By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Now more than ever, in the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy, Sarah Palin should thank her lucky stars for the ever-attentive liberal media.
You read that right.
The left’s criticism of Palin has made her rich and famous — and influential — beyond any reasonable expectations. The barbs strengthen the resolve of her core base and keep her name in the news at a time when practically any other former losing running mate or ex-governor of a remote state would be long forgotten.
Sarah Palin speaking at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Her constituents thrive on the criticism of their favorite daughter, the same way the “vast right-wing conspiracy” of the 1990s made President Bill Clinton more popular with his base.
It is the height of irony. If the liberal wing wants to cut down Palin once and for all, it is going about the task all wrong. Instead of talking or writing about her, the liberals should simply ignore her. Don’t mention her.
The more attention she receives, then the more important she will seem. It doesn’t matter if she is cast in the role of a buffoon or one of Tina Fey’s punch lines on “Saturday Night Live,” either.
Obama emphasizes unity
Speaking at a memorial service for those slain in an assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama encouraged Americans to “make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
Palin’s supporters — and there are millions of them out there, folks — will always rally to her side during an attack, just as President Barack Obama’s followers will do his bidding when the right wing blasts him.
Thanks to Palin’s fame, she will continue to be a conspicuous presence on the national scene. She can have an impact on politics even if she isn’t going to be a candidate for the White House. As long as she retains her celebrity status, she will have a strong influence on the American conversation.
Left-leaning journalists can’t do without Palin for very long. Whether you view her as their favorite pinata or punching bag, it makes no difference to Palin. And no matter what the issue is at hand, the liberals find a way to work Palin into the conversation, inevitably putting her down.
Consider this: When I searched on “Sarah Palin Tucson” in Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) , there were 38.4 million references. When I put in “Barack Obama Tucson,” I got 14.2 million mentions.
She is truly the politician that liberals love to hate. Once upon a time, it was Richard Nixon. Now it’s Palin. I have never met her, but I would reckon that Palin must be laughing all the way to the bank. Every time someone in the media rips her, she hears the sound of ka-ching.
Remember, Palin isn’t a politician at the moment. She’s a media personality and reality-TV star. She’s completely inaccessible and only communicates on her own terms and through her own outlets. Obviously, she has learned her lesson well in national politics.
Palin has emerged stronger than ever as a national presence. Ironically, so has Obama, whose stirring speech after the Tucson massacre elevated — or, actually, re-elevated — the POTUS to the exalted status he enjoyed during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama deserved credit for his stirring speech, calling the nation to act less divisively and try to attain a tone of increased civility.
Understand, we all recognize that Palin also finished herself off as a candidate for the 2012 race by any reasonable measure. Her unfortunate, insensitive comments referring to “blood libel” showed an irresponsible side that trumps whatever irrepressible charm she conveys at her best.
The large body of “undecideds” are likely to shift away from Palin now, making it all but impossible for her to expect to win in 2012.
Still, I contend that Palin emerged as a winner after Tucson. She is more famous than ever, and fame is the name of her game.
Palin had better be careful about being too controversial. She may reach a point of no return, in which she feels a compulsion to top herself each time with some sort of outrageous comment.
If all she hoped to do was shock people, she’d find herself in the ranks of Ann Coulter, a virtual cartoon character who will say anything to get a reaction and make her self seem more famous, for the moment.
Palin’s danger is that her supporters may someday tire of her antics. When that happens, Palin has lost everything.
But for now, based on what we saw coming out of Tucson, Palin continues to ride high.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY: Did her comments after Tucson help or hurt Palin in the long run?