Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Can See California From My House!

Love her or hate her: Sarah Palin has re-written the book on female candidacy. During her ten-week campaign spotlight, her candidacy peaked and plunged amid a seemingly relentless throng of dissenters. Her new book, Going Rogue: An American Life, and the resulting media blitz, will – like it or not – be the nagging undertone of the 2010 election in this state.

Palin’s book tour is a blessing for Democrats. Palin has effectively stolen the thunder away from the Republican spin machine and directed the spotlight on questions about her personal prospects. On the national scene, Palin’s melodic pitch seems to be much preferred by the conservative base than the rhythmic banging of heads against the wall of Congress as the healthcare bill faces its destiny. The once bread-and-butter Republican issues in the state, such as pork-filled legislation or the soaring costs of just about everything, are being sucked up by the momentum of a hockey mom gone rogue.

Less than a third of Americans think Palin would make a good president. Yet, during the Palin interview, the Oprah Winfrey show saw its best ratings in over two years. But if Palin truly wanted to make a difference without a title, as she proudly proclaimed in Monday’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, she would have a field day in California.

Candidates Carly Fiorina (Republican candidate for Senate) and Meg Whitman (Republican candidate for Governor) seem unsettled in their stances on Palin. Fiorina, while openly admitting that she hadn’t yet read Palin’s book, came to the defense of the former Vice Presidential candidate during an interview where Fiornia rebuffed the McCain campaign as “sexist.” Meanwhile, Whitman has been dodging Palin questions like the plague.

By endorsing one or both of the two candidates, Palin could help define the women themselves as a steadfast Republicans. Democrats in Boxer’s camp hope that Palin endorses Fiornia rival Chuck DeVore, who has thus far branded himself as the more conservative of the two. For Fiorina, a Palin endorsement solidify her conservative messaging in spite of rival Chuck DeVore’s casting of doubts.

Palin could also be of help to Whitman by solidifying her march against “career politicans,” an axe that was swung in Jerry Brown’s direction earlier this week. Although her poll numbers and finance coffers remain high, a high-profile tour on Whitman’s campaign could be just the shot in the arm she needs.

For both Fiorina and Whitman, Sarah Palin’s endorsement would mean an instantaneous spotlight. It would give Democrats a free pass, and shift the conversation away from the tough decisions to be made in the coming weeks.

But let’s not forget that just four years ago, the public perception of a certain sitting President was similarly low in public opinion polls. Palin will certainly capitalize on history (or herstory, shall we say). So for the sake of the Democrats, keep the Palin momentum alive. Just try not to elect her President.

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