Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

September 9, 2009

BORED NOW.... Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has a ghost-written op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, arguing against health care reform. It's filled with predictable palaver -- "death panels," government = bad, tort reform, privatize Medicare, etc.

I guess I'm supposed to feel a sense of outrage about the latest in a long line of ridiculous Palin arguments, but I'm finding it difficult to get worked up about this. Palin doesn't know anything about health care policy, and has probably never given the subject more than 30 seconds of thought. Her op-ed -- the writer made no effort to craft the piece in a way that sounds anything like the former governor -- doesn't say anything remotely new or interesting. Palin has just become rather ... what's the word ... boring.

Instead of disgust, I read the Palin piece with Barney Frank's adage in mind: "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

The point of the op-ed, in all likelihood, is to position Palin as a leading right-wing voice challenging the president, hoping the media will run with an "Obama v. Palin" frame today. Marc Ambinder encourages news outlets to resist the temptation.

...Palin's existence in this debate does not (a) lend her voice any credibility and, beyond that, even if you believe that her experience as a state governor does give her at least a modicum of credibility, it does not follow that, because her voice is credible, it ought to be influential. Newt Gingrich is influential by rights; he's done the work, come up with original ideas, and been in the trenches. (Replacing Medicare with vouchers...not new or remotely plausible, even if GOPers do well in the next two elections. Quoting Ronald Reagan talking about that type of proposal...not new. Etc.)

The media -- by which I mean the cable news networks, primarily, will determine whether Palin's view on health care becomes influential. There are many Republican, conservative health care spokespeople who have earned the right to speak for their party's principals, and, truth be told, can recite the talking points (complete with Ronald Reagan quote) better than Palin and her writer can. They're the ones who should be offended if Palin's op-ed becomes the voice of the opposition tomorrow, because Palin isn't seen by most Americans as a particularly trenchent analyst of policy. Indeed, the reason why Palin's team wants to get her pieces in publications like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal is that, in this next phase of her political career, Mrs. Palin has to burnish her policy skills. And the Journal is all too willing to lend some space to this project, because plenty of people will see the piece.

So here's a challenge to the media: if you want to do justice to conservative ideas and find some balance in your coverage tomorrow, book serious Republicans with original ideas on your programs. If you don't, Palin is giving herself a voice at your expense and through little effort of her own.

I'd take issue with some of this -- Gingrich is not the policy thinker he thinks he is -- but in general, Ambinder's right about the media and Palin's credibility.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

Bookmark and Share

But Palin's views WILL be taken seriously by the media. To ignore her is to show you really hate women in influential positions. And developmentally disabled babies. Also.

Cable new can't resist. Sarah Palin is everything that cable is: Shallow, vapid, devoid of understanding or curiousity, unable and unwilling to put in even slight amounts of legwork, And always, always in search of the next fix of self-aggrandizement. Sarah wanted to be governor of Alaska not because she had any ideas about governing, but because it appealed to her vanity. When it turned out that it required her to pay attention and maybe do a little work, well, so much for that. Her president bid is precisely the same.

Posted by: Domage on September 9, 2009 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

On the farm we are really quite strict about talking with your mouth full .
It is for sure that they have equally tough rules in Alaska , I think .

Posted by: FRP on September 9, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin: Milli Vanilli, alive and well. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 9, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't Sarah Palin; it's why our media suck so badly that they are willing to give a prominent role in our national discussion to dingbats and nutcases.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 9, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

And one would find those "serious Repuglicans" WHERE! Pete duPont on WJ this morning doing an admirable job in spewing forth the same old, same old talking points (probably the ones from Palin's piece which I'll be sure NOT to read)...I am totally sick and tired of the WHAT MUST OBAMA SAY or DO to "re-energize the debate"?...what f-cking debate? This has been the regular old he said, she said, let me see what did they REALLY MEAN by what they said, lies, obfuscation, weak-kneed responses by DEMS, and CELEBRITY DEATHS and WORSHIP!!! That was pretty much the summer from my point of view and I have way too much time to be observing, reading, and listening. The cap on this foolishness was the media frenzy over President Obama's talk to the school children. I'd like to hear ONE educator interviewed or opining on the LESSON PLANS (yegods, they were teaching guides - there IS a difference)...the more some people talk/write the stupider they show themselves to be...

Posted by: Dancer on September 9, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Frame it as Palin vs. Boustany -- Ms. Death Panels versus the Republican health care spokesman who sponsored them.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 9, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

The point of the op-ed, in all likelihood, is to position Palin as a leading right-wing voice challenging the president, hoping the media will run with an "Obama v. Palin" frame today.

Not sure how it will position Palin for anything as the exact same points were being made by Newt Gingrich on NPR this morning and I'm sure by every Republican in the country in preparation for Obama's speech. Maybe whoever shouts the talking points loudest gets a position spot, so it is up to the media to choose which idiot to amplify.

Posted by: martin on September 9, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is EVERY BIT as idiotic as Palin. And Ambinder is a clown.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on September 9, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ambinder says: "book serious Republicans with original ideas on your programs".

Can he name any? No seriously. All the NYT's could come up with is Douthart for its "conservative" slot. The same old tired faces on Fox (Kristol et al) continue to be wrong about everything. Conservative columns mostly write themselves (e.g Jacoby in the Globe). And why does Krauthammer even have a job?

Even though the Republican party jumped the shark a long time ago, they retain significant power in controling the media message (eg staying in school is socialism). There is no reason media outfits have to bend over backwards to accomodate a bunch of asshats.

Posted by: worcestergirl on September 9, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Why does the MSmedia have to "do justice to conservative ideas" when there are no liberal voices at all being heard on this issue?

Posted by: shpx.ohfu on September 9, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

If Palin isn't THE cable news headliner of the day, then, obviously, the outlets simply do not appreciate the sacrifices that our troops have made in the name of freedom. Also, Palin probably quit in the middle of the op-ed and then appointed a ghost writer to finish the piece. But, also, she lent her celebrity to the piece in the name of liberty-loving people everywhere and also, because she can see Putin rearing his ugly head from her back porch and therefore, health care reform is more proof that Obama is a socialist.

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on September 9, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

hoping the media will run with an "Obama v. Palin" frame today. Marc Ambinder encourages news outlets to resist the temptation.

Why on earth would we want to discourage that? Even better, we should promote a live nationally televised debate over healthcare reform between Obama and Palin. THAT would be a good thing.

Posted by: about time on September 9, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is nothing but a corrupt disgraced pol.Every time he is given air time without that being pointed out is a disservice to the public.

Posted by: par4 on September 9, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Common Sense dictates that you do not use the pharse common sense in the same para 3 times.

Thomas Pain-ed Expression

Posted by: JoyZeeBoy on September 9, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Love the story about Boustany, the Dr giving the rebuttal to Obama's speech, of how he was trying to buy a title (Lord) from two British conmen. It almost feels like he is another Palin.It is good for a laugh anyway.

Posted by: JS on September 9, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are the ones who insisted on the end of life counselling portion of M'care Part D. I believe it was voted unaimously by Republicans in 2004. Therefore The Republicans want what has recently been termed as euthanasia clause. Therefore Palin is for Euthanasia of older people. With less spent on the elderly in the waning years, the Palin and her sociopathic fellow Republicans believe more money will be in their pockets and less $$ in Americans pockets.

Posted by: MlJohnston on September 9, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute -- this is our argument now? When there's a Palin pronouncement, we stick our fingers in our ears and say, "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU"? That's just going to give her ammunition for her usual whine: The sexist liberal haters want to silence me because I'm a conservative woman!

You're right, Steve: she rattles off a list of right-wing canards and the same righty/libertarian think-tank solutions every Republican rattles off when pressed for a list of health-care proposals. And we have rebuttals for those proposals.

So restate our objections -- in a dull way. Then move on.

Posted by: Steve M. on September 9, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has a ghost-written op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today

Common sense tells us that you don't establish policy cred by having someone else write about your policy positions. Common sense also tells us you don't shake your reputation as uninterested and lazy about workaday politics by sloughing the workaday politics off on ghost writer.

Posted by: oh my on September 9, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

If ignorance is bliss, the space between Sarah Palin's ears must be Nirvana.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 9, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

...in this next phase of her political career, Mrs. Palin has to burnish her policy skills.

What political career? She quit politics, doncha know? Why would anyone vote for her again, knowing that she can't go the distance?

Posted by: josef on September 9, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

book serious Republicans with original ideas on your programs.

Name one. They're all still peddling the same old "hate America's government" crap they've been peddling for years. They come up with halfassed health care proposals that let the insurance companies prey on us even more, the CPCC and CBO pan them and they just ignore that and keep spewing nonsense. They have no original ideas and because they all seek out microphones like Chuck Schumer they've all already discredited themselves.

Posted by: markg8 on September 9, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree with both Ambinder's and Steve's take on this.

Ambinder's sage advice is already conventional wisdom (and conventional wisdom isn't always wrong). Palin gets positive exposure in the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, but most of the non-rightwing media already treat her as little more than sideshow entertainment. He's not saying anything here that everyone in the media already knows.

What's much, much more disturbing is how naturally Ambinder discusses Newt Gingrich's seriousness, wisdom and original ideas. This is the bad kind of conventional wisdom. Gingrich has way more influence over the political discourse than he deserves, and Ambinder sees this as a good thing.

But Steve just waves his hand to "take issue" with this, when he should throwing up red flags and sirens.

Nobody who we can reach gives a crap about Palin anymore. Currently, her influence is somewhere below Mike Huckabee, and dropping. If the right wingers want to keep propping her up, and even push her as a 2012 presidential candidate, that would be awesome. But there's no need for hand-wringing over her influence.

Posted by: drew42 on September 9, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Palin's comments WILL be taken seriously, 'cuz she's got that whole "sexy librarian" thing going.

Even the Huffington Post will run several pieces on her remarks, with her picture prominently displayed whenever possible.

Posted by: sidewinder on September 9, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, Benen. I followed the 'flats voraciously when McCain picked her as his VP candidate. I was outraged daily by the venal, petty, stupid acts she'd done in the past and continued to do. After they LOST and she returned to be the nominal governor of Alaska, I still kept an eye on her. Now that she has quit, I am bored with her. She elicits no emotion from me because she is not a real person. I just wished the media would acknowledge that there is no there there.

Posted by: asiangrrlMN on September 9, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

God help us when she goes on her book tour, we'll have to hear endless dumb snippets on cable news. Clearly, the media will promote her with as much enthusiasm as McCain (if not for the same reasons). And if she gets it together to hire better PR people, she could be packaged for the media just as well as any other politician or right wing pundit. Entertainment politics is big business, and when has the media ever in this country chosen authenticity over spectacle?

Posted by: rrs on September 9, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Is Disney an investor in the Wall Street Journal? If not why is WSJ looking increasingly like an entertainment outlet and less like a source of news?

Featuring Palin on health care on the same day as the President's speech shows the GOP's got nuthin. No new ideas, no sane arguments, just a dunderhead trained to say outrageous words that mean nothing.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 9, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"One word: Death Panels"!

-Sarah Palin

Posted by: Sarah Palin on September 9, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Does Ambinder's list have a (b)?

Posted by: Kokuanani on September 9, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

She's waiting for the media to do its magic.

"You know I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office." George W. Bush, 1989


Posted by: sceptic on September 9, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

It amazes me that people who find Sarah Palin so apparently distasteful CONTINUE to write and comment about her - ranging from viewing her as simply 'boring' to calling her the same vitriolic names that we heard during the campaign.

Good grief - if you don't agree with her worldview or can't stand the sight of her, why don't you simply move on? Can't you find something more productive to do in life??

Posted by: John C on September 9, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Can't you find something more productive to do in life?? -John C

Oh, I do hope the subtle hypocrisy in your comment is not lost on you. Tell me, does your mouse have a scroll wheel?

Posted by: doubtful on September 9, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Dog bites man: not news
Man bites dog: news
Experienced intelligent man with long record of intelligent thought out positions on many issues runs for vice president: not news
Inexperienced semi hot moose shootin' former beauty queen woman wearing Agent 99/Senior Prom 1969 hairdo's, with a bunch of kids with bizarre names including a Downs Syndrome baby and an unmarried pregnant teen daughter and a husband who fishes and races snowmobiles all of whom she parades around onstage at every political event, who talks like a comedian portraying a Wisconsin housewife while totally blowing the simplest interview questions and winks at the audience in a vice presidential debate, makes rabblerousing divisive campaign speeches filled with fabrications and baseless accusations, exposed for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign money on hair and makeup and designer clothes for her family....definitely news.

Posted by: emjayay on September 9, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Oooh, I'd love to see Dark Willow take on Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on September 9, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I just read the WSJ piece. Based on about a hundred literary and policy factors of the piece, Sarah Palin did not write it. She did not even participate in the writing in any way beyond possibly reading it and writing "You Betcha - Sarah :)" across the page. It is an absurdity for the WSJ to publish this piece under her name.
I don't get the WSJ, and this goes back to the pre-Murdoch days. It's supposed to be the intelligent business oriented newpaper, reporting and advising supposedly smart people about the topic they have centered their professional lives or at least their investing around, making more money. But the editorial page has always been about only the short sighted self interest of the very rich and supporting anything Republican under any circumstances. PBS ran their editorial board show for a while, revealing them to be a bunch of appallingly smug country clubber plutocrat types. It was like a Saturday Night Live skit. I would expect the editorial WSJ board to be more like conservative business oriented NYT. Intelligent, knowledgeable, conventional wisdom spouting sort of guys. But it's not. Why?

Posted by: emjayay on September 9, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

There's a very good chance that "the media" - all of whom read "Vanity Fair" - will finally "get it" about Sarah Palin after reading the Levi Johnston article. I don't say this as a put-down, but Levi Johnston comes across as too stupid to be a very good liar - the piece is painfully honest in its very simplicity of the way he explains things.

She's just trailer trash, it's all she ever was. Jumped-up trailer trash with an inflated opinion of herself. And as ignorant as those crowds she drew last year.

Posted by: TCinLA on September 9, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

If the Health plan advocated by Rahm goes through Palin is a shoe in for president in 2012.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 9, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

I never realized Sarah Palin was such a towering intellect, analyzing health care proposals from her lofty perch on the Wall Street Journal, and I never will.

Posted by: Danny on September 9, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, grinning cat. That's the best laugh I've had all day.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on September 9, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Her op-ed -- the writer made no effort to craft the piece in a way that sounds anything like the former governor -- doesn't say anything remotely new or interesting.

For people who have some respect for markets, Palin's proposals are interesting proposals. The single thing that could make the most difference would be to repeal the federal law that grants states the right to restrict the interstate trade in insurance. Equalizing the tax treatment of individually-purchased and employer-purchased policies would also improve the market.

The proposals that have been written by the Congress so far exacerbate the liabilities of our present system, besides being full of contradictory and unbelievable claims.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on September 9, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

How long before the Washington Post offers Palin a regular op-ed column?

Posted by: Vicente Fox on September 9, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

nice post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did anyone know that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

Posted by: Sandra on January 18, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one learn that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

Posted by: Kellycgw on February 8, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly