"I'm sure a six year old with a crayon could do something not unlike
that," snarked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Tuesday.
The object of Mr. Gibbs' scorn was Gallup's tracking poll for the day
before, which showed only 47 percent of respondents approve of the job
President Obama is doing, with 46 percent disapproving.
Perhaps Mr. Gibbs' skin was thin because this was the lowest ranking for
a president at this point in his presidency since Gallup began
conducting presidential approval polls in 1938.
Meanwhile, a CNN/Opinion Research Poll also released Monday indicated 46
percent of respondents have a favorable impression of Sarah Palin, while
46 percent have an unfavorable one.
The polls were not quite the same. Gallup asked people what they
thought of the job Mr. Obama was doing, not whether or not they liked
Even with this caveat, though, the convergence between President Obama
and Ms. Palin is remarkable. There is no statistical difference between
the one and the other.
This represents a substantial gain in public esteem for Ms. Palin since
she resigned as governor of Alaska in July, and a more substantial
decline for Mr. Obama over the same period.
Sarah Palin's been on a roll since the publication of her autobiography
last month. "Going Rogue" is already the second biggest seller among
nonfiction books in history (only Bill Clinton's 2004 autobiography, "My
Life," sold more copies in the first month), and could be number one
before the end of her book tour, since her sales seem to be holding up
better than his did.
The book tour itself is a cultural phenomenon. At each stop hundreds,
often thousands, of people have waited hours, sometimes days, to meet
Could Barack Obama who now seems so last year inspire that kind of
The turnabout in the fortunes is all the more remarkable because no
political figure in history has been subject to such vilification from
our news media as Sarah Palin. No malicious rumor was too preposterous
not to be reported as news. No accomplishment of hers as governor was
important enough to be commented on.
Meanwhile, no presidential candidate or president has received more
favorable press coverage than Barack Obama.
"President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media
coverage than either Bill Clinton or George Bush during their first
months in the White House," concluded a Pew Research study last May.
Forty two percent of stories in major newspapers and televisions about
President Obama were favorable, compared to 22 percent for Mr. Bush and
27 percent for Mr. Clinton.
"The press just acted like this guy walked on water," Washington Post
media critic Howard Kurtz said during the campaign.
That's changing, in both directions.
Sarah Palin interrupted her book tour to speak at the Gridiron Club, the
biggest social event of the year for Washington journalists.
"The very fact she was willing to take the chance of appearing in a room
full of her most disdainful critics is testimony to her courage," wrote
Dan Thomasson of Scripps Howard. "She came away with at least a
consensus of grudging admiration."
"Her appearance produced the extraordinary scene of inside-the-Beltway
cynics and their significant others asking for autographs," Mr.
"Palin won the evening," conceded columnist Clarence Page.
"As much as her politics are not mine, after chatting with her and her
husband, good-natured 'First Dude' Todd Palin, I came away with a new
fondness and respect for both of them," Mr. Page wrote.
"Going Rogue" received savage reviews from liberals, like that from Ana
Marie Cox in the Washington Post, who acknowledged she hadn't actually
read the book.
Those who did have a different opinion. Stanley Fish, writing for the
New York Times, described it as "compelling and very well done."
The reaction of liberals to Sarah Palin which is like that of
vampires to garlic indicate she is the Republican they fear most.
With good reason, Mr. Fish thinks.
"Perserverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into
defeatism, is the key to Palin's character," he wrote. "Her political
opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was
elected, should take note."