Recently, Sarah Palin has been the object of vicious and unfounded attacks from the mainstream media and the left. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, she is being linked to the tragic shooting in Arizona. Jared Loughner, the gunman from the attack, probably hates Sarah Palin. We know that he hated George W. Bush. He didn’t watch the news, he didn’t listen to political radio, he wasn’t on the right, he wasn’t on the left. There is virtually no legitimate correlation between Sarah Palin and Jared Loughner.
But all too often, there are some on the right who are quick to say that Palin is attacked because the left is afraid of her. The theory is that whoever liberals attack the most is also their most feared enemy. But why would this be the case? What threat does Sarah Palin pose to them?
The very thing that propelled Sarah Palin into the national spotlight was an unsuccessful run for Vice President. Some may contend that John McCain was the weak link in the GOP ticket, but reviews are essentially mixed as to whether or not Palin helped or hurt the chances of McCain’s candidacy.
Barely six months after Obama took office, Palin resigned as governor of Alaska. The move was arguably a poor choice politically in the sense that voters would have a tough time voting for a candidate who didn’t even finish her term as governor. But it also granted her the freedom to finish two books and become a touring conservative rock star.
But what do Americans think of Palin? How do they regard her as a presidential contender for 2012? Most polls find Palin faring poorly among independents. And in spite of her popularity among conservatives, her unfavorability typically exceeds her favorability in most polling as well. And in head-to-head matchups with Obama, Palin does not typically perform very well. According to a recent Gallup poll, in spite of her being the most well known candidate for 2012, Palin still manages to come in fourth in net favorability among Republicans. Furthermore, she does not currently lead in any early 2012 GOP primary state.
What about the strength of Palin’s endorsements? Here, Palin fares slightly better. Of her 64 endorsements in 2010, 33 prevailed, 20 lost in the general election, 10 lost in the primary and one remains undecided. Not too bad. But the case could be made that most Republicans would do well in the 2010 elections regardless of any endorsements. Not to mention the fact that other figures like Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were making similar endorsements on the trail as well. And let’s not forget that one of her major losses was in her home state of Alaska, where Republican Joe Miller lost to write-in incumbent Lisa Murkowski, whom he had defeated in the GOP primary.
So what would support the theory that the left is terrified of Sarah Palin? Certainly, she is a charismatic, attractive female conservative, which would make any liberal cringe. But do they cringe with fear or disgust?
Allow me to submit the theory that the left is simply a bully picking on an easy target. Think about it: whom do bullies pick on? Kids who are stronger than they are? Kids they are afraid of? Hardly. Now, typically bullies don’t pick on targets that fight back (like Palin does). But considering that Palin’s comebacks sometimes include dubiously contextual terms like “blood libel,” the left-wing bully machine doesn’t mind taking its chances. And the end result? Palin’s poll numbers have now reached an all-time low.
It’s not that Sarah Palin herself invites these unfair attacks. She absolutely does not deserve to be ridiculed and unfairly attacked. But her celebrity status is both a blessing and a curse. The spotlight makes her a household name and a hero to many on the right, but it also puts a, for lack of a better phrase, target on her back.
Instead of engaging the media with Facebook and Twitter, she might do better to either rise above the fray and not combat the left directly (a la George W. Bush) or engage the press directly in the form of interviews and op-ed columns. Considering the proximity of the 2012 election, now is the time for her to look polished and presidential. Essentially, she needs to make herself unappealing to the bully, while endearing herself to the American people.
If she intends the face the left with her current tactics, Palin will be just another beat-up kid in the schoolyard. Now is the time to show America that she can take the hits and get back up. Either that or she needs to take a cue from Ralph Macchio and learn karate.