The Palin Wonder – by Jamie Glazov


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

FP: Victor Hanson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Hanson: Glad to be here again.

FP: Sarah Palin is, clearly, carving out a national presence right now. It’s not just the appeal of her book, but also her outspokenness on the Copenhagen conference and other issues.  What do you think she might be up to? And what is she tapping into? What are her possibilities?

Hanson: I think she taps into a current of populist unhappiness in the country with Washington insiders, Big Money, and condescending elites in the media and popular culture. The Wasilla mom of five, married to the snow-mobile champ, is simply the antithesis of all that. She senses the general disgust with an insider class that has nearly bankrupted the country through insane federal spending and equally insane financial speculation. She resonates in this regard mostly through an authentic middle-class upbringing, the real-world living of Alaska, natural intelligence, spunk and drive that sent one from the Wasilla city-council to the governorship of Alaska—and common sense answers like less government, lower taxes, more self-reliance, and national confidence.

Her can-do “let’s develop our own energy and spend no more than we earn” creed has a reassurance in these days. People root for her. The Ivy-Leaguers in government, whether the lawyer Obama or the economist Summers, haven’t exactly wowed the public with their studied brilliance so far.

Palin feels at ease with Middle America, and in a strange way is the antithesis to Barack Obama. Both are young, and charismatic, and appeal to populist constituencies. But whereas Obama came out of a Honolulu prep school and  elite Ivy League hot-house, and had to acquire, quite artificially, his street credentials at the foot of Rev. Wright and in the Chicago scratch-back world of Valerie Jarrett and Mayor Daley, Palin was a true product of the working class and took on rather than swam into the status quo political structure.

That fact was sadly lost in 2008, but it is starting to ring true as her popularity rises and Obama’s declines. Remember, though, these are mostly perceptions still, and Palin will have to give long interviews, do debates, lecture, write, and show a public grasp of the issues in the way that earlier charismatic, non-career politicians like Eisenhower and Reagan could—in contrast to flash in the pans like a Wesley Clark. For 2008 and much of 2009 the left and the media successfully caricatured her as a creationist, white-supremacist, Christianist nut, but that demonization is wearing off. Quite simply, the more the public sees her, the more it likes her—and that’s not true of most politicians like a Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid—or Barack Obama.

FP: Can you expand a bit on what is it that the liberal-Left hates so much about Palin?

Hanson: Well, well, let us count the ways:

1) Feminists resent her stance on abortion, not just her pro-life views, but the fact she delivered a challenged child in her 40s and her teen-daughter delivered an out of wedlock boy; for many professional women on the up and up, those decisions are not just absurd but scary.

2) The elite Left was furious over her populist appeal, particularly her charm, good looks, accent, and appearance. In sum, their view was “don’t hoi polloi know, as we do, that this glitzy thing is a moose-hunting mom with an Idaho BA? To a Maureen Dowd or Sally Qunin, a Christian mom, who hunts, lives in Alaska, and is married to Todd is OK—but not OK if she thinks she can come east and run their US.

3) She’s an interloper outside the normal cursus honorum. Almost all our female columnists, many of our politicians, and several of our TV personalities either married into, or were born into, influence and can trace some of their careers to the wealth or influence of powerful husbands, fathers, and mentors. Not Palin—she had no family or marital connections, no money, no powerful fixer, she’s a genuine up-from-the-bootstraps sort of feminist that, oddly, feminists don’t define as feminist.

4) Conservative, attractive women, with traditional marriages and child-raising, for a variety of reasons, earn media scorn;

4) She scares the Left by her star power; few in America can fill stadia like she can—and that worries the powers that be. Populism is supposed to be a leftist phenomenon, but when a conservative resonates with the folks, that raises concern.

5) Finally, her accent, her demeanor, her poorly prepared interviews with Couric and Gibson all cemented for many intellectuals and cultural grandeess, both left and right, the idea that she was hickish. Many tsk-tsked her in snobbish disdain.

FP: What do you think of Palin?

Hanson: I both admire and worry about her. She has exuberance and natural intelligence, coupled with energy and toughness and a certain fearlessness, and doesn’t seem to be a trimmer, but consistently articulates a common-sense position on the issues. On the other hand, she has so many obstacles in a strictly political sense to overcome. She is based thousands of miles away from New York and Washington. She is the mother of 5 and has little money, or powerful friends. The East-Coast Right dislikes her as much as the liberal elite. With young children, the Levi Johnston mess, the resignation from the governorship, the constant traveling to earn an income for her large dependencies, she is burning the candle at both ends. So I admire her pluck, but again worry that her present frenzied pace is unsustainable.

FP: What advice would you give to Palin?

Hanson: After her book tour ends and she has earned some money, I wish she would hunker down somewhere to write, recharge and contemplate things. A month at Hillsdale College, for example, where, in friendly and supportive surroundings, she could debate, talk to faculty, read and write would be wonderful, or in fact a month almost anywhere she could review issues, have her views tested and debated, and do some in depth reading and discussion would be great.

If she wrote a weekly column or did a bi-weekly radio address, in the fashion of Reagan, that too would allow her to both support her family and at the same time master the intricacies of modern national politics. She has so many gunning for her, that she needs to be proactive. Joe Biden did not know that FDR was not President in 1929 or that TV was still experimental—but given his status, the media shucked “Oh, that’s just Joe!” Obama can be clueless about state geography, a 50-state union, or the basics of US history, but that’s because “he’s tired and has so much on his mind.” Wasilla moms has no such margin of error.

The good news is that she is so energetic, naturally talented, and charismatic, that, with a few weeks prep, she could redo the Couric interview and sparkle. What happened in 2008, was that she went from a supportive populace in Alaska to a hostile prime-time lion’s den, without proper appreciation that she was the antithesis of most of the values and lifestyles of those who would write and comment on her—and they were waiting for her in a way I think she did not anticipate. That said, I think we can already see that she is becoming media-savvy and picking her venues carefully.

FP: Victor Hanson, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

  • chetweld

    This is a great article. I am grateful for Sarah Palin. We need more people with her character, experience, vision, and fortituded. Thank you for publishing this.

  • USMCSniper

    Dennis Miller had it right on when he declared that liberal women hate Gov. Sarah Palin because “she has a great sex life and they don't”:

    She’s a great dame. People are fascinated by her because the Left hate her. I think the Left hate her — mostly sex starved women on the Left hate her — because to me from outside in it appears that she has a great sex life, all right? I think she has non-neurotic sex with that Todd Palin guy. … I think that snow mobile looks like mechanized foreplay to me and that’s why people are fascinated.

  • jackhampton

    I agree I even suggested the radio address like Reagan. I am reading her book and I know that it was put together by a writer but she gave them the information and I believe this is an honest woman. I just think how people looked for the next Reagan for years and now it might turn out to be a woman.

  • jackhampton

    I hope that was an attempt at humor.

  • Alex Kovnat

    I saw Sarah P. on the cover of Newsweek. She's got nice legs :) I Hope she can challenge the global warming doomsayers and help save our way of life.

  • Phil

    Great article, and the right questions in this particular interview. Reading VDH's views is always a pleasure. He has such enormous insight, and the gift of expressing his thoughts clearly and concisely.

  • Robert Bernier

    Wow! Read this one. It is really good. And this gentleman says it just like it is.

    This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii
    for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president. Consult :

  • semus

    One thing he missed and I think has to happen. We have to stop allowing dishonesty to frame arguments. Even he said she was not prepared in the Couric interview, even though the whole interview was never seen, and was dishonestly edited. Even he alluded to her inexperience, even though her experience far exceeds our Presidents. Even he was swayed by the corrupt left wing media complex as smart as he is. Maybe we as citizens should be more informed, it's not too much to ask, the Framers of our country said it was a requirement for all this to work.
    I'm rooting for Sarah, and I think Dr. Davis is also, he did say that some people were given a pass when she wasn't. But he didn't say as long as we give passes to lies and corruption, allow ignorance stupidity and hatred to flourish, things like One Big Ass Mistake America (OBAMA) are going to keep happening and eventually there won't be anything left that of the original experiment that is this country.

  • prudentman

    I think there is a confusion between the East/West Right, if there is such a thing, and Conservatism. These frauds are not Conservatives. The East/West coast Republican elites never have been Conservative: Many of whom are actually closet Limousine Liberals or statists. These are the folks who have ruined the GOP and who are losing political power as fast a Barack Hussein Obama. I was a Conservative before Ronald Reagan was. If Hanson, or anyone else, cannot understand this differentiation he or she is clueless as to the whole Tea Party movement and has little credibility.

    I doubt, from this interview, that Hanson like many so-called Conservative commentators ever read Palin's book. These people are part of the problem not the solution. In reality they just spout out last weeks news and trite “talking points” and want to take advantage of the country's move to the populist right, which isn't the same as Conservatism. But “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and when the ship of state is sinking we accept a life jacket from anyone.

    Support a National Congressional Term Limit Referendum for reasons you should be well aware of by now if you are reading this.

  • ksreeve

    I read Palin's book. I get it. She's a “supercomp”: One of those people that is supremely competent in many areas. I've known a handful of women like this, and they make things run, they provide the creative impetus for the community at large. They are proactive, super enthusiastic, can-do, natural born leaders.

  • LarryConners

    Taking a month off to regroup, recharge, debate her ideas with supportive academics, write a couple of op-ed pieces, and delve into the esoterica of modern politics is excellent advise which I hope she receives and acts on…if ever a rough diamond…

    We need to nourish this American prodigy, support and encourage her to continue to accrue political acumen, and renew the American values that have made this country the greatest nation on earth…like an Oliver Cromwell, she has imbued the American middle class with a spirit long silent and dormant on the political scene…populism, yes…but a disciplined and intelligent populism that springs from her sense of middle-class right and wrong, an unwillingness to bend to the persuasive pressure from the accommodating left, a much more insidious and destructive populism….

  • Mark Peter

    I believe also Cuda is beginning to surround herself with good advisors—-whoever was in charge of her book campaign is a brilliant strategist. She needs to continue to surround herself with smart, loyal people, maybe a Fred Thompson, Linda Chavez or a Herman Cain—and yes, a month at Hillsdale would be wonderful!!! Brillant suggestion!!!

  • davidhorowitz

    Let the adoration begin. Palin was just a bizarre choice by McCain, the conservative that the conservatives loved to hate. And suddenly she's being promoted as the charismatic leader of the New Right? Ouch.

  • semus


  • USMCSniper

    He actually said this opn Bill Oreilly

  • mojobebop

    more confident with her in office.

  • ddavidt

    Palin is in the fight, out in the front of the fight, leading the charge against the enemy, in the face of the most despicable and dirty tactics imaginable.

    This is what makes her a leader. This is why people follow her. This is what makes her a winner.

    Meanwhile all the other so-called 'leaders' stay safely back behind the lines while their minions do their fighting for them, and the chattering pundits snipe from the brush.

  • ernstNV

    We don't think she is the leader of the New Right David. We just know she is a leader, something that conservative American severely lack.

  • ddavidt

    Palin is in the fight, out in front of the battle, leading the charge against the enemy, in the face of the dirtiest and most despicable tactics imaginable.

    This is what makes her a leader. This is why people follow her. This is what makes her a winner.

    Meanwhile, all the other so-called 'learers' of the left or right, the liberal/progressive or conservative, the Democrats or Republicans, stay safely behind the battlelines while their minions do their fighting for them, with the chattering class sniping from the brush.

  • Paul

    Agreed. She needs to make enough dough to be comfortable, then concentrate on her crash course on all she needs to know before she runs.

    The only way she can lose is if the media is successful in painting her as an idiot.

  • BS77

    I agree chetwald…..Sarah Palin is a real breath of fresh air….I would like to see a Romney-Palin or Hunter-Palin ticket….First, though….in 2010, it's time to vote a lot of the Trillion Dollar Big Spenders OUT…the PC collectivist liberal Democrats who are destroying the US economy and everything else they touch. Time to get the Education Czars and the NEA and the ACLU out of the US government…..we have gone so far off the road of sensible, rational policy…time for a real change.

  • mikesmithMAkellyscove

    as far as The Left ever cares, Palin's Original Sin is she's not a commieratprogressive. Take that away and all her “faults” would be virtues, her beauty and spunk and her pure love of children and independent drive- she'd be Queen of the Hop.
    Mike Smith, M.A.
    Kelly's Cove
    San Francisco

  • semus

    David Horowitz didn't write the statement

  • LucyQ

    I find Sarah Palin a very refreshing candidate, certainly better than McCain. I don't like the fact that she seems to think shooting wolves with a high-powered gun from a helicopter is the same as hunting. It's not hunting…'s slaughtering.

    My older brother likes to shoot pregnant deer. I asked him why he goes after the pregnant ones and he told me they make a bigger target. The way I see it is my brother and Palin are in the same sleazy boat.

  • 17ks

    BS77, Palin will never run for VP again. That she was a candidate on someone else's campaign was the source of too many problems. Besides, she would hugely upstage Romney or Hunter, just like she did McCain.

  • HostileKnowledge

    Send liberals into a frenzied state of insanity.

    Vote for Palin in 2012!

  • whatstgenatterwithkansas

    “I think there is a confusion between the East/West Right, if there is such a thing, and Conservatism. These frauds are not Conservatives.” – prudentman
    I couldn't agree more: the I-wanna-be-a RINO-types continully delude themselves and their constituents. Which leads to the number one reason Palin resonates: integrity and fearlessness – a dynamite combination that no soc/lib/modrep begins to understand. When you get to issues of he heart – a love for our constitutional republic, a love for freedom of speech and religion, the sanctity of life – no politician should be even a considered candidate unless he/she has validated their words by clear, living example. Example: Obama cannot or will not produce a certified birth certificate proving that he is a natural-born citizen. What's with that?? Why is his lack of cooperation tolerated? But, yes, we will let him be our chief military commander. How stupid is that? And he is the example we want our kids to emulate?

  • HostileKnowledge

    What Palin was doing was part of a culling process. Since 2003, Alaska has issued aerial wolf-hunting permits in select areas where moose and caribou populations are particularly endangered from over-populations of wolves.

  • wine clubs

    It is definitely a populist agenda, I do wonder what chances(if any) she has at winning elections given her low approval ratings in some huge states. It will be interesting to see what happens with her political career, it will certainly be an interesting path, probably one we'll never see again.

  • glennd1

    I can't believe the soft shoe the right is doing for Sarah Palin. It wasn't just Couric or Gibson who showed her lack of depth, it was much of her extemporaneous commentary on the campaign trail. Or how about her resignation news conference? She literally didn't make sense during large parts of it and I was left wondering afterwards if she had actually resigned.

    Now let me say that I have nothing against her, she doesn't make me angry like she does many Progressives. Furthermore, I get why many conservative women would identify with her as a mother, careerist and wife who is pretty and spunky. But puhlease! She has nowhere near the intellectual horsepower I want to see in a presidential candidate. The very fact that the interviewee suggests she spend a month at Hillsdale or elsewhere reveals his reservations about the quality of her mind.

  • exodus2011

    Gov Palin has something else going for her that has not been commented on … too controversial I suppose …. multitudes of Bible-believing, praying Americans are advocating for her, and their country, in the Heavenlies ….. we shall see whether there is still some mercy left there, with direction tag:

    “TO: The United States of America

  • HostileKnowledge

    It's good that you “have nothing against her” because she's going to become your president in 2012.

    So just for a start, you'll have four whole years to really have nothing against her.

  • CowboyUp

    Ouch is right, but it's fearful lefties and rinos feeling the pain.

    Picking a younger conservative as VP made sense because McCain is too liberal for most conservatives in several ways, and She balanced the ticket. His mistake was in picking someone that the average GOP voter preferred to him.

  • trickyblain

    Always entertaining when a fraud conservative explains why liberals (and many, many moderates on both the left and right) try to explain why Palin is a running punch line. “She's attactive! Liberals hate that. And she's a good mother, that's unacceptable to liberals. Or it's her values — traditional, wholesome and pure — the media just cannot stomach that. Then there's the fact that she's a strong woman, which feminists find appalling.”

    The fact is, Palin is an empty suit. She's not well read, can't hold a meaningful dialog and her ethics do not square with her folksy rhetoric. Does she have appealing traits? Sure – she's charismatic and bright. But her ambition is unfocused; it is undisciplined and exists for it's own sake. She's not stupid, just simplistic.

    People on these blogs claim Obama was unqualified to be president. He has a law degree and specialized in conlaw. He was a US Senator. He served on the state level before that. He wrote his own books — Palin employed ghost writers. Palin has a journalism degree and resigned her governorship midstream. How can the same people who claimed that Obama lacked qualification support Palin?

    It amazes me why Mike Huckabee isn't mentioned more as a possible candidate, and the right continues to go for divisive, clownish posers. It doesn't work anymore. Huckabee has very conservative beliefs — but is respectful of his opponents. It was clear, when Palin came off as an insulting, condescending jerk-off in her RNC speech, that she had no class. And the right loves her for it. Huckabee comes off as reasonable, which is why he is ignored.

  • CowboyUp

    He may be pulling your leg to get your goat (I have three Sisters). The heart/lung group is the same size either way, that's his target. Also, deer mating is seasonal, and pregnant Whitetail does don't usually start showing until after the season is over. Try playing along, and ask him for some of the fawn, you heard it's just like veil. Watch his eyes bug. Two can play that game ;-)

    As Hostile pointed out, they aren't hunting those wolves for meat or 'sport,' (I come from a you kill it, you eat it family myself), they are doing so to protect the caribou herds in remote, hard to reach places. You do that the most efficient and humane way you can.

  • coyote3

    What Palin was doing was not illegal. Assuming your brother is telling the truth, he is hunting deer out of season in most states, because the pregnancies are not readily apparent until well after the season is closed.

  • coyote3

    Specializing in “conlaw”, yeah convict law. I have tried more constitutional law cases, than Obama. That doesn't mean he isn't qualified, just as Sarah Palin is qualified. They both meet the age and residency requirements.

  • WFB2

    “People on these blogs claim Obama was unqualified to be president. He has a law degree and specialized in conlaw. He was a US Senator. He served on the state level before that. He wrote his own books — Palin employed ghost writers. Palin has a journalism degree and resigned her governorship midstream. How can the same people who claimed that Obama lacked qualification support Palin?”
    Talk about empty suits. Obummer was a back-bench Illinois pol who voted “present” on about 85% of the issues during his short term. He spent no more than six months as a U.S. Senator. His cronies are nut cases (Rev. Wright) or bomb-throwing terrorists (Ayres/Dohrn) one of whom (Ayres) almost certainly ghosted Obummer' book(s): (May 24, 2009).

    His place of birth is uncertain; his paternity likewise; his grades in school censored; his friends (if any) and schoolmates unknown/unheard from. He's a papier mache fabrication and effectively little more than a product of a lifetime of
    affirmative action including his election to President. He's a narcissist with resonant but vacuous oratorical prowess. He's all show; no go and the heads of state around the world all know it by now.

    Palin may lack so-called Ivy league sophistication but she's no phony – more than can be said of our man-child orator in chief.

  • trickyblain

    To each his own. I find Palin about as phony as any person outside of

    Her recent endeavors on TV — coinciding with her increasing popularity –
    are symbolic of our decline into a reality-show state where talent no longer
    gets you noticed and talent is merely getting noticed. Publicly feuding with
    David Letterman and Levi Johnson? Levi Johnson? Really?

    And we're supposed to take this woman seriously? Potential leader?


  • trickyblain

    Can you produce a copy a Sarah Palin's “living birth certificate”? Has she put it up on her Web site? Have you seen the birth certificate of ANY POTUS in our history? If so produce at once because I do not believe that Palin is a natural born citizen.

  • YourGMa

    Trickyblame obviously has no common sense. Palin is not President of the United States (yet), the office of which can only be filled by a Natural-born citizen. When she becomes POTUS, you Trickyblah may then request to view her birth certificate if you wish. In the meantime, citizens are wondering whether Hussein the current occupier of the White House is legitimate or actually a usurper.

  • trickyblain

    She was a candidate for VP, and the requirements are the same. I don't
    recall her releasing her birth certificate. I don't recall a single
    potential or existing president releasing theirs either. I am wondering if
    Reagan and Bush and Clinton were legitimate. Show me they were or I will
    assume they were not.

    Same logic applies.

    Nice name calling. How old are you, 5?

  • DemocracyFirst

    You make sober points, and this I say as a conservative who roots for Palin.

    She went into the campaign stunningly naive. On the other hand, Hanson is right when he points out that what should have been embarassing and telling gaffes by Biden and Obama were largely ignored and rendered meaningless – by the same media that went to town on Palin for no more.

    As for “The very fact that the interviewee suggests she spend a month at Hillsdale or elsewhere reveals his reservations about the quality of her mind,”…

    What this indicated is her need to be educated. It says nothing about her mind. For, if 08 was any guide, in a future campaign she will have to be evidently more knowledgeable and quick footed than Democrats in order to be treated by the media as only mildly their inferior.

  • Rcf

    Ms. Palin's accomplishments in Alaska – the record shows she did more in her shortened term than any before her – are quite impressive. I find her desire to represent the people instead of enslaving us, as the current president is, quite appealing.

    I believe her toughness is extraordinary. She has taken all of the Left's ridicule, scorn, mocking, lies and hate and she still stands tall.

    Some folks may not like her, but if they can't find something to admire about this woman they are either fools or liars.

  • WFB2

    Levi Johnson? That's it? That's the best you've got? Weak. REALLY weak. And 'we're' supposed to take you seriously?
    True, If Palin was a Democrat she'd have someone take Mr. Johnson out deep-water snorkeling wearing a pair 150 lb. cement boots.

  • LucyQ

    IMO, she took too much joy in doing something a blind person could do in a helicopter. She wasn't 'wolf-hunting, in fact true hunters say she wasn't even hunting which is a sport and a challenge.

  • trickyblain

    No sir-eee! By golly, that's not the best I got. Is palin a phony on
    her ideas and ethics? You betcha!

  • LucyQ

    I don't doubt that's a way to thin the herd. I don't understand her joy and glee in doing this slaughter…..that's what reminds me of my brother. And no, it's true, I went with him once and it's sickening.

    But let's take it further: do we want our governor's in pro-death states to kill the killer themselves? That would be OK with me.

    Do we want our commander-in-chief, if he/she declares a war, to go there first and lead our armed forces? That's fine with me and
    her/his children should be the first in our armed forces to lead the charge.

    However, I understand that just because I think it should be this way doesn't necessarily mean these things would be good for our nation.

  • LucyQ

    I'm not claiming she did anything illegal. I'm claiming that what she did is not defined as 'hunting.'

  • LucyQ

    Her intelligence or lack of it doesn't bother me but her questionable morals do. I like Huckabee too but because he doesn't upset the left, the right won't give him the time of day.

    If the economy comes back, Obama will be re-elected. That puts the rightwing extremists into hoping our economy and America fail, that even more Americans lose their jobs. At that point, it won't matter much if Palin or someone else is elected because not many voters will show up to vote.