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  • How left-wingers destroyed Sarah Palin

    by Sunny
    22nd October, 2008 at 9:30 am    

    Discussing the rise and then sudden collapse of support for Sarah Palin is likely to be the biggest story if John McCain loses the American election in less than two weeks time. When she was unveiled as the candidate, right-wingers mostly swooned over her (incl. Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes) while the left went on the attack. I was amongst the most scathing.

    Now here is the interesting thing. In America there was clear agreement in the left-wing media (the blogs, some shows on MSNBC) on how to regard her and approach her: with contempt. They highlighted every mistake and played up every bit of stupidity. Her supporters in the USA and UK responded to that by essentially saying: hah! Under-estimate her at your own peril. You’re just elitist of making fun of this family woman. This is why liberals keep losing elections.

    The key difference is that even some left-wingers in the UK were making that argument, scared as they are of criticising anyone on the right in case they look a bit elitist. One of the key articles was this by Nick Cohen, which now looks rather silly doesn’t it? And there was Shuggy’s post too.

    The numbers for Sarah Palin have blown up in their faces. According to the latest polls, her ratings her very negative. Furthermore, a huge number of Democrat women have been turned off by potentially voting Republican because of Palin. Except for one old lady who was wavering, every woman I spoke to otherwise said she was “scared” of a Palin vice-presidency. The polls support this. So there are three key points here.

    First, give the American public a bit more credit, eventually they see through bullsh!t. Second, McCain’s naked play for annoyed Clinton supporters has definitely backfired in his face. Thirdly and most importantly - the popular perception of Palin wouldn’t have turned negative if Democrats had resisted going on the attack and highlighting her inexperience. Going negative has clear benefits and during this election cycle the Sarah Palin angle has been one of the few times the Democrats have hit the target properly.
    If “left-winger” warn against being angry at made right-wing politicians because you may be out of touch, then ignore them. As I said then, Democrats should go on the attack. They did, and now they’re winning. Political strategy vindicated. And by the way, do you know how much Sarah Palin wasted on clothes?

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    Filed in: Culture,Current affairs,Election News,United States

    35 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. How left-wingers destroyed Sarah Palin | Right Views

      [...] More here:  How left-wingers destroyed Sarah Palin [...]

    1. shariq — on 22nd October, 2008 at 10:11 am  

      I’ll disagree about a couple of things. First of all the Obama campaign didn’t do any of the attacking. E.g in the Biden-Palin debate, Biden spent his whole time talking about John McCain.

      Secondly, a lot of people wanted to attack her before we even had a chance to see what she was like. Without the Gibson and especially the Couric interview, its not clear that attacking would have worked.

    2. Vikrant — on 22nd October, 2008 at 10:16 am  

      Well Bill O’Reilly now has something to rant about for 2 weeks after the elections! Palin has effectively done it in for McCain. One of my very neo-con friends and a big figure in the local campus Republican setup for instance ended up turning in his absentee ballot for Bloomberg simply cuz he couldnt bear Palin on the ticket haha!

    3. S — on 22nd October, 2008 at 10:29 am  

      Palin was indeed smeared before anything was known about her- and the vitriol was backfiring.

      As it turned out she was a complete bozo- and destroyed McCains prospects.

    4. soru — on 22nd October, 2008 at 10:37 am  

      I think it is probably more accurate to describe the dynamic as the multi-trillion economic collapse just about managing to be a higher priority than the clumsy identity politics of Palin.

      Her negative figures are a consequence of the economics providing a reality check on the Republican world-view, not a consequence of the fact she hunts, has kids and wears glasses.

      ‘Negative’ is a bullshit word, a made up category that means nothing. All politicians are ‘negative’ about their opponents - any temporary praise is just intended to make them seem weak and in need of patronisation.

      The actual tactical choice is what kind of attack you make: one based on cultural identity and class, or one based on personal characteristics like morals, experience, capability, and whatever the opposite of ‘being a lunatic flake-job’ is. The decision to be made is not like a bishop thinking ‘is this war right?’, but a general ‘will this attack contribute to victory?’

    5. billarickaydickey — on 22nd October, 2008 at 11:15 am  

      Just thought I would use this latest post to draw attention to an article by Dianne Abbott that went up at 9.30 this morning on CiF calling for unrestricted immigration. I sometimes wonder why we bother in the anti fascist movement when professional white haters like her come out with shit like this. She has just delivered thousands of votes to the BNP.

      How about an article on this issue Sunny, I will write you a nice one?

    6. platinum786 — on 22nd October, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

      They voted Bush… she doesn’t seem dumber than him.

      Never under estimate the stupidity of the American electorate.

    7. MaidMarian — on 22nd October, 2008 at 12:55 pm  

      Sorry Sunny - whilst I don’t doubt your intentions or good faith, two pretty big problems here.

      1 - I can only agree with others that the economic crisis and its inevitable association with a Republican White House did for Palin. It may well be that this would still have happened if the economy was doing well, but I really can’t see it.

      2 - What you are describing here sounds treacherously close to personality politics. Yes - elections have to be won and yes it’s an ugly business. And yes, the other side would almost certainly indulge. There is more than having a political strategy vindicated, though that probably doesn’t register too highly out on the campaign trail. When someone as thoughtful as you sunny can say of politics, ‘Going negative has clear benefits,’ and mean it it does not bode well.

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 22nd October, 2008 at 1:33 pm  

      Sarah Palin reveals herself to be backward: PALINDROME

      Sarah Palin is outed as a communist: VLADIMIR ILLYICH PALIN

      Sarah Palin is told to get on her bike: CYCLE PALIN

      Sarah Palin jumps ship: PALIN SAILING

      Sarah Palin finds new job as chief remaker of classic shows on UK Gold:

      -The end-

      This has been a party political broadcast on behalf of

    9. Pablo — on 22nd October, 2008 at 1:50 pm  

      One of the key articles was this by Nick Cohen, which now looks rather silly doesn’t it?

      Let’s be honest, lots of Nick Cohen articles look very silly not long after they have been published.

    10. Ravi Naik — on 22nd October, 2008 at 4:02 pm  

      Democrats should go on the attack. They did, and now they’re winning

      Obama started attacking Palin on the fact she was a mayor of a few thousand people, and that backfired. Obama, whose running a very disciplined campaign, quickly shifted gears, and changed the strategy to focus on McCain, and let others (outside the Democratic party) to do the attacking. The role was quickly filled by DailyKos and other liberal bloggers, then came the media, and then came Katie Couric’s interview and the SNL sketches. I honestly think that the latter two had a more devastating effect than liberal blogs.

      McCain’s move in choosing Palin had two purposes: (a) get the female vote (specially Clinton voters), and (b) use the gender card to deflect any criticism to his candidacy, and attack Obama. Unfortunately for McCain, Obama quickly realised that, and ignored Palin. And McCain didn’t have a plan B.

    11. billericaydicky — on 22nd October, 2008 at 5:59 pm  

      You may all get in touch with the campaign to get rid of the black racist Diane Abbott by e mailing me at

      At the moment the black nazi Joseph Harker who runs Cif is banning certain posts. So much for Comment is Free

    12. Refresh — on 22nd October, 2008 at 6:21 pm  

      What’s the score billericaydicky?

      Been scanning some of your posts, usually off-topic, and found them odd. But thought lets give them time, soon enough it will become clear. But no, your #12 is most peculiar.

    13. Shamit — on 22nd October, 2008 at 6:51 pm  

      Ravi @11 - spot on

      Vikrant @ 2 - I think the same thing is happening beyond your campus. McCain won with moderate republicans and independents — and then with Sarah Palin lurches to the right. When poll after poll shows that the country is more centrist than talk show hosts and Fox News accept.

      I think the republican party is headed for a big debate within itself about where it positions itself and how it appeals to the wider electorate. Going by current trends, for every one republican new voter there is two new democrats. They know they need to change to remain relevant.

    14. El Cid — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:05 pm  

      Aren’t you overplaying the role negative campaigning played in all this? And if so, are you doing it out of self-interest or as a result of cold analysis? It’s a legitimate question.

      BD, if you have a story idea you should contact the editors through the channel provided on the top left of the PP home page.

      And if you really want to get rid of DA, I suggest you persuade the Liberals to put up a credible black female candidate in Hackney North.

    15. Sunny — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:08 pm  

      Cold anallysis. Will explain more later and respond to your questions folks. I’ve been thinking a lot about the rise of conservatives while I’ve been here.

    16. El Cid — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:14 pm  

      Also, does being negative extend to purposely misrepresenting people, even telling untruths, because in a battle between black and white there can never be shades of grey? Where would you draw a line?
      And since you put left winger in quotation marks, I’m kind of wondering where ethics fit on your left-right spectrum. Or does the end justify the ends?

    17. El Cid — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:32 pm  

      On a lighter note:

    18. BenSix — on 22nd October, 2008 at 9:43 pm  


      My personal favourite has been “Moosolini”…

    19. Nyrone — on 23rd October, 2008 at 1:40 am  

      That Nick Cohen article really does make painful reading. Does he realize how utterly ridiculous he now looks?

      I broadly agree with the point being made. The left and liberals residing in the upper echelons of the Democratic party in the US have always been scared and timid about going on the attack because they felt they could be percieved as unpatriotic and weak. I’m glad they discovered their balls again and went on the attack about Palin, because it has obviously worked.

      The obvious secondary point being that liberals in the UK have a lot too learn from this strategy. I agree, why do progressives hide under bedsheets even when they have the better arguments on key issues?

    20. douglas clark — on 23rd October, 2008 at 3:17 am  

      Sunny @ 16,

      I beg to differ.

      It is with rhetoric, commitment and frankly a transendence of party like this, that you win big, not small:

      I have heard a lot of Obama, and that is the best yet. Watch the embedded video. That is reaching way beyond your base. That is what landslides are made of.

      The article itself is well worth reading for another perspective on how to fight an election.

      Anyone got a good cure for insomnia?

    21. Sunny — on 23rd October, 2008 at 8:57 am  

      Obama has good numbers, but landslide? I don’t see that happening. He could still lose if they take Pennyslvania and hold on to Florida and Ohio and a few others.

    22. Shuggy — on 23rd October, 2008 at 9:41 am  

      The key difference is that even some left-wingers in the UK were making that argument, scared as they are of criticising anyone on the right in case they look a bit elitist.

      I didn’t read Nick’s article and don’t have time to do it now but I’m not concerned about appearing elitist and certainly not for attacking a rightwing politician. I was talking about how the ‘culture wars’ are a distraction, indeed a symptom, of a lack of proper class-based politics in the US. I don’t see why you think pointing out Palin’s inexperience has anything to do with this. I also think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that otherwise McCain would have won. Finally, since the election hasn’t been actually held yet, it would be wise to wait for the result before you declare a strategy to have worked, I would have thought.

    23. El Cid — on 23rd October, 2008 at 10:55 am  

      Finally, since the election hasn’t been actually held yet, it would be wise to wait for the result before you declare a strategy to have worked, I would have thought.

      That did cross my mind too

    24. persephone — on 23rd October, 2008 at 11:30 am  

      @23 & 24 Even if he does not win (looking more unlikely by the day) I do think the strategy has produced some very positive results & opens the door in the US to others seeing the real possibility of a non white president being a serious & close contender. I deem that a success in itself

    25. Katy Newton — on 23rd October, 2008 at 11:39 am  

      I do tend to think that people need to remember the year that Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party was definitely, definitely going to get in - and then didn’t. Personally, I’m holding off both celebrations and extended gloating until I know who’s in the White House. But that’s just me.

      Also, once you get past the fact that some college student in America has nothing better to do than collect pictures of Barack Obama holding babies, this is a lovely photo.

    26. MaidMarian — on 23rd October, 2008 at 12:49 pm  

      I have just read through that Cohen article, I don’t actually see much wrong with that, at least in its broad thrust.

      There probably is an entirely legitimate argument that Palin has not played to her strong points - or at least has not been well used by the McCain campaign. Saying that though, I suspect that Cohen is on to something when he says, ‘The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.’

      I read that as whoever was up there as candidate would have run into exactly the same. Simply by being a candidate, Palin has become the personification of what the hate is directed at. Granted, the Democrats may well have been swimming with the tide, but they did not create that tide.

      We can and should rail all day long about how the right has used smear, but it is nothing to revel in just because it’s Palin. I do accept that out there in the fetid atmosphere of a campaign this thinking won’t hold too much water. It will be very interesting in the next election in the UK to see whether Sunny thinks that this level of personality politics is aceptable.

    27. Refresh — on 23rd October, 2008 at 1:08 pm  


      ‘I was talking about how the ‘culture wars’ are a distraction, indeed a symptom, of a lack of proper class-based politics in the US.’

      That is absolutely correct! It is tragic how many ‘cultural’ movements have made use of class-based politics and then moved on once they’ve got what they’ve wanted.

    28. douglas clark — on 23rd October, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

      Sunny, are saying that, if the election was called today the Electoral Vote would split 344 / 194 for Obama.

    29. 5cc — on 23rd October, 2008 at 5:28 pm  

      Sorry to take this off topic, but could Billericaydicky explain how Diane Abbot’s CiF piece is white hating? I don’t see it myself.

    30. John Lilburne — on 25th October, 2008 at 11:53 am  

      @ Pablo

      Nick Cohen’s articles probably look even sillier before they are published and a sub-ed has had a chance give them a going over.

    31. Leon — on 25th October, 2008 at 3:11 pm  

      5cc, please don’t encourage him, he lives to derail threads with his obsessions…

    32. Don — on 25th October, 2008 at 3:52 pm  

      Douglas @21,

      Good link. The man is impressive, passionate oratory combined with iron self-control. Total contrast to the mugging, smirking and winking of his opponents.

      As for Palin, I agree with shariq, S, and others. The attack strategy could have backfired if Palin had not been, serendipitously, revealed as an even weaker choice than anyone initially thought.

      Check out her understanding of basic science (she thinks research is funny).

      As someone remarked (can’t remember where), she is one kind of stupid masquerading as another kind.

    33. douglas clark — on 25th October, 2008 at 8:29 pm  

      Ah, Don, you seem a tad upset about her remarks on fruit flies. This is the slightly more forceful response from the usually cool PZ Myers:

      The comments are worth a scan too!

    34. Kismet Hardy — on 25th October, 2008 at 8:59 pm  

      It just hit me like a bullet.

      Obama will be president.

      Obama will be assassinated.

      Just like MLK, there’ll be a riot

      Widespread anarchy

      The people of America will beg for the republicans to come back and restore order through a show of might and force

      I read something very similar in Revelations 13

      It’s in the bible, you see

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