September 11th, 2008
10:13 AM ET

Sarah Palin's Myth of America

Joe Klein
AC360° Contributor
TIME columnist

Sarah Palin has arrived in our midst with the force of a rocket-propelled grenade. She has boosted John McCain's candidacy and overwhelmed the presidential process in a way that no vice-presidential pick has since Thomas Eagleton did the precise opposite — sinking his sponsor, George McGovern, in 1972.

Obviously, something beyond politics is happening here. We don't really know Palin as a politician yet, whether she is wise or foolhardy, substantive or empty. Our fascination with her — and it is a nonpartisan phenomenon — is driven by something more primal. The Palin surge illuminates the mythic power of the Republican Party's message since the advent of Ronald Reagan.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Joe Klein • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin • T1
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Elizabeth

    One more thing about this whole lipstick on a pig situation-GET OVER IT PEOPLE! It's a harmless saying. Would everyone have their panties in a bunch if McCain's VP choice was male? NOOOOO.
    I could give Obama some more phrases to use in the future–How about–
    Don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining.

    PS. I'm in Houston and would gladly venture out into Ike's wrath to meet that cute little piece of eye-candy Anderson Cooper.

    September 12, 2008 at 1:27 am |
  2. Saone Crocker

    I am absolutely terrified by the mindless preoccupation of the press on Sarah Palin. She is an ignorant, small-minded, pro-life religious fundamentalist. We cannot risk having somebody of such gross inexperience, lack of sophistication, lack of good sense, lack of savvy a heartbeat away from the Presidency. This was a cynical, pandering, selfish choice by McCain. Has this country gone mad? She does not believe that humans contributed to global warming; she does not believe in sex education; she believes in censorship (and therefore not in the first amendment); she would roll back a woman's right to abort even in cases of rape and incest; she is a gun wielding maniac; she knows absolutely NOTHING about foeign policy. I would not make her the headmistress of a school, let alone the possible President of the USA. Let's just hope and pray that reality hits and this country comes to its senses before disaster striked in the form of a McCain/Palin administration.

    September 11, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  3. Vernon

    Let's be serious....did you see the interview with Charlie Gibson?
    She clearly has no idea about the world outside of Alaska. Her answers such ...if the U.S. had information that someone was planning to harm Americans, then we have the right o defend ourselves was something any 10 year old would have come up with. Oh, except the 10 year old would have known that the the government had the "obligation to defend. No clue on the Bush doctrine, and wasn't even sure about NATO. She may be likable...like my neighbor next door, but just like my neighbor next door, she is completely unqualified to deal with the numerous domestic and international issues facing this country. Come on .....it is soooooo obvious.

    September 11, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  4. Sharon

    These comments are for the Hillary Clinton supports (democrat, independent, republican) who is saying they are not supporting Obama because Hillary was not his VP choice. First of all you could not have really supported Hillary if you think McCain and Palin represent what Hillary represents. So what are you saying, you only supported Hillary just because she was a women, therefore you are only supporting McCain/Palin because she is a women. Wow!!!!!! Are you not even considering the issues? We really have too much at stack for you to be so shallow. Just do some research and homework on the candidates before committing. I hope I start reading comments why we are supporting a candidate based on issues instead of trivial non important things. There are so many ways to get the facts for ourselves. Let’s stop passing rumors and lies. We need good discussions on the policies and programs that are going to change this country. I do not care what candidate you are supporting, we all know that this country is in bad shape. Stop with the insults and let us see who can help this county get back to where we should be.

    Now some food for thought: Have anyone ever thought that Hillary might have turned down Obama's offer for VP? They did have a private meeting after the primaries. Right? I know you are probably saying why would she turn the VP position down. Well if she is on the ticket for VP and they win, then she knows that she could not run for President again until 2016. If she is not on the ticket, then she could probably run in 2012. Hummmmmmmmm Hillary supporters you must know that Hillary is extremely smart and politically savvy. If you really supported her before there is no way you can support McCain over Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama's policies and Hillary's policies are very similar. We know that from the primaries. So come on and vote for Obama/Biden!!!!!!! We need the right kind of "Change" in Washington.

    September 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  5. John

    ~ uh ~ I just read that "Palin takes tough stance on Russia".

    Honestly, this individual is only three years since she was mayor of a town with 8000 people? The biggest issue in town had to be how much ice time each hockey team gets.

    I am dismayed that this individual is even given the opportunity to take a "tough stance on Russia". If these are the credentials of a serious candidate in an American election, the entire world is in trouble.

    September 11, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  6. Sherry Ragan

    Does anyone remember the story of the Emperor's new clothes where everyone in town was afraid to tell the emperor that he was really wearing nothing until a little boy stood up to say so? The rest of the town kept saying how beautiful his clothing was and praising the fine workmanship. Sarah Palin reminds me of this story. Many republicans seem to be working very hard to defend her and her so called experience, etc. It is the biggest hoax since the emperor's new clothes. I don't understand how anyone can realistically take this woman seriously. I agree with what was said about her today, she is a "cocky wacko". She even seems to have herself fooled. Anyone with her experience who thinks she is ready to lead this country is seriously lacking in judgment. God save us!

    September 11, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  7. Maxwell

    This is the most disappointing time in the history of United states of america, I am independent voter and I thought after mccain introducing his running mate he will bring some thing good to the table but he is using the woman as a shield and later uses sexism card how pathetic is that, and the rest of the public don’t care about the issues.according to human rights we are ranked number 48 we are no longer a super power and our dept is almost 89 trillion dollars, China, India is better economically then America, most of the middle eastern countries have more wealth then America, . It’s amazing that we are seeing the hypocrisy in America. And all we care is those who lie to us, I may be laughing now but the world is laughing at us not with us.

    September 11, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  8. Patrick

    In response to Alma

    The race card does not belong! Again I'm sure Cooper 360 will address the facts. Over 95% Black American voters polled will cast their vote for Obama. White voters are more much more centered and reflects a much more balanced and unbiased view of race.

    Alma, learn the facts

    September 11, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
  9. Abraham

    Hm, why do I think I have not heard anything from Sarah Palin which is not a derivative of something said in McCain stump speeches.

    With the possible exception of her attacking and ridiculing the faith based community organizing of Barack Obama.
    This is truly beyond the pale. The perpetrator is an evangelical Christian?
    Are Mormon missionaries the next target? Or the Peace Corps? Teach for America? Soup kitchens?

    September 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  10. Mary Sue, Va.

    As a female I admire that Palin as done with her life. As a mother I can understand the difficulties of raising a child. I think that McCain is a fine honorable man who has earned my respect. BUT I don't believe in his policies and ways of doing things...they haven't worked, at least not for me for the last 8 years. I found the Lipstick comment amusing...and don't forget McCain has used that same comment as well. The media hasn't attacked Palin...they have just tried to find out about her. If the Republicans are waiting to get her ready to face the media and answer questions...then that in itself should answer some questions for the voters...Is she ready??? How ready do you have to be to answer questions?? Who is going to get her ready if they make it to the White House?? And is the ever going to say anything different??? She is new to the public...of course people want to hear about her. My vote goes to Obama and Biden....

    September 11, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    I didn't understand why people flocked to Obama's side and marched to his tune as inexperienced as he was and still is; I certainly don't understand why people are flocking to Palin's. Maybe its because she is so much like the rest of us; that she doesn't come across as an elite Ivy League professor with a vision. I may not understand the whys of it all but I certainly recognize it as the same sort of thing that happened with Obama before the February Super primaries. Obama seemed to go flat after those primaries while Hillary staged her comeback that almost made it. Perhaps the allure of Palin will fade in time but to her advantage she doesn't have as much time in which to fade as Obama has. The newness of Palin may last until the election.
    As Anderson said last night this has been a bizarre election cycle.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 11, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  12. vikki

    First I think you are a good reporter, Anderson Cooper.

    First let me give you some feed back about myself and why I am making this comment.

    I am a single, white, 48 yrs young, mother of 2. Lost the love of my life to cancer back in 1986. moved to Florida in 1988 with our son who was one yrs old. I was raised in Alaska, last address Wasilla. the majority of my family lives either in Wasilla or Anchorage. I do have my only sister who lives in Tallahassee, she moved here from Wasilla about 10 yrs ago. I can fish and hunt and consider myself to be equal to all. I was raised that way thats how Alaskan are. We lived in a tent till it snowed then to an apartment , then a house. Worked since the age of 14 and have been working since.

    I think Palin is probable a good person and might be someday able to lead, but not now, she is not ready. She is not a Hillary Clinton! I am insulted that McCain thought I would choose somebody just because she is a woman, thats why he picked her and when all the newness fades then maybe we can get back to a real political race.

    Alaskans are a different breed of people. I didn't realize that till I came to Florida its way different. If I had stayed in Alaska I probable would be voting as a Republican, which I am, but will not vote that way. I work for a Political person and believe me being able to bring your kid to work would not fly at my job and I think for most women that work. and I dont think men for the most part bring there kids to work either must be an Alaskan thing, wonder if her other employee are able to do that?

    Palin is not ready to lead not by far, Alaskans do not face the same problems like the rest of the lower 48. Its a state of 600,00 or less people.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  13. Mike

    It is sad to think how many Americans are now considering and planning on voting for MCcain/Palin either because 1) Obama is black and/or 2) Palin is a woman. I live in the south and I have heard this on more than one occasion. The election should mean something to every single American – it should mean enought that they actually do a little research and determine facts and not believe everything they see on commercials or from the media – any media source. Whatever you think of Obama, Biden, or MCcain, it is clear that Palin is not qualified to be a literal heart beat away from the Presidency. I will add that I'm not particularly proud of any political party at this time... politics in our country is shameful and disgusting – but, it is all about power and money.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  14. Heather

    My problem with this whole situation is that Sarah Palin does not say anything other than a version of what she said at the Republican Convention. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I vote for who I feel will be the best person for me and I am not hearing anything from McCain/Palin campaign that has anything to do with the issues. It is all about how they are "Mavericks" and about how she put that plane on "Ebay". I have begun changing the channel when McCain/Palin are on because they aren't saying anything different. At least Obama is talking about the issues. McCain/Palin should be doing the same and let the voting public decide for themselves who is the best person to run this country and bring us back from the disaster that has been the last 8 years.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  15. Kathy

    It is amazing that people in America are so shallow and out of control. Here is a woman who is so determined to be President at the expense of her family and country. She has 5 children, one chose to go into the service (what happened to college)? The second child stays out of school for 5 months,then announces that she is pregnant – now is forced to marry a boy who wants a life and future besides what Mrs. Palin decided was right for him. She is nothing like me and does not have my values. My children went to college, did not get pregnant or got anyone pregnant, raised wonderful children and have great jobs. I did my job – perhaps she should stop and do hers! I fear that she will find it in her power to also dictate to use what she feels is right for us: her crazy religious values, her discard for stem cell research, her views on abortion and the freedom for young women in the future to choose what is right for them. This woman ever found that one day John McCain is no longer able to lead – she will be like a "deer in headlights." Let face it America this isn't 1972 – even though she thinks it is. Get smart!

    September 11, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  16. Joe

    I will not be surprised if the English newspaper that labeled Americians as dumb by voting for Bush do the same again this year if we vote for McCain. Voters are now all crazy about Sarah Palin simply because of her personality. She is yet to address any of the issues affecting Americans: the economy, foreign policy, education, etc and the so- called 'Change' that they have started preaching lately. How could the Republican ticket be so desperate to start stealing their opponents' theme? They have nothing new to offer so all they do is go negative. There is one thing that i want Americans to know and that is, republicans are calling for change and they are not doing anything new other than changing Bush and replacing him with McCain, CHANGE and CHANGE FOR THE BETTER are two different things. I hope we all learn our lesson from what Bush has put us through for the past eight years and not do the same mistake again.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  17. Becky, Shreveport, LA

    hey, guess what? my mother worked and raised two children too, and i'm praying she never runs for president because having a uterus and a career don't make you qualified to run the country. I agree that it's a wonderful thing that there are so many strong, outstanding, virtuous women who have important roles in our government, but Sarah Palin has not proven herself to be considered for such a powerful and important role. The McCain/Palin ticket is absolutely playing the gender card in this election, and sadly, many people are falling for it. it seems like everyday there is a new scandal or information surfaces about questionable decisions Palin has made in her political career and it seems that everyone is turning the other cheek "because she is a woman," and therefore, is not held to the same standards as male politicians. I hate to say it, but it's true. Let's just pretend that half of what has come out as truth against Palin was true about Joe Biden, or even John McCain- it would absolutely damage their chances, but because Palin is a women, she is being treated differently and it disgusts me. I feel like so much of what women have strived for in the past 10-20 years towards equality has just been pushed back because no one is telling Palin that she is lying and exaggerating about her decisions. Not to mention, she recycles her speeches to the point that I believe i've heard everything she's ever said publically as the vp nominee at least 20 times. All Palin is doing is taking the spotlight off of McCain, who many have forgotten is the real Presidential candidate- and it's obvious to me that the McCain campaign has done this purposefully because they'd rather have people be excited about someone like Palin, than confront McCain on what is important in this election- the issues.
    It's ridiculous to me that Americans value the idea of having a President they believe is "just like them." I don't want someone like me- i want someone better. I want someone with a higher degree than a BS in communications-journalism. Being a strong, educated woman with a family is awesome- and I think it's great Palin has managed to do all of these things, but it's not good enough.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  18. Sarah from CA

    I am an Independent Voter and I despise Sarah Palin. I can barely tolerate the sound of her voice.

    Have we truly become a society of people who vote on the basis of tabloid journalism, twisted truths and the sensational flappings of the news media?

    Evidently we are, because that is exactly what the Republicans have used to win the last 2 elections.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  19. Patrick

    I remember a young senator who gave an electrifying and inspiring speech some years ago. America was enamored with this new face in politics, I was; his name was Sen. Barack Obama. His popularity was so great that after taking his Senate seat he decided with his group of Democratic backers 142 days later he would run for the Presidency of the US. He has run for that office ever since, like an arrow seeking its target, spending 75,000,000.00 for one shot at that very target he seeks. Obama out spent his closest rival in the democratic party, Senator Hillary Clinton by 25,000,000.00 who garnered 18,000,000.00 votes. American democrats have had two years to build the base, the case and use that money his charisma and all of his qualifications to insure his successful election to the presidency. I would think that an open minded progressive intelligent society such as the United States would give this Republican VP Candidate longer then 10 seconds after the announcement as a running mate before attacking her. Watching Senator Obama melt down along with Senator Biden and the Democratic Party before this Republican VP choice has been given an opportunity to speak should be of great concern to every American. Further unsaid is the complete lack of culpability from a Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Democratic Congress majority leader Nancy Pelosi that have represented this nation and their constituents for the last two years. They have buried their heads in the sand knowing full well they placed the wrong candidate in the position for the most honored office in the nation. Attack, attack, and attack, I’m ashamed of my fellow Democratic Americans. I will reserve my vote and consider McCain as I can’t consider myself a member of a party so full of hatred as has been demonstrated on the web, on the streets and in the press.
    A sad day for Democrats and an embarrassment for Americans…

    September 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  20. Peartree from NC

    You know what america, why arent your crying about Palins experience. Another thing america they are not even talking about the issues Mccain and Palin. but they sure is takeing obamas comment and running with it. were are americans morals gone. i say that because Obama has ran a clean campaign. i cant say the same for mccain even hiliary clinton. but he ran a just campaign against them. i think americans dont want america to get fixed. all mccain is doing is playing the american people using them as puppets and its working. i wish they talk about the real issues and stop useing these gimmicks. Die Hard Republican voting for OBAMA!

    September 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  21. Trish A

    In respect of Abraham, Martin, Luther and John, Give Me A Break! Who is this Joe Klein? His views certainly aren't mine! You'd think Sarah Palin was some Goddess that just descended on America! And the Republicans a few short weeks ago were all over Obama Supporters about his Star Quality! What a difference a few days make!

    It is quite clear to me that America will never get it's Nation back until some of it's citizens transcend from the past eras and beam into the NOW. The ignorance and hypocricy of some Americans is totalling overwhelming! The only reason these Americans will vote Republican is to put a woman in the White House and keep a Black Man out! How patriotic is that? These Americans are those who have forgotten about Equality and Justice for All! These Americans are those who vote based on Gender, Skin Color and the Nominee they think they'll feel most comfortable having a beer with! Well, here's a news flash, that's the Nominee who put us all where we are today, Trillions in debt and two decades further behind the rest of the World! Congrats!

    September 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  22. Matthew Baker

    If cnn put half the effort in investigating obama as they have Palin then hillary would be representing the dems as the presidential nominee. And im not voting for obama, not because of his race like most of his supporters want you to believe. Rather because he has extremely poor judgement, no experience and ties to terrorist who were probably laughing in joy today as obama walkesd to the pit of ground zero. You wont get the full truth from cnn so go find and research it for yourself.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:11 pm |
  23. Sue Moricle

    I am not a Palin supporter (or an Obama supporter) but when the media talks about Alaska getting so many millions in earmarks, they need to also mention that only 1% of Alaska's land is privately owned. All the rest is either owned by the government or the big oil companies. So I wonder if either entity pays property taxes to the state? Perhaps they are dependent on earmarks out of necessity. Does anyone know the answer to this?

    September 11, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
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