Tony Blankley
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Professional politicians and political journalists don't waste energy on political corpses. They reserve their energy -- positive or negative -- for viable politicians.

Thus, an intriguing part of the Sarah Palin phenomenon is the intensity of response to her every word and move -- from both Republican Party and Democratic Party professionals and from the conventional media. The negative but sustained passion being expressed by the professional Washington political class against her tends to belie its almost unanimous assertion that she is washed-up.

I happened to be on CNN Friday just as the story was breaking of Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska, and for the next hour, I was the only on-air guest -- Republican, Democrat, journalist, politician -- who was not overtly contemptuous and dismissive of Palin and her political future. On Sunday, as a panelist on ABC's "This Week," I was similarly situated.

What is it about Palin that elicits such furious bipartisan Washington dismissiveness? After all, the polls show her to be tied with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for the very early lead in the 2012 Republican primary. As an outspoken conservative with about an 80 percent favorable rating among Republicans and a high-40s percentage favorable plurality among independents, objectively she should be seen as quite competitive nationally compared with other Republicans, particularly given that Republicans are generically weak and that she has been targeted so viciously by the media.

Palin draws by far the biggest crowds of any current politician, other than, perhaps, the president. She was the only news phenomenon capable of knocking the Michael Jackson story off the cable news lineups. Impressively, while George W. Bush was able to elicit a Bush derangement syndrome from liberal Democrats and President Barack Obama has succeeded similarly with many conservatives, only Sarah Palin has induced simultaneous derangement from both Republican and Democratic professionals.

At a time when governments around the world -- left, right and center -- are failing to gain public confidence and even the winning Democratic Party in the U.S. struggles to match independents for the leading political category (while the Republican Party struggles to get to 25 to 30 percent market share), it might behoove those same party professionals who have been failing to connect their parties to the public to pause before calling Sarah Palin an incompetent politician. Conventional wisdom may not be reliable in unconventional times -- or for unconventional politicians.

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Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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