Why has MSNBC embedded one of its top on-air talents with Sarah Palin’s book tour? That’s a good question, but I thought Norah O’Donnell’s grilling of a young Palin fan was a fair use of the network’s time. O’Donnell asked Jackie (no last name given), who was wearing a T-shirt criticizing the bailouts, if she knew that Palin had supported them. Jackie refused to believe it.
“The reason I ask you,” said O’Donnell, “is that I think there’s some confusion about Sarah Palin’s policies.”
It wasn’t a man-on-the-street interview with a dopey tourist being asked a surprise question, of the kind John Ziegler conducted with Obama supporters to “prove” that they had no idea what Obama believed. Jackie was a political activist with a political message. And the history of the bailouts has really been mangled by conservative spin since September 2008, when, in a panic, most Republicans (in Congress) supported them. When former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gave a speech at the Value Voters Summit this year and attacked “bailing out banks,” few people in the crowd remembered that Romney had supported the bailouts.
By and large, I’ve found that Tea Party activists and conservatives do not forgive Republicans who supported the bailouts — there is a lot of anger toward former President George W. Bush, and more toward former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. And here is what Palin said about the bailouts in her debate with Joe Biden.
John McCain thankfully has been one representing reform. Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell.
People in the Senate with him, his colleagues, didn’t want to listen to him and wouldn’t go towards that reform that was needed then. I think that the alarm has been heard, though, and there will be that greater oversight, again thanks to John McCain’s bipartisan efforts that he was so instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week, even suspending his own campaign to make sure he was putting excessive politics aside and putting the country first.
And here is what Palin says in “Going Rogue” about the bailouts, on page 270.
[T]he House of Representatives rejected a Bush-backed economic bailout plan in a vote in which two-thirds of Republicans voted no. The impression this made on the electorate was not helpful to our cause. Millions of Americans were poised to go bankrupt or lose their savings, and the perception was that Republicans had failed to respond.
I don’t think you can avoid the conclusion that Palin supported the bailout package. If a Palin supporter doesn’t know this, it’s perfectly legitimate to find out why. And yet The Weekly Standard, not alone in the conservative media, takes this exchange and makes it all about a brave 17-year-old girl battling back against an “ambush” from MSNBC.
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