Many politicians don’t practice what they preach. They make campaign promises they rarely keep. And they love to talk ethics, transparency, and bipartisanship — until they are sworn into office, that is.
Stephen K. Bannon’s documentary on Sarah Palin, “The Undefeated,” reveals a former city council member, mayor, governor, and vice-presidential candidate who has never been a darling of the establishment, but has managed to stick to her guns every step of the way. Via a montage of media criticism of Palin from the mouths of Matt Damon, Bill Maher, David Letterman, Howard Stern, Ed Koch, Sharon Osbourne, and others, Bannon quickly establishes a contrast between the fictional character of Palin that has been presented by the media and the real-life woman who shook up business as usual through policies grounded in free-market principles and putting government back on the side of the people.
A good portion of “The Undefeated” focuses on setting the record straight on Palin’s record, featuring commentary from key players in Alaska such as former Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton, Palin attorney Tom Van Flein, former Wasilla Deputy Mayor Judy Patrick, former state Sen. Gene Therriault, former pipeline adviser Marty Rutherford, and others. Via a blend of their commentary and segments plucked from Sarah Palin’s audio book of Going Rogue, viewers experience an up-close look at Palin’s years of public service, beginning with her focus on fiscal responsibility, infrastructure development, and tax reductions as city council member and mayor.
Bannon illuminates some of Palin’s major policy achievements as governor, including the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), a strong ethics reform bill, and seeing to it that drilling began at Pt. Thomson after over 25 years of ExxonMobil sitting on its contracts without action. Most importantly, Bannon links it all together through shared themes — a distaste for closed-door negotiations, a belief in the power of free-market competition to yield the best results, and a desire to uphold the Alaska Constitution and to protect the rights and interests of hard-working Alaskans.
“The Undefeated” also chronicles Palin’s entry onto the national stage via the Republican National Convention, the McCain/Palin campaign, and beyond. Bannon intersperses segments of Palin’s speeches with commentary from Mark R. Levin, Tammy Bruce, Kate Obenshain, Andrew Breitbart, and other charismatic contributors. Levin provides fantastic parallels between the TEA Party movement and the Reagan Revolution, as well as highlights the similar manner in which many in the GOP establishment have gone after both Reagan and Palin. Tammy Bruce pulls no punches in presenting Palin as a woman led by authenticity of purpose and commitment to principle right from the start.
But it is Bannon who has woven everything together piece by piece, so that Palin’s 2008 RNC speech and 2011 Wisconsin Tea Party rally speech impact viewers with renewed meaning. They’re not words from a politician who is simply saying what people want to hear. They’re words that are directly in line with everything Sarah Palin has done in politics from the beginning — stand tall against establishment criticism, fight for what she believes in, and “work for the ordinary, hardworking people — like everyone who was a part of my ordinary, hardworking world.”
“The Undefeated” also features a look at Palin’s resignation from the governorship, spurred on due to frivolous, costly ethics complaints filed by those seeking to destroy her after her entrance onto the national scene. The film’s culmination includes clips of President Obama that serve as a bold contrast to the message of the TEA Party and that of Palin.
Bannon has done more than simply document the policies and vision of Sarah Palin. He has highlighted a woman who has consistently and reliably stood for something from her first days as a city council member, a woman who took on everything from establishment candidates to oil companies to unethical behavior in the GOP. Sure, she talks bipartisanship, transparency, and fiscal responsibility, but unlike so many others, her policies have reflected those concepts from the start.
“The Undefeated” is a compelling, thought-provoking journey through the accomplishments of a competent, ambitious, principled woman who entered the political arena for the right reasons and has consistently cut through the nonsense to get things done. Perhaps most importantly, it is the story of a woman who has never been afraid to ruffle establishment feathers in order to do what’s right for her city, her state, or her country.
Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist, television commentator and author of the new book Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com. Follow Jedediah on Twitter.