rocky, finally, for a veteran such as Olympia Snowe. The GOP made a mockery of its female leaders while pretending to elevate them.

Actually, Snowe went out of favor because she’s a liberal Republican. As to the rest, Meghan really looks down on ordinary, middle-class women: “a generic suburban glamour,” “a bullying affect often passed off as spirited or gutsy,” “helmet-like hairdos” and “Michelle Bachman.” Presumably Michelle’s offense, like Sarah’s, is having all those kids. The brats grow up and ruin the environment, dontcha know.

Meghan even brings up: “The term ‘gender gap’ may sound like a cliche, but it’s also real.” The “gender gap” means that, in recent elections, women have tended to favor the Democratic candidate. But like most people who bring this up, she makes as logical mistake. If there’s a “gap” one way, then there’s a “gap” the other way: That men favor Republicans over Democrats by large margins.

Perhaps Meghan skipped logic class at Vassar.

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