I met Sarah Palin once back in November of 2013. She was on a book tour and granted me 20 minutes to discuss said book and was open to any political or personal questions as well. So while the camera crews were setting up, I posed the one personal inquiry I knew couldn’t be asked when the cameras were rolling:
ME: You’ve mentioned in speeches being a hockey mom, so I’m guessing you’re a fan of professional hockey as well. But since Alaska doesn’t have an NHL team, who exactly do you root for? Edmonton?”
PALIN: I’m partial to the Devils myself.
Me [From New Jersey and having attended five Stanley Cup Final games as a die-hard Devils fan): Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Why is that?
Palin: Well, Scott Gomez is the first Alaskan-born player in the NHL and he won two Cups with the Devils early on. So I’ve always followed the team since he started played there.
We did the interview from there. While the conversation confirmed a common belief that she’s not presidential material, I also walked away seeing why she resonates with so many (albeit, not nearly enough) people during that rollercoaster summer and autumn of 2008. Even the uneven HBO movie Game Change (the other half of the book primarily focusing on the Clinton 2008 campaign disaster didn’t interest HBO — go figure) didn’t try to avoid this fact: Palin knows how to connect on a personal level; she knows how to draw a crowd. Granted, many in the crowd who react to everything she says loathe everything about her. But when the topic of Palin comes up, particularly in the arena of cable news, you feel everyone involved on a set more engaged, more passionate about whenever the debate is around something she said or wrote. If she says something controversial (and that’s often), those statements are hotly discussed, particularly by left-leaning media. In the end, she just knows how to strike a nerve, good or bad.
Now as we come up on seven years since she flew onto the national stage, Palin somehow still has legs (from a media perspective). If this week from Media Buzz to Morning Joe to The Daily Show is any indication, she’s still is a hot topic of conversation across the board. And not because she’s hinted at what would undoubtedly be a disastrous run for President (her negatives are far too high, her baggage from stepping down as governor too much to overcome alone), but because she’s arguably still the most polarizing political figure in the country today.
Need proof of Palin’s longevity, for better or worse? Listen to Nicolle Wallace on almost any given day, who appears to be making an entire career on sharing past stories and analyzing one thing: Sarah Palin.
Wallace is on Letterman, she’s sitting down with Andy Cohen, she’s chosen to co-host The View, which isn’t exactly paying off (rumors are now swirling the struggling show could be cancelled altogether). Make note: When’s the only time Wallace gets ink for making an opinion? When it involves her former boss. Never has a losing comms director for an inept campaign got more miles on flat tires than Wallace, who doesn’t have anything particularly compelling to offer outside of having once worked for the soon-to-be 51-year-old Palin and not liking her very much.
If Palin does run, watch out below for champagne corks flying out of windows of most media outlets, particularly 30 Rock. To most editors and producers, Palin-bashing somehow never gets old (as you’ll see in the amiable comments section below). For whatever reason, she always draws a crowd, always creates buzz (sometimes for all the wrong reasons, as we witnessed in Iowa and that speech even conservatives are mocking over the past weekend).
Time really flies. It’s almost seven years since we met Sarah Palin. She hasn’t held public office since 2009. Losing VP candidates usually fade back into their previous positions or vanish from the public eye (Paul Ryan, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, Jack Kemp are the last four besides her to look to as varying examples).
And every time you think you’ve heard the last from the hockey mom…every time you think you’re out…she pulls you back in.
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