- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 15, 2009

Palin obsession

Friends and foe alike cannot take their eyes off Sarah Palin. The fact that the former Alaska governor reactivated her Twitter account this week made global news; her Facebook thoughts are parsed by press, pundits and fact checkers like a State of the Union address.

It’s like high school. They’re trailing the popular girl down the hallways, hiding their true feelings behind a gruff facade of analysis and criticism.

But sooner or later, most will admit they just can’t take their eyes off her. And there’s a reason for that. Mrs. Palin offers spectacle and political theater; hers is the face that launched a thousand convenient tirades. But she is no mere provocateur; this woman makes people think, she makes them pay attention to the civic discourse.

Mrs. Plain is very canny in the public arena.

Consider that her autobiography “Going Rogue: An American Life” — which will be released in 48 hours — has already been on the top-10 lists of both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for weeks. Mrs. Palin will offer a steel-clad series of interviews beginning Monday with Oprah Winfrey and progressing through ABC’s Barbara Walters and Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren of Fox News.

She’ll also make a stop at the Gridiron Club in December, chatting up journalists and appearing alongside none other than Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat.

And such is the complex “rogue” brilliance of Mrs. Palin. It is built from relentless focus, down-home mettle, unapologetic enthusiasm for her pedigree and the fiery glint of red high heels near a dull dais. Her broadcast appearances are must-see TV as those friends and foe wait to see if she’ll wink and say “you betcha” or offer cogent plans to capture Osama bin Laden and turn Guantanamo Bay into a profitable venture for the U.S. government.

But there’s the logic.

After delivering this mother lode, Mrs. Palin will begin her book tour not in metropolitan areas but in key electoral battleground states.

“It looks more like a whistle-stop campaign … small- and medium-size cities starting Wednesday, mostly in the South and Midwest. She’ll be making two and sometimes three stops a day, traveling in a bus painted with the cover of her book,” says USA Today.

The paper is riveted enough by the tour to provide an interactive map for readers on Mrs. Palin’s whereabouts — which will also include Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa.

“Publishing a book is like a political campaign,” Public Affairs publisher Peter Osnos told the paper. “She is going to go out there and stump for it.”

And America, for now, just can’t take its eyes off her.

Makin’ a list

Whether we like it or not, gift giving looms. And conservative entrepreneurs are ready. From Right Wing Stuff, here’s a sampling of mottos from T-shirts, bumper stickers and other “liberal baiting merchandise” rolled out just in time for the holidays:

“Right wing extremists founded this nation,” “Treason’s greetings,” “It’s okay to say merry Christmas,” “U.S. out of Iraq and into Iran,” “Give me liberty, don’t give me debt,” “Proud member of the Republican resistance.”

Yowsuh. Don’t forget the nice ribbon. Consult www.right wingstuff. com.

Picture this

And speaking of high school behavior, journalists continue to seek self-promotional thrills in social media. Many now feature shots of themselves during some big broadcast appearance as their official portrait in Facebook.

“In an effort to squeeze the most out of their three minutes on cable news, an increasing number of Beltway types are taking to a cross-platform method of self-promotion: the I’ve-been-on-TV profile picture,” says Daniel Libit of Politico.

“But Washington has its own unique categories,” Mr. Libit observes. “Among them: the speaking-at-a-conference photo, the being-with-a-politician photo and the I’m-really-not-that-Washington photo, which includes people on mountains, in ballparks or with fish. The social and professional currency of the I’ve-been-on-TV profile picture may differ based on the show: “Meet the Press” might give you more oohs and aahs than “The Joy Behar Show.’”

Days of yore

The Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, precursor to the U.S. Constitution, 232 years ago today. The very first matter of business: “The Stile of this Confederacy shall be ‘The United States of America.’” The document was replaced by the Constitution in 1788.

Hot air on Capitol Hill grew a little less so on this day in 1937, marking the first time Congress met in air-conditioned chambers.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial 70 years ago today — but not after years of public controversy surrounding the design, based on the Pantheon in Rome, and the site, which had originally been home to a small forest of delicate Japanese cherry trees. Roosevelt himself stepped in an resolved the squabbles; the site was dedicated in 1943.

Last but not least, one Soviet leader was in shoe-banging mode on this day in 1957. During an interview with the New York Times, Nikita Khrushchev challenged the U.S. to a missile “shooting match” — a remark that disquieted Americans and ultimately ramped up the arms race.

Poll du jour

32 percent of U.S. voters agree with President Obama’s idea that “world is a community of nations” with many commonalities.

44 percent disagree and 24 percent are not sure.

47 percent of Democrats agree with Mr. Obama’s global perspective.

60 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of unaffiliated voters disagree with it.

55 percent of liberals agree with Mr. Obama’s idea.

59 percent of conservatives reject it.

Source: A Rasmussen reports poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted Nov. 5 and 6.

Follow Jennifer Harper at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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