When I went public with “The Sarah Palin I Know,” I expected that the reaction would be intense and mostly negative. I have not been disappointed. But no matter how clearly you see the flak coming in your direction; its impact is still unpleasant, especially when it is largely unjustified.
Before I address the response to the piece with more specificity and make a rather interesting proposal to my critics, let me first take some responsibility for making a couple of mistakes.
No, I don’t regret telling some of the inside story of my failed crusade to correct the historical record about the media coverage of the 2008 election or laying out the strong case that the “star” of my documentary, Sarah Palin, cannot possibly beat Barack Obama in 2012. However, I do have regrets about the way I went about it.
My first mistake was that the piece was really two essays in one and this allowed my many critics to be distracted from the real issue here. Half of the column was the untold narrative of my many efforts on behalf of Palin and interactions with her, and half was an argument about the electoral consequences of her running for president. I did it this way because I figured that the juicy tidbits that made up the inside story would get more people to read the argument portion of the essay.
Now, if I was a celebrity commentator I wouldn’t have had to go in this direction, but for a mere mortal like me to get this message the attention it deserves, the gas pedal has to be on the floor. Unfortunately, many people seem to think, somewhat understandably, that the “inside” stuff was a significant part of the “argument” element of the piece. This was not my intention.
This mistake allowed some to attack me because they thought my point was that somehow because Palin may have treated me worse at times than she should have, or didn’t follow my advice when it could have helped her, that this was part of why she can’t win the 2012 election. Some even absurdly concluded that I was somehow trying to get back at her. That is simply not the case.
I truly wish Palin and her family the very best and I went way out of my way to alert them and their team that something was going on and no one even bothered to get back to me. Heck, right up to the moment the piece went live I was doing a Fox News appearance on her behalf and working behind the scenes to try to help the new Palin-related film navigate a legal issue. I said all of this in the piece, but I guess I should have made all of it even more obvious.
Similarly, many seemed to mistake my technique of letting the reader inside my world and head during this saga as me displaying undue arrogance. In reality, I was actually cracking open my bizarre life, warts and all, simply so that the reader could get a better understanding of why I did the things I did, why I was hardly being disloyal, and why I finally had to come forward.
I also figured that telling the story this way would enhance the credibility of my conclusions, but still much of the focus has been on my motivations. I guess I gave too much credit to what I thought was the obvious reality that I had a huge self-interest in Palin running (because my movie would get another large bite of the apple and because, until the article came out, my last communication from the Palins indicated that I might be working on her campaign) and that therefore the fact that I was coming out so strongly against my own self-interest would kill off any silly suspicions about the “real” reason I chose to tell the whole truth. Obviously, I should have been clearer about this as well, but I am convinced that, when forcing people to face an airtight case that they don’t want to hear, one is always going to be assaulted on this front.
I do find it quite amazing that no one ever seems to care that there hasn’t been a single allegation of an inaccuracy in either my film or the Daily Caller Palin essay.
Does anyone really believe that if I had written anything remotely untrue that the Palin camp wouldn’t have at least leaked that allegation to someone on background? Instead, total silence and of course no one in the media with access to her is going to ask about this on the record.
As frustrating as it is, one of the many things I have learned during these very strange last three years since I bought www.HowObamaGotElected.com is that telling the truth doesn’t really have much, if any, value and, in fact, will likely cause you far more trouble than it is worth. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who appear to be genetically incapable of doing anything but tell the truth.
Now, back to those who take issue with my well-documented conclusion that there is no way Palin can beat Obama in 2012.
I get that her many fervent fans are largely blinded by their understandable love for her and are about as likely to have their minds changed by a rational argument as moderate voters would be about Palin as a presidential candidate. But what I find laughable is that while the majority of conservative commentators have dodged the “no-win” issue, some have actually tried to claim that I am dead wrong about my primary conclusion (kudos to Dennis Miller and Erick Erickson for having the brains and guts to publicly defend what I am saying, and thanks to the half-dozen people significantly connected with Palin who have sent along private good wishes). Interestingly, based on polling, the Republican rank-and-file seems to be with me more than their chattering class’s general public position.
The most outspoken and contrarian analysis I have seen comes from John Nolte, the editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood website. In a column titled “Why John Ziegler is Wrong About Sarah Palin’s Electability,” he claims to defeat my argument with “evidence” that Palin’s poll numbers are improving and an assertion that the new documentary on Palin’s Alaskan record will fix the probably fatal perceptions of her resignation from the governor’s office. Assuming he is sincere and not just pandering to the Palinistas, John (for whom I was once happy to write) is simply fooling himself.
Palin’s approval numbers are continually all over the place because, thanks to the fact that she is so polarizing, they fluctuate dramatically based on the nature of the sample. However, there has never been a legitimate poll where Palin is even in real striking distance of Obama head-to-head. And it is critical to point out that since we are not yet in a general election and Palin has been safely ensconced inside the cuddle of Fox News, the big guns have not been fired on her by an Obama team (and mainstream media) that lusts after the chance to run against her.
For instance, other than when I brought it up, when was the last time you heard much negative talk about the details and motivation of her resignation? In a general election, that currently ignored elephant in the corner of the room would enter the spotlight. Frankly, other than MSNBC, the media has largely been rather gentle towards Palin as of late and given her potential run far more attention than it deserves because they so badly need her ratings-friendly story as part of the campaign narrative.
As for fixing the resignation problem, I am shocked that someone as smart as John really believes that an overtly pro-Palin documentary that is scheduled to run in just ten theaters in the dead of summer, doesn’t even have Palin in it, and which will be seen only by people who are already Palin fans will have any impact whatsoever on how the people who determine who wins presidential elections (the largely uninformed) would view an act they will inevitably, with the media’s help, see as quitting her job in order to become a rich celebrity. While I wish the film well, clearly unless it somehow gets aired on national television it will not influence a general election or even a presidential primary.
Nolte also cites Palin’s many great qualities and Obama’s new vulnerability (I totally agree with both of these points) as further proof that I am wrong, when in actuality those points bolster my conclusion. Palin is already known by everyone, has shown her very best to us conservatives, and without holding an office has no real way to augment her resume/narrative, especially since she is unwilling to do interviews with liberal media members. Meanwhile, the fact that the economy is clearly stalling makes it even more imperative than ever that we not squander the golden opportunity to slay the Obama dragon by nominating a white knight who may look great on the horse but who is missing any armor over her vital organs.
Of course I am very cynical about any “conservative” media member giving an opinion on Palin’s electability because of the inherent conflict of commercial interest in not wanting to offend Palin’s passionate supporters. Interestingly, Nolte’s boss Breitbart and his buddy Ann Coulter have come up with a brilliant (gutless? insincere?) way of navigating this minefield by ridiculously claiming that Palin is too good for the office of the presidency. Without getting into the details at this time, based on personal knowledge I can assure you that this is not what Breitbart really believes about her.
But regardless, to Nolte and all other commentators who claim I am wrong about Palin’s chances in 2012, I simply ask you to put your money where your mouth is. I am officially offering a $1,000 bet, at incredible 100-1 odds, that Palin will not be inaugurated president of the United States in January of 2013. This unbelievable $100,000 offer (along with details as to how I would pay in full with the money I had reserved for the charity offer that Keith Olbermann dodged) is available to the first prominent conservative who takes me up on it.
If I am so wrong, this is the deal of a lifetime, right? A no-brainer even. So why am I so convinced that no one will even take me up on it or that hardly any of my critics will see the obvious significance when they don’t?
John Ziegler is currently a documentary filmmaker who most recently released a movie on the 2008 election called, “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” He has also been in radio talk show host in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Louisville and Nashville. Ziegler has written two books and has appeared live on numerous national television shows including the Today Show, The View, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC.