Poor, put-upon Sarah Palin.
She's been misrepresented by the left-leaning media, repressed and mishandled by Team McCain, betrayed by an ungrateful almost-son-in-law and falsely accused by political opponents back home in Alaska.
It's a wonder the woman survives to, ah, make so much money on that book of hers, "Going Rogue," given all the forces arrayed against her. But the former Alaska governor is a formidable personality, with a strong faith in her own righteousness.
Her capacity for self-delusion is undimmed, despite her experiences on the campaign trail. In Monday's interview with Oprah Winfrey, the formal kickoff of Palin's book tour, she rejected any blame for the loss of the McCain-Palin ticket.
"I think the reason that we lost, the economy tanked under a Republican administration. People were sincerely looking for change. I think, unfortunately, our ticket represented what was perceived as status quo," she said.
And even when Palin admits mistakes, she has a way of letting herself off the hook and pointing the finger elsewhere.
That disastrous Katie Couric interview? She knew it went badly; she caved in to her umbrage at Couric's suggestion that she wasn't well-informed, she told Winfrey.
"Obviously, I have, of course, all my life read. ... By the time she asked me that question ... I was just so annoyed and it was very unprofessional of me to wear that annoyance on my sleeve," she said.
Her stunning resignation as governor of Alaska, before her first term was over? Because of all those ethics complaints from her enemies, "My state of Alaska was being hampered by my presence there, being shackled behind a governor's desk."
The decision to put her pregnant teenage daughter, Bristol, and Bristol's boyfriend, Levi Johnston, on the public stage? In Palin's view, the fallout revealed the inclinations of an Obama-obsessed news media, which didn't subject the Obama children to such scrutiny.
"I wasn't given that privilege of being able to protect my kids," Palin told Winfrey. "I think there was a ... double-standard." Never mind that Palin chose to showcase Bristol and Levi at the Republican National Convention, starting with a warm greeting on the tarmac from the presidential candidate himself, McCain, as the teenagers arrived in Minnesota.
Palin is the new Richard Nixon, updated for the celebrity age. She's a stew of resentments -- angry at the elites, vindictive toward enemies real and imagined, unforgiving of even small slights.
Of course, she exudes a warmth and charm that Nixon never had. For one thing -- let's face it -- she's pretty, a trait that matters in the age of "Oprah" and YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. She's comfortable on the chatty stage of faux self-examination, in a way that Nixon would never have been. If you didn't know her history of all-out warfare against those who rile her family -- such as her former brother-in-law, Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten -- you might actually believe that she wishes Levi well.
Yet, she lacks a couple of important things Nixon had going for him: knowledge and experience. It wasn't CBS' Couric or ABC's Charlie Gibson or, for that matter, "Saturday Night Live's" Tiny Fey who caused Palin to appear ignorant on important policy matters. She did that all on her own.
And she will have to use all her considerable charm -- and no small number of ghost-written policy papers -- to change the public's opinion of her. A recent CBS News poll shows her with a favorable rating of only 23 percent. While she has 52 percent favorability rating among Republicans, that drops to just 21 percent among all-important independents.
Palin has remained coy about seeking the presidency in 2012, pointedly refusing to rule it out. She told ABC's Barbara Walters that she'd like to play a role in public life "if people will have me."
Her 52 percent -- a socially conservative, elite-resenting, MSM-hating cornerstone of the GOP -- will certainly have her. Despite her newfound affluence from speaking fees and book sales, Palin remains their standard-bearer against all those pointy-headed intellectuals and high-falutin' swells who [whom], they believe, have taken their country from them.
She's unlikely to refuse their entreaties to run.
(Cynthia Tucker can be reached at [email protected])
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