In a book that thoroughly examines the successes and failures of the Tea Party in the age of Obama, Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak’s chapter on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shows why Palin unmasked the media’s biases against conservatives just like Barack Obama exposed the media’s biases for liberals, especially those Obama’s mold.
“To many conservatives, the way the media treated Palin was only a more obnoxious and obvious example of the way they had been treated for years,” Pollak writes in Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party. “Conversely, in standing up to the media, she became a heroine–and a powerful political figure, even after she left office.”
In Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, Pollak mentions that before McCain selected a fellow “maverick” for the ticket, Palin’s approval “rating soared” in Alaska. Palin was the country’s most popular governor “as she did away with the self-described ‘Corrupt Bastards Club,’ a group of lobbyists and politicians who mingled in the state capital of Juneau and who had previously ensured that a small group of insiders benefited from the state’s resources.” She fought crony capitalism before it was cool, balanced the state’s budget, and vetoed a bill that would outlaw benefits for same-sex couples.
But, as Pollak details, “journalists who showed almost no interest in Barack Obama’s history of radical activism suddenly swarmed the small town of Wasilla, Alaska, where Palin had begun her political career as mayor” looking for every piece of dirt they could find. They mocked that she participated in a beauty pageant to get scholarship money for college and was once an aspiring sports anchor. Comedians like Tina Fey ridiculed Palin, taking a cue from mainstream media reporters who literally looked down on her, by saying, I can see Russia from my house.” Palin never said that, of course. But she did say that if Obama becomes president, Vladimir Putin could invade Ukraine. It turns out she was right about Putin and Ukraine. Pollak notes that Joe Biden, who was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, once actually made the “claim that the terror group Hezbollah had been cleared from Lebanon (it sits today in the Lebanese government).” And there wasn’t a peep from the mainstream press.
Pollak recalls that Palin’s statement during her debate with Biden, which he quotes in full in the book, that both blasted those who took advantage of Americans while insisting “that Americans, too, had responsibility for the financial crisis, and for fixing it… was what Americans wanted to hear, and no other candidate came close to expressing anything like it.” It was, as Pollak notes, the moment that resonated best with voters during the financial crisis.
The Tea Party movement, though it started to form in the waning years of George W. Bush’s presidency, came to life after Obama’s inauguration. And Palin, unshackled, threatened the media more.
And when Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in Arizona, the media tried to off Palin for good, blaming the attempted assassination attempt on her without any evidence whatsoever that the shooter was a Tea Party member or had been motivated by the Cartesian coordinates Palin put on a map of vulnerable Democrats. She used the same “targets” that Democrats had used in previous elections. But it turned out the shooter was apolitical, had no affiliations to Palin or the Tea Party. In fact, he may have upset that Giffords did not treat him warmly during a previous town hall appearance.
As Pollak writes, “when Palin finally responded to the criticism, calling it a ‘blood libel,’ she was castigated by media commentators both for personalizing the issue and for alleged anti-semitism in her use of a term associated with the persecution of Jews, though even liberal Alan Dershowitz defended her use of ‘blood libel’ as appropriate.”
When the media was not trying to eliminate Palin, she, as she did in Alaska, was assailing the bipartisan permanent political class who extract wealth from American taxpayers long before it got on the radars of the national press.
Before the the media–and even the political establishment far removed from average voters–sensed that voters were incensed by Boomtown’s crony capitalism, Palin delivered a landmark 2011 speech in Indianola, Iowa in which she ripped the bipartisan permanent political class. She championed a brand of free-market capitalism that differs from big-business cronyism. It was only after that speech that crony capitalism became more of an issue on the right and the left.
Without Palin, the GOP would not have two of its most prominent minority female governors. South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez would not have been elected without Palin. She also boosted Tim Scott, a black Republican, to the House from South Carolina. And she also pushed Ted Cruz to a runoff that he would win against establishment Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst in 2012 in what may turn out to be the significant Senate win for conservatives in a generation.
At CPAC in 2013, Cruz said he would not be in the Senate if not for Palin, whom he introduced. And Palin, who also heaped plenty of praise on the Texan from Alaska’s “little sister state” who “chews barbed wire and spits out rust.” Palin’s embrace of Cruz on the national stage was the moment when his standing among national conservatives–and in presidential polls–started to rocket.
In Wacko Birds, Pollak also writes has a chapter on Cruz and his potential. Though Cruz’s defund fight against Obamacare failed largely because establishment Republicans never fully embraced the strategy from the start and may have cost Ken Cuccinelli the gubernatorial race in Virginia, Pollak writes that “once public attention finally shifted fully to Obamacare, Cruz’s opposition began to look rather prescient in retrospect: the program was an unmitigated disaster.”
“To the conservative grass roots, and to the Tea Party movement, Cruz had been almost entirely vindicated. He had brought attention to the Obamacare issue, giving voice to millions of Americans who had all but been ignored in the air of resignation that surrounded the law since it was largely upheld by the Supreme Court,” Pollak writes. “He did the Republican Party the favor–despite its best efforts to demur–of reminding voters that the GOP was serious about repealing the law.”
Obamacare and amnesty (illegal immigration is the top concern among Republicans, according to a Gallup poll.) are likely to be two of the most important issues in 2016. And like Cruz, Palin may be vindicated on her call for Obama to be impeached over his lawlessness on illegal immigration even though establishment Republicans decided to declare to the world and the media that impeachment was off the table.
Palin, who has urged Republicans to always fight for the “forgotten man,” called for Obama to be impeached in a Breitbart News op-ed because his lawlessness on illegal immigration decimates Americans–native-born and legal immigrants–of all races and backgrounds.
In many polls, Palin still has the highest favorability rating among Republicans. In places like Iowa, which has many of those so-called Reagan Democrat voters, 90% of “somewhat liberal” voters actually view Palin favorably, according to a poll conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling.
But Pollak notes in his book that the mainstream media hated Palin, who invited Pollak to her home in Alaska for dinner to discuss the book, because “she was a woman who had somehow balanced family and career, and resented neither side of the equation.”
Pollak writes that the “very attributes from which Sarah Palin drew her strength–her family, her faith, her community–were the ones that triggered the most derision from Democrats and the mainstream media” but endeared her to Americans.
Read more in Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party.