Saturday, January 31, 2009

Comparing Sarah Palin with Obama

Never, never understimate Sarah Palin's toughness . . .

Right now (8 p.m. ET Saturday), Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are at the Alfalfa Club dinner in DC. Like you, I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that event.

Today, I was reading John Brady's superb biography of political genius, Lee Atwater (Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater). Brady opens the book with the following quote: "The things we admire in men [and women, hopefully], kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest -- sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest -- are the traits of success. And while men [and women] admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second." (John Steinbeck, Cannery Row)

Is that true? For the most part, it is. Someone like Sarah Palin falls mainly in the first category, while Barack Obama -- and the men around him -- fall mainly in the second. Obama's campaign manager, David Axelrod, is a specialist in smearing -- defaming -- his client's opponents. Axelrod was the primary sources for the flood of lies about Palin. To a degree, his tactic worked, driving down Sarah's "favorables," which was Axelrod's intent.

I've talked about Joe Biden uttering one falsehood after another during the campaign. He's now the vice-president of the U.S. No one has yet identified one lie told by Sarah Palin. She's the one who's not the vice-president.

Does all this mean that Obama inevitably defeats Palin in a head-to-head match? Not necessarily. We cannot ignore Sarah's toughness, which far exceeds that of Barack Obama. Also, as former Ms. editor Elaine Lafferty observed, Sarah is infinitely curious and a fast learner.

How much exactly she learned in 2008 -- and continues to learn -- we're beginning to see. Perhaps at tonight's Alfalfa Club dinner, Obama will begin to see it also.

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