Public image and reception of Sarah Palin

Public image and reception of Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, was nominated as the first woman candidate of the Republican Party for Vice President of the United States. Her image came under close media scrutiny, [cite web|url= |title=McCain takes stage, turns down heat - The Boston Globe | |date= |accessdate=2008-10-05] [cite news|url= |title=Alaska delegates see more Republican convention attention | |author=Rena Delbridge |date=September 3, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] particularly regarding her religious perspective on public life, her socially conservative political preferences, and her lack of experience, following the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC). Palin's inexperience in foreign and domestic politics came under fireJohn F. Harris and Beth Frerking. [ "Clinton aides: Palin treatment sexist"] ; Politico, Sept 11, 2008] among conservativescite web|url= |title=Palin |last=Frum|first=David |authorlink=David Frum |date=2008-08-29 |publisher=National Review Online |accessdate=2008-08-31] [ [ Noonan, Murphy trash Palin on hot mike: 'It's over'] , by Ben Smith, 3 September 2008.] cite web|url= |title=Announcement stuns, splits Alaska political world: Politics|work =Anchorage Daily News |author=Sean Cockerham and Wesley Loy|accessdate=2008-08-30] [cite web|url=|title=McCain Defends Sarah Palin as Some Alaskans Question His Choice|publisher=Bloomberg|accessdate=2008-08-31] [George Will. [ "Impulse, Meet Experience"] ; Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2008] as well as liberalsBritt Collins. [ "Sarah Palin: The ice queen; Sarah Palin, the Republican party's vice-president nominee, governs an oil-rich area that has seen some of the most dramatic effects of climate change. So what's her record on environmental concerns?"] The Guardian, Sept. 17, 2008] following her nomination.

Conservative commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, argued that Palin was subjected to unreasonable media coverage, [cite web|url= |title=Republicans point fingers at media over Palin coverage |publisher=The Boston Globe |author=Lisa Wangsness |date=September 5, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] and a Rasmussen survey showed that slightly more than half of Americans believed that the press was "trying to hurt" Palin with negative coverage. [cite news | author= BRIAN M. CARNEY | url= | title=What Sarah Knows | work = The Wall Street Journal | date=2008-09-07 | accessdate=2008-09-07]

A poll taken by Rasmussen Reports just after the RNC in the first week of September found that Palin was temporarily slightly more popular than either Barack Obama or John McCain, [cite web| url= | title=Palin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular Than Obama, McCain | publisher=Rasmussen Reports | date=2008-09-05 | accessdate=2008-09-07] however this soon reversed, with "Newsweek" commenting, "Over the course of a single weekend... Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least." [Andrew Romano. [ "Palin's Favorability Ratings Begin to Falter"] ; Newsweek, Sept. 16, 2008] After announcing Palin as the presumptive vice-presidential nominee, the McCain campaign received $7 million in contributions in a single day, [ cite news |first=Matthew |last=Mosk |title=McCain Gets $7 Million Bounce from Palin Pick |url= |publisher=The Washington Post |date=2008-08-30 |accessdate=2008-08-31 ] and the Obama campaign garnered more than $8 million by the next day. [MICHAEL LUO. [ "In August, Obama Donations Shatter Records"] ; New York Times, September 21, 2008]


Before the RNC, a Gallup poll found that most voters were unfamiliar with Sarah Palin, and 39 percent said she is qualified to serve as president if needed, while 33 percent said she is not prepared to fulfill vice presidential duties, thus having "the lowest rating any running mate has had since then-Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle was selected in 1988 to join George H.W. Bush's team." [ By contrast, 57 percent of voters rated Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as qualified just after Obama selected him, while 18 percent said he was not. [ POLLS: VOTERS DOUBT PALIN’S QUALIFICATIONS WHILE OBAMA EXPANDS LEAD"] ;, August 30, 2008]

On ABC News, McCain said Palin "has been in charge and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," [Richard Lardner. [ "Palin's national guard faces a crisis in personnel"] ; Yahoo News (Associated Press), Sept. 4, 2008] in reference to her gubernatorial oversight of the National Guard. The following have been characteristics cited as an ingredients in McCain's conclusion that Palin is qualified to become vice president of the United States: "'She has experience not only in politics but in life,' former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee said Sunday on CNN...'She's a mother of five children... And she has more experience than Barack Obama.' Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina: 'Governor Palin took on Ted Stevens. If she can take him on, she can take on the Russians'... Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: 'Palin is commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard.' The state's Guard has about 4,000 members. From McCain's wife, Cindy, came a geographic assessment of qualification: 'Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So, it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here.'"Ted Anthony. [ "Alaska National Guard General: Palin Plays No Role In National Defense Activities Even When They Involve The Alaska National Guard"] ; Huffington Post, August 31, 2008]

Various reporters and pundits have noted that while Obama spent almost twelve years in office, all of them as a lawmaker (including eight years as an Illinois state senator and nearly four as a U.S. senator), Palin spent ten of her twelve years as a city council member and mayor, recently followed by almost two as governor. Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek" wrote, soon after the nomination, "So you've picked a running mate who a year and a half ago was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of about 7,000 people. You've selected a potential leader of the free world who knows little or nothing about the major issues of the day beyond energy. Oh, and she's being probed in her state for abuse of power." [Jonathan Alter. [ "McCain's ‘Hail Sarah’ Pass"] ; Newsweek, Aug 29, 2008] National Jewish Democratic Council head Ira Forman said McCain's pick reveals a "lack of judgement" and that "In Governor Sarah Palin McCain chooses a running mate with zero foreign policy experience and a brewing scandal which is being investigated by the Alaska state legislature."Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press. [ "Jewish Democrats: Palin is out of step with Jewish public opinion"] ; Haaretz, 01/09/2008] An Alaska headline focused on her status as “Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?”

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer opined: "Palin is an admirable and formidable woman. She has energized the Republican base and single-handedly unified the Republican convention behind McCain. She performed spectacularly in her acceptance speech. Nonetheless, the choice of Palin remains deeply problematic...The gamble is enormous. In a stroke, McCain gratuitously forfeited his most powerful argument against Obama. And this was even before Palin's inevitable liabilities began to pile up -- inevitable because any previously unvetted neophyte has 'issues.' The kid. The state trooper investigation. And worst, the paucity of any Palin record or expressed conviction on the major issues of our time." [Charles Krauthammer. [ "Palin's Problem"] ; Washington Post, Friday, September 5, 2008; Page A21]

Fellow conservative columnist George Will dubbed Palin "a person of negligible experience" and expressed skepticism about her suitability for high office. [George Will. [ "Impulse, Meet Experience"] ; Washington Post, Wednesday, September 3, 2008]

"New York Times" columnist David Brooks suggested on "Face the Nation", "Do people want a risky president? The pluses and minuses are huge in this pick, and that's why we're talking about it.” [ [ "Giuliani: Palin More Qualified Than Obama"] ; Face the Nation, CBS, Aug. 31, 2008] American-Israeli Bradley Burston of the Israeli Daily "Haaretz" wrote: "What is certainly scary about Sarah Palin is how little that voters know about her", adding, "the nation may be in danger of electing another leader bearing the most profound of George Bush's shortcomings: blindness to one's own shortcomings.". [Bradley Burston. [ "What is truly frightening about Sarah Palin"] ; Haaretz, 16/09/2008]

Conservative commentator David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has been vocal in his criticism of Palin's fitness for office, stating: "I think she has pretty thoroughly -- and probably irretrievably -- proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States." [Adam Nagourney. [ "Concerns About Palin's Readiness as Big Test Nears"] ; New York Times, Tuesday, September 30, 2008]

Foreign policy experience

In an interview with Charles Gibson of ABC News, Palin cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of her foreign policy experience, for which she was critiqued heavily in the press, culminating in a satire on Saturday Night Live. Palin later responded to Saturday Night Live's mockery of her position on Russia ("I can see Russia from my house!") in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, reiterating, "Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada". When asked by Couric, "Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials," Palin answered:

"Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of....We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state."

Statements such as the ones made during her CBS interview prompted calls for Palin to step aside from the ticket, for instance from her early supporter, right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker, who commented on the National Review: "As we've seen and heard more from John' McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion...It was fun while it lasted. Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League." ["Poll shows Palin might be losing some of her luster", "Boston Globe," September 27, 2008] A wide range of media sources have charged Sarah Palin with demonstrating a further lack of knowledge in foreign policy issues by calling the Russian invasion of Georgia 'unprovoked', [cite web|accessdate=2008-09-15|url=|title=Georgia Offers Fresh Evidence on War’s Start|publisher=The New York Times] and for not knowing the definition of the Bush Doctrine. [cite web|accessdate=2008-09-15|url=|title=Palin's ABC Interview: Stumped On Bush Doctrine|publisher=The Huffington Post]

Perceptions of Palin's political positions

Oil and the environment

Kassie Siegel of the Centre for Biological Diversity says that, despite the fact that climate change has shrunk Arctic summer sea ice to about 40 per cent less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000, Palin ignores overwhelming evidence of global warming, adding, "Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming...The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this." Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican War on Science", saying: "The irony of a climate change denier being based in Alaska is breathtaking. The state is warming faster than practically anywhere else, with winter temperatures up by 6F since 1950." Trish Rolfe, of Sierra Club Alaska, says, "The governor pays lip service to the issue of global warming but denies it is man made. She will not even spend money to help the Inupiaq villages which are about to fall into the sea," adding, "The idea that she stands up to the oil companies is a joke." [Leonard Doyle. [ "Palin: the real scandal"] ; The Independent, Sept. 6, 2008]

In Greenpeace's view, "Palin has the most anti-environment records of any governor in the US. She has supported oil drilling in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Alaska, even when it meant sacrificing polar bears and beluga whales." The President of Friends of the Earth-US, Brent Blackwelder, laments, "She has been a friend of Big Oil, opposing a windfall profits tax on the oil industry that could fund affordable clean energy for more Americans. Oh, and Palin's husband works for BP" (British Petroleum).

In response to Palin's decision to sue the federal government regarding the recent listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, with the state of Alaska claiming that the listing would adversely affect energy development in the bears' habitat off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts, Siegel commented, "The amazing thing about this litigation is that the governor of Alaska is so anti-environmental that she is suing the Bush administration over a claimed overabundance of protections for the polar bear." [Lyderson, Kari [ "Oil Group Joins Alaska in Suing To Overturn Polar Bear Protection"] The Washington Post, August 31, 2008]

Religion in public life

After the RNC, Palin's religious views concerning the teaching of creationism in schools, abortion, and multiple other issues, came under increasing scrutiny in the media. [Alexi Mostrous. [ Sarah Palin, the pastor and the prophecy: judgment day is not far away"] ; Times Online, September 10, 2008] [ [ "Pastor: GOP may be downplaying Palin's religious beliefs"] ; CNN, September 12, 2008] Steve Benen. [ "Palin's beliefs draw closer scrutiny"] "Washington Monthly," September 9, 2008] Palin spoke to a group of graduating ministry students at her former church, where she urged them to pray "that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God", [ [] (video)] and in the same remarks asserted that "God's will" was responsible for the Alaskan national gas pipeline project. [Charlie Gibson. [ "Republican VP Candidate Speaks with ABC News' Charlie Gibson in Exclusive Interview"] ; ABC, Sept. 11, 2008, Excerpt, p.1]

In her talk at the Pentecostal Assembly of God Church, she stated, “Believe me,” she said, “I know what I am saying — where God has sent me, from underneath the umbrella of this church, throughout the state.” [cite news | url= | title=In Palin’s Life and Politics, Goal to Follow God’s Will | first=Kirk | last=Johnson | coauthors=Severson, Kim | publisher=The New York Times | date=September 6, 2008 | accessdate=2008-09-08] In light of these comments, a Washington Post opinion writer asked, "Palin, given her public comments, should answer a few reasonable questions: Does she believe in the separation of church and state? Is she comfortable with a government that remains entirely neutral on matters of faith?" Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, lamented, "The United States is increasingly diverse religiously. The job of a president is to unify all those different people and bring them together around policy goals, not to act as a kind of national pastor and bring people to God." [Gene Johnson. [ "Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'"] ; AP, Sept. 3, 2008]

According to Steven Waldman of Beliefnet, Palin signed a Christian Heritage Week resolution which "plucked Founding Fathers quotes way out of context to misleadingly imply they were devout Christians" a technique which he says in many other cases has been used "to promote the argument that America was created to be a Christian nation, and separation of church and state is a myth." Juan Cole calls Palin a theocrat and says that her values "more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers." [Juan Cole. [ "What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick. A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian."] Salon, September 12, 2008] Palin has suggested that her work as governor would be hampered "if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God," which Waldman says ascribes religious explanations for policy outcomes, and "makes assessing her performance nearly impossible. If she stumbles, it’s our fault."Waldman, Steven. [ “The Passion of Palin: Separating Real Concerns From the Hysteria”] , "Wall Street Journal" (2008-09-09).]

The London "Times" has called attention to her former pastor's apocalyptic religious perspective, and the Miami Herald cited a recent sermon attended by Palin in which she nodded in agreement with her former pastor's statement, "I believe Alaska is one of the 'refuge states' -- come on, you guys -- in the Last Days...And hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to this state to seek refuge. And the church has to be ready to minister to them."Beth Reinhard. [ "Palin could rob McCain of Jewish vote"] ; Miami Herald, Sept. 13 2008] [Alexi Mostrous. [ Sarah Palin, the pastor and the prophecy: judgment day is not far away"] ; Times Online, September 10, 2008]

After the RNC, the McCain campaign told CNN that Palin "doesn't consider herself Pentecostal," raising questions in the media about whether she was downplaying her faith.

A Rassmussen poll taken right after the RNC found that Palin was a draw with Catholic voters; the poll found that 54% favor Palin and 42% find her unfavorable, a 12% difference, while Joe Biden was viewed favorably by 49% to 47%. [cite web| url= | title=Zogby Poll: Republicans Hold Small Post-Convention Edge | publisher=Zogby | date=2008-09-06 | accessdate=2008-09-07]

Jewish perceptions

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks commented, "As governor of Alaska, Palin has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Alaska's Jewish community. She has demonstrated sensitivity to the concerns of the community and has been accessible and responsive." The Republican Jewish Coalition publishes a page on its website debunking what it calls "smears" about Sarah Palin, as well as an endorsement from Governor Linda Lingle, Hawaii's first Jewish and first female governor. [] Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira N. Forman said, "The gulf between Palin's public policy positions and the American Jewish community is best illustrated by the fact that the Christian Coalition of America was one of the strongest advocates of her selection."

The Democratic Party issued a release quoting U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) who has long supported Barack Obama saying that McCain's pick of Palin was a "direct affront to all Jewish Americans" because of reports of Palin's past associations with Pat Buchanan, [ [ "McCain camp rejects Buchanan claims"] ; JTA News, Sept. 9. 2008] a connection which emerged in late August 2008. [Christopher Hayes. [ "Sarah Palin, Buchananite"] ; The Nation, August 29,2008] Palin wore a Buchanan button at a rally for the Republican politician, who has been known to be critical of American policy during World War II.Patrick Buchanan: [ A lesson in tyranny too soon forgotten] , "Chicago Tribune" August 25, 1977, Section 3, page 3] [ [ People | Pat Buchanan: America first ] ] [ttp://] During the RNC Buchanan told Chris Mathews of NBC, that Palin "was a brigadier in 1996 as was her husband ... they were at a fundraiser for me, she's a terrific gal, she's a rebel reformer." [Jake Tapper. [ "McCain Camp Denies that Sarah Palin was a member of the Buchanan brigades in the 1990s"] ; ABC News, August 30, 2008] The McCain campaign expressed the belief that Palin had never campaigned for Buchanan. [Marc Caputo. [ "Obama camp connects the dots for Jews: McCain...Palin...Buchanan..."Nazis""] ; MiamiHerald, August 30, 2008] The year of the rally, Palin wrote a letter to the local paper's editor saying she'd worn the Buchanan button there "as a polite gesture of respect. Though no reporter interviewed me for the Associated Press article on the recent visit by a presidential candidate, the article may have left your readers with the perception that I am endorsing this candidate, as opposed to welcoming his visit to Wasilla. As mayor, I will welcome all the candidates in Wasilla." [cite web|url= |title=First thoughts: Split-screen convention | |author=Domenico Montanaro |date=August 31, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] According to The Associated Press, news reports said that Palin had supported Steve Forbes in 2000 and not Buchanan. [ [ ] dead link|date=October 2008]

Palin also came under fire after her church hosted Jews for Jesus founder David Brickner, who suggested that terrorist attacks on Israelis were God's judgment against Jews who have not accepted Christianity: "Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it." [Ben Smith. [ "Palin attended Anti-Jewish sermon given by Jews for Jesus founder 2 weeks ago"] ; Israelenews, March, 9, 2008] A campaign spokesman acknowledged Palin was in the audience but did not know Brickner would be speaking, insisting, "Governor Palin does not share the views he expressed, and she and her family would not have been sitting in the pews of this church for the last seven years if his remarks were even remotely typical."Michelle Boorstein. [ "Sarah Palin: Good for the Jews?"] ; Washington Post, Sept. 5, 2008] Beth Reinhard of the "Miami Herald" offered, "but she could have walked out or raised questions later." The Anti-Defamation League said it had no problem with Palin's attending a church that also hosted the Jews for Jesus leader, although it "has in the past accused Jews for Jesus of deception."

Women's issues

Ruth Mandel of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University pointed out, “The first image here [of Palin] was: This is a woman who is a wife and a mother, and let us tell you about her family...If they want the country to see her in a different way, and if they want the children and the family to be off-limits, they have to reframe it. You can’t have it both ways.” President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Kim Gandy offered, "The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No."Jon Nichols. [ "Clinton Praises Palin Pick"] ; The Nation, August 30, 2008]

A spokesperson at the NOW said, “She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues. Very disappointing." However, NOW President Kim Gandy disputed this comment, contending it does not reflect NOW's policy or position. "The Independent" reports, "The feminist organisation almost never supports a presidential candidate, but the Alaska governor's Christian fundamentalist faith and her opposition to abortion rights has forced its hand."Leonard Doyle. [ 'Hillary's women' reject McCain's VP choice"] ; The Independent 17 September 2008] Gandy explained, "as the chair of NOW's Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic 'No.' We recognize the importance of having women's rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women's rights". The neo-conservative magazine the "Weekly Standard" responded, "the old-fashioned feminists have fallen back on the old theme of false consciousness; that women who don't agree with them aren't really women at all."Noemie Emery. [ "The Palin Effect "] ; Weekly Standard, September 2008, Volume 014, Issue 03]

In mid-September of 2008 "The Independent" reported, "a Welcome Home rally for Mrs Palin was dwarfed by a demonstration organised by Alaska Women Reject Palin". Approximately one thousand protesters convened to express their opposition, the largest political rally by Alaskans in recent memory according to the "Anchorage Daily News." [SEAN COCKERHAM. [ "Anti-Palin activists stage their own rally"] ; Anchorage Daily News, September 14th, 2008]

The "Weekly Standard" noted, "Google the phrase 'Palin's pick is insulting to women,' and you come up with 943,000 entries. Is this a plot or a stunning coincidence? Or possibly both?"

Teen pregnancy

According to a CBN blog, Evangelicals are unlikely to turn against Palin regarding her daughter's conception of a child outside of wedlock: "First they hear that Sarah Palin chooses the life option even though she had a Downs Syndrome baby and once again the family (and Bristol) has chosen the life option in this recent case... Will there be some turned off by the whole pre-marital sex thing? Of course but this type of story doesn't sink her at all with Evangelicals." [ [ "Palin’s 17-Year-Old Daughter is Pregnant"] ; CBN News, The Brody File, September 1, 2008] Evangelical leader Richard Land said of Palin's seventeen year-old daughter's pregnancy, "Those who criticize the Palin family don’t understand that we don’t see babies as a punishment but as a blessing." [cite news |first=Rebecca |last=Sinderbrand |title=Evangelicals rally behind Palin after pregnancy news |url= | |date=September 2, 2008 |accessdate=2008-09-19 ]

Bill O'Reilly expressed support for Palin: "As long as society doesn't have to support the mother, father or baby, it is a personal matter." On the other hand, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" portrayed Palin's statement that she is proud of her daughter's "choice" to have her child as hypocritical. [David Edwards and Nick Juliano. [ "Daily Show skewers right wing hypocrisy following Palin nomination"] Rawstory; Sept. 4 2008]

In an article entitled, "Palin's Handling of Other People's Pregnant Teens", regarding Palin's cuts to a transitional home for teenage mothers, "The New Republic" wrote, "a politician who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and who opposes comprehensive sex education should be at the forefront of championing support systems that make it easier for young mothers to keep their babies...Pro-life conservatives have for years faced accusations by abortion-rights activists that they only give a damn about a woman and her baby until the moment that baby is born...Palin's rough handling of Passage House does nothing to combat that unfortunate image." [TNR staff. [ Palin's Handling of Other People's Pregnant Teens"] ; The New Republic, Sept. 3, 2008]

Hillary Clinton

"Hillary is missing in action from the Palin--hating brigade", opines a writer at the "Weekly Standard." Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton referred to Palin's VP nomination as "historic," [ [ "Palin Thinks Obama Regrets Not Choosing Clinton for VP"] ; ET, Sept. 12, 2008] stating, ""We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin's historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain...While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate." Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin expressed a different view: "To the extent that this choice represents an effort to court supporters of Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy, McCain misjudges the reasons so many voters rallied around her candidacy. It was Senator Clinton's experience, skill and commitment to change, especially in the areas of health care and energy policy, that drew such strong support. Sarah Palin's opposition to Roe v. Wade and her support of big oil will not draw Democrats from the Obama-Biden ticket." [Jon Nichols. [ "Clinton Praises Palin Pick"] ; The Nation, August 30, 2008] President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Kim Gandy said "What McCain does not understand is that women supported Hillary Clinton not just because she was a woman, but because she was a champion on their issues. They will surely not find Sarah Palin to be an advocate for women."

Palin and Clinton have been compared and contrasted with one another in the media. A "New York Times" article explains, "Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Palin have little in common beyond their breakout performances at the conventions and the soap opera aspects of their family lives. Mrs. Clinton always faces high expectations; Ms. Palin faced low expectations this week, and benefited from them. Mrs. Clinton can seem harsh when she goes on the attack; Ms. Palin has shown a knack for attacking without seeming nasty. Mrs. Clinton has a lot of experience; Ms. Palin, not so much. Mrs. Clinton is pantsuits; Ms. Palin is skirts." [Patrick Healey. [ "The Real ’08 Fight: Clinton v. Palin?"] ; New York Times, Sept. 5, 2008] Guy Cecil, the former political director of Mrs. Clinton's campaign, said it was "insulting" for Republicans to compare Ms. Palin to Mrs. Clinton". [ [ "Clinton Advisers: Palin Pick Means Bigger Role For Hillary"] ; Huffington Post, Sept. 1, 2008] The Saturday Night Live skit "A Nonpartisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin & Senator Hillary Clinton" counterpoised Palin, played by Tina Fey, against a caricature of Hillary Clinton. Fey presented Palin as unversed in global politics, as emphasized by the line: "I can see Russia from my house". Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and current McCain advisor Carly Fiorina blasted the Saturday Night Live sketch in a television interview: "They were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," [ [ "Palin imitators flood YouTube with mocking videos"] ; AFP, Sept. 17, 2008] and an ABC news blog headline soon after ran, "Now the McCain Campaign's Complaining that Saturday Night Live Skit Was 'Sexist'". [Jake Tapper. [ "Now the McCain Campaign's Complaining that Saturday Night Live Skit Was 'Sexist'"] ; ABC, September 17, 2008]

In mid September 2008, a flurry of articles circulated announcing that "Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin plan to appear next week at the same rally in New York City – perhaps the closest the two history-making women will be to each other before Election Day." [ [ "Clinton, Palin to Find Common Ground at Iran Protest"] ; Foxnews, September 16, 2008] However, Clinton pulled out of her scheduled appearance at the rally protesting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when she found out Palin would also be there. [ [ "Clinton cancels appearance over Palin"] ; CNN, September 17, 2008] "Clinton decided not to attend because she did not want to take part in a "partisan political event," her aide said. Soon after, organizers of the rally in New York withdrew their invitation to Palin. [Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters. [ "Sarah Palin blames 'Democrat partisans' for withdrawn invitation to anti-Iran rally"] ; Haaretz, 20-09-2008]


An Ohio-based gun association writes: "Unlike Mitt Romney, who helped pass an "assault weapons" ban in Massachusetts, and only decided to join the NRA when it was time to run for President, Palin is a life-long NRA member. Unlike John Kerry, who thought he could fool hunters with a late election season Ohio goose kill, Palin has been a big animal hunter since she was a child...In seeking to assuage the concerns of gun owners about his spotty record on guns and rally them to the polls, John McCain couldn't have made a better choice." [Chad D. Baus. [ "Morale problem solved: Sarah invigorates army of pro-gun voters"] ; Buckeye firearms association, 09/05/2008 - 00:10. National Politics NRA News] In its brief, "Sarah Palin and Joe Biden: Worlds Apart", the National Rifle Association says nothing specific about Palin's position on gun legislation but concludes: "Gov. Sarah Palin would be one of the most pro-gun vice-presidents in American history." [ [ "Sarah Palin and Joe Biden: Worlds Apart"] ; National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action, 8/29/2008]

Perceptions of Palin's political style

Approach to campaigning

Carson City, Nevada on September 13, 2008.]

Palin has increasingly been accused of dissimulation in her approach to campaigning. The "Washington Post" reported that "critics, the news media and nonpartisan fact checkers have called [Palin's claim] a fabrication or, at best, a half-truth." [ [ As Campaign Heats Up, Untruths Can Become Facts Before They're Undone] , by Jonathan Weisman. Published in the "Washington Post" on 10 September 2008; accessed 10 September 2008.] An "Associated Press" writer reported, "Day after day she said she had told Congress "no thanks" to the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, a rural Alaska project that was abandoned when critics challenged its costs and usefulness. For nearly a week, major news outlets had documented that Palin supported the bridge [cite web | url= | title=Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin | publisher=2008 Republican National Convention | date=2008-09-03 | accessdate=2008-09-08] [cite web|url= |title=Palin Defends 'Bridge to Nowhere' Claims|publisher=The Washington Post|accessdate=2008-09-11: "In her nomination acceptance speech and on the campaign trail, Palin has often said: "I told the Congress 'thanks, but no thanks,' for that Bridge to Nowhere."] [cite news|url= |title=The Politics of the 'Bridge to Nowhere' | work=Stumper | publisher="Newsweek" | author=Romano, Andrew | date=2008-09-08 | accessdate=2008-09-08: Although Palin was originally a main proponent of the Gravina Island Bridge, McCain-Palin television advertisements claim Palin "stopped the Bridge to Nowhere".These claims have been widely questioned or described as misleading in several newspapers across the political spectrum.] [Proxy-Connection: keep-aliveCache-Control: max-age=0] when running for governor in 2006, noting that she turned against it only after it became an object of ridicule in Alaska and a symbol of Congress's out-of-control earmarking... (The campaign) equated lawmakers' requests for money for special projects with corruption, even though Palin has sought millions of dollars in such 'earmarks' this year. It produced an Internet ad implying that Obama had called Palin a pig when he used a familiar phrase, which McCain also has used, about putting 'lipstick on a pig' to try to make a bad situation look better. McCain supporters said Obama was slyly alluding to Palin's description of herself as a pit bull in lipstick, but there was nothing in his remarks to support the claim." [CHARLES BABINGTON. [ "Analysis: McCain's claims skirt facts, test voters"] ; Associated Press Writer, Times Tribune, Sep 12, 2008]

A "Washington Post" writer noted, "every day, the McCain campaign brays anew with over-the-top indignation at 'the outrageous attacks' on Palin's family", and speculated, "lacking ideas, programs or values -- John McCain and Sarah Palin are running for the White House on an elaborate fictional narrative of victimhood. Their supposed persecutors are Democrats and the news media, and the aim of this whole charade is to keep Americans from talking about ideas, programs and values." [Eugene Robinson. A15 [ "The Scream Machine"] ; Washington Post, September 12, 2008] A CBS News reporter commented that "Palin has devoted a significant portion of every one of her stump speeches in recent days to lamenting that the 'filter of the mainstream media' has not given her a chance to do what she really wants to do: talk about the issues. But in filter-free forums across the country, Palin continues to speak in generalities about where she and John McCain want to take the country, calling for tax cuts, winning the wars, and reforming government, while providing very few details on how she would accomplish those goals." [Scott Conroy in [] ] In addition to victimhood, Palin's rhetoric centers on fear mongering - she makes "a concerted effort to use words like 'fearful' and 'afraid' to describe Barack Obama, signaling her campaign’s decision to make the election a referendum on Obama’s character, rather than the issues facing the country." [Scott Conroy in [] ]

A pervasive impression of Palin is that her words are not her own; she relies on talking points prepared in advance by Republican operatives. [] While discussing "small town values" in her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in what many saw as a "dog-whistle" to parts of the Republican base, Palin quoted Westbrook Pegler, an American fascist writer who advocated bigotry, antisemitism, and the assassination of RFK. [Martin Peretz in [] "The New Republic"] [ [] "Washington Monthly"] [Frank Rich in [] "The New York Times"] [Thomas Frank in [] "The Wall Street Journal"] [Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in [] "Huffington Post"]

Palin compares herself to Harry Truman, the vice-president who succeeded FDR after his death, which contributes to the impression that this is becoming an "Obama-Palin race" and that Palin and her Christian right supporters have their eyes on the presidency. [Frank Rich in [] "New York Times"] [Transcript: Gov. Sarah Palin At The RNC [] ] Indeed, for many Palin is the main attraction at McCain-Palin rallies; there are often "a sizeable number of people making their way towards the exit" after Palin leaves the podium. [Adam Aigner in [] "First Read"]

Approach to governance

Palin came under fire in congress and the media as a result of her support for the Bridge to Nowhere, [ Palin touts stance on bridge project, doesn't note flip-flop] [cite web | first = Tom | last = Kizzia | title = Palin touts stance on 'Bridge to Nowhere,' doesn't note flip-flop | publisher = Anchorage Daily News | date = August 31, 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-09-10] often called an emblem of pork-barrel spending and excessive earmark requests. The bridge first became controversial when Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska opposed diverting the Gravina Island Bridge and Knik Arm Bridge funds to help aid recovery from Hurricane Katrina. [ [ Stevens Vehemently Opposes Coburn Amendment to Eliminate Alaska Bridges] ]

Some media outlets have repeated Palin's statement that she "stood up to Big Oil" when she resigned after just 11 months as the head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission because of abuses she witnessed involving other Republican commissioners and their ties to energy companies and energy lobbyists, and again when she raised taxes on oil companies as governor; in turn others have said that she is a "friend of Big Oil" due to her fervent advocacy of oil exploitation, including her push to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and effort to de-list polar bears as an Endangered species since this could hinder oil speculation. [ [ "Palin sought more taxes and more development from oil companies"] ; Politifact, Saint Petersburg Times, Aug. 29, 2008] [ [ "Is Palin foe of big oil or a new Cheney?"] ; Reuters, Sept. 12, 2008]

Similarly, some have said that she is a "small-town foe of 'good old boys' politics and a champion for ethics reform", as evidenced by her run-ins with Ted Stevens, while others have argued that Palin's record "undermine [s] arguments that Palin has broken from Alaska's Republican machine, including Stevens." [Apuzzo, Matt. [ “Campaign money hurts Palin's outsider image”] , Associated Press (2008-09-02).] Still others point to nepotistic hiring tendencies and question her firing policies. [ [ "In Alaska, Sarah Palin hired friends, hit critics hard"] ; The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2008] In the wake of the RNC, controversy arose concerning Palin's dismissal of the Wasilla police chief at the start of her first term as mayor, [Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball. [ "A Police Chief, A Lawsuit And A Small-Town Mayor"] ; NEWSWEEK, Sep 13, 2008] cite news
author=Carlton, Jim et al. |url=
title=Focus Turns to Palin Record
work=Wall Street Journal
date=September 4, 2008
] [Brian Ross and Jason Ree. [ "Another Controversy for Sarah Palin: Former Police Chief Says He Was Fired for Challenging Palin's Campaign Contributers"] ; ABC News, Sept. 3, 2008] [Ken Armstrong and Hal Bernton. [ "Sarah Palin had turbulent first year as mayor of Alaska town"] ; Seattle Times, Sept. 7, 2008] [Sheila Toomey. [ "Firing suit in Wasilla hits court (2/22/1997)"] , Anchorage Daily News, Sept. 10, 2008] cite web| last = Komarnitsky| first = S.J.
date = March 1, 2000
url=| |title = Judge Backs Chief's Firing
work = Anchorage Daily News
] and her firing of the public commissioner while governor of Alaska (what the media referred to as "troopergate").cite news|last=Demer|first=Lisa|url=|title='Troopergate' inquiry hangs over campaign|publisher=Anchorage Daily News|date=2008-08-30|accessdate=2008-09-05: "Monegan said he believes his firing was directly related to the fact Wooten stayed on the job. 'It was a significant factor if not the factor,' Monegan said."] cite news |first=Sean |last=Cockerham |title=Palin staff pushed to have trooper fired |url= |work=Anchorage Daily News |publisher= |date=2008-08-14 |accessdate=2008-09-01 ] cite news|url= | title=Hired help will probe Monegan dismissal | author=Loy, Wesley | publisher=Anchorage Daily News | date=2008-07-29 | accessdate=2008-08-29] cite news |title=Palin E-Mails Show Intense Interest in Trooper's Penalty |first=James V. |last=Grimaldi |coauthors=Karl Vick |date=2008-09-04 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-03] [ [ “Raw feed: Palin (Updated)”] , Anchorage Daily News ((2008-08-13).] [ "Namely, specifically, most disturbing, is a telephone recording apparently made and preserved by the troopers..."] , Anchorage Daily News (2008-08-13).] cite web|url= |title=Alaska's governor admits her staff tried to have trooper fired |author=Sean Cockerham |publisher=Anchorage Daily News |date=2008-08-14 |accessdate=2008-08-29] cite news|url= | title=Is Wooten a good trooper? | author=Demer, Lisa| publisher=Anchorage Daily News | date=2008-07-27 ] cite news | title=Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight|author=Espo, David|date=September 19, 2008|publisher=Associated Press| url=] Ross, Brian and Tepper, Len. [ “'October Surprise' Over Palin Investigation?”] ABC News (2008-09-02): "'It's likely to be damaging to the Governor's administration,' said Senator Hollis French, a Democrat… 'She has a credibility problem,' he said…. 'Now they may have to deal with an October surprise,' he said…."] cite news | first=Lisa | last=Demer| title=Attorney challenges Monegan firing inquiry | date=2008-09-02 | publisher=Anchorage Daily News | url = | accessdate = 2008-09-02] cite news
title=Subpoenas to be issued for Troopergate probe
work = Associated Press
] [Van Flein, Thomas. [ "Motion for determination of no probable cause"] (2008-09-15).] cite news
first = Wesley
title=Palin accuses Monegan of insubordination
work=Anchorage Daily News
] cite web| last = Schwartz| first = Rhonda| coauthors = Justin Rood| title = Fired Official: Governor Sarah Palin Did Not Tell the Truth to ABC| publisher = ABC News| date = September 15, 2008| url = | accessdate = 2008-09-15] [Citation| last = Quinn| first = Steve | title = Alaska AG: State employees won't honor subpoenas| newspaper = The Guardian| year = 2008| date = September 17, 2008| url =] Reporters have also raised questions about the timing of her temporary dismissal of Wasilla's librarian, which occurred soon after she asked her about censoring library books.cite news
url= |title=Palin: Library censorship inquiries 'Rhetorical'
date=December 12, 1996
work=Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
] cite news
title=Palin pressured Wasilla librarian
date=September 4, 2008
work=Anchorage Daily News
] cite news
author=Armstrong, Ken and Bernton, Hal |url=
title=Sarah Palin had turbulent first year as mayor of Alaska town
work=Seattle Times
date=September 7, 2008
] [cite news
author=Mooney, Brian. |url=
title=Wasilla besieged by researchers
work=Boston Globe
date=September 10, 2008
] cite news
url= |title=Palin: Library censorship inquiries 'Rhetorical'
date=December 18, 1996
work=Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
] cite news
title=Wasilla keeps librarian, but police chief is out
date=February 1, 1997
work=Anchorage Daily News

In an article entitled "State leaders question Palin's qualifications", the "Juneau Empire", one of Alaska's main papers, reported that as governor, Palin was so frequently absent from work at the state capitol that, "someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, ‘Where’s Sarah?’”; the article quoted Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, "At a time when her leadership was truly needed, we didn't know where she was." [Pat Forgey. [ "State leaders question Palin's qualifications: Governor's two years of experience raise concerns about vice presidential candidacy"] ; Juneau Empire, Aug. 31, 2008]


Soon after the RNC Palin quickly became a favorite subject of satire and derision. A Comedy Central writer joked that "she's a pitbull who wears lipstick for some reason!" (in response to her statement that the only difference between one and a hockey mom was lipstick). [Dennis DiClaudio. [ "Sarah Palin, Still Strong on Women's Issues"] ; ComedyCentral, September 9th 2008] One blogger, satirizing Sarah Palin's politics and her choice of names for her children (Track, Trig, Bristol, Piper, and Willow),cite web | url= | title=McCain makes history with choice of running mate
publisher=The Associated Press | author=Quinn, Steve and Calvin Woodward| date=August 31, 2008 | accessdate=2008-08-30
] created a Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator, [cite web|url= |title=Poli Tsk Tsk Tsk: Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator | |date=September 22, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] which translates inputted names into hunting, industrial, hockey-related, and other ironic names. [cite web|url= |title=A call to arms |publisher=Salon Life |auhtor=Anne Lamott |date=Sept. 16, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] [cite web|url= |title=Anne Lamott Opines On The Political Artist Formerly Known As Palin | |author=Anna N. |date=Sept 16 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] [cite web|url= |title=What Sort of Made-Up White Trash Name Would Sarah Palin Give You? |publisher=Wonkette |author=Ken Layne |date=September 16 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05]

Palin's status as a mother of a child with Down Syndrome was a focus for some pundits and reporters. CNN’s John Roberts pondered: “Children with Down’s syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?”

William Kristol of the "Weekly Standard" wrote: "There she is: a working woman who's a proud wife and mother; a traditionalist in important matters who's broken through all kinds of barriers; a reformer who's a Republican; a challenger of a corrupt good-old-boy establishment who's a conservative; a successful woman whose life is unapologetically grounded in religious belief; a lady who's a leader." [William Kristol. [ "Let Palin Be Palin"] Weekly Standard, 09/08/2008, Volume 013, Issue 48 ]

Appearance and oration

A great deal of attention has been paid to Palin's physical appearance. According to "Vogue Magazine," "Besides being telegenic, [Palin] had a tough-girl Alaskan résumé that most politicians could only dream of—the protein her family eats comes from fish she has pulled out of the ocean with her own hands and caribou she has shot."cite web|url= |title=A woman governor—Alaskan Republican Sarah Palin—is attracting national attention by breaking the mold at home. | |author=Rebecca Johnson |date=February 2008 (?) |accessdate=2008-10-05] Regarding her appearance, Palin has said, "I've been taken aback by the nasty criticism about my appearance. I wish they'd stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots. A reporter once asked me about it during the campaign, and I assured him I was trying to be as frumpy as I could by wearing my hair on top of my head and these schoolmarm glasses."

A profile in "The New Yorker" described Palin's oratorical style as "simultaneously chatty and urgent", and noted that "she reinforces her words with winks and nods and wrinklings of her nose that seem meant to telegraph intimacy and ease". The article's author, Philip Gourevitch, characterized Palin as being "high-spirited, irrepressible, and not in the least self-conscious." [cite web|url= |title=The State of Sarah Palin |author=Philip Gourevitch |page=3 |pages=8 |publisher=The New Yorker |date=2008-09-22 |accessdate=2008-10-05]

Many have noted similarities between Palin's accent and the accent portrayed in the movie "Fargo" (1996). [cite web|url=,0,7536833.story |title=New CDs: The Pussycat Dolls, Ne-Yo |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=September 16, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] Features of the Minnesotan accent are prominent in the Mat-Su Valley where Palin grew up because the area was settled by farmers from Minnesota during the Depression. [cite web|url= |title=What Kind of Accent Does Sarah Palin Have? |publisher=Slate Magazine |author=Jesse Sheidlower |date=Oct. 1, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] [cite web|url= |title=Op-Ed Contributor - Everything You Heard Is Wrong | |author=Steven Pinker |date=October 3, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] Palin's accent is Upper Midwestern, and she speaks with a characteristic North Central American English dialect. [cite web|url= |title=Oh Governor, My Governor |publisher=The Citizen |author=Raina Thiele |date=September 17, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] Her accent is often tied in with her persona, and often reinforces her "folksy" image. [cite web|url= |title=Tina Fey Plays Sarah Palin In Return To 'SNL' |publisher=omg! news on Yahoo! |author=Access Hollywood |date=September 14, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05] She has received criticism in some quarters for being seemingly unaware of basic historical events, [cite web|url= |title=Sarah Palin Interview Round-Up |publisher=The Tart Paper |author=James Morgan |date=2008-10-02 |accessdate=2008-10-05] adding to the impression of freshness and inexperience.

It has been noted that Palin bears a resemblance to Tina Fey, who has spoofed her several times on "Saturday Night Live".

Research on Palin

Following the nomination of Palin, at least 13 news articles reported on in the hours preceding the announcement. [Brian Krebs. [ "Wikipedia Edits Forecast Vice Presidential Picks"] ; The Washington Post, 2008-08-29] [Yuki Noguchi. [ "Palin's Wikipedia Entry Gets Overhaul"] ; NPR, 2008-08-29] [Chris O'Brien. [ "Tug of war over Wiki entry on Palin"] ; Mercury News, 2008-08-29] [Jemima Kiss. [ "Sarah Palin's immensely flattering Wikipedia entry"] ; The Guardian, 2008-09-01]

The biography of Palin, "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down", fills in details of Palin's political history which support her reputation of reform. Reviewer Jeremy Lott in "The Politico Newspaper" expressed the belief that this history revealed Palin's "lack of loyalty to political patrons." [cite web|url= |title=In 2012, will it be McCain vs. Palin? | |author=Jeremy Lott |date=9/20/2008 |accessdate=2008-10-05]


External links

* [ New Yorker: Steve Brodner on Sarah Palin and the politics of perception]
* [ Palin on EBay]
* [ Polar bear video game]
* [ "How Palin governs: She keeps a narrow focus, prefers message to mechanic,"] by Anchorage Daily News (September 28th, 2008)
* [ "Palin's Strengths Rooted in Alaska,"] by Sally Jenkins

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