Here’s the headline from Sarah Palin’s Facebook post yesterday: “Another ‘WTF’ Obama Foreign Policy Moment.” The content of Palin’s post, by and large, is actually quite interesting stuff about how many secrets we are simply giving away to the Russians. That’s a pretty intelligent topic, and Palin does grasp it. But even in discussing an issue over which she has mastery, Palin leans on blunt-force and simplistic messaging. “WTF” is, of course, shorthand for “what the f—.”
It’s vulgar and coarse and unfitting a President. And as long as Palin continues to look unpresidential, she will only be considered a Presidential contender by a cadre of Ron Paul-esque followers and the “lamestream” media she claims to abhor but who gives her more attention than she currently deserves. She will win nothing.
A Presidential adviser might be able to get away with such language, and perhaps Palin needs a James Carville. Bill Clinton could never have dismissed allegations of his extramarital affairs as the product of dragging a $100 bill through a trailer park. Carville did, and in doing so he said what many people were thinking but afraid to say. He acted as the lightning rod for criticism, but he got his boss’s message out there.
Instead, Palin tries to be both the candidate and the firebrand. She too often talks down to an electorate that is really looking for someone who can talk up to them.
This is part of the challenge Palin and other outsiders face in political campaigns; the inability to surround themselves with media-savvy professionals leads to clumsy, overly populist messaging. Sure, a few will take it seriously, but most will either dismiss it out of hand or respond with a quizzical “WTF?”