Lisa Murkowski and The Palin Effect
Sarah Palin, once roundly criticized as an under-informed political liability, is exerting real-world political influence in Alaska’s Senate race.
G.I. Joe had a great slogan at the end of every show, meant to confer a life lesson to a generation of young viewers: “Knowing is half the battle.” Ex-governor Sarah Palin, however, is proving that maxim wrong, and the influence she seems to be wielding suggests a new maxim: knowing is significantly less than half the battle.
In her first interview as a vice-presidential candidate in 2008, Palin startled much of the world when she appeared to not understand the very concept of the “Bush doctrine” in an interview with Charlie Gibson. Pressed, Gibson actually defined it for her verbatim.
Debunked as under-informed, most major news sources and political commentators criticized her as unqualified for the vice-presidency.
But yesterday’s primary election in Alaska shows that despite all the the criticism, and possibly because of it, Palin still holds sway with voters. Palin endorsed Joe Miller, Alaska’s Tea Party candidate, considered a long-shot before the Bard Of Wasilla threw her support behind him. While the race is currently too close to call, Miller does appear to be leading his more moderate Republican incumbent opponent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Murkowski criticized Palin’s sudden mid-term departure from the governorship of Alaska in 2009, saying she was “deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded.”
It’s possible that all the criticism of Palin by politicians and news commentators has actually endeared her to populist voters who perceive it as bullying by snobby elitists. And this has been Palin’s genius: where she fails in scoring points based on policy and knowledge, she succeeds in scoring points on emotion.
Palin’s beef with the Murkowski family goes back to her defeat of Governor Frank Murkowki in the governor’s race in 2006. After winning, Palin accused the Ex-governor of appointing his daughter to fill his position in the Senate.
Nepotism is an emotional hot-button that almost everyone can hate—it goes against the up-from-the-bootstraps American dream we champion from all sides of the partisan divide.
As the Palin effect has shown in the Murkowski/ Miller election: knowing can be significantly less than half the battle when you’ve got emotion on your side.