Why John Ziegler is Wrong About Sarah Palin's Electability

After two of the best months a potential presidential candidate could possibly have, the Daily Caller lobbed a grenade at the Palin Camp Sunday night in the form of a John Ziegler piece titled: “The Sarah Palin I Know.” The news here is that Ziegler — a columnist, documentary filmmaker, and radio talk show host who’s probably most famous for being one of Governor Palin’s chief defenders, has come out very publicly to proclaim that she’s not only incapable of defeating Barack Obama in 2012, but also that any potential candidacy on her part could hurt those — like Tim Pawlenty — who are capable of defeating Obama.

In his closing sentence, Ziegler sums up his own piece perfectly:

If Sarah Palin still is the person I thought I knew, then she will do what is best for her cause and country by sitting this one out.

Rather than risk misquoting or taking Ziegler out of context, in the best good-faith effort I can summon, I’m going to quote directly the substance of the arguments Ziegler makes to back up his bombshell claims. I do, however, encourage you to read the full piece.

1. The MSM Destroyed Palin’s Chance to Beat Obama in 2012

Ziegler: Before I left, I felt I had to give the governor at least one piece of advice. After all, I know how politicians work. They surround themselves with yes-people. No one dares speak up. I figured I’d never get another opportunity like this again, so, with the very best of intentions, I told her: “You have to know, you can’t beat Obama in 2012. The media won’t let you. They won’t let him lose and the narrative about you is too negative to correct in three-and-a-half years.”

The main reason I believe Ziegler is falling into the media’s trap, is based mainly on recent polls from crucial swing states that show Governor Palin well within striking distance of Barack Obama. Not only is Obama unable to hit 50% (bad news for any incumbent), but Palin isn’t even an announced candidate and yet she’s polling within the margin of error. Furthermore, a poll ironically released the same night as Ziegler’s piece, shows that Ziegler might be wrong about the following…

Zieger: Palin supporters look at all of this and laughably claim that, if given the opportunity, she can change people’s minds. This is simply impossible. I have no doubt that, if presented with the chance, she would exceed expectations in virtually every area of a campaign (except organization), but that would hardly matter at all.

In fact, minds have changed over the last three months. According to CNN, Palin’s overall favorable rating with “all adults” has jumped 11% since April. Her unfavorables are still at 52%, but her numbers are most certainly headed in the right direction — and it’s not as though the media suddenly decided to treat the Governor fairly.

My guess as to why the Governor is looking more electable these days is due to her and her team’s near-flawless handling of the One Nation Bus Tour (the MSM’s email fiasco is likely to only boost her numbers further). The Palin Camp’s messaging of that event was not only managed in a way that would shame most presidential campaigns, it was also done through a very successful and unconventional circumvention of the media. Which brings me to the most important point I’ll make in this piece…

What Ziegler and those who agree with him need to understand is that the MSM doesn’t intend to let anyone beat Barack Obama. They intend to pull a “Palin” — to decimate and salt the earth behind — whoever threatens the re-election of Their Precious One. Barack Obama is a failed president. Period. If 2012 is what it should be — a referendum on the incumbent — he loses in a landslide. Therefore, the White House and their MSM allies intend to do everything they can to ensure 2012 is all about toxifying the GOP nominee — regardless of who it is — into someone who cannot be elected. Anyone who thinks the MSM will take it easier on a nominee not named Palin hasn’t been paying attention.

The bottom line is that whoever our candidate is, beating Obama is not the existential problem — our candidate must beat the media, and other than Newt Gingrich (a victim of unforced errors), there’s not a single announced or potential Republican candidate who’s dealt with a tenth of what Obama’s MSM Palace Guards intend to hurl their way — except Sarah Palin. And not only has the Governor survived this unprecedented onslaught, but the past few months have shown that she understands this threat and is actively and effectively working on ways to overcome it.

Using Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of New Media, Palin has (if you look at those polls) effectively gone over the heads of the media and directly to the people. This is not one way to win in 2012, this is the only way. Furthermore, she’s the only potential candidate that the media has fisked in every way imaginable and already unloaded on — right down to her every email. Sure, the MSM will find more nonsense to hurl at her but any substantive scandal or disqualifying issue would’ve likely been found already. We cannot say this for any of the other GOP candidates who are sure to be skinned alive once the MSM is handed the name of Obama’s direct opponent. October surprise, anyone?

Morevover, if you want to understand how ignorant the GOP Establishment is of the media threat, read this. Yes, you read that right: some of our very own geniuses intend to walk directly into the duality of MSM corruption known as Politico/NBC. No one interested in defeating Barack Obama would go within a country mile of a debate hosted by those two outlets — unless they don’t fully appreciate the threat.

Does anyone doubt Palin understands the threat? Because anyone who doesn’t …. that’s who’s almost certain to lose to Barack Obama.

2. Palin’s Team is a Mess

Ziegler: There’s also the fact that Sarah’s entire operation is increasingly managed like a CIA field office; that she’s adopted a bunker mentality; that she’s trusting the wrong people, some of whom I know are simply exploiting her. As a result, even those most loyal to her get tossed under the bus, with little or no effort to avoid the collateral damage. Which raises the question: if people like me who would once have taken a bullet for Sarah (and at least figuratively I did many times) can’t get behind her any more, what the hell happened?

Can anyone name a potential presidential candidate who has not had something to this effect written about their campaign at one time or another — especially 18 months out from election day. You can’t dwell on the mistakes of the past (and there have been some), you have to focus on the learning curve — and it’s just a fact that the curve of the Palin camp is definitely headed in the right direction. Considering the hot spotlight they live under where even the tweets of an aide can make headlines, I’m even more impressed by their trajectory.


In my opinion, over the past few months, the Palin team’s handling of everything from her slam-bang speech in Madison to a recent Fox News Sunday appearance to the bus tour to the Ed Rollins smear to the Politico smear to the Paul Revere nonsense to last week’s email expedition — has been nearly flawless. I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin intends to run, but you can clearly sense that her team is coming together and firing on all cylinders. Therefore her favorability bump in the CNN poll is no accident.

Yes, there will be mistakes in the future and those with a dog in the fight will pounce and amplify those mistakes in ways no other potential GOP candidate will have to face. But this could actually be a good thing in the long run. What you want in a nominee is someone already tested and tried — someone already toughened up by a grueling primary process. Should Palin run and win the nomination, her trial by fire will be unprecedented. Unfortunately, much of that fire will have come from her own side, but that doesn’t make the experience any less valuable.

3. Palin’s Resignation as Governor is Fatal

Zieger: Let’s face it, Palin made a great decision for her and her family, but one that disqualifies her from running for president, at least in 2012. Obama has the ultimate trump card against her: when things got tough you quit to become a rich celebrity while I was killing Osama bin Laden. Game, set, match.

I’m no pollyanna when it comes to this, and while the Governor’s decision to step down showed me a person of extraordinary character willing to cut her own political throat for the good of her State and family, I understand that not everyone will see it this way. There’s no doubt the resignation will dog Palin for the rest of her political life and that Obama and the MSM will exploit it mercilessly. Simply put: It’s a real problem. But to her credit and in a way that belies Ziegler’s “bunker mentality” charge, Palin apparently understands this. According to some news reports, knowing this was a problem is the primary reason she reached out to filmmaker Steve Bannon.

The first step in dealing with a problem is knowing you have a problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though we can say the same for our current frontrunner, Mitt Romney, who still stands behind no less than two trump cards Obama currently holds: RomneyCare and Global Warming.

My point here isn’t to beat up Mitt Romney, who I think would make a terrific president. My point is that Ziegler’s use of the phrase “disqualifies her from running” is hyperbole and that she’s not alone in the potential “disqualifier” department. Also, unlike Romney, Palin actively sought out a tactically brilliant way to go around the media and fix this problem: a series of short films she intended to commission that turned into a feature film (she had no editorial control over) that many are now calling a “game changer.”

We should all be as dumb as Sarah Palin.

4. Palin’s “Celebrity” Took Away Her Mojo as a Fighter

Zieger: The worst part about the resignation from a political narrative perspective is that it also stripped away Palin’s greatest strength. She is clearly a fighter but it is impossible to make “She will fight for you” the cornerstone of a campaign when she just quit her only big job, seemingly for personal gain.

With all due respect, this is absurd on its face. People may look at Sarah Palin and think a lot of things but — other than the political clout every politician seeks — no one can watch what this woman’s been through for the past three years and honestly believe for a second that she’s not fighting for something bigger than herself. Palin changed the political landscape of 2010 like no one else and her willingness to enter the belly of the beast and run towards the fight in places like Madison is not lost on anyone paying attention.

The “celebrity” narrative is a Leftist lie. One travelogue/reality show does not trump her tireless and effective work in 2010 or her work on behalf of the Tea Party.

That dog simply won’t hunt.

5. Palin’s Mere Presence In the Race Will Ensure Obama’s Reelection

Zieger: It baffles me how relatively few Republican voters seem to understand that beating Obama with any conservative is the ONLY thing that matters and that quite literally, through no real fault of her own, there are almost no conservatives not currently in prison who have LESS of a chance of beating Obama than Sarah Palin currently does. Worst of all, her just getting in the race greatly reduces the chances of an electable conservative, like Tim Pawlenty, getting enough traction to win the nomination.

The last poll I saw had Pawlenty at 6%. That’s not Sarah Palin’s fault. But what Ziegler appears to be saying here is that should Palin decide to pursue the nomination, her presence in the race will accomplish what she wants it to accomplish: Other people will lose, she will win. But then, Ziegler argues things like this will happen:

And finally there is the already incredibly long list of negative on-the-record statements from Republicans about her and the inevitable avalanche of Obama endorsements which would come from Republican “leaders” looking to ingratiate themselves with the media.

Should Palin be the nominee, let’s grant that even in the face of Obama’s utterly failed presidency, Ziegler’s right about this — that David Frum, Peggy Noonan, Joe Scarborough, Kathleen Parker and all the other double agents who go well beyond the in-bounds arena of constructive criticism and straight to the darkside of undermining, will continue to do so. Well, I seem to remember that in 2008 we nominated the man the MSM wanted us to nominate and that didn’t stop Colin Powell from putting a stake in our heart just a few days before the election. You don’t win national elections appealing to the elite or to the media. You win by appealing to the people — and this is where Palin is especially potent.

Besides a trial by media fire and a growing savvy when it comes to getting her message out, besides a charisma and personal touch no other candidate comes close to, something else Palin uniquely offers is a mammoth base of fervent supporters ready to fight to the death for her –a base as passionate and motivated as President Obama’s in 2008. No other GOP contender has anything close to this army of supporters and volunteers who are not only standing by but pretty well organized through various “Such-and-such State for Palin” communities. Furthermore, Palin’s ability to turn out the vote, fundraise through her base, and her position on social media was already formidable in 2010. It’s only going to get stronger over the next 18 months … as the economy gets worse. And in the end, 2012 will not be about anything other than the economy, stupid.

Believe me, a year from now, if the economy looks anything like it does today (and I think it will), no one’s going to give a damn about reality shows or resignations.

6. Conservative Media Won’t Speak Truth to Palin

Zieger: Meanwhile, the conservative media is largely afraid to tell the truth about the dangers of a Palin campaign because they also fear a dull primary season, as well as offending the millions of Palin fans who make up the most loyal core of their audience. After all, beating Obama may not even be in their business interest.

This is factually wrong. The high-profile presence of Ziegler’s article at the Daily Caller proves him wrong as does his above statement about “on-the-record statements from Republicans.” Joe Scarborough, Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, the Daily Caller, Hot Air, Newsmax and National Review are all part of the conservative media and highly critical of the Governor.

Katie Couric’s selective editing to the contrary, I have no doubt Governor Palin and her supporters have been exposed to the many good and bad faith arguments against her jumping into the race.

And so, in further rebuttal to the six main arguments against a Palin candidacy I gleaned from Ziegler’s article, I offer my Top Ten for why Governor Palin should run:

1. She’s dead right on the most important issues of the day.

2. She was an effective and dynamic Governor — and that story has only begun to get told.

3. The other candidates have not been fully vetted; Palin has and all they found was a great governor and a wonderful mother.

4. She’s tough as a hickory nut.

5. She understands better than anyone that our primary opponent in 2012 is the MSM and is using social media in unprecedented ways to neutralize them.

6. She has a huge base of motivated supporters ready to chew ground glass for her.

7. Her team is coming together and making all the right moves.

8. The economy is tanking — therefore Obama is vulnerable.

9. Obama is a failed president.

10. See #1.

Finally, let me just say that I know John Ziegler and that many of his defenses of Governor Palin have appeared on the BIG sites. My goal here, however, is only to look at the substance of his claims, which I obviously disagree with. Do I have other issues with Ziegler’s piece? In a word, yes. But addressing those would only distract from the substance of a healthy debate our side should be vigorously engaged in.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.