Yesterday, I wrote about what constitutes “Palin Power” and its antipodal “Palin Derangement Syndrome” (PDS). Briefly, Palin Power can defined as that accelerated rush of energy her supporters feel anytime she comes up as subject matter, while PDS is fear and loathing felt by her enemies.
Sarah Palin had her first interview with Charlie Gibson last week and while some analysts tried to trash her performance, she actually did quite well. She was on message, didn’t hem and haw. Some read lack of knowledge into her handling of the “Bush Doctrine” question. Quite the opposite, Sarah Palin knows damn well what the Bush Doctrine is. If you listen to the tone of her voice when she asked, “In what respect, Charlie?” it wasn’t the tone of a frightened rube (as her detractors tried to portray her). It was the tone of a skilled hunter who knew a trap was being set. Gibson was clearly trying to maneuver Sarah Palin into a bad position – a simple “yes” answer to supporting the Bush Doctrine and that would have painted the entire McCain-Palin campaign as little more than a “third Bush term.” A “no” answer would have made her sound like a weak-kneed liberal.
Still, Sarah Palin is rather new to national politics. The following ideas, I think will transform what we call Palin Power into an unstoppable force:
- “Shugyo” sessions. This is a word from Aikido and refers to an intense training session done to the point of mental or physical overload. The idea is to identify the trainee’s strong points and weak points, bring out the best in them, and understand that a) the trainee has limits; and b) what those limits are. My flight instructors are good this way, but it works in all walks of life. Being thoroughly schooled in national politics by her best advisors and friends and subjected to “shugyo” sessions – at random and privately — will make her unstoppable. Even John McCain can benefit from some of this himself. All politicians make gaffes and are caught off guard in un-controlled media events. The trick is to minimize this, and “shugyo” sessions will keep the duo on top of their game.
- Never, ever, ever have the delusion that the mike is closed. Both McCain and Palin should treat any mike as open. This has not been an issue for either of them, but it bears mentioning, because many a political career has been destroyed by a supposedly closed mike. Simply put, the brain should be in gear before the mouth opens. If you don’t want to read your words in the newspaper tomorrow, best to not say them.
- A major part of Sarah Palin’s appeal, and why her supporters love her so is because of her authenticity. Washington has a way of changing newcomers who start off with good intentions. As Vice President, Sarah Palin would be President of the Senate and could cast the tie-breaking vote. This is would be her daily function, so she more than anyone else would have lobbyists descending on her. The VP’s job is one of the few where a single person acts in the legislative and executive branches of our government. The temptations are many. Should Sarah Palin ever lose this aspect of her power that draws people to her (i.e. become part of the Beltway gang), her own power could turn to poison and destroy her. From what we have seen of Sarah Palin so far, I don’t think it will ever be an issue, but she will face those temptations every hour of every day. So long as she continues to use her power wisely, she can adapt to Washington, while remaining the Sarah Palin we know and love.
Shugyo, treating every mike as if it’s open, and not yielding to Washington’s siren calls will take Palin Power to the next level – an unstoppable force.