Sarah Palin hit a home run with her acceptance speech at the RNC Wednesday night. She was poised, confident, eloquent, witty, and her delivery matched that of any politico or communicator in recent memory. Fred Barnes of Fox News said it best, in his post-speech analysis – “she has a gift.”
A star has been born. But this does not mean it will be smooth sailing for America’s top hockey mom. Every success will bring new scrutiny and what one mostly-forgettable former Vice President once referred to as sniping from “the nattering nabobs of negativism.”
It has become an all-too-familiar and sadly predictable pattern in modern life – the media feeding frenzy. It starts with the news of someone being elevated to a position of prominence and potential national leadership, but quickly enters a period of bipolar analysis and coverage. The story goes viral. Talking heads giggle with the kind of glee reminiscent of the witch on the Wizard of Oz gloating over plans for her “little pretty.”
The saga of Sarah Palin is, of course, the latest example of this. Before her came all those good, bad, average, and not-so-average people who found themselves tried by similarly ferocious fires.
Anyone doing a background-check these days on a potential major political candidate should do so with just one eye on the actual office being considered. The other eye should be on the political butterfly effect. What storm could emerge from this? And anything and everything can be grist for the media mill in our age of 24/7 News.
Long before Sarah Palin was born, there was a man named Thomas Eagleton who was drummed off the Democratic ticket in 1972. Years later, J. Danforth Quayle was famously dubbed to be “no Jack Kennedy.” And who could forget (ok, probably a multitude of people who aren’t political history wonks) commercials featuring a laughing voice for thirty seconds with just word on the screen – Spiro Agnew. Vice Presidential nominees have for years been easy targets.
And it all began with a man named Nixon.
The year was 1952 – often noted these days as the last time the political planets lined up as they have this year. We were faced with two major party tickets absent anyone from a prior administration. But what is often missed is the other connection between then and now. We also saw that year, for the very first time, a public media circus over a Vice Presidential nominee.