Trying to understand Sarah Palin …

Frank Yonkof

If there is one person I don’t understand in this world, it is Sarah Palin.

Whoopi Goldberg seems to think she pretended to be dumb during the 2008 election. I, however, am under the impression that she is just really bad at communication.

But one thing is certain about Palin: She is able to get away with things that no other politician can.

From her instant rise to fame more than a year ago, Palin’s first act as national candidate was to parade her family in front of the media. When questions began to arise about her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy, Palin and other social conservatives were quick to decry the personal family attacks.

Since the very beginning of the primary season, the media had an unspoken rule to leave President Barack Obama’s daughters out of the spotlight. And Obama himself rarely appeared on stage with them in order to shield them from the intense media attention.

So it was only natural for Palin to claim that the media held a double standard for her family. Yet that did not stop her from making campaign appearances that highlighted her husband and children.

Realistically, if it had been revealed that Obama’s 17-year-old daughter was pregnant and unmarried, conservative pundits and politicians would have had a field day. Yet by claiming media bias, all questions about her daughter’s pregnancy practically went away.

After a slew of interviews gone wrong, Palin’s weapon of choice (and only weapon, I might add) was claiming media bias, which is why political analysts went easy on her at the vice presidential debate.

Anyone who watched that debate knows Joe Biden performed better. He actually answered the questions that were asked and used complete sentences that made sense. But when the time came for political analysts to hit the 24-hour cable news channels, many claimed the debate was a tie.

It appeared Palin beat the extremely low expectations that night, which is why many in the media mistook that for performing well.

Realizing that sound bites did not work in her favor, Palin’s latest tactic to gain free media publicity is solely relying on her Facebook page.

It’s no secret that Palin has become the voice of the far right in recent months. Even during the campaign, her rallies catered to the social conservative values voter. But quite often, her words would come out in an odd order, and that was definitely hurting her image.

Now that she is on Facebook, Palin is able to write without having to communicate her ideas on camera. Furthermore, her comments can be carefully calculated and perhaps edited by an aide before being made public.

As a result, she can say some of the wackiest things without being reduced to a sound bite. Take her post on August 12.

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Once again, Palin throws her children to the wolves (and under the media spotlight), and no one is there to question her actions. It’s not like the Obama administration can respond to these outrageous comments because they would be attacking her baby with Down syndrome.

I have no idea if Sarah Palin says these shocking things to keep relevant to the political discussion or if she truly believes what she says and writes. But it is clear that she is able to get away with things that most political careers could never survive.

And because she is quick to jump of the issue of ‘media bias,’ practically all of her outrageous antics are left unchecked.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].