Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tony Lee: The Mama Grizzly and the Gipper

She's not Ronald Reagan, but Sarah Palin can be Reaganesque
As Gov. Palin said in her speech at the Reagan 100 Celebration Friday night, though people are looking for the next Ronald Reagan, they're not going to find him. He was one of a kind. But, she went on to say that there is an army of Davids unafraid to tell Goliath "Don’t tread on me!" That army of Davids are Reagan's political heirs, and Sarah Palin is one of its top generals. Though there are many similarities between Reagan and Palin, Human Events' Tony Lee explains that the two have practiced politics in very different surroundings:
In many ways, Reagan was the perfect leader for his time because he had a disposition that suited the non-fragmented media landscape that surrounded him, which consisted of a mix of the top-down three major broadcasting networks and the big national newspapers such as the New York Times and national newsweeklies such as Time.

The media landscape today is more fragmented than ever. Talk radio, blogs, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and cable television give conservatives not only loud and prominent outlets but also an ability to get and share information in real time without the filter of mainstream media reporters and editors. It has also made conservatives and conservatism more mainstream and much more a part of what Washingtonians call “the conversation.”


To cut through in this media megalopolis, a candidate has to be fierce, in-your-face, asymmetrical, savvy, timely, provocative, and engaging and compelling.

And no candidate has navigated this new media terrain better than Palin.


Palin often chooses to defend herself fiercely on Twitter, often unfiltered. She does this because she knows that in the media cycle we live in, defenses are often most effective when they are quick, fierce, and generate buzz to drown out the original criticism. In Palin’s case, she knows her words will get out to the mass audience faster if they come from her mouth—or her fingers.

Compared with 1980, the media today is a brave new world. In Iran and Egypt, social networking sites and new media outlets energized citizens fed up with their ruling classes. Such forces also fueled the Tea Party movement, especially by uniting moms and women across the country. And though not all of these women are Palin supporters, Palin would still probably refer to them all as “Mama grizzlies.”

Palin probably would not have been successful had she been a politician in Reagan’s era. And to be fair, Reagan probably would not have been the star politician he was had he come of age in the fragmented media era in which Palin lives.

Palin has mastered this landscape and run circles around her critics. In the future, Palin will have endless opportunities to harness her acumen to advance policies and lead a political movement. She may just become to her era what Reagan was to his.

- JP

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