Bring It On!

The Palin Play: Pulpits…Puppets…Politics…Profits

September 5th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

Quite frankly, the GOP’s political parlance is the equivalent of being told that one can engage in a circle jerk with one’s self. I think it is actually more akin to placing one’s head up one’s behind.’s still a circle…but the outcome isn’t quite as pleasant.

Look, I’ll happily give the GOP credit for creativity and cunning. They do both well…especially when they combine the two to further their deceptive agenda. At the same time, there is something offensive about the audacity exhibited in the execution.

I want to focus on one particular situation…one that I believe typifies the sickening symbiotic relationship that has flourished between the GOP and the religious right…a coalition akin to two ambitious and unscrupulous tramps engaged in a classic contortion…one I’d equate with a shallow and sleazy 69 suckfest.

So here’s the backdrop. The McCain campaign, rightly so, rolled out their vice presidential nominee in a carefully crafted appearance at their convention. She hit all of the right notes demanded by the Christian conservatives who had threatened to twiddle their thumbs come November 4th…unless John McCain toss them a bone…or at least the lipsticked pit bull to gnaw upon the bones of the enemy.

Nothing wrong with any of that…even though I find it to be the equivalent of a marriage of convenience. After all, it’s just the logical progression in the politicization of the world’s oldest profession…and we know the GOP has always been “pro-business”.

With that said, we can move onto the treachery…and the hypocrisy. The issue at hand is the GOP’s strategy to insulate Palin from any unwanted media scrutiny…while manufacturing the meme that the mainstream media is out to get her. First, take a look at the following discussion between Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan, and Michelle Bernard. In the video, Buchanan adopts this meme and argues that the GOP and the McCain campaign have every right to shield Palin from “unfair” media scrutiny.

Matthews, who I’ve often criticized for his biased treatment of Hillary Clinton, correctly calls Buchanan on his shameless spinning of campaign rhetoric. In essence, Buchanan and those complicit in the effort to use Palin for political gain (the GOP elite and their Christian conservative cohorts) are attempting to craft a paper-thin persona they feel will garner votes in November.

Again, nothing wrong with that objective…since every campaign does the same. However, the McCain campaign has chosen to take it to another level…electing to scapegoat the mainstream media in order to prevent them from scrutinizing Palin. In truth, it hasn’t been the MSM that dug into Palin’s personal life…but they want to make that case in order to justify their refusal to make their candidate available for questioning.

As if this weren’t enough, the strategy has taken another turn designed to further sully the media and keep Palin in a protective bubble. Shortly after the McCain operatives initiated this strategy, some members of the MSM suggested that the campaign would schedule a few softball interviews and then argue that they had, in fact, made the candidate available. The goal, of course, centers on keeping Palin away from the tough questions.

Enter the manufactured GOP outrage aimed at Oprah. As the Drudge Report story goes, Oprah and her staff have been engaged in an internal spat over whether they should schedule Palin for an appearance prior to the election. Mind you, this contrived consternation is coming from the same people who routinely attack Oprah…accusing her of a liberal bias, of promoting a false religion, and of being a part of the elite celebrity media.

So here’s the multi-faceted set up. The GOP and the McCain campaign don’t want Palin interviewed by the media…but they also want to discredit those portions of the media they frequently frame as left-leaning elitists…all designed to further the idealized image they are attempting to attach to Governor Palin in the minds of voters. Call it theater in the extreme.

Let’s jump ahead to the end view. Absent palpable positions on the issues, the damaged GOP brand must rely upon caricature creation, character assassination, and cynicism if they hope to win in November. Hence, the selection of Palin must be viewed as an expedient political calculation. Pick a relatively unknown woman from a remote state…who can energize the tepid evangelical base…capitalize upon the anger over the Clinton loss…offset the historic ramifications of a black candidate…and inoculate the party and the candidate from the media scrutiny that would accompany such a superficial strategy.

As such, the goal was to maintain secrecy, strike first, strike often, repeat the meme regardless of the facts, and hope to convince voters that every segment of the media is wrong and biased…thereby discrediting or diminishing any of the facts that may come to light about Governor Palin. In other words, the goal was to avoid all media appearances and infer the totality of the partiality found in every segment of the media. In fact, they never intended to have Palin appear on Oprah…they simply made the calculation that an inquiry would return a declination and allow the advancement of the meme.

Disgusting as this strategy may be, the real tragedy is far greater…as is the need to insure that it doesn’t come to pass. The unholy alliance that exists between the evangelical elite and the GOP elite…designed to dupe voters…must be exposed and broken. Otherwise, change will never occur.

Unfortunately, this double-headed monster has succeeded in melding the narrow and intransigent mindset of morality, held by a majority of voters, with the overarching and well-disguised ambitions of those who stand shielded from scrutiny behind the pulpit and/or the podium. So long as these two tyrants are able to execute their obfuscated objectives, they will pursue and produce the propaganda needed to perpetuate their obsession for power and profit…at any cost.

Therefore, this election may well be the quintessential battle to break the strangle hold of those who have shown little hesitation to place their hunger for power ahead of the health and well-being of the nation. Like the religion they invoke to achieve these goals, the promises they make to the voters they court are equally ethereal and lacking substance. While they espouse the virtue of values in order to win votes, they defy virtue while working tirelessly to amass all that they view to have material value.

So long as we enable them to obtain their earthly desires, we will continue to forego the future we are told to faithfully await. It’s an exchange we can no longer afford. Sarah Palin is a puppet…perhaps a knowing one…perhaps not…but a puppet nonetheless. This theater of the absurd will only go dark when voters demand a better production…in the ballot box.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 31 Responses to “The Palin Play: Pulpits…Puppets…Politics…Profits”

  2. By Rob Jones on Sep 5, 2008 | Reply

    [Disclaimer: Lest I fly under a false flag, I'm voting McCain - Palin. I get aggravated when people try to fake their allegiances or associations.]

    I’ll agree with you wholeheartedly about the relationship between the religious right and the GOP, I get tired of the desire of some to pander to them. Just ftr, they arent the whole party, some of us are there for other reasons.

    As far as circular arguments go, I see you cited a few… I’ll add one: Claiming your experience *campaigning* for president as a qualification for being one is definitely an issue.

    On the topic of media bias… I’ll admit readily I think it does exist or somebody’d be asking how Obama expects to be a President and still a father, but I think it’s obvious enough that it’s more funny than harmful.

    Even tho Matthews seems to have lost the objectivity to see that… he was 100% correct to tell Pat to back off on protecting her. Palin is running for Vice President… she doesnt need protecting, if she wants to jump in the deep end she has to swim just like everyone else.

    I do however think she’s capable of doing so, and in fact swimming circles around her opposition. We don’t have to agree on that point… all we gotta do is watch the next 8 weeks and see how it plays out.

    Best wishes ~ R. Jones

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 6, 2008 | Reply

    Well, as a good conservative who believes in private property rights (which includes the right to decide who enters one’s property and who does not enter it and for what purposes and when), freedom of speech (which includes the right NOT to be forced to say a thing that one would not otherwise freely say) as well as the right to say what one would say, Oprah has every right to decide whether or not to invite politicians on to her show, to decide which politicians she has on her show, under what circumstances she has them on her show, etc. and it’s nobody’s business but her own what choices she makes in that regard.

    As it happens, she says that she has a policy of not having politicians on the show while they are actively campaigning. That’s her right. As far as I know, she has kept to that policy. It is true that she has had Barack Obama on her show but that was before he was campaigning for the presidency so, again, so far as I know, she has been consistent in her policy but I wouldn’t care if she had Obama and Biden on her show every week and never had McCain or Palin on her show. Who appears on her show and when is entirely within her rights to decide.

    Of course, if she DID have Obama and Biden appearing on her show while they are campaigning, she might have to report that as some sort of contribution to their campaign, I don’t know. What do you suppose a campaign appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show would be worth to a presidential campaign?

    Maybe I’m wrong on that count. I’m not a lawyer so don’t quote me and don’t clobber me. After all, I did say that she “MIGHT” have to report it, not that she would have to report it. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Don’t sue me, just tell me I’m wrong.

    My point is, Oprah is in charge of her property, the show, and of whatever happens on that show. I think she has a good policy and I applaud her for her consistency in its application. Bravo, Oprah!

  4. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    And I also agree with you, Windspike, that it IS unfortunate that it is so hard to lay off Palin since, as a purely political matter, every attack has seemed to serve only to endear Palin to the American people, make her more popular as a v-p pick among Republicans, served to make Republicans more excited about McCain’s presidential run, made them more likely to do the work that any successful campaign needs done to win and so forth. For the Democratic Party’s future chances at the White House, I recommend that every one of them check into the Betty Ford Center to break their addiction to throwing numb-skull attacks at Sarah Palin. What they need to do, every time the urge to say anything uncomplimentary about Palin or some member of her family, is to just say “NO!”. They may have occasion to thank themselves for it come November.

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    As for keeping Palin away from the press for a while, I think that’s a good idea. Look everyone in the country knows that she has limited experience. She’s been involved in State issues, not so much national issues or, certainly, foreign affairs issues. I’d just as soon give her a chance to go to school on these issues for a bit before being questioned on whether the head of the government of the Arab Emirates has been a good partner with the US in anti-terrorism issues and what not. I don’t expect her to know these things but I do expect her to be a quick study. I, for one, say, “Give her a chance” If, by the V-P debate, she doesn’t have at least a working knowledge of national issues and foreign affairs, then I say, rip into her and into McCain, too, to your heart’s content. By then, they’ll both deserve it.

    That’s just my personal opinion, of course. Mileage others experience from which may vary. :-D

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Of course their might be a downside to Oprah’s “no campaigning candidates on the show” policy: Her viewers seem to hate it. How much? Read their comments for yourself!

    All I can say is, “Wow!”

    Now maybe these are all plants from John McCain supporters that have flooded her comment section rather than Oprah’s faithful viewers but, man! These people WANT PALIN! They want her ON OPRAH! And they want her there NOW!

  7. By Daniel DiRito on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    I think Oprah ought to invite her on immediately as well…and then surprise her by having a panel of five members of the media with a laundry list of questions ready to ambush her.

    After all, if the GOP wants to play games with the media, why not play the same game. I’d love to see if Sarah would sit there and answer the questions or if her handlers would advise her to get up and walk out.

    It would be a great opportunity to see if she’s her own woman or a pawn in a cynical strategy.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Okay, it’s Zogby and it’s one poll but Zogby has McCain/Palin up over Obama/Biden by almost four percentage points (49.7% - McCain/Palin; 45.9 - Obama/Biden). The margin of error on this thing is +/- 2.1 so we’re outside the margin of error.

    Head to head, McCain-Obama, Zogby has McCain up by 3% (48.8% - McCain; 45.7% - Obama).

    McCain’s favorable numbers are up from 50% to 57% over-all and among independents, up from 49% to a whopping 61%! That’s gotta bite Obama’s ass.

    And dig: just 4% of respondents said they didn’t know enough about Palin to form an opinion. The last time the question was asked, only 23% said they knew enough about her.

    Thank. You. Very. Much. Liberals in the media and blogosphere! If life was fair, McCain/Palin would be sending you a great big check for services rendered. Problem is, they’ve hooked into the public campaign thingy so funds are gonna be tight in the race against Obama, who merely PROMISED to go with public funding for his campaign so I guess you’re all out of luck. Your attack campaign couldn’t have been more successful for McCain/Palin if it had been conducted by Karl Rove. :lol:

    But take the thanks for what it’s worth to you. It may be the only compensation you ever see.

  9. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply


    Oddly enough, I agree! I still think it should be a while down the road but I think it should happen.

  10. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    And Rasmussen has something interesting to report, too! They have Obama up by 1% over McCain (3% when leaners are added) but the interesting thing (I mean aside from McCain being essentially neck and neck at this point in the campaign) is that the advantage Obama has among women has been cut in half. He still leads McCain among women by 7% but last time it was by 14%. That cannot be the direction Obama would HOPE to see that demographic CHANGE. [I'm just having WAY too much fun tonight!]

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Another interesting Rasmussen item. Obama’s supporters are still more excited and revved-up about their candidate than McCain supporters are about their’s (77% - Obama; 65% - McCain) but the interesting thing is, before the Convention, McCain’s ‘excitement’ number was just 54% so if anyone asks you whether the Republican Convention had any positive effect on the race for the Republican ticket, I guess the only honest answer would have to be, “Yes, dammit!”

  12. By manapp99 on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    I think Oprah should call the GOP’s bluff and put Sarah on. If as Daniel asserts that the GOP did not really want her to do an interview with “O” but just wanted the issue then by all means Oprah should have her on and not continue being a shill for the GOP.
    I especially like the idea of having 5 members of the media ambush her. Perhaps you could have Olbermann be the lead attack dog. This would absolutely cement the idea that the liberal elite media is just attacking her and would give the McCain/Palin ticket a bounce in the polls. Americans love the underdog and hate the attack on a woman. Remember how Hillary used that to her advantage in the NY senate race?

    Daniel, your lamenting of the GOP out manuvering the Dems with stragedy sounds like a football coach saying “it’s just not fair. We had the better team but they just out coached us”. Waaaaaaaaaaa

  13. By Daniel DiRito on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply


    Last time I checked, Obama beat Hillary…so using your logic, I guess the “attack on a woman” must have worked.

    Sarah Palin may have come out strong, but let’s wait and see how she does now that the pre-game trash talk is over.

    I’m not lamenting anything…I’m simply pointing out the GOP’s strategy. Perhaps I’m wrong, but the example you’re giving presumes the game has ended. One isn’t “out coached” until the buzzer sounds. In fact, I suspect this game is just getting started.

    I think you’re counting your pit bulls before the dog catcher has arrived. bwahahaha


  14. By manapp99 on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Daniel, I was referring to the Clinton/Lazio campaign in NY for senate. Obama was very careful not repeat that mistake and did not attack Clinton directly the way Lazio did. The media did in no way go after Clinton the way they did Palin so that is not applicable either.

    Sarah’s choice by McCain was brilliant in that it took the wind out of the sails of the Obama speech. Then the media attacked and we had to wait and see how she would do in her roll out at the convention. She did great so now we have to wait and see how she does in the debates. If she scores a knockout there your team is in real trouble. If Joe Biden wipes the floor with her then our side suffers. If it is a draw, Sarah wins by beating the low expectations assisned to her. She is going to enter the debate as an underdog.

    Like your wish for more interviews. I am all for it. If she handles herself well then it is more positive reinforcement of her image as tough. If she is grilled, it could come off as the media picking on her. Remember the polls show that the majority of Americans DO believe that the media has been unfair with her. Perception is reality in politics.

    I agree that the game is not over it is more like in the third quarter. Like the superbowl last year the heavily favored team is winning by a small margin at this time but the underdog is holding his own in a time when the score should be far higher in the favor of the Dems.

    I am not counting anything at this time. I am reflecting that the GOP is in a far better position at this stage of the game than I would have believed possible 6 months ago.
    For the first time I actually believe that McCain could pull out the upset and the choice of Palin has largely made this possible.

    The choice of Biden for Obama was equally as calculated as he needed the experience element added to his ticket. Gravitas anyone? Can you say Dick Cheney? All choices are clearly political. Many speculated that Obama made a stratigic blunder when he did not pick Hillary. We shall see.

    You may not be lamenting yet…..

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Uh oh…The American people are completely jumping the shark. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, McCain-Palin ‘08 is at 50% and Obama/Biden ‘08 are at 46%. Just thought y’all’d like to know. The wheels seem to be coming off the Obama’s limo to the White House.

    Of course seven weeks plus is a long time but I can’t imagine Axelrod can have imagined that Obama would be behind after the two conventions. I can’t imagine Obama can be pleased with Axelrod at this point. They’d better come up with a winning strategy to deal with Palin/McCain ‘08 but they don’t seem to have hit upon one yet.

  16. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    From the same poll, McCain has chopped Obama’s lead on the issue of the economy from 19% to 3%. This is even more startling: among those most likely to vote, McCain/Palin are up 10 percentage points, 54% - 44%.

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Guess what? Sarah Palin fought three big oil companies, Dick Cheney, Alaska’s US Senator Ted Stevens and pressure from other Republican big-wigs over an oil pipe-line…

    and she won!

  18. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    “Nancy Palin 2012: Good for Alaska; Good for Our Country!”

  19. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Also, remember when Rolling Stone was saying that George W. Bush had destroyed the Republican brand? [Actually, that's right now, even as I type] Well, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, party identification with Democrats and Republicans are now even. Okay, Dems have a one point lead but it’s within the margin of error so the two are essentially equal.

    If George W. Bush killed the elephant, Sarah Palin appears to have brought it back to life!

  20. By steve on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    But Craig, reality has a known liberal bias… I am calling shenanigans on you! How can you be posting the truth?

  21. By manapp99 on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    “From the same poll, McCain has chopped Obama’s lead on the issue of the economy from 19% to 3%.”

    This is what probably caused Obama to “nuance” his postition on taxing the rich.

    “WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama says he would delay rescinding President Bush’s tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy.”

    So raising taxes on the rich hurts the economy?
    Hmmmmm where have we heard that before.

  22. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Sarah Palin: Feminist:

    “To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time,” she said, “I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.”

    Sarah Palin is a human being, at least as she’s presented in this balanced New York Times article. Who knew?

    Now that it seems clear that Sarah Palin will not be “Eagletoned”, there are some reporters out there taking a more adult look at her…and discover how a mother governs.

    Or should that be, how a governor mothers?

    I don’t know yet whether she has the chops to be a vice-president and possible president but one thing I don’t worry about: how a woman with five children, the youngest a baby with trisomy 21, could fill the job. She’ll do it the same way she’s handled being governor of Alaska: pretty darn well!

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply


    It’s an ugly, loathsome job but someone’s gotta do it. ;-)

  24. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply


    Yup. That’s the thing about economics: it doesn’t care what your politics are. Economics isn’t liberal or conservative; it IS reality.

  25. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    And if Barack Obama can’t even negotiate with Hillary Clinton, a member of his own political party, to go out there and fight back Palin-mania, how on earth can anyone imagine he’ll be able to negotiate a “no nuclear weapons program” agreement with Iran’s “A world without Israel” Ahmadinejad, Russia’s Putin, or North Korea’s Kim Jung Il?

    “We’re not going to be anybody’s attack dog against Sarah Palin,” a Clinton insider said yesterday.

  26. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Sarah Palin: bulldog fighter against government corruption, even within her own party!

    ANCHORAGE — Three years ago, when a Democratic state legislator tried to get bipartisan support for investigating charges of unethical conduct by a senior Republican official, only one member of the GOP answered the call: Sarah Palin.

    Palin pursued the allegations — as well as ethics charges against another top GOP official — so vigorously that both had to leave office.

    Thus spake traditional GOP lap-dog, Los Angeles Times. Anyone remember Rezco and how Obama helped take him down? Oh wait…I guess I’m thinking of someone else.

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Oops, forgot the link to the LATimes article.

  28. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    An interesting article from Great Britain’s Telegraph. Here’s my favorite part but it’s all great:

    The surprise is not that she has been in office for such a short time but that she has succeeded in each of her objectives. She has exposed corruption; given the state a bigger share in Alaska’s energy wealth; and negotiated a deal involving big corporate players, the US and Canadian governments, Canadian provincial governments, and native tribes - the result of which was a £13 billion deal to launch the pipeline and increase the amount of domestic energy available to consumers. This deal makes the charge of having “no international experience” particularly absurd.

    “[P]articularly absurd” — a good phrase to describe most of the criticisms leveled at Sarah Palin over the last week and a half.

  29. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    So what international experience, exactly, does Barack Obama have? No, I don’t mean what committees has he sat on (however briefly) but what has he DONE, what DEALINGS has he had with other governments? What has he accomplished on the international field of politics? Does Barack Obama REALLY have the kind of experience he needs to step into the Oval Office on day one? I don’t think so.

    Maybe Sarah Palin isn’t the small-town bumpkin we’ve been led to expect. We’ll see.

  30. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    If this is even remotely an accurate reflection of independents’ preferences, Obama’s gotta be going nuts! Independents now prefer McCain over Obama by 52% to 37%, a 15% lead. Wasn’t it Obama, the gently-left-leaning centrist that was supposed to unite this country? And if Obama really were basically a centrist, wouldn’t he have the independents locked up by now?

    Gotta tell you, I’m still having fun. I’m not sure even that I’ll vote in this election and Palin is the reason because I’m not convinced that she is ready to be stepping into the presidency if McCain should be unable to finish his term of office but it may be that McCain-Palin may not need my vote in November to beat Obama.


  31. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    Oops. Here’s the link to the previous comment of mine.

  32. By Craig R. Harmon on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    And this cannot be the kind of articles Obama wants to see in the msm.

    After just a week, Palin is as popular as either Obama or McCain. White women in particular express favorable views of the Alaska governor, according to a newly released Washington Post-ABC News poll. Positive ratings of her spike to 80 percent among white women with children at home and among white women who are evangelical Protestants.

    The percentage of white women with “strongly favorable” opinions of McCain jumped 12 percentage points from before the parties’ national conventions. And nearly six in 10 white women in the new poll said McCain’s selection of Palin increased their confidence in the decisions he would make if elected. In the Post-ABC poll, it is white women who helped McCain erase Obama’s late-August advantage and seriously cut into the Democratic nominee’s lead as the one who would bring more to Washington.

    Someone’s off message!

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