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Coro Fellows

As part of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, these 12 Southern California fellows are engaged in a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level leadership training program that prepares individuals for public-affairs leadership.

The Palin of the past

Unifying force. Well-liked. Sensible. Pragmatic. Independent. Original. If one were to poll the American public on what words describe Sarah Palin, it's unlikely that those six would top the list. But before her meteoric rise into the national spotlight, Palin was indeed a well-liked governor who bucked her state's political establishment and led with an independent voice. To many she was a breath of fresh air--a voice of reason in a state beset by political corruption. By the time she was tapped for the Republican vice presidential nomination, her approval ratings hovered around 90 percent, an unbelievably high number even considering Alaska's conservative tendencies. She was -- in the words of George W. Bush -- a uniter, not a divider.

Unfortunately, adjectives like divisive, ideological, controversial, arrogant, unready, and affected now swirl, hurricane-like, around Alaska's former governor. She has been blamed for ensuring John McCain's election defeat, and her repeated blunders have become running jokes. It's hard to believe we can be talking about the same person.

Albeit short, her time as Alaska governor demonstrates that there is a kernel of classic, honest, humble leadership in Palin. Instead of racing around the country firing up the political fringe and reading policy positions off of her palm, she ought to recognize her limitations, and leverage her aforementioned strengths to overcome them. Palin presently holds great political power--she can draw audiences, raise money, and make kings. Let's hope she realizes this influence, and uses it wisely. -- Sean Holiday

Pardon poor Palin

It's not her fault, it's mine. I admit I tuned in as Tina Fey smiled, winked and shot her gun fingers (pew pew pew!), devolving into a cute little bundle of incomprehensible blather on SNL. I have seen countless YouTube clips devoted to making a mockery of the Republican presidential running mate in song, dance, and cartoon. And while
brainstorming for this post, I found an image of Palin in an American flag bikini with a hunting rifle on her hip (impersonation?).

I apologize for buying in to this charade. I apologize for drooling over the media spectacle that further contributes to the polarization of politics in our country. As the Democrats unite in ridicule, so too do the far-right Republicans come together in defense of their down-home, liberty-loving leader.

Instead of simply ignoring the publicity circus, Palin jumped in the ring. Quitting her post as governor, blabbering on Fox News, and attending a Tea Party with inspirational words scrawled on her palm--she may as well grow a beard and ride a unicycle. So is she electable?

Palin's presidential bid, if carried out, will undoubtedly end in failure. For that Palin deserves all of the blame. --Emily Sage Sipchen

Would she quit the presidency, too?

I was excited to see Sarah Palin speak during the Republican National Convention in 2008. My great-aunt and I sat down in her home in Georgia to watch as the first female Republican candidate for vice-president was introduced to the world. We were both prepared to like her, and by the end of her speech we both realized that the only reason we had been prepared to like her was because she was female. My aunt summed up our disappointment in two sentences: "She has an I'm-right-and-if-you-don't-like-it-than-too-bad-for-you type of attitude. The far right will love it, but what's left for moderates?"

Two things were immediately clear to me: one, Sarah Palin was a populist force to be reckoned with and would probably one day make a bid for the presidency, and two, nothing could convince me to vote for her. I don't really think there is much Palin can do to burnish her credentials for people beyond her base. She has made too many mistakes along the way.

A handful of embarrassing interviews on national television told most of us that she wasn't and probably never would be ready to be "the leader of the free world." The subsequent handful of SNL skits advertised that to the wider audience of Americans who don't follow the news cycle. There are some lurking accusations of corruption during her tenure as the governor of Alaska. In their book Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin accuse her of lying about the outcome of the investigation into her actions. They even got a McCain insider to admit that he originally found her on YouTube.

Perhaps the most damning action she took was to resign as governor of Alaska. All the opposition has to do is create a "Will she resign from the presidency, too?" campaign and (hopefully, in my opinion) it would all be over. Still, she has ambition, and I wouldn't put it past her to put up one heck of a fight. -- Elizabeth Willis

By Coro Fellows

 |  February 9, 2010; 11:31 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Speaking for myself, I don't see her at all as populist force. I see her quite differently.

I see Palin as being very effective in connecting to a segment that has been convinced that the government is to blame for all woe's and that she is quite good at rousing those individuals to not only disagree with but despise her political opponents.

I see Palin as having perhaps the least coherent understanding of issues of any candidates of either party.

I see Palin as a person who has come to adore the celebrity side of politics and I am not convinced she has the desire or skills to engage in tough policy debates or to make any decisions which cross her base... who are mostly on the fringe when it comes to policy.

I admit that I think she's incredible at using her personality, the fact the she is different from the traditional white haired wealthy men who run our government and the fact that she's a woman to hit hard with her rhetoric. She delivers the zinger as well as anyone.

She hasn't shown me in anything she's done that she has the ability to weigh complex issues and come to tough decisions which might not align to her rhetoric. In the end, I still can't see her "leading".

Posted by: Rickster623 | February 11, 2010 12:27 PM
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Bluedog1: Thank you for a viewpoint from someone who has seen first hand what a loser Palin is. I hope you and the people of Alaska keep telling the truth about that nitwit.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | February 11, 2010 11:35 AM
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Palin honest leadership?She said her leagel bills was up to $500.000 from her being sued over what she did while governor,how about trying illegally to fire her State Trooper exbrother in law?Palin tells lies in her book,she wouldn't know the truth if she met it in the street.What blind people you are

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | February 11, 2010 11:26 AM
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From all accounts, Madame Palin ran Alaska like a personal fiefdom with her high school buddies as staff and her husband riding shotgun over government contracts.

Expressed as a fraction, her quzlifications would be diddly/squat.

There's a huge difference between getting elected and actually governing.

Posted by: rogied25 | February 10, 2010 6:16 PM
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She left her post before her term was done. That's enough for me. She's toast as a candidate.

Posted by: cypherlock123 | February 10, 2010 4:50 PM
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She was mayor of a town of 3000 on her own credentials.
She spun that into the governership of a state of 600,000 against a corrupt encumbent with a 19 % approval rating.No additional credentials there.
No disrespect to Alaska but if it were a city, it would not make it in the US top 20. Then she quits that job... so much for credentials there...
Maybe she should start over again with Wassila....

Posted by: mini1071 | February 10, 2010 4:24 PM
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I know some reasons why she had such a high approval rating. First, she wasn't Frank Murkowski. Our previous governor had a 19 percent approval rating and lost his own primary. I didn't vote for Palin but like many Alaskans, I figured Anyone But Murkowski would be a huge improvement. She was elected in a three-way race with 48 percent of the vote, or 114,000 people. Not a huge mandate.

But she didn't press her personal ideology ahead of the law or constitution. She had to work with the Democrats. She raised taxes on Big Oil, and who doesn't like to stick it to the overlords? She gave all of us an extra $1,200 as an "energy rebate" in addition to our regular permanent fund dividend. She convinced the legislature to give a half-billion to a Canadian company to jumpstart the gas pipeline process (and they don't have to give it back even if they do squat), and we were so excited about maybe getting the pipeline that it took awhile to realize what a dumb idea that was.

You have to understand that she was governor when oil prices were high and we were rolling in money. She did not have to make hard choices.

The bloom was falling off the rose just as McCain picked her. She was rarely in Juneau (she didn't like it there) and legislators were wearing "Where's Sarah?" buttons. Turns out she was getting per diem for staying in her own home. She had appointed a whole raft of high school friends to important positions they really weren't qualified for, including the AG's office. That whole Troopergate thing was coming to light, and after telling us nobody was pressuring anybody to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a voice recording of one of her close staff people doing just that emerged. Now we do know Todd and others were up to their eyeballs in it.

She was already getting a reputation for being lazy and not too bright. A few weeks before she became the VP candidate, I asked a friend who worked for her in an important position if she was as dumb as everyone was saying. He said if points were written on a half-piece of paper, she'd do OK.

Then McCain waved his golden wand. When Alaskans saw her give that RNC speech, many of us were pretty dang surprised. Who was that snotty woman? Turns out it may have been the real Palin, unleashed. Opportunistic, greedy, ambitious way beyond her abilities. Oh, and she's all for citizens standing up to elected officials unless the elected official is her.

Alaskans have since learned a lot about Palin during the campaign, from reporting and from her own actions. It's telling that her approval rating in Alaska started dropping DURING the campaign, and it hasn't stopped. Now her approval rating is below 50 percent, and I can't figure out who those supporters are. Ask how many people would vote for her in any capacity, and I bet the number is far lower.

We learned our lesson. I just hope America can learn from it, too. The first place to start is: Never believe anything she says about herself.

Posted by: BlueDog1 | February 10, 2010 2:35 PM
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Quitter or not a quitter. Palin has influence and a following. It will be exciting to see how the political climate builds up the next few years.

Posted by: frankrod | February 10, 2010 2:32 PM
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Wow.. Sarah Palin was that good an executive ? 90% approval ? How did she do it ?

She fired under-performing staff. (tip for Obama - think Eric Holder, Tim Geithner)

She cut the budget by 10%. Sold off the executive jet and released the chauffeur and cook. And mentioned to increase special needs budget by 300%. (another tip for Obama - cut spending)

She apparently cleaned out political corruption in much of Anchorage.. winning support of both Dems and Reps. (tip for Congress)

But oh ya she's a Quitter right ? She was driven from Office by a liberal ethics complaint law that in 6 months caused her family a half-million in legal fees (four times her salary)

Today ? In retirement.. she has earned millions legally from book sales... and is the largest political figure in America except for the President.

This Quitter drew 240 journalists last Saturday, live coverage on all cable networks, and flattering front-page stories in all major newspapers including the New York Times ! But heck she's just a dumb quitter. Right ?

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 10, 2010 1:42 PM
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The very notion that Sarah Palin needs help burnishing her leadership credentials because they aren't good enough on their own is absurd. Are there really people out there who WANT her to be President? Or do these people really just want President Obama to NOT be President?

In that vein, I would like the On Leadership editors to put forth a question regarding the ways I can improve my own leadership credentials for an unsubstantive, sure-to-be-disappointing presidential run. Thunderkat '016!!!!

Posted by: Thunderkats09 | February 10, 2010 1:36 PM
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By bailing out of the Alaska job, she demonstrated that she is wise enough to know when she is in over her head.

Posted by: georgebrose | February 10, 2010 12:59 PM
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Sarah Palin is more than a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Posted by: ts044 | February 10, 2010 1:24 AM
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She was such a great leader in Alaska that she abandoned ship for a book and $150,000 speaking fees.

Sarah destroyed whatever cred she had the day she announced that she was quiting.

She will always be the favorite of the 30% crowd, but she will never, ever gain mainstream traction.

Posted by: gregroa | February 9, 2010 10:09 PM
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Congratulations, Mr. Holiday, for being perhaps the only member of the Washington Press Corpse to wonder, "Just how DID Sarah Palin get that 90% approval rate?" Good luck getting your editors to ever let you try to answer that question.

Posted by: RomeoHotel | February 9, 2010 3:04 PM
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