- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2009

Kicking off Phase One of her reputation reclamation project with a world exclusive on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate debuted a new persona — Sarah Palin: Victim.

Over and over in her hourlong sit-down with the talk-show queen, the de facto leader of the Republican Party blamed handlers, staff, the media — even running mate Sen. John McCain — for the campaign’s missteps and mistakes last fall.

Her ill-fated interview with CBS News’ anchor Katie Couric? “I think this is the problem with the state of journalism today is no matter what I say to her, it will probably be twisted, perceived as a bit negative.”

The brouhaha over her wardrobe? A McCain camp decision: “It was, practically speaking, ‘Oh, good,’ because I don’t like to shop and that’s going to be one less thing for me to have to worry about, never thinking that it was going to be a big controversy.”

Her decision to step down as governor of Alaska? “There were so many opposition researchers up there that were — some of them by the Obama camp — who were sent up there to start the FOIA requests and the ethics violations charges.”

Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy? The McCain camp put out a statement without her approval: “I was surprised, too, that we didn’t handle that issue, that challenge, better. … ”

“Just a little bit of an indication of problems to come about what I would be able to say and how I would be able to speak or not speak my heart and my values,” Mrs. Palin said.

On her first stop of a tour to hype her new book, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” the 45-year-old Mrs. Palin, almost completely unknown before her Aug. 29, 2008, selection as Mr. McCain’s running mate, fielded friendly questions from the most powerful woman in television.

Mrs. Palin, now one of the most famous women in America, was poised and pleasant throughout, smiling often, her perfect teeth almost impossibly white. She walked onstage to applause, dressed in a black pencil skirt with a teal-green jacket, black stockings and black high heels, her long brown hair tousled and tinted with blond highlights — along with those famous frameless designer glasses.

Her skin perfect — even on HDTV — the almost certain 2012 candidate for president who talked of empowering women even sought to blame the wardrobe debacle on the disparity between the sexes.

“How easy it for a man, they’re wearing the same thing over and over again. … Male candidates have it a little bit easier in that arena,” she said.

Miss Winfrey fed her sense of victimhood throughout, picking up on Mrs. Palin’s claims that she was so micromanaged by the McCain campaign that she couldn’t be herself. “You talk extensively about how you were told to stay on script. Were you surprised at how they were trying to, in many ways, control and force you to say things you were not comfortable with?” Miss Winfrey softballed.

“They were just doing what the staff was hired to do, which I guess was to write the script, though my team, the vice-presidential candidate’s team, my handlers if you will, we never did really find that script, so we couldn’t really stay on the script,” Mrs. Palin said.

She added flatly: “I don’t think that I was to blame for losing the race.”

Again and again, Miss Winfrey posed leading questions, not unlike a defense attorney cross-examining her own witness. The process produced some odd — and hitherto unreported — moments.

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