What the President Could Learn From Sarah Palin

10/19/2010 02:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Kathleen Reardon Professor Emerita, USC Marshall School; Author, 'The Secret Handshake' and 'Shadow Campus'

What's the mystery about Sarah Palin? There isn't any. What you see is largely what you get. Republicans connect with her because she relates to them. She's a grizzly mom, a soccer mom, and a "moose-shootin' mamma." Her children aren't perfect. You never know when she might say something like: "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?"

Sarah Palin's material and delivery don't appear polished or premeditated -- though for sure they often are exactly that -- but they are funny and memorable to the millions of people who like her even if they might at times seem mean to the rest of us.

Where have Obama's spirit and spunk gone? Where are his memorable messages? Indeed, where's the whole Democratic Party's spirit and spunk? They have let the shady front group '' run its deceptive "When you're in a hole, stop digging" advertisement time and time again on TV and radio with no memorable comeback.

Not even a humorous one about the pinstriped, preppy-tied Republican digging the hole. What are they trying to do, rise above it? The ad is a lie!

They should label it the "A" hole -- the first hole dug after Bill Clinton built up the surplus mound. That's the Republican hole. By comparison, the Democratic "B" hole is miniscule -- mostly dug to tunnel out of the deep pit the Bush Administration left us in. All it takes is a flip chart, a microphone, a marker, an arrow or two and a Democrat with imagination and guts to draw this picture. No need for millions of dollars. But no, with few exceptions we get silence as a response from Democrats.

If you believe The New York Times Magazine, the President seems to wander around the White House at times waiting for Lincoln to speak to him. On the front cover, he's thinking hard. And that's fine. He's a bright guy.

But it's time for more spunk and spontaneity from the president, not in place of explanation but accompanying it. He's made himself predictable, which inevitably gives the opposition a huge advantage. They can outmaneuver him because they know he'll never surprise them.

To which Sarah Palin would probably add, "You betcha!"

Dr. Reardon's newest book COMEBACKS AT WORK was published Oct. 12. She also blogs at bardscove.

P.S. In my years of studying persuasion, especially in politics, I've found it important to study the people we admire and the ones we don't, the ones on our side and the opposition. It's always good in politics to know what the other side is thinking and doing and unwise to underestimate their power no matter how much you might rightfully denigrate their tactics. As Maureen Dowd points out, like her or not Palin is "a fascinating figure in the history of politics." Whether the task is intriguing or unpleasant, we'd be wise to watch and discover why.

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