Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Is Sarah Palin the Next Barack Obama?

5 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
When Sarah Palin took the stage in Des Moines on Friday night to keynote the Iowa Republican Party's Reagan Dinner, she sent the clearest signal so far that she can see the White House from her home in Wasilla, Alaska.
With C-SPAN covering her speech live, the former governor had a chance to woo not only Hawkeye voters who will be involved in the first nominating caucuses for 2012, but also a national audience curious about an intriguing figure's future.
For someone who tries to follow and make sense of American political trends, the now-probable run by Palin provokes some questions: Have we seen this movie before? Will the upcoming presidential campaign look strangely like the last one? Not to be impertinent or impolitic, could Sarah Palin be the next Barack Obama?
"History does not repeat itself," Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, "but it does rhyme." Look closely and the rhyme scheme for Palin and Obama is stunningly similar -- despite their continent-spanning differences on issues and ideology.
Both figures emerged quickly on the national scene and used their considerable charisma to become media-magnified political celebrities.
Both were tapped to deliver major speeches at national party conventions -- Obama's keynote address to Democrats in 2004 and Palin's acceptance of the GOP's vice-presidential nomination in 2008 -- and in each case Americans at large took notice of their rhetorical abilities and other qualities.
Both followed up their initial national exposure with well-publicized books to tell the public more about their lives and views. Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" came out in 2006, and Palin's "Going Rogue" was published last year.
Both became nationally recognized as Washington outsiders with limited governmental experience. Obama was an Illinois state senator when he gave his 2004 convention speech, and he was elected to the U.S. Senate later that year. Palin had served less than two years as Alaska's governor before running with John McCain in 2008. Prior to that she'd been mayor of Wasilla for six years.
Both share somewhat exotic backgrounds far removed from the continental United States, with Obama growing up in Hawaii and Palin moving to Alaska as an infant. In addition, out-of-the-ordinary familial circumstances -- Obama's bi-racial heritage and the Palin family saga -- spark human interest in the two people at the center of the public's political attention.
Finally, in creating their identities within their respective parties, both have positioned themselves in opposition to the existing establishments. Obama had to take on Clinton loyalists among the Democrats to prevail against Hillary Clinton in 2008, while today, Palin is, in part, propelled by the Tea Party movement rather than rank-and-file Republicans.
Are they also very different? Of course. But the parallels are striking and worth identifying. In many respects and assessed objectively, both Obama and Palin are products of a new age that combines politics and the modern media with all their available communication technologies.
Both created followers who are closely connected and willing to work on behalf of emerging and engaging personalities. Experience is less important than excitement, and celebrity sizzle helps, too.
At the beginning with Obama and now with Palin, the perception of being true outsiders becomes a definite advantage, especially when anger among the electorate and a disdain for the status quo define the civic climate.
Back in 2006, another mid-term year, political insiders debated whether Obama, without even a full term in the Senate, was ready for prime-time and a run for the presidency. Many admitted that he'd probably never have an opening, a moment, as the one that existed then -- and he decided to toss the dice.
Something similar seems to be happening with Palin today. She's rapidly approaching the moment of a now-or-never decision.
On Friday in Des Moines, Palin basked in the sunny, reflected glory of Ronald Reagan at the "Salute to Freedom" dinner. Now she stands in the clear light of day for Republicans and others to study closely as a potential occupant of the Oval Office.
The country -- and the world -- will be watching to see whether history rhymes.

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.


Filter by:
hi duando

sarah palin is the new bart simpson...."YOU BETCHA!" example of how a simpleton can gain attention by not finishing one job as gov. of alaska....hey, is this minor personality capable of anything more than a photo op or a quick sound bite??

September 25 2010 at 7:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Please run for President Sarah Palin so Obama will be guarenteed a 2nd term.

September 24 2010 at 3:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Old Harley Man

Barrack Obama's qualafications for President: Dabbled in cocaine use Went to church with Rev. Wright "God bless America Hell No GOD DAMN AMERICA" Learned to be a patriot from bill ayers He learned government from saul allinski and what about clowerd and pivin Barrack is by far the least qualified to ever run for president since who was that guy on laugh in,well atleast he made us laugh.

September 24 2010 at 1:09 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

LOL to mention Palin and Obama in the same sentence is a joke. The part time governor and full time whacko from wasilla is the paris hilton of politics. She's cute for sure, she's as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to what they call book learnin' but she's a great great salewoman for herself. It galls me to see a moron making so much money off of equally moronic people. The old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted could not be more apt than for the supporters of this political airhead.

September 23 2010 at 2:24 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

How could she? Without a brain? If empty charisma could help, G W would have been a success story. Compare that to Bubba (Clinton), the political wonk who brought in so much in gray cells, learned so much in government and, even after raising taxes (Republicans would Ouch!) managed to create more jobs than Reagan and the 2 Bushes together.

September 23 2010 at 1:41 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Not in this life time Sarah - you betcha!

September 22 2010 at 10:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

One aspect of this situation is parmount. If Sarah Palin, or anyone else, is to win a debate with President Obama or any other candidate, she needs to do her homework and cram like crazy for that "exam" --- she needs to know the answer to every question she'll be asked way before the moderator and panel ever ask them. Last year she was at a major disadvantage in that she had precious little time to prepare. This time around she'd better use her time wisely and hit the books hard if she's to have even the ghost of a chance at winning the White House in 2 years.

September 22 2010 at 11:42 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

THe major difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, among many differences, is that he's an intellectual, a brilliant mind who has faced his detractors, debated his competition, answered the major questions, giving town hall meeetings in hostile environments. she's on the other hand has taken a very sophomoric approach, by condemning what she refers to as the "Lame Stream Media", because they have the audacity to ask her pointed questions, To that end, I guess she only has room for so many answers on the palm of her hand......When this woman finally comes out from her self imposed media black out that keeps her myth alive and finally answers some "serious" questions (Fox News not being a creditable source)that would give credence to her capacity and scope, along with laying out any substanitive policy of her own there's no basis for comparison...Let's not forget, right, wrong, or indifferent Barack Obama through his own efforts became a national figure, our President...Sarah Palin, on the other hand, if it were not for John McCain's misguided efforts, would still be watching Russia from Wasilla....

September 21 2010 at 10:56 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to aztjb's comment

If you "don't get" Sarah Palin it may be that you are not looking at the reasons she is so popular. If you don't get the jokes it is because she is not the punch line anymore and the joke has backfired. If she is a distraction so be it. If she signals a movement, you may have to join or get out of the way. This is not so much about GOP vs. dems as about a frustration with career politicos and party politics. The old ways are coming to an end. This is a truly remarkable evolution of a real backlash into a real party. It is the anti-sixties. This revolt is about freedom and a philosophy of common sense. We can't be governed from the left and still produce on the right. The takers will need another sacrificial lamb to slaughter. Perhaps France will accept those who "don't get" it? I hear those crepes are real tasty. Or try Cuba, or Venezuela? Do you like burritos?

September 21 2010 at 8:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ialbel's comment

I get Sarah Palin. But just because the country is impatient and frustrated doesn't mean that you blow it up. Electing Sarah Palin would be comparable to saying, "Oh beans. Let's drop the big one and see what happens." You want freedom? Freedom to do what? I remember as a young man that I was so frustrated that I was ready to elect Pat Paulson. So I understand frustration. Only one way to really right this country and that way is slow and painful. It is what it is. Obama is doing it.

September 22 2010 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

I understand what you are trying to say but are saying if no one agrees with you they should go to France o rsome other country? What movement does she signal? don't say the Tea Party because i was a member when she came in and took over and it became the Tea Party express,before that she charged the Tea Party 100,000 for a speaking engagement.There is nothing funny about Sarah Palin. She is not the only one who jumped on that bandwagon but she stuck like glue . Without the Tea Party name and Fox news she would not have gotten anywhere. I'm not saying she is a bad person and I would rather see her get in than Obama but then again I would rather see her get in than Newt Gingrich so once again I have to vote the lesser of two evils, we are all tired of business as usual, I would not like to see it happen again. Anyone backed by Fox news is highly suspect in my book since they are owned by a member of the CFR and an Arabian Muslim Prince, but you knew that right? you have done a lot of research, I can tell, you know where France is. Everyone has an opinion Ialbel, they are entitled to it without being told ot leave the country..

September 23 2010 at 6:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Sarah Palin is just another example that you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time. Just like Beck and Limbaugh, she is capitalizing on feeding a sense of victimization imagined by a right-leaning segment of this country. A segment largely silent in recent years over the abuses of their right-leaning political representatives. Where was the Tea Party, for instance, while "W" manipulated deficit spending figures by NOT including the expenses of two poorly handled wars? But now, on waves of foolish and baseless accusations that President Obama is a socialist, Marxist, Nazi, Muslim, un-American, not American, racist, anti-Christ who exhibits “Kenyan anti-colonial behavior,” etc., its concocted outrage knows no bounds. "Take back our country," from whom? -- your fellow Americans? Right-wing polemicists are playing you like a game of jacks. Easily, without a lot of effort, and little real concern for the “values” right-leaning voters claim to cherish. And, the willingness of conservatives to ignore and distort (Death Panels? Really?) the President's efforts to help all of the nation's citizenry after the previous administration cavalierly drove us into a ditch is very sad (and telling) indeed. BTW, healthcare reform was hardly Obama’s "personal agenda" item (as some on here have suggested) given that the President and his family are pretty well covered in that area. Unfortunately, tens of millions of other Americans are not. So, if you're really concerned about someone "promoting his (her) own personal agenda," you don't have to look any farther than Palin, laughing at you all the way to the bank. And so it goes.

September 21 2010 at 6:32 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to AW's comment

You don't get the jokes. The punch lines have changed. Those who want to belittle Palin ignore her real appeal. She is not a smug left over revolutionary from the sixties. She is the face of the downfall of big government that is being foisted onto the backs of real americans who revere the experiment begun here over 234 years ago. Don't tell us Obama is not a socialist for it only shows how blind some can be to the facts. He is big brother incarnate.

September 21 2010 at 8:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>