Sarah Palin burst on the national political scene with a folksy accent, winks at the camera, and common sense conservatism that at once resonated with middle America and frustrated, confused, and angered elitists on both sides of the aisle.
As we know, she and John McCain lost. She's quit her job as Governor of Alaska, wrote a book, and took a job with Fox News.
From the moment the election was lost, commentators wondered aloud what would become of Palin. She had seemingly overnight become a political rockstar. Her detractors claimed she lacked the foreign policy chops, experience, and frankly, intelligence to be a credible candidate for higher office.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I think there's a place for common sense conservatism within the national debate. I think she's a great spokesperson for that cause. Being a real mom with real kid problems, she can offer a voice for an underrepresented populace. The operative word is real. It was Palin's authenticity that was the undercurrent of her popularity. She was who she was. That Popeye the Sailormanian quality is what made Palin stand out in a sea of Ivy League educated guys with their fingers in the wind waiting on opinion polls before taking a position.
That's why Palin's performance on Fox, before and after the State of the Union was so awful. It wasn't just that she was awkwardly using words to sound smart. It was the patently obvious attempt to answer questions about her intelligence. So instead of offering her popular folksy wisdom, she sounded like a 9th grader trying out for debate team.
Asked by Brett Baier for her preview of the State of the Union, Palin responded:
"I think tonight, Brett, you’re gonna hear the President attempt to mollify or rationalize what is perceived as a more laxidazical (sic) approach to dealing with of the war on terror, and our handling of terrorists. And on the economic front, I think what we’re going to hear is his justification of what some perceive as a tax on our free enterprise system, as he seeks to fulfill his commitment to quote “fundamentally transform this country.” I think he’s going to forge ahead very boldly with his policy agenda, but surely there will be an acknowledgement in there that the public does not seem enamored with his policies. Today, I think he’s going to pivot a bit more to the center from his leftist views and actions that he’s taken thus far. Surely we will see some acknowledgement in that arena."
It wasn't quite as bad as the South Carolina beauty queen, but it had that same strained or reaching quality to it.
Instead of trying to be something she's not, she needs to recognize the attributes that made her popular and accentuate those. Sure, she'll have critics. Everyone in public life does. Popular marketing author Seth Godin penned a book called the Purple Cow. It talks about standing out by being remarkable. Palin would be wise to read it.