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May 27, 2011

Palin's Former Aide Turned Tell-All Turncoat Makes Surprising Revelation

Palin fans can take a breath of relief.

Matthews thought Palin was all show business and asked Bailey, “is Sarah Palin different than this sort of glittery person that comes out with the nice hand – and always looks attractive and upbeat and positive and loving the masses?” Bailey surprisingly tried to convince Matthews that “she’s not dumb, she is smart – she does read, she reads a lot.” This admission left Matthews perplexed as he couldn’t figure out why if she did actually read, then why did Palin have difficulty answering Katie Couric’s famous newspaper question?

Bailey says it was painful for him to have watched the Couric interview, but offered a unique explanation for Palin’s lack of an answer. Bailey argues “she didn’t want to seem too Alaskan” with what she read, and instead “wanted to be bigger than that.”

Two points:

1. I thought Mitt Romney was dumb when I first saw him. It wasn't until Jim Cramer (Mad Money) informed his audience that Mitt Romney was, literally, the smartest man he'd ever met did I think Romney was smart.

Some people seem dumb. And aren't. There are actors who have genius IQ's who will always play buffoons because they seem dumb, and their are moron actors who get to play doctors and scientists because they seem smart.

2. I've gone back and forth with myself on this issue. For one thing, I thought Palin was whip-smart at first. Then I began to have some doubts. Then I'd get some reassurance, like the oft-mentioned photographic memory she's said to possess. (Which isn't strictly intelligence but close enough.)

And I did, myself, explain away/spin Palin's 2008 miscues to my own satisfaction. Quick question: Name the only Vice Presidential candidate in recent memory who was not either a candidate for president himself (in which case he would have studied all the federal policy briefing books for months before being tapped) or was a sitting senator (in which case, it's his day job, so even a moron like Biden knows the very basics of his day-to-day job).

Give up? Trick answer: It's Dick Cheney, who obviously doesn't count, as he was such a Washington fixture for years and years and years -- Representative, Ford's Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense under Bush the younger -- that obviously he was well-acquainted with federal policy.

Usually governors run for president. And governors have a deficiency on federal policy. It's simply not their jobs. Sure, they get briefed on it when they run for president, but as it's not their day-to-day job, they're often shaky on this material. And so they get briefed on it.

Palin was unexpected because she had never run for president and therefore had no connection at all to day-to-day federal policy. A guy like Romney had months and months to familiarize himself with it; Palin had 10 or 12 hours.

So I did give her a general pass on some shakiness. I expected her to learn on the job, and also expected she'd have time to do so. Plus, some of her shakiest answers were in defense of a McCain policy she probably didn't even really agree with (like TARP).

But Palin continued not reassuring me in this regard. Having gotten a reputation as ill-prepared -- whether fairly or unfairly -- I expected her to reverse that reputation by just appearing totally in command.

Since the impression had set in -- I expected her to overcompensate. And really let us have it.

For me -- your mileage may vary -- she didn't. She never did what I had expected she'd do, sort of parade around DC giving interviews and making her interviewers seem pretty dumb for challenging her know-how and intellect. She sort of drifted away into safe-harbor media and just never proved she wasn't what she said she was.

Again, your mileage may vary.

So the thing I've been wondering is: Is it because she can't? Previously I assumed she could, but she just needed the time; but now she had the time, so why wasn't she undoing this perception?

Or was it because she was a little lazy and didn't feel like doing homework in her 40s?

Or was it because she convinced herself that to answer their questions would be to let them "win" or something?

I don't know. Whatever the reason, it's a horrible decision. If she is just as bright as she initially appeared, and could undo this false perception of herself with some flash-cards and mock interviews, but is instead letting it fester... well, maybe she's not dumb in that instance, but she's very unwise.

So, this harsh critic of hers, who is essentially now bought and paid for by the left -- the left will be promoting and buying his book -- says she's quite smart.

That's a statement against interest, and it also agrees with my initial assessment of Palin.

So... Okay, I am not sure one way or the other, but that swings me more towards "Smart, but unwise."

I don't know. If this is some kind of emotional reaction -- "I'll show you! I'll go away!" -- well, it's not showing the media. Showing the media would be knocking their teeth down their throats.

The other day someone was arguing with me about Palin. I said, and this is true, "Hey, what has two thumbs and would be on Team Palin all the way if she could start giving cogent, in-depth answers to policy questions outside her admitted expertises? (thumbs back to self) This guy!"

And I meant it. A lot of Palin's supporters blow this off and essentially offer an anti-intellect defense: Well that stuff doesn't matter anyway.

Well, for some of us it does. And if Palin could put these questions to rest, but doesn't, she's alienating a lot of potential supporters. Some of us can't just tell ourselves, "I don't care about what's in her head, I care about what's in her heart" or some pablum like that.

So you tell me if it matters. I think it does. 90% of the Palin critics, skeptics, and now outright opponents find little fault with her policy portfolio, or her bio, or her cultural background, or her charisma. (Obviously on the latter.)

For 90% of us it's this one thing.

So you tell me it doesn't matter.

Actually: Okay, it's two things. She only has 27 months in high office. Before that she was the mayor of small town, and served on an oil commission. Not really a presidential resume.

I suppose I could get past one of these, but not both. Since she's resigned, she can't undo that one. She can only undo the other one.

Defensive Crouch? Given Palin's apparent temperament -- very sensitive to criticism -- part of her problem in flubbing answers might be that she's always expecting a trap, and because her mind is trying to figure through the various mazes she's imagining, she can't fully concentrate on the question actually posed, and comes off as either evasive or ill-prepared.

That's a problem too, not of actual intellect, but of temperament. She said (in the Ziegler film) that something like that did in fact go on with the "what do you read?" question, because Couric had kept asking her trap questions about abortion just before this, and she was weary of them, and had begun (this is my gloss) jumping at shadows, basically.

But if that is the problem, that problem gets overcome by confronting it, not by avoiding it. It doesn't just go away on its own.

And the media will try to trap any Republican, so if she's getting a kind of paralysis by analysis on such traps (real or perceived), that's going to be a problem.

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posted by Ace at 02:07 AM

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