While Democrats and the Obama White House continue to take jabs at Sarah Palin, the fact remains they can't resist rising to her bait, with the media loving to pit Palin against Obama whenever the chance arises. Even when Pres. Obama says he's not going to respond, like he did on Palin's nuclear policy criticism, Obama goes on to do exactly that. Never mind that Palin and other conservatives completely miss that Pres. Reagan dreamed about nuclear zero. Meanwhile, when you look to the left, there is no anti-Palin, no woman even close to competing with her star power.
Sarah Palin may have no official title, the left calling her a "quitter," but she continues to rise in power, with even John McCain calling out to his former running mate to save him in Arizona. It must irk the Republican elite to no end. Today, she'll be giving a speech at the Southern Republican Leadership council. We can only wonder if she'll be the first Republican there to actually mention Katrina.
Lefties get infuriated when I parse the traditional and new media spin against Sarah Palin. I can hear the caterwauling already, but don't care much about it, as I'm more interested in following the story, not the negative Hillaryesque stereotyping, the latest of which comes compliments of the latest CBS poll, which I'll get to in a minute.
The fact remains that there is a "Hillary hole," with women wanting their turn, while people hunger for something radically different, which is currently being filled by the Tea Party, a star named Sarah and her fans. Not surprisingly, as poll after poll on her rolls out, the narrative on Sarah Palin continues to be filled out unfairly. I know, you're shocked. But love her or hate her, whether she runs in 2012 or not, when you look at the left, the reality is there's no anti-Palin progressive who matches what Palin's got.
The latest poll from CBS on Palin comes with an interesting graphic. Unfortunately, the headline blows the lede and the main data point. The news for Palin isn't as bad as the CBS headline screams: "Low Favorability Ratings for Sarah Palin." Do the math.
Just Republicans: 43% approve of her; 16% have an unfavorable opinion; with 29% undecided and 27% haven't heard enough about her.
In overall opinion, beyond Republicans: 24% favorable; 38% unfavorable; 20% undecided; 17% haven't heard enough about her.
As for Independents: 25% favorable; 35% unfavorable; 20% undecided; 18% haven't heard enough.
Then look at the gender numbers. Sarah Palin's charisma holds a key for why middle-aged right-wing males are on her side. As for women, 40% have an unfavorable opinion of her. But guess what; just as many women "haven't heard enough" about her, coming in at 39%.
Translation: Sarah Palin has challenges if she's thinking about 2012, no doubt; but there are plenty of opportunities to change minds her way, according to the CBS poll. Question remains whether she can given her style, the substance of her rhetoric, as well as her delivery.
The truth is that the CBS poll offers some hope for Palin and her people, if the crowds and cash aren't enough. For all the "she's a wacko" storyline, there are a lot of people who remain undecided about Sarah, even as the traditional media continues to offer stereotypical "Low Favorability Ratings for Sarah Palin" headlines, even if the data screams a different and more important story.
Meanwhile, whether Sarah Palin runs in 2012 or not, she's making money while running from state to state campaigning for Republicans and Tea Party people. She's also keeping her maverick status intact by going against the insider GOPers by defending Michael Steele, which seems more stubbornly obstinate than smart. It should be noted that right now her approval among Republicans remains high enough to still make her a possible contender, something I'm sure Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are watching.
Mrs. Palin's politics aren't for me, and though I pine to see hot headliners from the left, instead we get the likes of Claire McCaskill, Kathleen Sebelius and other Obama blue dog duds, with no women of any wattage in sight.
From a terrific piece on Huffington Post, there is also a larger Democratic problem, which is outlined in "Power Struggle: Inside The Battle For The Soul Of The Democratic Party":
[...] Yet for all the real accomplishments, many liberals are celebrating less than they are commiserating about a lost opportunity, an opportunity for progressive change that pales in comparison to '33 and '34, '64 and '65, when Democratic majorities redirected the course of the nation. "It is only once in a generation that a people can be lifted above material things," Woodrow Wilson said, perhaps optimistically. "That is why conservative government is in the saddle two-thirds of the time." This generation reformed health care and built on that foundation, but the contemporary Democratic approach relies more on using government money to prop up private institutions, no matter how broken, instead of expanding the public sector. For instance, a public insurance plan -- the "public option" -- was part of the health reform discussion until it came threateningly close to becoming law, at which point it was discarded. [...]
Part of the ambivalence for Democrats turning independent is the rightward march of the Democratic party under Obama. However, that doesn't mean these people won't vote for Obama in 2012 given no other choice. However, the rightward tilt of Democrats, as well as their undemocratic governance on health care, has put the activism level on shrug, leaning towards uninvolved. Maybe that's at the heart of Gallup's new numbers, showing the worst brand image for Democrats ever. There simply is no way there will be the enthusiasm for Obama that was seen in 2008. Whether you're talking Missouri, Nevada or Virginia, Obama has likely already kissed these states goodbye, the Bush states he won in 2008 already trending away from him, with Pennsylvania turning negative for Pres. Obama in the latest Quinnipiac.
Looking beyond Obama, as much as I like and appreciate Joe Biden, he's not exactly a 21st century candidate when you look to 2016. The possibility reminds me of a George H.W. Bush situation after Reagan had eight years. That's assuming Barack Obama will rally Democratic enthusiasm, including young people and women, to hold the presidency in 2012.
Where is the woman on the left who can make headlines and draw crowds like Sarah Palin, Liz Cheney, perhaps even a re-entry of Dr. Condoleezza Rice?
The "Hillary hole" is as wide and deep for Democrats as ever, with no Sarah Palin alternative anywhere in sight.
The heat is on the right.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst out of Washington, D.C.