Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Governor Palin: Lean into the curve

Just got through doing a long in-person interview about populism and the contemporary political landscape, sat down to find out what had been going on in the blogosphere for the past few hours, and at Memeorandum saw this headline:

Newsweek Photo of Palin Shows
Media Bias and Sexism
"Sexism" is an ideological pejorative coined by feminists and, as such, a term I disdain -- actually, I make a point of jabbing feminists at every opportunity.

Grant that the editors of Newsweek hate Sarah Palin. We have every reason to believe that the choice of photo of Palin in shorts represented an attempt to diminish and belittle Palin, to portray her as a cheesecake bimbo, the political equivalent of Lindsay Lohan. Palin herself writes:
The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention - even if out of context.
That this is "sexist," OK. Gotcha. But does Sarah Palin want to assume a feminist victimhood posture, to say that she is being oppressed by the patriarchy?

No, I think not. Excuse me for suggesting that the way for Palin to leverage this -- to "re-brand" herself as they say -- is to lean into the curve. The better response would be along the lines of:
"Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I have legs. And, yes, I've been told they're very nice legs. Exactly why the editors of Newsweek decided that showing me in shorts was appropriate for the cover of their magazine is for them to explain -- and good luck with that. I guess I'm trying to figure out what side of the double-standard applies here. Levi can get naked for Playgirl and still be taken seriously, but Newsweek thinks it's something scandalous to show me in running shorts? Just wait until I grant my first in-depth foreign-policy interview to Maxim!"
Or something to that effect. The governor signifies her self-awareness that she is something of a political and cultural novelty -- a conservative woman who is a viable presidential prospect. She is aware that her good looks are both an asset and a potential liability, and that liberals want to portray her as a trailer-trash airhead, the "Caribou Barbie," etc.

She gets the joke, and she turns it back against them. Nothing disarms an attack so well as self-deprecating humor. It's like the way Reagan joked about his own extremist reputation: "The Republican Party needs both its right wing and its far-right wing."

To use the word "sexist" against Newsweek is to accuse enlightened liberal elitists of violating their own egalitarian standards -- which is all fine and good. But "sexist" also sounds like one of those grim, humorless Women's Studies professors ranting at a campus "Take Back the Night" rally.

Ick. Don't go there, governor. You are a happily married Christian conservative pro-life woman who -- oh, glorious coincidence! -- looks good in shorts. Your husband is a certified USDA prime slice of hunkalicious beef, your son is a soldier in Bravo Company, and your daughter is a single mom with a selfish douchebag ex-boyfriend.

All of which is to say, you are the 21st-century all-American woman, a symbol to which a lot of moms can relate. Just think of the enormous untapped electoral potential in the "My Daughter's Ex-Boyfriend Is A Selfish Douchebag" Coalition.

Lean into the curve, governor. Be yourself. Relax and have fun. Avoid the humorless feminist victimhood pose. If Hillary Clinton couldn't make that work against Obama, the media sure as heck won't let you use it, so let it go.

When you wish to call attention to the media's double standard -- both the male/female thing and the liberal/conservative thing -- always do so in a way the displays confidence and good humor. Invite the audience to laugh with you, and give them an opportunity to laugh at the media. And let the media laught at themselves. You might be surprised how many people in the press corps think their peers take this Serious Journalism stuff a bit too seriously.

Don't ignore your critics, governor, but don't let them undermine your confidence, either. You are winning. Just don't forget: Lean into the curve.


  1. I disagree with this view.

    Palin handled this well. She didn't assume any victim status. Just because Newsweek is sexist, which it is, and Palin points it out, doesn't mean she is claiming she's an impotent victim.

    She's calling them on what they did. She's not falling for the 'play by our own rules' crap.

    The feminists were right that we should look at women policy makers, and talk about their views. Just because some of those feminists were insincere doesn't mean they weren't right about that simple point.

    Palin didn't have much to say about Newsweek. She just pointed out that they are being pathetic, and she's not surprised, and that she encourages everyone to read her book instead of accepting the chorus of condemnations. I think it speaks to a larger crowd.

    I also am shocked that anyone would suggest Palin bring up Levi. She never does. People ask her, and she provides as polite and short an answer as she can get away with, but she clearly doesn't want to talk about tabloid news.

    The media is a huge problem. Palin needs to take them to task when they are unfair. The unfairness, in and of itself, is the problem. That they would never treat a man they way they treat Palin, or that they would never treat a democrat that way, is crucial to Palin's central point. Yes, the left invented this victim 'ist' language. But why not point out when they actually are being unfair?

    Palin's talking about serious stuff. Our government's level of power, our taxation, corruption, wars. Newsweek shows her in a sexy outfit and says her existence is "bad for us all". Palin doesn't need to point out that she's attractive... she needs to play the long game.

    That requires appealing to people who actually read Newsweek all the time. As insane as it sounds, she is winning those people over, slowly. That's why she was on that extremely victimy show, Oprah. She has played these people for fools. When Palin runs against Obama, the people who talk about hidden racism will have to acknowledge overt sexism.

  2. "The governor signifies her self-awareness that she is something of a political and cultural novelty -- a conservative woman who is a viable presidential prospect."


    - Conservative
    - Woman
    - Viable Presidential Prospect

    She's one for three there.

  3. Excellant advice!

  4. Actually, K~Bob said...

    Two disagreements in one day. If I were a leftist, I'd claim a trend.

    As the Dems have proven, and as the Conservatives are proving, you don't win by ignoring or attempting to marginalize that which is too big to marginalize. You win by taking over.

    Feminism, in it's original, unvarnished form was much closer to the simple aspiration of Liberty. It was taken over by leftists first, and then retaken by homosexual activist leftists later. NTTAWWT.

    The original concept is still valid: Women aren't the same as men, but should not be treated as second-class citizens by the law.

    Sarah Palin has mentioned being a part of the feminist movement several times. She just chooses to interpret feminism correctly: it's all about Liberty.

    She IS leaning into the curve, folks--and by leading as a pro-Liberty "feminist," she is defining the racecourse as well.

  5. I think a key point here is that Palin points out sexism without crying or shrinking or demanding any government or law help her.

    She answers it by being direct, in charge, and confident... but not afraid to point it out.

    What really bothered my about Newsweek's cover was that they carefully edited the typeface to cover up the blue star in the banner. In fact, most won't notice that the entire point of that shot was to frame Palin's private life's interests, including her love for her soldier son. They are sooooo careful to hide anything about her, including that she has skin in the game and is a great mom.

    But enough about how Newsweek's unfair, or how Palin's getting attacked more than any other politician in the past 100 years. did anyone catch her interview with Rush? It was the best interview I've heard a conservative give in quite a while. And by far the most direct policy driven interview I've heard of Palin, ever. I know rush is a friendly, but it was a serious interview, asking about third parties, whether Palin's a true Republican, illegal immigration... all kinds of stuff.

    Oprah asked Palin how she can be a leader when she should be raising her kids. When Palin scoffed that this is not a question Oprah would ask Obama, Oprah said "9.9 times out of 10, the woman does this... I think it's a very legit question" I shit you not.

    Rush asked "can you sum up your views on illegal immigration in 30 seconds?"

    GEEE, I wonder who has a bigger audience and why.

  6. Memo to Newsweek:

    Serious news outlets don't need Rule 5.

    Oops. I guess that's sort of the point.

  7. I agree that if Palin is serious about making a run in 2012, that she needs to toughen-up and frame everything HER way. She needs to never let herself get cornered on ANY topic.

    The best way to manage this is to first, study-up, and get polished on ALL the major and minor issues. Be ready for ANY question. Have strong comebacks prepared for when asked questions you are not as informed on.

    Have advisors around you that are the best.

    Change that hideous haircut...and that is not being sexist or petty. Your hair looks like a "do" from the 80's or something.

  8. Stacy,I agree with your take on this and I would add one more; please for the love of God Sarah stop with the smoozing with the handmaiden of satan will you? Your appearance on that evil beeochtes show really made me, yes even me, rethink just how smart you are after all.
    Especially when you complimented her.

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  10. I think Sarah needs to hire RSM as her press agent.

  11. Sarah should fight back, but with humor. She should not take these attacks seriously, especially when Andrew Sullivan starts going into shakey mode.

    Hey look Sullivan is getting religious and married and stuff.

  12. I was about to write you some hatemail after your suggestion that SP pair up with "Dickhead" Armey, but with this excellent posting, you have redeemed yourself.
    Forget the ineffectual Armey, Newt, or the rest of those has-beens; bring on the McCain clan for some real advice .

  13. Spot-on, Stacy.

    Ridicule and humor deflates your enemies and engages your friends.

  14. BTW Stacy, Sarah knows this already. If you ever been on a snowmobile...I mean snow machine, you lean into the turns.

  15. Slightly off the topic (but not as far as it may look)---I don't watch television. And if I do, I don't watch programs like "Oprah".

    But dang--if she looks like the pictures I saw today, she's good-looking enough to be a conservative.

    How sexist is that?

    But on Palin's response, I agree there are things that I think she could have handled differently--but on balance some of that may be word-smithing.

    That she is using humor and humility as deflection shields is a Good Thing and I would not want to discourage that.

    She is driving them livid.

    I like that.

  16. I second RSM for Palin's press sec.

  17. I believe that you teach people how to treat you. She did the right thing by calling Newsweak out, even if it was only a facebook entry. It shines disinfecting light on the biased treatment she receives. She is a self proclaimed (old school) feminist and I too, detest that terminology.

  18. Well, I bought her book today. Paid retail so Harper would see the most payback.

    Newsweek, I don't think you're selling your message.

  19. "Lean into the curve" my left foot!
    I say stay upright and cut the curve, she will get there faster. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Point one was the VP run which was full of 'leaning into curves' because of those dimwits running the show. Point two is whatever she wants point two to be. Upright, cut the curve and anyone coming the other way will need to move over. No leaning into anything I say.

  20. It isn't really that long ago that to say one was both a 'conservative' and a 'feminist' would have been laughable. The fact that some 'conservatives' now do so shows how far they have accepted the premises of liberalism.

    I think the woman at the thinkinghousewife blog has Palin right: she isn't smart or tough enough to be president. And she is a feminist.

  21. 1) I disagree with S.Logan and Finrod: being her Press Secretary is not enough. GatorDoug has the right idea: you should run her campaign.

    2) I like Mrs. Palin a lot, but she's got to stop speaking in Leftspeak. I think it imperative that you get TAS or some other publication to agree to pay you [you work for money, after all] to do an extensive interview with her and then question her on her premises. We need to know if her mind's been captured by the Leftist Mindset.

  22. Looks like Sarah decided to come-out on the book tour with the big guns blazing- I love it.

    Dear Leader must be freaking out...


  23. Actually, K~Bob said:

    "It isn't really that long ago that to say one was both a 'conservative' and a 'feminist' would have been laughable. The fact that some 'conservatives' now do so shows how far they have accepted the premises of liberalism."

    The principles of Liberty are core to Conservatism (and, of course to our system of governance). The Dems used to understand this, and had many Conservative members. That the left has taken over the Democrat party, and have distorted the principles of Liberty in many "movements," the way they have with Feminism, "Gay" Marriage, Unions, etc., "shows how far they have accepted the premises of" totalitarianism.

    "...she isn't smart or tough enough to be president."

    You keep believing that. It'll make a nice mantra for you in a few years.