Wall Street, Sarah and 'The Women'

My KCRW commentary on Friday talked about the Sarah Palin Effect with an eye toward the media and blogs, in particular here at LA Observed and the UCLA faculty blog I'm involved with, The Sprint. Listen at KCRW.com, subscribe to the weekly podcast at iTunes, or just check out the script after the jump.

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Our breaking coverage of the Chatsworth Metrolink crash is pulled together at the Accidents and Disasters archive or can be viewed as quick headlines at the shortcut page showing the blog's past 48 hours.

Sept. 12. 2008 script for LA Observed on KCRW:

There's just no denying that the choice of Governor Sarah Palin has completely rewritten the script for the race for president.

Somewhere, a Republican strategist is getting pats on the back -- and maybe free cigars from his or her colleagues -- for suggesting Palin to the boss.

In some political operative circles, getting the credit for seeing this all coming could be a meal ticket for years.

Consider that if you Google Sarah Palin today you get 22 million hits. Safe to say that's millions more than when she was just an obscure governor of Alaska with some pretty far right opinions...and Karl Rove was still mocking Obama for even considering Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

The GOP talking points then - and we're talking like three weeks ago - were that a governor who had only been in office a few years was laughable as VP material.

Mayor of a podunk city like Richmond, Virginia? Pfft.

But that was before Media Hurricane Sarah made landfall.

Now, inexperience is being spun as a plus. That Palin was mayor of a rural town of 9,000, and not a particularly accomplished mayor, is playing better than running a real city.

At Technorati.com, which keeps tracks of topics that sweep through the blogosphere, the name Sarah Palin commands the biggest text in the tag cloud that shouts out what's hot on the blogs.

I see it first-hand on the blogs that I'm involved with.

At LA Observed.com, Palin has already come up in more than a dozen entries. They range from apoplectic protests by the more liberal authors...to some amusing parodies of her qualifications...to business blogger Mark Lacter following the betting on futures market Intrade that Palin would step aside.

Yeah well, that's not going to happen.

She's the biggest thing to elevate Republican fortunes since Arnold Schwarzenegger picked their party as the one he would loosely align with when he and Maria Shriver ran for governor.

Like Palin, Arnold shrugged off the criticism that he was unqualified. He became such an unstoppable star that even family values Republicans had to overlook the groping allegations, the youthful wildness and his acceptance of gays and lesbians.

They just wanted to win.

That's how a lot of Republicans, and apparently a growing slice of independents, feel about Palin. They'll worry about that whole heartbeat from the oval office thing if it ever comes up.

Palin is also dominating talk at The Sprint, an experiment in letting UCLA political scientists and other professors blog about the mad final weeks of the campaign.

I didn't know what to expect when The Sprint launched. The faculty were invited to blog their personal analysis and opinions with no filtering by the university.

Palin has quickly emerged as a recurring topic - no surprise there and with a range of approaches.

The most provocative Palin entry reports on research into the influence of looks on voters. The study of hundreds of political candidates was done when Palin was still largely unknown...and only tested politicians who were not recognizable by the study volunteers.

It found that Palin's face rated in the top 5 percent. Not quite a 10 --- but a 9.5.

The students saw her as "facially competent," based solely on her looks. Joe Biden ranked far lower. Mitt Romney scored even higher than Palin.

Other posts on The Sprint have encouraged Democrats to reject the viral emails that attack Palin based on false charges - like the memo about her banning books. One professor talked about her personal reaction as a woman to Palin.

The country itself may be bitterly divided right now about Palin -- and about Obama vs McCain. But the more we talk about it on blogs like The Sprint, I like to think we'll all be better off.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.


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