Sarah Palin Has Rehabbed Her Image: Now What?

Palin Shatner

If you haven’t seen Sarah Palin’s Conan appearance, watch it here, now:

After watching, you’ll see why Legal Insurrection’s William Jacobson says this:

Palin thus took on the pervasive liberal and Democratic caricature of Palin, and did so in a humorous and sympathetic way. Palin was allowed to fight mockery with mockery. Touché.

Palin’s appearance on the Conan show may mark a turning point. The mainstream media, very begrudgingly and in small steps, is shifting its approach to Palin as polls show Palin’s popularity rising. Palin’s appearance on Oprah brought the show ratings it had not seen in years.

Obama used his appearance on Oprah, and other entertainment media love, to establish his popularity. Which is why it damages Obama’s image so badly when SNL mocks Obama. At this point, Obama needs the media more than the media needs Obama.

Palin, by contrast, established her popularity independent of, and despite, the entertainment media. When it comes to Palin, the entertainment media is following not leading. We have reached the point where the mainstream entertainment media needs Palin more than Palin needs the media.

I agree. Sarah Palin’s success with humor, for me, was/is pivotal. She must transcend the media by engaging them humorously. And she did that in spades.

This segment and the book tour and the Facebook page and the Op-Eds have succeeded to do one thing: Bring Sarah Palin back to neutral ground. That’s it.

At this point, Sarah Palin is neither a positive or negative in the minds of those who care the least and matter the most: the middle-of-the-road American centrist independent who swings elections and decides policy fates.

Neutral is a good place to be. President Obama would like to be neutral with these people. Unfortunately for him, he’s not neutral. In fact, independents are running away from President Obama.

So, Sarah is doing well. Pushing her into the solidly positive direction will take deft political action from here on out. Her success will depend on her endorsements within the Republican party and her policy positions generally.

As for endorsements, her word can be a deal-maker and/or breaker in squeaker races. In tough Republican fights, Sarah Palin risks getting caught in the cross-fire of two heavy weights (as is happening in Texas).

Other places, Sarah Palin could burnish her image as an outsider and endorse the conservative, underdog candidate. Here, she risks the candidate losing and by default, losing her own mojo as a driver of opinion. On the upside, she could be perceived as a different sort of politician by supporting, across the board, any politician who is an outside-the-beltway, kick-the-bums-out candidate. Of course, this won’t endear Palin to the beltway establishment. And, if she does end up in national office, she’ll want to work with these people. Maybe.

Washington, D.C. is a cess-pool populated by venomous snakes. Even within the Republican party, insiders want Palin to shut up. When she called out some of the consultants on the McCain campaign, she made enemies. She is feared and loathed within her own party. And yet, Palin already wields enough power that these people must give good face. For now.

The difficult road is ahead for Sarah Palin. It will take all the political skill she can muster to navigate these waters. She has enemies within and without. Better to not think about it and move forward, and continue to make brave decisions.

Someone asked me,”What does she have to lose?” Well, for someone who really cares about the direction the country is going, she loses her ability to help the country to reverse course. I actually think she does care about the country and fumbling the good will she has built and the support of those behind her, would be a loss for all involved.

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