For those of you that live under a rock, Palin ventured behind enemy lines, so to speak, and made a long awaited appearance on Oprah, designed to coincide with the release of her highly anticipated memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. What better place to catapult a book that is already a best-seller into another stratosphere?
Overall, I thought the interview went well. Was it a game changer? Probably not. The people that loathe her will continue to do so. Those that tuned in to be impressed by Palin were happy. Oprah was fair. While I have my issues with the Queen of Talk, I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen her behave in a way that I would consider unprofessional, so I didn’t expect a knock down drag out or unwarranted attack. It was most definitely an Oprah episode – minus the tears.
Palin was clearly on the defense, which she probably should have been – she has been torn apart mercilessly since last August, and she was heading in to what was clearly unfriendly media territory. As Oprah reminded us in her interview, Barack Obama was the first candidate that she had ever publicly endorsed, and Palin was quite obviously aware of that fact. Her guard was up, and predictable questions revealed Palin’s preparation for all the “Oprah” conversation about Levi Johnston, marriage, kids, and the like. The answers were thought out and rehearsed – something you could hardly blame her for. The scars from the brutal media attacks are undoubtedly still fresh. No one will deny that she took a beating in the past year, and getting beneath the surface proved a challenge to even Oprah.
Never has Sarah Palin appeared so comfortable in her own skin on national television as she did Monday afternoon on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She spoke in clear, easily diagrammable sentences—none of those weird locutions about Putin rearing his head somewhere in the stratosphere over the Aleutian Islands. She was approachable and full of pep. And even with that percussive laugh—the raucous call of an exotic plumed bird during mating season, perhaps—she displayed an appealingly mordant sense of humor.
The bottom line is that conservatives want to like her. Even those of us who remain unconvinced that she should run for national office feel compelled to cheer her on. Sarah Palin appeals to many conservatives because, simply put, she represents an ideal. She is someone who is successful but grounded, ambitious but prioritized, and smart but approachable.
She has single handedly generated more excitement from conservatives – particularly women – than anyone else has been able to in recent years. Organizations such as Smart Girl Politics have seen incredible momentum… a lot of which can be attributed to the energy brought to the table by an Alaskan governor who made it okay for women to be successful, pretty, intelligent… and conservative.
By letting us see him sweat every time she updates her Facebook page, President Obama has inadvertently elevated Sarah Palin’s status. The fact that he needs to take her on publicly – over and over and over again – is a clear illustration of the power that she still has, whether she likes it or not. A housewife with a Facebook page has become almost as terrifying to our President as Fox News is. Should Rush, Palin and Fox join forces, the entire administration may begin to crumble.
Here’s what I’d like to see from Palin: She has shown that her biggest asset is in her fundraising capability. People listen to her, and people watch her – if only in hopes that she falls on her face. There is no sugar daddy on the right funding the conservative groundswell of the past year. If she were to use her platform to support solid candidates and bring in the funds, she could become a powerhouse.
In order to do so, she needs to own her position in American politics. She will always be a whipping post for the Left. They loathe her and everything she stands for. For some of us, that’s just a bonus. The point is that she can’t continue to cater to the failing media establishment or hide behind a contrived shell of herself.
In addition, we cannot, as a movement, allow her to be the iconic figure that Barack Obama is to the Left. Cults of personality are always dangerous – even if they’re on our side. Regardless of her assets, she can do wrong, and she will make mistakes. She already has. If we lose the ability to view our own leaders through a critical lens, we are not helping anyone.
There is a lot of potential for Sarah Palin. I just hope that she harnesses it instead of letting herself get swallowed by the “Oprah” questions and blame games.