Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Palin on FOX--Brilliant Step

Remember all the opining about how Sarah Palin should use her time after resigning as governor to hide out and "bone up" on the issues?

Well, Palin has shown how smart she is and the lack of vision and imagination of many in the conservative pundit class who proffered their advice. They view education as mainly being done in a library. It's how they showed their smarts in college (though one doubts how much time they currently spend doing those term paper, thesis-like studies between TV, radio and print opining).

What Sarah Palin has done is to show that not only is she better at picking the tools to hone issue-related knowledge, but she knows how best to use even that process for personal and leadership growth.

Consider. As a FOX consultant she will be called upon to comment on a myriad of national and international issues that are happening in real time. For someone without political smarts that would be a mine field. But, as a way to showcase a fully developed political philosophy and insight into key issues of the day, it is an invaluable platform.

As a FOX consultant she will be asked her opinion on issues rather than grilled on her position on issues. In other words, the format is one in which respect for her expertise is a given, and content rather than gotcha will be paramount.

Also, this will be an invaluable opportunity for Palin to practice short answer, easy to understand comments. It's a very hard skill set for politicians who normally are pushed toward speechifying rather than answering by the very nature of running for political office. Even President Obama has difficulty with this which is why he uses so many "uhs" when responding to questions. As often as not he loses the listener in his long answers. He has not developed a smooth short answer style. (I counted four or five "ums" from Palin throughout the two segment interview, but nothing like the five "uhs" before Obama's third sentence in a 2008 CBS interview.)

As to the format itself, it plays on Sarah Palin's strengths. She's attractive and likable on camera as well as off. She has charisma. Getting off alone and reading as if she were preparing a doctoral dissertation would waste those amazing gifts.

Palin will have to study up on specifics of issues she will be commenting on, and her attractiveness, stage presence and charisma will draw people to listen to her explanation of key elements of current issues and how best to respond to them. It's win-win.

And it has the potential of showing her critics up as being not only biased but either intellectually dishonest or dense. Imagine David Brooks saying after a year of pretty insightful comments, that Palin is a joke and can't be taken seriously. Brooks will show himself as someone not to be taken seriously. (At which he is already doing a pretty good job due to his inane praise for an inept and tanking Barack Obama.)

Watching Palin's first commentary session on the O'Reilly Factor, she did a pretty good job of keeping her answers short with a clear point--especially as the interview progressed. And that's gold on television. Reagan knew that you always leave them wanting more.

Palin came across as not only very likable, but as someone comfortable in answering questions even those involving criticism of her personally. And she is eye candy. Watching her reminded me of the best of Barack Obama's primary and presidential campaign interviews when he came off as likable and not taking himself seriously despite the "messiah" rhetoric of the media and his supporters.

President Obama has lost that. He now scowls a lot and looks either distant or unhappy. The visuals of a happy, relaxed, non-self-absorbed Palin compared to the tense, defensive President can only do her good.


OregonGuy said...

And because 43 smiled at the Press, he was dubbed an idiot.

There are some real positives associated with her decision, the greatest of these is that she will become comfortable in using the correct tools to corner her questioner.

Never let the questioner define the question, and if pressed, make that questioner own the question.

Chances are, you're not going to like the answer, but, you pressed, so here's the truth.

Most questioners ask loaded questions not thinking that they are going to be handed their lunch, as was David Gergen in his questions about "the Kennedy seat".

Being honest has some real drawbacks. But learning to use your honesty, that has some robustness that translates into charisma.

Coaching helps, but it's the player who learns.

T. D. said...

Excellent points, as usual, OG.

Palin has already learned more than any other modern politician how to survive vicious, unfair attacks.

Honing her skills in answering questions clearly, concisely and with honest, to the point answers is a plus that this venue can bring.

And, yes, David Gergen was given a civics lesson by a candidate not yet jaded by the system. How embarrassing in showing up Gergen's intellectual and ethical understanding of democracy.