Bannon says he wants this film to show people that Palin is better than Romney. Yes, he doesn’t even mention a general election. This film is to re-vamp her image in the eyes of Republicans, so they will leave the theater and have a newfound “begrudging admiration for her.” It’s not for the general population.
“So your film is a primer for her in the primary?” I ask.
Bannon knows how to answer this question. His cheerful face stretches into an ear-to-ear smile. “I’m a commercial filmmaker,” he says.
“So she’s going to run for president?”
Same smile. “I’m a commercial filmmaker.”
The final 10 minutes of the film are spent comparing Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan. People said that Reagan was too extreme, too conservative, and that he’d never be president — and they were all wrong, according to The Undefeated. “Why do you think I did that?” Bannon asks.
For the power of the association, I tell him. So people will think the two politicians have similar qualities. He says the tea party movement is like the Reagan Revolution. I tell him I disagree. Palin is much more like Barry Goldwater, if anything. Goldwater supporters stormed the San Francisco Republican convention in ’64, lots of them “never having been involved in politics before.” Just like we hear about the tea party. There was also the belief among Goldwater supporters that if there was ever a true conservative, the large bloc of dormant true conservatives would turn out to vote for him. Goldwater’s opponent, Lyndon Johnson, won in a historic landslide in the ’64 election.
Why is the film called The Undefeated? Bannon feigns insult at the question. He declares he thought I was smarter than that. Basically, he starts busting my chops and it looks like he’s filibustering. “I know she’s lost elections! See her at the end of the film in Madison and it’s like water off a duck. She’s not down. She’s undefeated.”
Isn’t that technically “not defeated?” Sports teams who’ve never lost in a season are undefeated. But being undeterred is not defeated, not undefeated. I suspect another dog whistle. A phrase that at this point in the interview Bannon likes tossing around with a chuckle.
Is the film just glazing over failures in order to magnify the good parts of Palin’s history? I mean, the New Testament is more critical of Jesus than The Undefeated is of Sarah Palin. I asked Bannon why he thinks people don’t like Sarah Palin. He says it’s because they don’t like her politics. That answer satisfies him absolutely. They just disagree with her and that causes all the vitriol hurled at her.
When Bannon says he made the movie for me, he means women. He calls them “new agenda women.” Women whom Bannon describes as being still mad about how Hillary Clinton was treated during the primaries. Yes, Steve Bannon is trying to capture the PUMA and feminist vote by rebranding Sarah Palin.
If Palin were more competent she’d be far less controversial to women. Women don’t like how Palin is treated, but for some, it’s not because she’s criticized by the media or scrutinized — it’s because she’s held to a lower standard than other politicians. If a man had given any of her answers to Katie Couric or in any of her interviews since, no one would think to make a movie highlighting all his accomplishments while being governor of one of the least populated states in the nation for a fraction of a term. It feels condescending to women who are actually smart and accomplished that Palin gets called smart and accomplished.
But The Undefeated‘s director and writer admits his project is about subtext. And the intended subtext of our chat: Palin intends to run for president because she’s not defeated.
Principles. Ethics. A threat to the establishment. Kitchen table. CEO.
Principled and Ethical? DOES ONE THINK OF SARAH PALIN?