By the third week in September, a “Free Sarah” campaign was under way and the press at large was growing increasingly critical of the McCain camp’s decision to keep me, my family and friends back home, and my governor’s staff all bottled up. Meanwhile, the question of which news outlet would land the first interview was a big deal, as it always is with a major party candidate.Why didn't you have a say? There's that "really" hedging: You didn't really have a say. You're pleading passivity and impotence but you want us to think you have what it takes to be President of the United States?
From the beginning, Nicolle [Wallace] pushed for Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News. The campaign’s general strategy involved coming out with a network anchor, someone they felt had treated John well on the trail thus far. My suggestion was that we be consistent with that strategy and start talking to outlets like FOX and the Wall Street Journal. I really didn’t have a say in which press I was going to talk to, but for some reason Nicolle seemed compelled to get me on the Katie bandwagon.
“Katie really likes you,” she said to me one day. “she’s a working mom and admires you as a working mom. She has teenage daughter like you. She just relates to you,” Nicolle said. “believe me, I know her very well. I’ve worked with her.”It is inane to be swayed by this blather. Most of Palin's opponents would probably say the same sort of thing — or at least would have said the same thing at the time, back before any negative stories about her family had appeared. Isn't it lovely that Sarah Palin has a nice husband and kids and she has a great job too?
Women have been patted on the head like that for years. It does not express more profound respect. Indeed, it often betrays disrespect under the surface. If — back when my sons were children — someone had told me that he was impressed by my work as a law professor because I was a "working mom," I would have felt insulted. Perhaps he only meant well, but I would make a mental note to be suspicious of him. The famous Samuel Johnson quote would spring to mind: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
If Sarah Palin did not see the limited value of Nicolle Wallace's comment about Katie Couric, then she is too pollyannaish and unsophisticated to be trusted with presidential power. Couric is a pussycat compared to the world leaders who will smile and exude pleasantries and then stab you in the back.
Nicolle had left her gig at CBS just a few months earlier to hook up with the McCain campaign. I had to trust her experience, as she had dealt with national politics more than I had.Had to trust? Because of your limited experience? Who else would you trust? Wallace was pushing for her own former employer, CBS! Her recommendation of Couric had an element of self-interest and should have been discounted.
But something always struck me as peculiar about the way she recalled her days in the White House, when she was speaking on behalf of President George W. Bush. She didn't have much to say that was positive about her former boss or the job in general. Whenever I wanted to give a shout-out to the White House’s homeland security efforts after 9/11, we were told we couldn’t do it. I didn’t know if that was Nicolle’s call.Why didn't you know? Why did you trust this person? Why do you now think it makes you look good to blame her for your traipse into the lioness's den?
Nicolle went on to explain that Katie really needed a career boost. “She just has such low self-esteem,” Nicolle said. She added that Katie was going through a tough time. “She just feels she can’t trust anybody.”Katie has low self-esteem?! Bullshit! Anyone with the stuff to be President would have said bullshit. Or something like: Look, I'm running for Vice President. I can't be distracted by some TV diva's need for an emotional boost. Not unless I know it will translate into making me look great. But how would that work? Her boost is only likely to come if she makes me look terrible. Even if she has low self-esteem, #1, I don't care, it's hardly a pressing issue I need to be thinking about, and #2, that makes her more dangerous to me. She can't trust anybody? Well, I don't trust her. And Nicolle, how can you even present me with such an argument that is so specious on its face?
I was thinking, And this has to do with John McCain’s campaign how?
Nicolle said. “She wants you to like her.”She wants me to like her or she wants America — especially the media elite — to like her? Come on, Nicolle, Katie Couric can't be that much of a sad sack. And if she is, I don't want to be seen with her.
Hearing all that, I almost started to feel sorry for her. Katie had tried to make a bold move from lively morning gal to serious anchor, but the new assignment wasn’t going very well.You know who I feel sorry for? Kim Jong Il. I'm afraid he's lonely.
“You know what? We’ll schedule a segment with her,” Nicolle said. “If it doesn’t go well, if there’s no chemistry, we won’t do any others.”Chemistry? What is this, a date — perhaps just a coffee, so that if you don't like her it will be over soon, and you won't need to see her again?
Meanwhile, the media blackout continued. It got so bad that a couple of times I had a friend in Anchorage track down phone numbers for me, and then I snuck in calls to folks like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and someone I thought was Larry Kudlow but turned out to be Neil Cavuto’s producer.She had trouble getting phone numbers? She "snuck" around, relying on friends? Like it's a Nancy Drew caper. And did she not see the downside of allowing right-winger to draw her out? That wasn't fair to McCain. McCain's people locked her down? Did she think carefully about their reasons? Does she think carefully about anything? Why did she agree to be McCain's running mate? She won't take responsibility for her own difficulties.
Apparently, they were afraid you were not ready, and they were right, so why didn't you trust them or at least accept that you owed them control over the presidential campaign? You agreed to take the subordinate position, and you had to know that their reasons for picking you had to do with image and style. If you weren't prepared to do it their way, you should not have accepted the part. At the very least, you should not have been mystified about the way they were treating you. You should have been looking at the campaign strategy from every angle and building your sophistication, not just aching to burst free and expose yourself to the world — which, as you soon learned, did not go well.
It seems that Sarah Palin wasn't able or didn't want to bother to analyze whether she was ready to debut on the big media stage, and she wasn't large-minded enough to think beyond herself to what it would mean for the whole campaign. That is, she was dumb. She was too dumb to handle campaign responsibilities properly, so she was clearly too dumb to step into the role of President of the United States.
Could she build up her political intelligence? Might she have it now or by 2012? If these 2 pages of "Going Rogue" are any evidence, she is displaying her weaknesses all over again, and she is still too dumb to be President. And, most scarily, she doesn't know how dumb she still is.