Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aaron Goldstein: Palin's Pioneering Path to the Presidency

She is using social networking the way Reagan used television
Sarah Palin's political enemies are deployed against her on three flanks. The progressives of the Democrat Party are lined up on one flank and the progressives of the GOP -- the ones we call Vichy Republicans and others refer to as RINOs occupy another. But standing against her on the third flank are the condescending conservatives also known as conservative elites. If she decides to run for the White House, she will have to fight on all three flanks. Even to make the Republican Party the party of Reagan again, she must fight forces opposed to her on two flanks, while those on the third flank cheer on the enemies of their enemy.

Aaron Goldstein, in today's Political Hay column at American Spectator, takes on two of Gov. Palin's conservative critics, both of whom have written op-eds which read like they were written by liberals Maureen Dowd or Bob Herbert. But elitists of both the left and right share that air of condescension. One of the two, Mona Charen, wrote at both NRO and that Sarah Palin's Alaska is "another cheesy entrant in the reality-show genre." The other, Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard describes it as "tacky" and claims that the show is just an act of Sarah's "self -love." Nonsense, counters Goldstein:
Alas both Charen and Labash miss the point. Having watched the first two episodes of Sarah Palin's Alaska I'd say it is neither cheesy nor tacky much less an exercise in vanity. Rather it should be seen as a series of extended home movies. Now not everyone likes home movies, especially those who are unwilling participants. But for the open-minded among us we now have an opportunity to view Sarah Palin and her family on their own terms. It also gives us an extended look at a part of our country that is seldom given a second thought.

Let's face it. Most Americans have never been to Alaska and this show is probably the closest a lot of us will get. Of course, one could make the case that if one wanted to see the wonders of Alaska on television one could tune into a PBS program like Nature. But it is one thing to see bears fighting in a river; it's another to see it as it is being observed by the Palin family.


Alas Charen and Labash find the proceedings more than a tad undignified. They certainly don't find it presidential. Why else would they both complain about Palin's Twitter use? Let them sneer at reality television and social networking to their heart's content. The fact of the matter is these things mean a great deal to people. Whether we like it or not, who wins Dancing with the Stars means more to people than our monetary policy. Whether we like it or not, people define themselves by their Facebook status. All Palin has done is to tap into this new reality. She is merely using the social networking medium the way Ronald Reagan used television when he hosted General Electric Theater. While Palin espouses traditional values she is not taking a traditional path to the presidency. The question is whether she can carve out her own path to electoral success.

Assuming Palin decides to take a run at the White House, she will undoubtedly do so with the knowledge that she will encounter enormous barriers along that path led by a liberal media (with a little help from some condescending conservatives) determined to keep President Obama in office. In fact, she should expect them to be a thousand times more arduous and vicious than those she faced in 2008. The difference now is that no one will stop her from clearing the brush. With her pioneering spirit, this time she gets to do things her way.

- JP

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