Ziegler: Palin can’t beat Obama

posted at 10:55 am on June 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

There have been few public defenders of Sarah Palin as zealous as John Ziegler.  In the wake of the 2008 election, Ziegler produced a well-received and incisive documentary, Media Malpractice, which documented the overwhelming bias in the treatment Palin received from the mainstream media, especially when compared with the treatment Barack Obama received.  A loud echo of that treatment was evident in last week’s media stampede to Juneau to read Palin’s e-mails from her time as governor, a scene very reminiscent of the Wasilla Invasion of September 2008.

Today, though, Ziegler commits what might be considered an apostasy of sorts by warning Republicans not to press Palin into a nomination bid.  He sees no path to the presidency for Palin in a battle against Obama:

But in spite of being approached by Sarah’s husband Todd only a month ago and specifically discussing the possibility, I won’t be working on any Palin presidential campaign. Why? Well, first of all, contrary to what geniuses like Andrew Sullivan and Howard Dean may want you to believe, there is absolutely no way that she can be elected. I’ve told this to her directly; more than once. While many pundits mistakenly think what she is doing is some Trump-like PR stunt, I’m pretty convinced she is running and in doing so will damage the prospects of any conservative defeating Barack Obama in 2012.

These aren’t my only concerns.

There’s also the fact that Sarah’s entire operation is increasingly managed like a CIA field office; that she’s adopted a bunker mentality; that she’s trusting the wrong people, some of whom I know are simply exploiting her. As a result, even those most loyal to her get tossed under the bus, with little or no effort to avoid the collateral damage. Which raises the question: if people like me who would once have taken a bullet for Sarah (and at least figuratively I did many times) can’t get behind her any more, what the hell happened?

A big part of the reason Ziegler gives in his exclusive to the Daily Caller is Palin’s resignation as governor in 2009.  Ziegler defends it on the basis that Palin had no other choice for her family, and arguably for her state as well.  The machinery of state government had begun to grind to a halt while the governor had to defend herself from a series of baseless complaints, and unlike other powerful politicians in the state, she had no personal wealth from which to fund a defense.  Ziegler even defended the resignation that night on television, but writes today that he knew Palin would be unelectable in it the aftermath:

When I caught up with Rebecca on the phone later that day, we agreed that if you resigned after two years of a governorship, you were a ‘quitter’ in voters’ eyes. Your protests to the contrary would be futile. Your campaign was dead, especially against a preordained media deity like Barack Obama. Nevertheless, in an act that still angers my wife to this day, I rushed back to Los Angeles to do the seeminglyimpossible: be the lone defender of Sarah’s resignation on the next edition of The O’Reilly Factor. I hit a much-needed home run for her that night, but I no longer believe much of what I said back then.

Let’s face it, Palin made a great decision for her and her family, but one that disqualifies her from running for president, at least in 2012. Obama has the ultimate trump card against her: when things got tough you quit to become a rich celebrity while I was killing Osama bin Laden. Game, set, match.

The worst part about the resignation from a political narrative perspective is that it also stripped away Palin’s greatest strength. She is clearly a fighter but it is impossible to make “She will fight for you” the cornerstone of a campaign when she just quit her only big job, seemingly for personal gain.

What Palin and her many supporters apparently refuse to accept is that Palin is the Bo Jackson of modern Republican politics. She was a natural, but that talent has been taken away by circumstances beyond her control.

Ziegler calls the media kneecapping in 2008 and the partisan campaign in 2009 to force her out through bogus ethics complaints was the “injury” that took Palin out of contention.  Palin’s re-emergence as a Tea Party movement leader was a role forced on her by necessity, and while that has been very successful in making Palin a power player in conservative politics, Ziegler believes that — no fault of Palin’s — it’s not enough to make her electable in a national election against Obama, no matter how unpopular the President becomes.  In fact, he believes that her base is overestimated, and scoffs at the notion that a Palin campaign will change minds and attract the large number of independents and moderates needed to win a national election:

Palin supporters look at all of this and laughably claim that, if given the opportunity, she can change people’s minds. This is simply impossible. I have no doubt that, if presented with the chance, she would exceed expectations in virtually every area of a campaign (except organization), but that would hardly matter at all.

People rarely change their minds about anything anymore and everything she does will be seen through the media’s intractable prism that she is not real bright, which will inevitably foster even more alleged missteps (the classic examples of this being the absurd presumption that when didn’t tell Couric what she reads that it was because she didn’t read anything and, more recently, the flap over her take on Paul Revere’s famous ride). The new documentary about her record in Alaska is a nice idea, but unless they somehow buy network television time to air it, it will have absolutely no significant political impact.

I’m not sure I agree with Ziegler on this point.  While comebacks in presidential politics are rare, they’re not unknown.  Richard Nixon lost a national election, and then lost a state election two years later, which caused the media to declare his political career a dead letter.  Six years later, he won a presidential election in the middle of a war.  In what is by far a more attractive analogy, Ronald Reagan lost a bitter, narrow primary contest in 1976 that went all the way to the convention, and came back four years later to unite the GOP despite his age and his supposed inability to woo moderates. Neither man was known for his admiration of or by the media, either, although Reagan certainly knew how to use them better than almost anyone.  The difference between those examples and Palin are significant (especially the resignation), but perhaps not fatal; a primary campaign would certainly prove the issue.

On the point of overestimated bases, polling at this stage seems to argue both ways.  Without announcing for the campaign, Palin polls near the top of the primary candidates, usually just behind Mitt Romney.  That could either mean that an official announcement by Palin would energize voters to abandon other lower-tier candidates and rally to her side, or that given her near-universal name recognition, she’s already hitting a high-water mark.  Ziegler worries that her presence erodes the ability of other candidates that appeal to both conservatives and moderates to rise to the nomination, but that prompts a good question: if they can’t surpass Palin, can we hope that they would surpass Obama?

In any case, the most significant factors in the 2012 general election will almost certainly be the economy and unemployment. The identity of the GOP nominee will matter, but as with any presidential campaign in which an incumbent runs for a second term, the election will be mainly a referendum on the first term.

Be sure to read all of Ziegler’s essay at the DC, but let’s poll on the question here at Hot Air.  Is Palin unelectable in a general election?

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She is being proped up by the liberal media right now because they know how damaging she is to the Republican brand.

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

If you call what the media is doing (and has done since ’08) to Palin “propping her up,” I’d hate to see what your front porch looks like.

DrAllecon on June 13, 2011 at 7:19 PM

I am open-minded to Palin. I admit I am a fence sitter who likes her but someone needs to seriously tell me how she is NOT qualified. IF you use Obama as the bar she is more than qualified.

CW on June 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM

She’s a quitter.
Her supporters are A$$holes.
She’s Stoopid.
She Can’t win.
She didn’t abort her Downs Syndrome baby
She doesn’t Kowtow to Obama.
She doesn’t Kowtow to the Republican Elites.
She think’s she knows how to run a campaign.
Independents hate her.
A measley 75% of republicans support her positions.

That will give you a start.

Regards,

the Dragon on June 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Why is it that no prominent Republican anywhere ever defends Palin against the relentless media attacks, including the e-mail frenzy? Are they even being asked about this by conservative media pundits? It seems that only conservative talk show hosts, Limbaugh, Levin, and Hannity, defend Palin against the MSM onslaught occurring for the last 2+ years.
Is the Republican establishment so afraid of Palin that they will sit idly by and allow the MSM to do everything they can to destroy her as a contender? If so, they need to reassess this position, as the MSM will in the future do the same to whomever the Republican nominee is facing Obama.
The real irony is that it was Palin who has been taking the fight to Obama and the Democrats for most of the last 2 years, almost single-handedly! Palin endorsed 90 candidates, donated the maximum, and campaigned hard all over the country for conservative Republican candidates for Congress and Governorships. 70% of these candidates were elected in 2010. Where are Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Nikkie Haley, Susanna Martinez, John McCain, Michele Bachmann, and countless others whom she clearly elevated in their races resulting in victory? Many of these candidates had no chance until Palin’s endorsement. And now they ignore her?
The Republican party ignores Palin at their peril. No one energizes the base like Palin; and no Republican has any chance of defeating Obama without an overwhelming turnout among their base. The base means more than independents in the general election. Independents are swing voters; they will swing with the tide. A huge turnout among the base in the key electoral states such as Ohio wins the Presidency.
SheetAnchor on June 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM
That’s the point.
The Republican Establishment like their gravy train, WIN or LOSE.
Palin might change that.
Regards,
the Dragon on June 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM

The repukes are seriously afraid of SP taking office withe the very likely possibility of having a house and senate majority

that’s it

Sonosam on June 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

I have another narrative, she quit..
Terrye on June 13, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Terrye, I’ve just met with the Chief of Staff concerning your situation. We know you are completely innocent of the dozens of negligence complaints which have been filed against you. We know they are politically motivated. Management wants to stand behind you but at the same time the hospital can’t function in this environment.

So management would like to consider a two year leave of absence with remuneration at one hundred thousand times your current salary. And you can do whatever you want during the two year period. Management would like you to take a nanosecond to consider this offer. Do you and your attorney csdeven need more time? Didn’t think so.

Basilsbest on June 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Every one who works for Palin ends up disillusioned. Yet you just go on pretending that she is wonderful.

YOu simply can not face the truth of what Ziegler, and all the others, are telling you. So you pretend the debate tonight has something to do with her. It doesn’t.

None of the other candidates cares about Palin. No one feels threatened by her. She is being proped up by the liberal media right now because they know how damaging she is to the Republican brand.

If a questioner brings her up it will be for the purpose of damaging the Republican brand.

You all, and Chris Matthews think Palin is wonderful.

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

You’re funny.

Aitch748 on June 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

If a questioner brings her up it will be for the purpose of damaging the Republican brand.
petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Like the Republican Establishment hasn’t worked overtime on that for the past 30 years or so.

Regards,

the Dragon on June 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

The 2010 elections

fossten on June 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Are you kidding?

That was nothing but a bunch of establishment RINOs in the GOP (that needs to be blown up) that won.

Good Lt on June 13, 2011 at 7:25 PM

I have another narrative, she quit..
Terrye on June 13, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Right, she quit. That’s why we haven’t heard a peep from Sarah Palin since July 2009.

Oh wait…

Aitch748 on June 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Every one who works for Palin ends up disillusioned. Yet you just go on pretending that she is wonderful.

Didn’t several of them recently go on camera to support her in the documentary airing soon?

None of the other candidates cares about Palin. No one feels threatened by her.

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

What’s your best guess as to why Rollins attempted to kneecap her… with almost identical words that anonymous Romney aides previously used for her?

cs89 on June 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Oh man, Dan Rhiel gets into this Ziggy article, and Erik Erickson who felt compelled to stick up for Ziggy.

You gotta go read this thing, he reviews some of the checkered employment history that I was referencing earlier.

Erick Erickson’s Misguided Defense Of Ziegler In Palin Attack

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:31 PM

wow, fell asleep for a few hours and 1100 comments. Are 900 of them PDS posters or should I bother to read any of them?

karenhasfreedom on June 13, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:31 PM

hey Dan used my “Manifesto” line i want some kickback for that one.

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

wow, fell asleep for a few hours and 1100 comments. Are 900 of them PDS posters or should I bother to read any of them?

karenhasfreedom on June 13, 2011 at 7:40 PM

about 40/60. mostly the ABPP are down to only the “unelectable” narrative. With a couple she quit in the mix…seems all the poor ABPP narratives dies this weekend…

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

BOOM BOOM goes the left wing meme that she is stupid…..

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:10 PM

I don’t know what your reading level is, but he was saying she was not dumb.

Emails are not published or edited work. She is at a pretty high level for the off the top of your head, type of writing in most emails. The clip you showed said that.

Most newspapers aim for around 6th grade level I think. This wasn’t an insult. He didn’t gush so you think it is negative. You think she deserves gushing. She just deserves fairness, and the article was fair.

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM

You completely missed the point.

The fair point of view in this article punches a big hole in the unfair narrative that she is dumb, or incompetent.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Can you name 3 of that “bunch” who were upset?

cs89 on June 13, 2011 at 6:16 PM

It doesn’t require an invitation it’s open participation.

Dr Evil on June 13, 2011 at 7:51 PM

hey Dan used my “Manifesto” line i want some kickback for that one.

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

There are some things about Zeigler in that piece I was not aware of, like the thing about OJ Simpson.

This guy is really something of an egomaniac with a severely inflated view of his own importance, and the capacity to turn on a friend on a dime if he thinks it will help advance his objective, which is himself.

I sincerely doubt this will have any impact whatsoever.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:52 PM

So if the ABP are down to “she’s unelectable” as their objections to her running, why not just let her run and let her get beat? Problem solved?

The FEAR this woman.

karenhasfreedom on June 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM

thanks for proving my point that those that don’t get Palin are too stupid to get her ….Maybe if Palindumbs herself down she would win your support…

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:56 PM

So if the ABP are down to “she’s unelectable” as their objections to her running, why not just let her run and let her get beat? Problem solved?

The FEAR this woman.

karenhasfreedom on June 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Well see they offer up a twist to that narrative. you see she can win the nomination but not the general because Obama is just too cool and conservatives don’t play nice in general elections or something….

and the media is mean and we need someone the media will be nice too and …….

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

A filmmaker scorned…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Csdeven clocks out.

Petunia clocks in.

portlandon on June 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

This has been posted for 9 hours and you all haven’t even reached 1200 comments? What’s with you people today? Wake up and smell the Palin-war already.

RINO in Name Only on June 13, 2011 at 7:59 PM

I sincerely doubt this will have any impact whatsoever.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:52 PM

well I was kidding about the line thing but Dan’s piece is a very good piece and I learned several things from in. i never bothered to learn about Zig the stlaker before. didn’t really care just thought he was a nut and gave Palin supporters a bad name. almost like he was putting on an act to paint all her supporters as negatively as he was being…

unseen on June 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Well see they offer up a twist to that narrative. you see she can win the nomination but not the general because Obama is just too cool and conservatives don’t play nice in general elections or something….
and the media is mean and we need someone the media will be nice too and …….
unseen on June 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Yeah, I like how they slide in a positive note gor bongo when they think you aren’t looking.

There is simply too much buzz for Palin to ignore.

The naysayers came after the supporters just as country would defend itself to a threat with the threat being to statist lazy asses that like the cushy life but know they are too useless to make the same kaching in the privets sector

Sonosam on June 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Every one who works for Palin ends up disillusioned. Yet you just go on pretending that she is wonderful.

YOu simply can not face the truth of what Ziegler, and all the others, are telling you. So you pretend the debate tonight has something to do with her. It doesn’t.

None of the other candidates cares about Palin. No one feels threatened by her. She is being proped up by the liberal media right now because they know how damaging she is to the Republican brand.

If a questioner brings her up it will be for the purpose of damaging the Republican brand.

You all, and Chris Matthews think Palin is wonderful.

petunia on June 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Now this is good trolling, unlike that bore csseven or whatever it is.

If we wait long enough, Miss Petunia’s head will explode!

kim roy on June 13, 2011 at 8:14 PM

PUMA THOUGHTS ALERT~!

I liked Zeigler’s movie. I bought it, and thought it was very good, but also very basic; basic in that it did not interview anyone but Sarah Palin, and that was clearly not the original framework of the film.

Though no one will remember, the PUMA brigade was attempting to roll out “We Will Not Be Silenced” about 2008, the Caucuses, and the Media bias. Zeigler’s “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected” was exactly in that same vein — until Sarah gave him an interview.

After that? The entire thing was repackaged around Sarah Palin (“How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted“), even though a great portion of it dealt with Hillary. Palin had been in shut down mode around that time, and Zeigler got HUGE press in a time of (can you believe it) Sarah vacuum and silence because she gave him that interview.

Anyhoo, to the point of my post: Zeigler’s film — Media Malpractice — was originally a piece against Obama, in total, citing the many people thrown under the bus for him, especially Hillary Clinton, and — yes — Palin, too. But Palin gave him that interview, and then Zeigler re-positioned himself as this pro-Palin/anti-Media Crusader to push media attention and sales of the video, even though it was just as much something relevant to Clintonistas.

So he got on his high horse about it. So much that now he has to falsely use this platform as “The Sarah Palin I Know” culminating in the arrogance of http://www.thesarahpaliniknow.com/ – of course, with helpful pictures of “Yeah, I SO know her!”

Palin’s interview — the only one by a 2008 player in the film — gave him incredible attention and sales. And the “Media Malpractice” of 2008 is a message that should have been discussed with far more zeal and should not be forgotten.

“Media Malpractice” was a good start. “The Sarah Palin I Know” is little more than opportunism. Surprise, surprise — another media guy feasting at the Palin trough.

lansing quaker on June 13, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Johnny Z sounds good and ticked off.

Wonder what happened?

Grace_is_sufficient on June 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM

lansing quaker on June 13, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Agreed. Maybe with Bannon being asked to do a video on behalf of Palin — which Bannon morphed into a full length movie — instead of Zeigler may have played a role in Zeigler’s filmmaker scorned reprisal…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 8:24 PM

Csdeven clocks out.

Petunia clocks in.

portlandon on June 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

More proof of the symbiotic co-dependence that Baffoonia spoke of. I wonder if csdeven works at Wallmart.

Geochelone on June 13, 2011 at 8:33 PM

instead of Zeigler may have played a role in Zeigler’s filmmaker scorned reprisal…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 8:24 PM

That is absolutely a huge factor in this, but I think it goes even deeper for him. He made some assumptions that turned out to be incorrect, and he is now behaving like a rejected suitor, as someone said earlier.

His dysfunctional personality is really the issue here, and the fact the Palins left him behind is probably his own fault for being who he is.

He just simply isn’t as consequential to these events as he thinks he is, or would like to be.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 8:38 PM

He just simply isn’t as consequential to these events as he thinks he is, or would like to be.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 8:38 PM

Brian, this episode is reminiscent of the Frank Bailey episode, a former staffer who approached Palin’s team to get the ok to write a book praising her and instead ended up writing a book in an attempt to demean her when he didn’t get Palin’s approval…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Brian, this episode is reminiscent of the Frank Bailey episode, a former staffer who approached Palin’s team to get the ok to write a book praising her and instead ended up writing a book in an attempt to demean her when he didn’t get Palin’s approval…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Yes, I think so. He thought he was entitled to the film rights of any future Palin production based on what he had done before, unsolicited, I might add.

The hard cold fact of it is, he did not produce results that were very impressive, or very effective.

I still have a hard time understanding howe someone thinks they are going to work for a person’s campaign after telling the person, “you must know you can’t win, right?”.

That is not such a great audition for the part, if you get what I’m saying.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 9:09 PM

I am sure it has been iterated someone above in this massive amount of replies ….

Palin has not declared, period.

This reminds of the Palin versus Obama comparisons during the last presidential campaign.

Worthless muck designed to further make Palin appear bad.

TexasDude on June 13, 2011 at 9:11 PM

It’s true, I’m afraid.

Aronne on June 13, 2011 at 9:25 PM

I’m afraid.

Aronne on June 13, 2011 at 9:25 PM

I’m not.

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 9:26 PM

It’s true, I’m afraid.

Aronne on June 13, 2011 at 9:25 PM

That may be the issue…

Gohawgs on June 13, 2011 at 9:28 PM

Wait, the media is propping her up?
How does that work? They spend all their ink trying to destroy her.

Someone show me this propping up. I want to see how they’re maneuvering a “weak, easy to beat” candidate into place. And don’t give me that Ace, overwrought, “But its double, three D Chess” which lacks common sense and misses the forest for the trees. show me how they’ve tried to paint positive pictures of Sarah Palin as that’s normally how one props up someone, with good press and praise.

Sharr on June 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Does Zeigler has a problem with women?
I just want to point out that while Zeigler was employed at WHAS in Louisville, KY (50,000 watts), He joined forces with John Yarmuth to debate and defeat Ann Northrup, a less than charismatic, but non-the-less, very effective and engaged representative.

God bless Ann, but she was blind sided and did not react well to this broadside, this betrayal.

In the end, Zeigler is just another in a long line of the misogynist pigs infesting American politics.

tom0508 on June 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Talk about the creepy fan that feels like he has been spurned.

ChuckTX on June 14, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Brian1972 on June 13, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I agree with Ziegler’s assessment of KFI, but yes, he has a well known problem with past employers. Worse, he always goes ballistic after he is fired and burns all bridges. His attacks on Palin are down right childish. She was smart to distance herself from him.

Blake on June 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Does Zeigler has a problem with women?

tom0508 on June 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Zeigler has an especial problem with women and many other problems in general. That dope has more issues than National Geographic.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 14, 2011 at 6:01 PM

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