Sarah Palin needs to stop whining about unfair media coverage and get over the fact that some people don’t like her, Dave Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, tells Newsmax.
Palin doesn’t seem to get that politics is a tough game, says Keene, one of the country’s most astute political observers.
The American Conservative Union, with 1 million members, runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington and publishes an annual "Rating of Congress," the gold standard for ideological assessments of members of Congress.
“You’ve got to recognize that there are people who want you to fail,” Keene says. “And if you spend your time worrying about them, or whining about what they say, at the very least it’ll get you off your game, because you ought to be worried about what you’re going to do, not about what they’re going to do to you.”
Resigning as governor of Alaska only compounded Palin’s problems, which have been accumulating since the November election, Keene says.
“In the period leading up to the resignation, she needed to get over the fact that people didn’t like her,” Keene says. “Get over the fact that she harbored resentment for the McCain people that used her. All of those things are true, but she got more out of it than they did, and she had to begin to move on with what she needed to establish in terms of her own image, to move to the next level. And she delayed doing that.
"Now it becomes more difficult because of the way in which she bailed out on the governorship.”
Rather than creating the impression she is a quitter, Palin should have remained as governor and “carved out some time to run her operation nationally so she could get out of the state to do a few speeches,” Keene says. “She should have taken this time to establish that she’s a heavyweight — not just a political heavyweight but substantively heavy.”
But doing so is going to be difficult now that she is resigning as governor and does her “rock star” appearances, Keene says.
“Conservatives like her, but you’ve got to have more than that,” Keene says. “You’ve got to be more than a rock star. If in fact she’s interested in the presidency, she has got to establish herself as someone you can envision in the Oval Office. And it’s become more difficult to envision than it was at the time of the election.”
Unlike former governors like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, or Mitt Romney, Palin has not established her credentials before leaving office.
“Going out and simply giving speeches without that foundation behind you is difficult,” Keene observes. “What she’s proved is that she’s a very popular person, she’s an incredible political property, in the early stages as governor she made a real impression, she was a reformer, she was all of those things. But now she hasn’t followed through. Her pipeline project is up in the air, and it’s as if she dropped it to run after something else. But she hasn’t even made clear what it is she’s running after.”
Taking shots at the media is not a winning strategy, Keene notes.
“That’s like complaining about the weather,” he says. “It’s going to rain anyway, so you’ve got to just learn to live with it . . . it doesn’t do any good to be bitter. What you need to do is to calculate where your friends and your enemies are, who you need and what you need, and if you’re going to get your message out and you’re going to play on the big stage, those people are all going to be there. So you don’t kowtow or pussyfoot to them, but on the other hand you don’t spend your time whining that they’re not your friends.”
On top of these problems, Palin has proven to be unreliable when it comes to speaking engagements that help the GOP. For instance, Palin at first accepted an invitation to speak at the 2009 CPAC, where 9,000 conservative activists meet to listen to speeches by the major candidates, swap ideas and strategies, and get energized for the next election.
“She confirmed that she will be speaking to CPAC in person,” Keene says. “Then her office said she was going to be there, they were just working out the logistics. Then all of a sudden she couldn’t be there. At the last minute she was going to do a videotape. We don’t usually do that, but we said OK. Then it turned out they couldn’t get the videotape done, they couldn’t figure out how to do it or something. And so she just didn’t come. Now that was our instance, and it also happened to a number of other groups.”
Keene learned that Palin “had a situation where she didn’t trust anybody outside of Alaska because she thought she’d been used by people,” he says. “And the people that she did have in Alaska tended to be good people that didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t understand the terrain outside the state. So they would get cold feet, or they wouldn’t know how to handle something, or they’d want to accommodate somebody and then discovered they couldn’t. And it just wasn’t a very well-run, polished operation.”
Keene does not believe Palin’s missteps are necessarily fatal.
“She’s very well liked within the party, she’s a very attractive political personality, and she’s obviously bright,” he says. But her mounting self-imposed difficulties give her “fewer tools and fewer opportunities to demonstrate that she’s got the substance that she needs to move to the next level.”
At this point, Keene declares, Palin hasn’t demonstrated that she can handle a run at the presidency.
“There’s incredible pressure on you when you get into that,” he says. “All of a sudden people that you thought were going to be nice to you aren’t nice to you; the things that worked for you the week before don’t work the week after, and you’ve got to adjust.
"It’s like moving up to the major leagues, you can’t throw the same pitches . . . you’ve got to adjust to the rest of the players, and she has not to this point demonstrated that she’s able to do that.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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