Sarah Palin Is a Long Distance Runner, Not a Train Wreck

Jul 6, 09 | 9:57 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Sarah Palin clearly believes that she has been wronged and that she is under concerted attack. She has decided not to relent, or curry favor, or soften her image, or resort to any defensive public relations tactics. She’s on the offensive.

Her alternative would have been obvious. Go back to Alaska, put her head down, and try to accommodate her political enemies. Perhaps write a lessons-learned book about her unlikely star turn.

Curiously, and alarmingly, she turns out to be much more seize-the-day than that. She certainly likes the attention. But it’s hard not to miss her instinctual combativeness.

Arrayed against an establishment, both Democratic and Republican, which says she is a hopeless lightweight and obviously illegitimate, she keeps coming, keeps giving offense.

This isn’t as dumb as it looks.

The most powerful strategy in American politics is to buck the conventional wisdom. If you can keep bucking it without being broken, you can actually win. It’s all Rocky stuff: How many punches can you take?

Among her precursors are Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Hillary Clinton.

Her stumbles may not matter very much. Her stubbornness and up-against-it-ness, together with the opprobrium of her opponents, is what feeds her core brand of loyalists.

A core band of loyalists does what a less passionate supporter base doesn’t, contribute early and often. She’s the most bankable conservative in the country.

The more red meat she throws the more money comes back. To become anathema to the left wing is to become the darling of the right wing. To become the darling of her party’s rebels and malcontents is the necessary step in amassing the credibility that the party establishment would never otherwise grant.

Sarah Palin’s career is, at this moment, the second most interesting in American politics. She’s gone from a local character to a national super nova to a major draw and wondrous wild card in less than a year.

This story has only just begun.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at

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