I know I'm not talking about FDR, and I promise I'll eventually eventually get back to that series, but there is bigger news to deal with. Everybody seems to be up in arms over Gov. Palin's supposedly bad performance in a recent interview with Katie Couric. Personally, I thought she did far better than people think, particularly in the second installment. I also thought that some of Katie Couric's questions on the first night were completely out of line (expecting Sarah Palin to have memorized every vote John McCain ever cast is totally unfair). However, I think that the Couric interview (and the general media narrative that Sarah is being "hidden") do show a problem. Not with Sarah...there is NOTHING wrong with Sarah...but with the campaign staff who are handling her.
I say this with the highest respect to the McCain camp and their strategists, but they don't seem to understand how to use Gov. Palin, and they are paying for it. The reason that we have always loved Sarah here is that she is real. She normally does not sound rehearsed, and most of her best lines have always been the UNSCRIPTED ones, including her most memorable line in the entire campaign ("pit bull in lipstick."). Unfortunately, the campaign seems to think that they need to keep Palin tightly scripted in her public appearances and only allowing her to talk in closed interviews with hostile journalists asking endless "gotcha" questions. This not only hides her strengths, it allows the media to choose the questions and define Sarah based on her perceived weaknesses.
If I were running the campaign, Sarah would be talking with the press at every single campaign stop, making off-the-cuff jokes, and flashing that legendary smile for as many cameras as humanly possible. That's the Sarah Palin that we fell in love with last year, and that's the Sarah Palin who needs to be out on the trail. While I don't think Sarah is doing badly with the tasks she's given, those of us who have watched her know that she is capable of so much more.
For whatever it's worth, my advice is to fire the speech coaches, tear up script, wind Sarah up, and let her loose on America. I think that the American's who fell for the "pit bull in lipstick" are puzzled by the tightly-controlled, suddenly-serious individual that has showed up for the last few interviews.
The GOP has been quick to compare Sarah to Teddy Roosevelt, but I don't think they realize just how appropriate that analogy is. TR was a loose cannon who often infuriated the Washington elite. The DC cocktail set (including the Republicans) shuddered at the thought of such a brash, independent-minded individual gaining as spot on William McKinley's ticket in the year 1900. One high-ranking Republican was so incensed by the selection that, when McKinley was assassinated, his first response was, "Now look what you've done! You've gone and made that d*** cowboy President!". Of course, in hindsight, that "d*** cowboy" became one of the most iconic presidents in history. If they want Palin to be Teddy Roosevelt, they need to start letting her be the type of take-no-prisoners leader that TR personified.
So, can we please mothball the "new Sarah" and bring back the old one? That would be just "bully" in my book.