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From Barracuda to Scapegoat

Posted on Nov 13, 2008

By Ellen Goodman

    Have you ever seen a transformation this fast? In barely two months, the Barracuda became the Scapegoat. Think of it as evolution on steroids.

    In September, Sarah Palin, the little-known governor of Alaska, was hailed as the great female hope of the Republican Party. Double the maverick, double the fun. John McCain called her “the most marvelous running mate in the history of this nation.” Pro-life conservatives were “ecstatic,” and she was a “hottie” to boot.

    But after a handful of disastrous interviews, after polls showing she was a drag on the ticket, and after, of course, losing the election, McCain staffers began dropping little poison pellets all over the media. Sarah was a “diva.” She was a Wasilla hillbilly “looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast.” She was a “wacko” who couldn’t tell the French president from a Canadian radio prankster.

    Did they actually think that Gov. Palin would go quietly into that good Arctic night? How you gonna keep her down on the tundra after she’s seen herself on teevee?

    Palin has always shown more moxie than substance. What she lacks in syntax, she makes up in self-confidence. Now Sarah Unbound is everywhere, serving the media moose chili and spin from her Anchorage crockpot. She’s busily defending herself and her future: “If there’s an open door ... then I’ll plow through that door.”


Square, Site wide

    Well, a little door-check please. While all eyes were focused on Palin and the “Sarah-centric” (her words) crowds that turned out for her rallies, there was a quieter “women’s story” in this race that may make the doorway a little narrow.

    Nationally, Barack Obama won the election with a bare majority of men: 49 percent to 48 percent. But he won with a landslide of votes from women: 56-43. Eight million more women than men voted for him.

    In some of the battleground states, women made all or nearly all the difference. In New Hampshire, men split their votes pretty evenly, but women chose Obama nearly 2-to-1. In North Carolina, men picked McCain 56-43 and women picked Obama 55-44.

    One step further down the ballot, the story was repeated. New Hampshire women also chose Democrat Jeanne Shaheen over Republican John Sununu for the Senate by 23 points. And North Carolina women, even when faced with a choice between two female candidates for the Senate, voted for Democrat Kay Hagan over Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole by 14 points.

    The other good news is that there will be a record number of women serving in the Senate and House next year. But it’s not exactly record-shattering. The percentage of women in both houses is a dismal 17. More to the point, three-quarters of those women are Democrats. Indeed, Susan Collins was re-elected in Maine this year as one of the last-standing moderate Republicans.

    In the final breakthrough this year, the New Hampshire Senate became the first legislative body in the country with a majority of women. Nationally, the number of women state legislators barely and finally crawled past the 24 percent mark.

    This connection between women and the Democratic Party is as old as the gender gap itself. As Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women in Politics explains, “The women’s vote ends up being around economic issues and economic security. Women, as candidates and voters, are more likely to support a bigger role for government.” It’s not the gender, as they say, but the agenda.

    Palin described the crowds at her rallies modestly in a sentence that defies diagramming: “But not me personally were those cheers for.” Less modestly, but more coherently, she explained the defeat of the McCain-Palin ticket this way: “You know, we got that ‘R’ by our name.”

    So the other women’s story of 2008 is that women voters and women officeholders are increasingly Democratic. That ‘R’ makes it hard to envision a door that a moose-hunting, pro-life, pit bull of a hockey mom can plow through.

    What a year. For the first time, a woman—Hillary Clinton—became the “Establishment candidate.” And voters wanted change. For the first time, the Republicans picked a woman—Sarah Palin—to energize the base. And the base kept shrinking.

    Diva or not, Palin did change her corner of the landscape. Because of Palin, conservatives now speak of “sexism,” the religious right describes teen pregnancy as a “challenge,” and the culture warriors officially approve of working moms. For all that, what the heck, let her keep the clothes.

    Ellen Goodman’s e-mail address is ellengoodman(at)

    © 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

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By Inherit The Wind, November 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Sarah Palin was the first target of Republican finger-pointers for their wonderful loss in a landslide.

But Palin is only a symptom of what is wrong with the GOP.  So was John McCain’s campaign.

Palin represents the illiterate, uneducated, highly “religious”, highly superstitious, close-minded branch of the Republican Party.  She come from the branch that has bumper stickers that read “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”  If you have never read the UN Constitution, if you haven’t read it many, many, MANY times, you are going to ignore the most obvious statements of the Bill of Rights.

But that bunch of knuckleheads is only one part of the party—and they think they can attract Black and Hispanic voters by hammering out more “Prop 8s” to hurt Gay Americans.  “Issues Voters” is the mis-nomer for fundamentalist-religion inspired tempests over irrelevancy. I don’t care if Gays marry—it has NO effect on my marriage to my wife.

Then there’s the pseudo-libertarian “no regulations” crowd.  They are DESPERATELY trying to blame Democrats (figures) for 8 years (or 27 years) of TERRIBLE destructive economic policies.  Plus, they abandoned their tradition fiscal responsibility when “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”  They are in the dumper as well they deserve to be.

Then there are “Goldwater Repubs…” who have been silent as mice mostly for years. Even when they speak up, like Spector, they cave in.  The GRs would make a GREAT opposition party and CAN both oppose and work with Dems—the only one of them with any spine is The Governator.

Now, of course, is a LOUSY time to be running on the GOP tix.  A failed administration and failures of Congress under the GOP make it a hard environment to run in.

Finally, there was the totality of ineptness with which McCain ran his campaign.  Whether it was all him or he was forced by the RNC to use Rovian tactics, the fact remains that HE was not able to take control and make the party campaign from the high grounds.

But Rethugs have, for years said, “Give us all the money, but your poverty is your own fault.”  They have passed the buck, refused responsibility and now the house of cards has caved in on them.  Yet all they can think to do is assemble a circular firing squad and shoot at each other.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 16, 2008 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

re: PSmith

Thank you for the Gore Vidal link.

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By Kokuaguy in honolulu, November 15, 2008 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, let her keep the clothes; she’ll need them when she appoints herself Senator.

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By rylly, November 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

At the conclusion of the gov’s conference, Sarah was not elected or appointed to serve in any capacity.  That had to have been a great big whack to her ego.
Rick Perry did look like he was going to eat her alive, she quaked in her boots and pulled back from him, but he pushed/pulled her to the podium for just one more question as her balloon was deflating.
It was all good!
See, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
The AK election results were so so questionable that everyone was alerted, that probably saved us from having a Sen. Palin…for now.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, November 15, 2008 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Forget Palin!  David Petraeus is the next Great White Hope of the Caucasians With Money party.

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By boredwell, November 15, 2008 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

Palin! OMG! Enough already! What she did, she did to herself with her vaunted self-confident “you can’t blink” acceptance of the lurid McCain offer. She thawed beneath the kleiglights on the national stage. Whether she had an “R” or “D” in front of her name wouldn’t have mattered. She was wholly, no, egregiously lacking in substance if not ad hominem rhetoric.

I’m not surprised she’s being scapegoated. She’s a perfect target. While Palin may be possessed of native savvy, her ability to communicate it in perceptive, coherent discussion on policy spelled her demise. That makes her vulnerable, unprepared to ward off her attackers. She is a fly-weight operating in the pull-no-punches hard hitting arena of national politics. And the contenders are out to get her before she can assail them! Yeah, Sarah, where is your maverick advocate now, eh?

For Palin the experience has matured her. Somewhat. I doubt she will ever be ready to run for higher office in the future though she may be game for it. Like other notable GOP VEEP has beens -the obliviously incoherent Dan Quayle- she will disappear. Her prominence in history unfortunately will be a footnnote based on her gender. She will be assessed and reassessed as the lipstick wearing hockey mom-cum-pitbull. Embarrassing. And I’m sorry for her in that she will be thus forever monikered. But hey Palin’s an adult and if she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into when she accepted the Veep slot, she’s learned her lesson the hard way.

Personally, I think she’s more at home in the tundra, rather than the captitol’s rotunda. Swathed beneath the hagiographics of the aurora borealis, astride the pipe lines,snob mobiling to and from work is her natural metier. Be true to yourself, Sarah! Stay put. No hard feelings,ok? BTW, what ever happened with Trooper Gate?

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By Murphy Slaw, November 14, 2008 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We should all hope that Sarah-the-Barracuda and Joe-the-(not)Plumber both stay around as spokespersons for the Republican Party.  First they provide a large dose of political entertainment.  Second, whatever they say is trite, even banal, irrelevant and generally goofy. Third, their hypocrises are so obvious that even “the base” of the GOP will eventually start seeing them for what they are. 

I love the idea that Palin is the head of the Republican Party. It helps to ensure that they stay in the backwoods, christianist, racist, ignorant, isolationist world of the lost election.

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By csavage, November 14, 2008 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Palin is what the GOP thought would appeal to women voters. Joe the Plumber is what the American middle class represented to them. Both are caricatures. As long as they are put on a pedestal, as long as they continue to drivel, the more the public will see the contempt the neo-cons have for the American public. I say, leave ‘em up there! I want the taste of them to stay long and unpleasant in the mouths of the public!
I want people to think “How could I have anything in common with a guy who’s unlicensed and doesn’t pay my taxes? I do!” or ” How could the governor of a state that distributes private oil company royalties to every member of that state call someone else a socialist?” or “How could a mom kick her kid out of the house for being pregnant turn around and use that same kid as a political prop 2 weeks later?” or “How some mom who’s anti-abortion state she gave her own child the option of continuing the pregnancy or NOT?”
It’s all HYPOCRISY and I love it that people are finally catching on to it. It took 30 years, but better late than never!

Also, thanks to the poster who mentioned that the derivative market-that exists only on paper-is reportedly worth more than 6 times the world’s GDP. We need to get that fact out a bit more….Thanks to Phil Gramm

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By squeaky jones, November 13, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Marc Audette Canadian radio host said to Sarah Palin,“I justlove killing those animals, um um. Take away life”.  Sarah Palin laughed, that creeped me out. Shooting wolves in the wild from a helicopter is not funny. It is sick, discusting, and evil. Squeaky.

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By purplewolf, November 13, 2008 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

Was anyone else sickened by the news alerts for Sarah Palin at the Republican Governors meetings in Miami this morning? While she was busy running her mouth, with the pre-made custom speech just for her to read to the peons for event. We know it was not done by her, as the words were to scripted and when left unto her own devices to talk, she has the Bush sideways double speak-misspeak we have had to endure the last 8 years.

Seems to me she should have had other more pressing things to tend to. For a woman who a few months ago claimed that a woman’s place was being a servant(slave) to her husband and children and not in the work place, and certainly not seeking the things she is going after, like the Presidency, makes one wonder just how devoted she really is to her families needs. Wonder if God/church approves of her neglecting her family duties that surely are being unfulfilled by her. Sarah seems to speak out of several sides of her mouth at once. And just who is taking care of that downs syndrome baby of her daughters that she claims she had? One would think with a “special needs child” that there would be more work just to try to see it keeps up to a near age appropriate level of development as a child not affected with this problem. So much for Sarah’s priorities and in which order of importance they really are to her.

Isn’t it about time she faded off into the northern lights? I would hate to have to hear her on the news for the next four years until the next election.

Does anyone have any piranhas or sharks they can release to go after this Barracuda?

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By Anarcissie, November 13, 2008 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

I didn’t have any trouble parsing “But not me personally were those cheers for.”  The words are not in the usual order, which would be “Those cheers were not for me personally”, but putting words out of their usual order is a common rhetorical device to add interest or emphasis to a statement.

Palin’s main problem is her religion.  The Fundamentalist need to impose their weird religion on everyone else is offensive to most other people.  In the case of national politics, it comes out as a taste for jihad which I think the American people are heartily sick of.  I don’t know if Palin can tone down this side of her political persona—it’s my impression the fundies are more or less commanded by their prophets to be as they are, aggressive, overbearing, warlike, simple-minded, and often dishonest.

One thing I don’t understand is the supposed hotness.  She’s prettier than most politicians, but that isn’t saying much.  But sexy?  I don’t see it.

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By ocjim, November 13, 2008 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

One wonders if barracuda Sarah somehow suppressed the Alaska vote and then got cold feet, parceling out the results.

Sarah Palin has proven that she is vicious, ruthless, and truth-challenged—a Machiavellian seeker of power who loves the limelight.

There were too many coincidences regarding the Alaska vote last week. Most science, when there is no certainty and no direct evidence, uses probability – probability based on past evidence.

The Republicans for the last two presidential elections have a history of vote tampering in the Florida presidential election in 2000 and in theOhio presidential election in 2004. Both resulted in a Bush victory.

The barracuda is still there. During the campaign she demonstrated that there was no lie she wasn’t willing to tell, no character assassination in which she wasn’t willing to engage, and no crowd she wasn’t willing to incite to rage.

She did this in spite of the media disputing her lies, in spite of some members of the McCain campaign trying to reign her in, and in spite of the element of human decency.

During a campaign in which polls had been right on and with voting at 61% nationwide, Alaska is showing 55% voter turnout, this compared to 66% of Alaskans voting in 2004. We are asked to believe that fewer Alaskans voted, when their own popular governor was on the Republican ticket.

Furthermore, the Rasmussen poll had Ted Stevens down by 8 percentage points in late October. The actual count now has him ahead by a few thousand votes with the number of votes counted and to be counted at 11% less than the 2004 election.

Palin knows that exposure ultimately won’t come with the Alaskan governorship. It will come, as a U.S. Senator from Alaska.

It is as simple as this: a Stevens victory gives her the opportunity to be the Republican Senate candidate, in a state where her popularity rating is very high. A Stevens defeat keeps her from the national stage.

Is this coincidence or just Bush with lipstick?

Ruthless, deceitful and vicious—is the second a barracuda characteristic?

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By psickmind fraud, November 13, 2008 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

Shouldn’t we be labeling her a socialist or talking about her redistributing wealth for getting the windfall profits tax on oil companies passed, then redistributing that wealth to the people of Alaska?  Better keep that in mind in case god tells her to run for another national office.  You think he speaks to her in tongues, Inuit, or English?  Or is she just hearing voices?

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By ohbwoy...OBAMA 08/12, November 13, 2008 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ozzie12590, the only credit she gets is locating her…but she can not be compared to Senator Hillary Clinton, not in shoes size, not in “suits” and sure not in the brain department.

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By TechGuy, November 13, 2008 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That should be the title of any SP book. Joe the Plumber was on welfare and we’re supposed to take him seriously when he calls people socialists? Give me a break. What a bunch of liars those people were during the campaign. Now this one wants us to belive she was fine with attacks on her (deemed feminist) but calling out BO on “terrorist associations”...Sarah Palin, Terrorist Hunter. She should’ve joined the CIA, mind control division.

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By Susan, November 13, 2008 at 6:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sarah has hardly become a scapegoat by the American people. She is being called out on her behavior and her rhetoric during a campaign she wasn’t prepared to be a part of. She wanted to be VP more than she wanted anything else and she and the republicans used a strategy that didn’t work.  When she went after Barack Obama the way she did she lost the American people. She thought that attacking him the way she did and enciting near riots was fair?  Shame on her!  Now she wants to blame everyone but herself for their loss.  Ridulous .... The only reason her children were an issue in the media was because she put them on a national stage in order to get votes.  He behavior as a mother is to blame for that. A vote at any cost is a vote.  Shame on you as a mother. Stop whining about your loss and go do your job. Govern Alaska, be a mother and a wife. Maybe down the rode when you mature and learn about government in the national media that VP office will be ready for you. Until then please stay out of the media because no needs your type of politics or hatefulness.

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By hippy pam, November 13, 2008 at 6:20 am Link to this comment


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By mstlg, November 13, 2008 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After weeks of vilifying President-elect Obama’s name and character to the groups that attended her rallies, now she wants to talk about how proud she is of him?  Which is it, Gov. Palin?  Still talking out of both sides of her mouth, she just appears to be looking for an opportunity to promote herself.  She even has talked about how she would love to work with the new President.  I know President-elect Obama is a very smart man, and he will choose his advisors wisely.  With that being said, what kind of chance does she think she will have of being included in his inner circle?  In politics memories are sometimes short, but it may be a little too soon to let bygones be bygones.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 13, 2008 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

I must have missed a meeting… I am suppose to take serious what the Alaska demagogue woman has to say?

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By ozzie12590, November 13, 2008 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

When people speak about the strides Hillary Clinton made for women in politics, it’s really a disservice to include Sarah Palin’s name in the same breath. Senator Clinton went through months of tough primaries,  caucuses and debates as the only female Presidential candidate. Governor Palin rode in on the coattails of Senator Clinton’s success and legions of supporters and only had to go through 9 weeks of campaigning. It’s comparing apples and oranges. Governor Palin is given more credit than she deserves.

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By Dave in Big Pine, November 13, 2008 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

i wouldn’t call it moxie, more like hubris.

let her enjoy her 15 minutes. her ignorance, stupidity, and complete lack of self-awareness, will conspire to implode her into the world of insignificance.

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