Joe the Plumber & Sarah Joe Sixpack

More like Joe the Contractor & Sarah the Political Insider.

Read this with haste.  It is a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer detailing Sarah Palin’s calculated climb to prominence within the GOP.  While Palin likes to talk about coming from outside of the Washington establishment, she spent a great deal of effort and money to make herself known to the “elite” media on the East Coast.  These efforts paid their dividends in February 2007, when Palin was “discovered”, in a sense, by a young Republican activist, Adam Brickley.  His background, according to Mayer:

Brickley’s family, once evangelical Christians, now practice what he calls “Messianic Judaism.” They believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but they also observe the Jewish holidays and attend synagogue; as Brickley puts it, “Jesus was Jewish, so to be like Him you need to be Jewish, too.” Brickley said that “the hand of God” played a role in choosing Palin: “The longer I worked on it the less I felt I was driving it. Something else was at work.”

Brickley is an authentic heartland voice, but he is also the product of an effort by wealthy conservative organizations in Washington to train activists. He has attended several workshops sponsored by the Leadership Institute, a group based in the Washington area and founded in 1979 by the Christian conservative activist Morton Blackwell. “I’m building a movement,” Blackwell told me. Brickley also participated in a leadership summit held by Young America’s Foundation (motto: “The Conservative Movement Starts Here”) and was an intern at the Heritage Foundation. He currently lives in a dormitory, on Capitol Hill, run by the Heritage Foundation, and is an intern with, a top conservative Web site.

Brickley was, then, essentially created by the conservative establishment for just such a purpose.  But it wasn’t only Brickley that contributed to Palin’s ascendency.  As Mayer points out, The Weekly Standard sponsored a cruise to Alaska in 2007 — during the cruise’s debark in Juneau, Palin held a lunch at the Governor’s Mansion for none other than Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, and Michael Gerson:

During the lunch, everyone was charmed when the Governor’s small daughter Piper popped in to inquire about dessert. Fred Barnes recalled being “struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.” It didn’t escape his notice, too, that she was “exceptionally pretty”…

By the time the Weekly Standard pundits returned to the cruise ship, Paulette Simpson said, “they were very enamored of her.” In July, 2007, Barnes wrote the first major national article spotlighting Palin, titled “The Most Popular Governor,” for The Weekly Standard. Simpson said, “That first article was the result of having lunch.” Bitney agreed: “I don’t think she realized the significance until after it was all over. It got the ball rolling.”

The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.” The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”

In any case, you can read the article yourself.  Suffice it to say I’m intrigued.

So much for getting up by your bootstraps and throwing out the Washington insiders.  I call that getting up by your conservative media elite friends working for the Weekly Standard and The New York Times and The National Review, and an extraordinarily well-executed PR plan.

So much for the “man of the people” mantra McCain and Palin like to invoke with reference to Joe the Plumber, Joe Sixpack, and hockey moms across America.


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