Palin's Power

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009; 9:26 AM

For all the media bloviating, I gather that Sarah Palin's appearance at the big GOP shindig here was something of a bust.

"If she hadn't walked quickly across the stage at the outset and if her presence hadn't been mentioned briefly in the remarks of some of the evening's speakers," says Politico, "it would have been hard to know that she had, in fact, shown up."

But wait! Here's a CNN account:

"It was Sarah Palin who stole the show. . . . Republicans clustered around the former vice presidential nominee's table near the front of the ballroom, eager to meet the governor and pose for pictures. It was the only table in the vast ballroom that had a crowd gathered around it -- and despite their distance from Palin's table, multiple television cameras kept their lenses trained on the governor for much of the night."


There's only one conclusion: Sarah Palin remains a polarizing figure! Polarizing for the media, that is.

You could almost hear the excited shouts as the Wasilla woman tiptoed back onto the national stage, however briefly. Palin is the perfect media subject, an attractive woman who arouses great passion among her fans and detractors (and gave a great boost to Tina Fey's career). Even David Letterman was exultant, announcing in a Top Ten list about Palin's visit to New York that she "bought makeup from Bloomingdale's to update her 'slutty flight attendant' look."

Palin's timing was good because we'd pretty much exhausted the whole Are-Rush-and-Newt-the-Face-of-the-GOP meme, anyway. And plenty of pundits would rather yak about her chances in 2012 than discuss, say, the deductibility of employer-provided health insurance.

Palin, of course, has been hard at work in Alaska, battling over a variety of issues, including her desire to turn away some of the federal stimulus money. But journalists don't really care about Alaska, except as an exotic backdrop to highlight her caribou hunting. So her on-again, off-again appearance at Monday's Washington Convention Center fundraiser was what was needed to put Palin back on the national radar.

It also set the stage for her interview with Sean Hannity, in which her take on Obama's economic policies was "told ya so," and the charge that the prez is steering America toward socialism, a word she embraced at Hannity's suggestion.

Palin gets the Republican base pumped up. But I found very little about her on conservative blogs yesterday, while liberal sites were fired up.

"Maybe it's just me," says Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, "but it seems like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), instead of becoming more credible and serious as her time in government progresses, is getting more ridiculous as time goes on . . .

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