Presidential Campaign

How Sarah’s Getting Her Groove Back

In the first 48 hours after Barack Obama won his historic bid for the presidency, I had — like the rest of you — many spontaneous conversations about the ceiling that had just been broken and the joyous reaction around the world.

But within days I was surprised to find that the subject had changed to Sarah Palin. Everywhere I went, from the grocery store to my allergy doctor’s office to a reception after a memorial service all the way across the country, people kept bringing up Palin.

Which is funny, because at the very same time, Sarah wanted to start talking. And she hasn’t stopped, in nonstop media appearances since just after the polling station lights went off last week. In my column this week — below — I concluded that though she is finally talking and talking and talking, it is becoming clear there are still only a few things Palin really wants to tell us:

Sure, we may be witnessing the historic transition from the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush to his successor, the first African-American ever to win the White House. But if you pick up the paper or turn on the news, you will quickly realize we are also in the middle of a Sarah Palin publicity blitz, otherwise known as the Exonerate Sarah Tour.

Liberated from the meanies on the campaign of John McCain, Palin is making the rounds, to Fox News, CNN, NBC and as featured speaker at the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida this week, joining fellow GOP governors who are also vying for leadership in a leaderless party — including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Charlie Crist of Florida.

What does she have to say? A lot. When asked about whether she harbors presidential ambitions of her own, Palin is wasting no time with subtlety, and wants to assure everyone she’s hungry and planning to stick around. Though she can’t predict what will happen, Palin says she is leaving it in God’s hands. “I’m like, ‘OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere’ — this is what I always pray, I’m like, ‘Don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door.’ And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and it if is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door,” Palin told Fox News this week.

To her credit, Palin is standing up to the “stinkers” in the media, and she had some choice words for the campaign aides who are throwing her under the bus — “cowards,” “jerks,” “mean-spirited,” “cruel,” “immature” and “unprofessional.” Palin is also refusing to take the blame for sinking the GOP ticket. “I think the economic collapse had a heckuva lot more to do with the campaign’s collapse than me personally,” she told NBC.

The liberation of Sarah has taught us another thing: We now know that Palin prefers to inform selectively. What she wants us to know comes out loud and clear, whether it’s about her still-warm relationship with McCain, her trust in the Lord and his role in her political career or why a Wall Street meltdown did more to damage McCain’s chances than her candidacy did. But when she doesn’t want to answer, she takes us all down a long and winding road.

According to Newsweek, McCain aides claim Palin binged over budget when they asked her to buy six suits, spent up to $40,000 on clothes for her husband, and, “a week after she announced that she was going back to her consignment shop, she was still having tailored clothes delivered.” Palin said not so. Or in her words, she actually said: “there is no clothes audit, except for when the belly of the plane got cleaned out, all the piles of clothes that they had in there, they wanted me at my house to go through it and box things up and send it.”

Everybody catch that? And when firing back over charges that she doesn’t know which countries make up the North American Free Trade Agreement or whether Africa is a continent or a country, she had the following to say: “So if it came up with one of those debate preppers, you know, that’s curious. But having a discussion about NAFTA — not ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know who is a part of NAFTA.’ ” Then she added, “So, no, I think that is, there are, allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA, and about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context.”

Got that too? Palin’s publicity tour is leading to speculation that she may be planning to come to town sooner than 2012, to serve in the U.S. Senate. Should “Uncle” Ted Stevens (R) keep his seat, only to be expelled from the Senate, Palin could call for a special election and run for his seat. The future is bright for Palin the Plow, and she is ready for the next opportunity, whatever it is. One thing is clear: With Palin, very little will be clear, except when it comes to topics of her choosing.

SHOULD PALIN LEAD THE CHARGE FOR THE GOP? Ask A.B. returns Tuesday, Nov. 18. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to Thank you.

Tags Candidate Position Conservatism in the United States Employment Change John McCain Person Career Person Communication Person Location Politics of the United States Public image of Sarah Palin Quotation Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin interviews with Katie Couric Tea Party movement United States
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