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18 Sep 10,, 01:08
Is Sarah Palin the next Barack Obama?
'History does not repeat itself,' said Mark Twain, 'but it does rhyme'

Is Christine O’Donnell the next Sarah Palin?

When Sarah Palin takes the stage in Des Moines on Friday night to keynote the Iowa Republican Party's Reagan Dinner, she'll send the clearest signal so far that she can see the White House from her home in Wasilla, Alaska.
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With C-SPAN planning live coverage of her speech (at 7 p.m. Central time), the former governor has a chance to woo not only Hawkeye voters who will be involved in the first nominating caucuses for 2012, but also a national audience curious about an intriguing figure's future.

For someone who tries to follow and make sense of American political trends, the now-probable run by Palin provokes some questions: Have we seen this movie before? Will the upcoming presidential campaign look strangely like the last one? Not to be impertinent or impolitic, could Sarah Palin be the next Barack Obama?

"History does not repeat itself," Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, "but it does rhyme." Look closely and the rhyme scheme for Palin and Obama is stunningly similar — despite their continent-spanning differences on issues and ideology.

Both figures emerged quickly on the national scene and used their considerable charisma to become media-magnified political celebrities.

Both were tapped to deliver major speeches at national party conventions — Obama's keynote address to Democrats in 2004 and Palin's acceptance of the GOP's vice-presidential nomination in 2008 — and in each case Americans at large took notice of their rhetorical abilities and other qualities.

Both followed up their initial national exposure with well-publicized books to tell the public more about their lives and views. Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" came out in 2006, and Palin's "Going Rogue" was published last year.
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Both became nationally recognized as Washington outsiders with limited governmental experience. Obama was an Illinois state senator when he gave his 2004 convention speech, and he was elected to the U.S. Senate later that year. Palin had served less than two years as Alaska's governor before running with John McCain in 2008. Prior to that she'd been mayor of Wasilla for six years.

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Both share somewhat exotic backgrounds far removed from the continental United States, with Obama growing up in Hawaii and Palin moving to Alaska as an infant. In addition, out-of-the-ordinary familial circumstances — Obama's bi-racial heritage and the Palin family saga — spark human interest in the two people at the center of the public's political attention.

Finally, in creating their identities within their respective parties, both have positioned themselves in opposition to the existing establishments. Obama had to take on Clinton loyalists among the Democrats to prevail against Hillary Clinton in 2008, while today, Palin is, in part, propelled by the Tea Party movement rather than rank-and-file Republicans.
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Are they also very different? Of course. But the parallels are striking and worth identifying. In many respects and assessed objectively, both Obama and Palin are products of a new age that combines politics and the modern media with all their available communication technologies.

Both created followers who are closely connected and willing to work on behalf of emerging and engaging personalities. Experience is less important than excitement, and celebrity sizzle helps, too.

At the beginning with Obama and now with Palin, the perception of being true outsiders becomes a definite advantage, especially when anger among the electorate and a disdain for the status quo define the civic climate.

Back in 2006, another mid-term year, political insiders debated whether Obama, without even a full term in the Senate, was ready for prime-time and a run for the presidency. Many admitted that he'd probably never have an opening, a moment, as the one that existed then — and he decided to toss the dice.

Something similar seems to be happening with Palin today. She's rapidly approaching the moment of a now-or-never decision.

On Friday in Des Moines, she'll bask in the sunny, reflected glory of Ronald Reagan at the "Salute to Freedom" dinner. But in the days and weeks afterward, she'll stand in the clear light of day for Republicans and others to study closely as a potential occupant of the Oval Office.

The country — and the world — will be watching to see whether history rhymes.

Is Sarah Palin the next Barack Obama? - Politics - Politics Daily - msnbc.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39230166/ns/politics-politics_daily/?GT1=43001)

Why can't Sarah Palin be the next Sarah Palin?

18 Sep 10,, 01:40
Has Sarah Palin saved the GOP?

By Paul Goldman
Friday, September 17, 2010

There has been a lot of carping about Republicans' prospects for November since Palin-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated longtime Delaware officeholder Mike Castle for the Republican Senate nomination Tuesday. But contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has kept the party strong. How? She has kept the Tea Party faithful inside the GOP tent. Had she instead encouraged these disillusioned voters to mount third-party challenges across the 2010 general-election ballot, dozens of Democratic incumbents, not to mention challengers, would be smiling like Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

That year, a simmering feud between two wings of the Republican Party resulted in the "Bull Moose" independent presidential candidacy of former president Teddy Roosevelt. The Rough Rider's support four years earlier landed William Howard Taft the GOP nomination, but the two had a falling-out. Their disunity allowed Wilson, the governor of New Jersey, to claim the White House with the lowest winning percentage of the popular vote since the two-party era began in 1864. Wilson was only the second Democrat elected president since the Civil War; a GOP united by a temporary, even testy, marriage of convenience would have triumphed easily. But egos proved too large. It did not matter that Wilson was, in TR's term, the "coiner of weasel words."

Establishment Republicans, including former Bush aide Karl Rove, have said this year that the strength of the Tea Party movement has sometimes forced the nomination of contenders with weak prospects for winning a general election. This is surely right; O'Donnell's upset on Tuesday is merely the latest example, but there were similar complaints about the Nevada Senate contest. But O'Donnell's victory follows a long GOP pattern in the Northeast of established, old-school moderates being denied the nomination in favor of fresh, sharper-edged conservatives, as happened with New Jersey Sen. Clifford Case in the 1978 Republican primary, Sen. Jacob Javits in New York (1980) and, most recently, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. The bigger picture here is not about a dearth of moderate Republicans in the Northeast. And yes, on Nov. 2, events in Delaware might leave some Republicans wondering what might have been. But this would seem a small price to pay to avoid a massive party split thanks to the protest vote still sweeping across the country.
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Consider: If Newt Gingrich or Glenn Beck held Palin's political clout, they might very well have used this power to encourage independent conservative challenges, figuring the resulting GOP chaos would redound to their benefit. Palin rejected this course, even though it probably would have been in her political interest.

Consider also that Palin has received no credit for being loyal to a party establishment that continues to treat her with maximum low regard. Americans have never sent to the White House an individual rejected four years earlier as a vice presidential nominee. So it is doubtful that Palin stuck with the GOP because she hoped to be rewarded with the chance to lead it in 2012. Think about it: A lesser person would have opted for payback, not party.

That the GOP establishment fails to appreciate the debt it owes her is reflective of the elitist outlook that is contributing to Tea Party activism nationwide. Leaving aside the substance of her policies, there is no denying the "populist conservative" roots of Palin's politics. She is a "bottom-up," not a "top-down," leader, a rare commodity on the national scene. Whatever her diva persona in certain respects, conservative voters trust that she speaks from the heart, not a script. They see her as someone out for them, not for herself.

This does not make Palin "Saint Sarah" by any definition. To me, she is a calculating politician, not a true reformer, with policy weaknesses that she tries at times to mask with questionable assertions. When she unexpectedly resigned as governor of Alaska last year, the party establishment hoped the resulting controversy would deflate her clout. Of course, had she been so weakened, the Tea Party Express might have gone a third way in a number of races this fall.

Simply put, Palin started as Tonto but has become the Lone Ranger. Instead of fading out last summer, she remained strong and stood by her party. She has become a bridge between the old Republican guard and the growing right-wing dissatisfaction with not just Democrats but also Republican officeholders. Palin's ability to advocate for using the GOP, not a third party, to channel this angst has allowed Republican voter anger to boil, yet not boil over.

Should Republicans run up the score in November, Sarah Palin will deserve a lot of credit she will never get.

The writer is a political strategist and a former chairman of Virginia's Democratic Party.

washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/16/AR2010091606348.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns)