Okay, I broke down and watched Oprah Winfrey interview Sarah Palin.
Color me underwhelmed. By both women.
It was like watching two lightly muzzled Doberman Pinschers, behaving because they have to, but with an undergrowl that translates, roughly, into “if we’re ever alone together in the yard, you’re going down…”
Oprah needed Palin for the ratings; Palin needed Oprah to push the book,
Going Rogue; An American Life. Both endured hour of excruciating discomfort for the sake of their respective ends.
Oprah tried to be magisterial on her turf; she was professional and polite, which is really all she needed to be. But beneath the cool, calm exterior, there was that sense of an impatient leash-tug. Her questions were alright, but I do wonder whether Oprah would have asked Palin the very stale question about whether she could be a veep with five children, had she had a D after her name.
Palin gave a stale answer, “I would do it the same way men do it.”
To which Oprah responded, “but they have wives!”
And Palin went off on some spinny herky-jerk when all she had to say was chuckle and say, “and I have a very capable husband.”
Such a response would have gotten a big round of applause from the mostly-silent audience, and it would have reinforced the whole sense Palin wants to convey, that her marriage is “equal,” and “strong,” without her having to say so as she did, later. Showing is always better than telling; actions more convincing than words.
And a little chuckle with flippancy signals that you’re not taking the interview too seriously, that the interviewer is not the Alpha dog.
Palin struck me as too guarded and needlessly defensive. Toward the end, Oprah asked if she had anything else to say, and Palin unwisely blurted out, “you can’t turn off my mic…” which was very revealing. As I said over two twitters:
there is a brittle defensiveness to Palin that was not there before; she’s clearly carrying scabs from being savaged in ’08 BUT…you can’t do that in politics. She was treated (IS still treated) abominably by press, but if she can’t transcend that she’s out
Okay, political analysis in 140 characters doesn’t really work, but yeah, it seems to me that Palin is showing her scars from the detestable way the press descended on her and her family like a pack of rabid canines and worked to literally destroy Palin when she emerged in ’08.
But the press tried to destroy Reagan, and they tried to destroy Bush; they could only get so far, because both men were able to shake the rutting mutts off their legs with aplomb, and look forward. It is a quality of character, part of it comes from knowing who you are and -as we see happening- it encourages people to take a second look, or a third, if need be.
I have suspected that Palin does know who she is, but she’s been rattled, and it shows. And so, she is talking about media mistreatment; her charges are not untrue, but tonguing the wounds will not help her with the people she needs to win over. They will see it merely as an unattractive, vindictive quality, rather ala Obama. Who wants more of that?
In September ’08, Camille Paglia rightly called Palin “a natural”. She was so natural, that she was a terrifying powerhouse to the left, hence the immediate and fevered rush to destroy her. Recently Paglia wrote:
Whether Palin has a national future or not will depend on her willingness to hit the books at some point and absorb more information about international history and politics than she has needed to know in her role as governor. She also needs a shrewder, cooler take on the mainstream media, with its preening bullies, cackling witches, twisted cynics and pompous windbags. The Northeastern media establishment is in decline, and everyone knows it. Palin should not have gotten into a slanging match with David Letterman or anyone else who has been obsessively defaming her or her family. Let surrogates do that stuff.
I wholeheartedly agree. I know Palin is a tough, frontier spirit, and that serves her well in many ways, but she needs to learn to delegate the punches, so that she can remain above the fray, or she will never get past this guarded, watchful, overly-cautious and defensive vibe that rang out of her like waves from a tuning fork on the Winfrey show, today. She has to know that someone else will throw the punch for her, and she has to learn to be okay with that. She also needs to do better explaining her strategy in quitting the Governor’s post; reasonable people can understand the distraction of incessant and bogus “ethics” charges, but she needs to tell it better. There is nothing smooth; it’s all disjointed and halting. That won’t work.
So, not that my opinion on Palin matters at all, I give her a B- for the Oprah show. Nice video of the family, good response when she was pitying the pathetic Levi, and talking about how he is still “part of the family,” but she should have left the “Ricky Hollywood” gag home. The rest was kind of just okay.
The New Republic: Was more impressed than I, so, there you go.
I know the folks that really adore Palin will not like my assessment, but I think I’m being fair, here. When I see tweets from people who love Palin saying that they hate the interview and they want it to end, then I know they too did not see the Palin they really, really were hoping to see.
Legal Insurrection roundsup the lefty bloggers who live-blogged the “event” and laughs: Get a life, people. Palin is so far into your head she’s about to give you an aneurysm. That’s quite true, which is why if she can soften her edges, she can, I think, still recapture the middle. But she is not there, yet.
UPDATE I : Palin’s Facebook complaint about Newsweek’s cover illustrates what I am talking about. If this can’t roll off the back, nothing will. If she wants to be a serious contender for high office, she can’t even notice magazine covers; that is someone else’s job. This is a very “Obama-style” bit of micro-image-managing complaint. It’s small, picayune and it is not becoming, not when she does it, and not when Obama does it. Obama gets away with it, because the press helps him, but even with their protection, his thin-skinned brittleness is turning people off. Palin does not have that sort of political capital to spend.
UPDATE II: Melissa Clouthier is writing about Palin on Rush today, and she says on substantive issues, Palin was “flawless” and “like a breath of fresh air” – do go read her take, which is very interesting and serious. The Rush Transcript is here.
Sorry about the photoshops! Mean it!
Malkin: Female Conservative Derangement Syndrome
CNN Palin-Forum: Defining Obama-approved Journalism
Baseball Crank: Always well-reasoned
Allahpundit: has video
Gay Patriot: Has Palin learned how to play the victim card? Actually, I think she hasn’t; which is why she does it poorly.
Al Gore: Keeping it classy in business
Rich Lowry tweets that Going Rogue is a good, “dishy” read
Rasmussen: 59% of voters say share Palin’s values
More Gay Patriot: Why Palin Matters
Althouse: A pleasant chat