What to do with Sarah Palin?

The new and improved Alaska rouge has an audience; now she needs a message.

by Jennifer Bissell

Allow me to refresh your memory on Sarah Palin, using her own words: âÄúThatâÄôs why I say I, like every American IâÄôm speaking with, weâÄôre ill about this position that we have been put in … where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh âÄîitâÄôs got to be all about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, weâÄôve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today. WeâÄôve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.âÄù This response to Katie CouricâÄôs September 2008 question about filtering federal bailout money to the middle class amounted to babbling incoherence. Like many of PalinâÄôs interviews and public appearances, the thinking public was often left mystified by her less-than-coherent speechification. We could all recognize the myriad Republican buzzwords Palin stressed throughout, but the holistic among us were left wanting. Once the Republican Party ticket was defeated, many heaved a great sigh of relief. Palin was gone âĦ or so we thought. With the release of PalinâÄôs new book and book tour, it is once again hard to escape the rasp of the Palin media frenzy. Whether itâÄôs the cover of Newsweek, appearances on talk shows or banner ads on the Web, weâÄôve definitely been reintroduced to Palin, and the feeling that she is here to stay. Yet, interestingly, this time around you donâÄôt see the point-and-laugh routine you came to enjoy last year. Perhaps it is because she has been speaking on her own terms, on subjects she knows, but Palin seems much more sensible and âÄî dare I say it âÄî well spoken now. During one interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I even found myself feeling sympathetic toward her. She expressed herself eloquently, not once did she go off topic or become flustered by a question. Love it or hate it, there seems to be a new Palin âÄî one that is far better prepared to jostle from a tight corner. So now that Palin seems to be able to actually express herself and take advantage of her celebrity status, what sort of role should she play in politics? Thousands of supporters have flocked to her book signings; many Palin supporters have never participated in politics before. It is this unique connection that holds a heavy weight in the ring of American politics. Essentially, Palin has a significant sector of America in the palm of her hand. Some have already begun an adamant campaign for the Palin 2012 presidential nomination, but she still is sorely underqualified for that position. A speech pattern booster pack does not make up for the holes in political knowledge, the lack of successful experience, general intelligence and critical thought needed by the leader of the free world. But Palin is a machine with huge potential. According to her spokesman Bill McAlister, Palin has received about 800 guest appearance requests for the month of December. She has become a coveted persona, and with such popularity it shouldnâÄôt come as a surprise that she has been considering the possibility of hosting her own talk show. This is a viable option for the failed Republican vice presidential nominee, but this role would not bring out the full amount of good she could provide. Whether you agree with her, she has the nationâÄôs attention, and this opens up the possibility of her advocating for issues that truly matter right now. Even though I disagree with many of the stances she takes, I would much rather see her become dedicated to a few issues rather than opening up yet another talk show of endless partisan drivel. Talk show hosts are often seen as experts on the wide range of topics they cover. Yet, we have already seen that Palin does best when sticking to what she knows. By becoming an advocate for specialized issues, she can become more educated on them. This would bring about actual change on real issues she cares about, rather than make the public skeptical about broad terms such as âÄúbig governmentâÄù and âÄúspendingâÄù that her talk show would undoubtedly do. When stepping down as governor of Alaska, she quoted General MacArthur as saying, âÄúWe are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.âÄù By resigning, the embattled Palin said she felt she would be able to better serve Alaska without the title. Again on Oprah she reiterated this by saying that while she will never be an âÄúaverage personâÄù again, she has found other ways to influence and change policy outside of the position of governor. While she did not give any specifics about how she has been doing this, the statement indicates that Palin believes she can bring about change without a title and without an official outlet. If you are one of the millions of Americans who empathize with NewsweekâÄôs Nov. 23 cover question, âÄúHow do you solve a problem like Sarah?âÄù the compromise solution may consist of national political advocate Palin. She could serve as a Christian conservative gadfly or become the spokeswoman for global warming skepticism. âÄúChangeâÄù doesnâÄôt have to be attached to Democrats; Republicans, including Sarah Palin, can help too. And all while refraining from direct involvement in American electoral politics. Jennifer Bissell welcomes comments at [email protected].