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The great Sarah Palin-for-president joke

November 20, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Even as Mitt Romney was running for president, Sarah Palin supporters, such as this one at a Romney rally in Pueblo, Colo., in September, showed up.
Even as Mitt Romney was running for president, Sarah Palin supporters,… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)

Caught “Game Change” on cable the other night.

Read Charlotte Allen’s Op-Ed article, “Hey, GOP, take the Palin cure,” in The Times on Sunday.

And what did I learn? Well, something doesn’t add up. Or, to paraphrase “I Love Lucy”: “Charlotte, you got some ’splainin’ to do.”

In her Op-Ed, Allen serves up equal parts lemonade and venomade in making her case that Sarah Palin should be the Republican presidential candidate in 2016. In Allen’s view, Palin has it all: She has blue-collar appeal, she’s “tough as nails,” and best of all, she’s a woman, which, in Allen’s world, gives her this advantage: “Men love Sarah Palin, and she loves men.”

Yep, just what the GOP needs: a Marilyn Monroe who hunts moose too.

Now, Allen also likes men, but there are some women she’s not too keen about. Take Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom she describes as looking “like Brunnhilde in a small-town Wagner production.” Or even fellow Republican Peggy Noonan, whom Allen lumps in with those “snooty East Coast Republican intellectual types … who look down their noses at a woman who doesn't shop at Neiman Marcus and didn't attend an Ivy League university.”

Anyway, you get the picture. But for good measure, Allen takes this plunge into mythology at the end:

Some Republicans will say Palin has too much baggage from 2008, and we need to look for a new Sarah Palin. But I don't see what's wrong with the one we've got. Ever since the 1990s, Republicans have been looking for the next Ronald Reagan. Reagan is now revered in bipartisan circles, but during his presidency he was, like Palin, ridiculed by liberals. They cited "Bedtime for Bonzo" and sneered at his no-name college degree.

Sarah Palin is the new Ronald Reagan: charming and affable and unwilling to back down if she's right. I can't see what's wrong with that.

Which is just silly, of course. Heck, if you want a Republican with common-man appeal, there’s a real governor in New Jersey right now who fits that bill

So, how does one square Allen’s image of this Republican Party Joan of Arc with the petulant, ill-informed, diva-like Palin depicted in “Game Change”?  (In an homage to Palin, I didn’t actually read the book; I settled for the shallow experience of watching the movie, though in true Palin style, I didn’t watch the whole thing.)

Many Times letter writers wondered the same thing, with most thinking that perhaps Allen’s piece was satire.

And really, that’s close to the truth. Though what Allen does isn’t satire; it’s more like “set a fire.”

Commentators like Allen are all over the blogs, opinion sections and the TV and radio “news” and talk shows these days.  Their aim is to provoke, to inflame -- to hit the hornet’s nest and see how many angry people come out. It drives Web traffic; it drives ratings; it drives careers (see: Ann Coulter). But it doesn’t really give you any insight into what the people talking or writing actually believe. And it certainly doesn’t  inform. 

So does Allen really think Palin is the GOP’s best choice in 2016?  I doubt it.

But a lot of people read her Op-Ed. And a lot of people commented on it. (Yes, you’re right, including me!)

And that’s the point. Because for Charlotte Allen, the best thing about Sarah Palin is that she’s good for Charlotte Allen.


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