How the Sarah Palin Doc “The Undefeated” Is Like the Debt Ceiling Debate

The new film about the former Alaska governor surprises Roger Ebert by going after the Republican establishment. It shouldn’t be a shock: that’s exactly what’s going on with the debt ceiling, and in American politics.

Sarah Palin Undefeated PosterRoger Ebert watched the new Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, at a reasonably well-attended screening of 180 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and caught something interesting:

What astonished me is that the primary targets in the film are conservative Republicans. Yes, there are the usual vague references to liberals and elitists (although I heard the word “Democrat” only twice). But the film’s favorite bad guys seem to be in the GOP establishment. This seems odd, considering that the target audience is presumably Republicans.

In the context of the debt ceiling debate, however, it really shouldn’t be astonishing, because a similar dynamic is playing itself among the House majority. It was reported that, after last night’s dueling speeches by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, the latter was overheard muttering “I didn’t sign up for going mano-a-mano with the President of the United States” (“his remark was dry in tone”).

No one seems to have caught any context, if there was any, but one interpretation is that Boehner has been forced into a battle he doesn’t necessarily want by his conservative colleagues:

But recklessness does equal power: that’s why Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, and John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, have implied that they’re willing to go over the cliff (in part by suggesting that their fellow party members will force them to) but also that they can be persuaded to do the right thing.

Take the plan proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: despite its silly fine print forcing a “disapproval” vote on raising the debt ceiling, it basically would have allowed business as usual.

And it was DOA, thanks in part to the much, much harder line pushed by freshman Illinois rep Joe Walsh (who was MSNBC’s go-to House Republican last night after the festivities).

The House is basically pulling the GOP to the right. What will be interesting to see is if the same process takes place during the 2012 primaries—and that’s why The Undefeated is less concerned with Democrats than Republicans. And it’s not necessarily a futile shift in the long run, even if it looks like it’s pulling the GOP apart in the short run. Choosing Barry Goldwater over more easy-to-swallow moderates like Nelson Rockefeller led to the GOP getting pounded in the 1964 presidential election, but he left an indelible mark on the party, and the nation’s politics as a whole.

For all the sweating about the progressive left, I think Democrats, for better or worse, tend to actually suffer from less internecine warfare. Certainly the progressive left tends to think they have less influence on the direction of the Democratic party than their counterparts. But Nicholas Beaudrot makes an interesting point:

On the contrary, liberals had an enormous effect on the policy debate during the Democratic Presidential Primary. The health care plans of John Edwards in 2008, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton were all dramatically to the left of the proposals from John Edwards in 2004, John Kerry, and Howard Dean, none of whom attempted to guarantee health care coverage to all Americans. Likewise, all major candidates signed on to some form of cap-and-trade legislation, something that didn’t happen during the previous primaries. The Professional LeftTM ought to be proud of its accomplishments during the most recent Presidential cycle.

If you buy that, that means the wings of each party have stretched out the spectrum of popular ideology over the past few electoral cycles, and the result is like balancing a pole that’s gotten longer: the center may be in about the same place as it was back in the ’90s, but overall things are heavier and more unwieldy. This has led to DC types begging for a centrist third party to cure us of our ills. Which is odd, since it’s that centrism that’s being systematically rejected right now—unless, of course, intraparty divisions make it impossible to do basic housekeeping. We’ve got a week to find out.

Update: Here’s a nice quick rundown of third parties throughout American political history.

Update II: Yuval Levin of the National Review thinks the Republicans have won considerable ground over the debt-ceiling debate, and I think he’s got a point, especially given that at this point it’s not that different from Harry Reid’s proposal:

As the details of the Boehner bill become clearer, it’s increasingly apparent that the bill is just what the moment calls for: significant cuts achieved through statutory sequestration caps, no tax increase, no backsliding on entitlement reform or implicit acceptance of Obamacare, a path to another process that could lead to more cuts without tax increases, and the setting of a precedent that from now on increases in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by proportional spending cuts. It’s far from perfect, of course—meaningful entitlement reform is the only way to really address the debt problem, and even short of that some more significant discretionary cuts would be good—but Republicans don’t control Washington, and given their limited formal power, an end to this process that looks something like this bill would be pretty remarkable.

Yet it’s not viewed that way by some members of Boehner’s House colleagues. The question is: how many? Even if the Boehner bill represents minimal losses, are they willing to cut even those and lift the ceiling?

Update III: Turns out the question to “how many” is “a lot.”



3 years ago
Posted by dregstudios

Sarah will never sell herself short. This film is simply another publicity stunt to make Palin what she really wants…. not the presidency, but cold hard CASH. Palin is for $ale and is making it rich on your dime with every book, speaking engagement, and movie ticket that markets her image and sells her looks (it’s certainly not her choice of words which got her this far.) Check out this very scandalous portrait of her erotically rolling in the dough on my artist’s blog at

3 years ago
Posted by tweetonthis

Sarah Palin is a spy. Everything about her is a compete fabrication.

She was planted as McCain’s running mate to flush out those who are a part of the “New World Order.” This group consists of CEOs, wealthy elitists, and a collection of corrupt politicians with the goal of overthrowing the US government.

Obama, much like Osama, appears to be nothing more than a spokesperson for this group. Osama Obama, Biden Bin Laden, it’s a code. The feds are trying everything to contain this from leaking out. Whether you believe this or not it is honest to God’s truth. The military is using Obama as their puppet. This is also the reason why all the CEOs who ran in the last midterm didn’t get elected.

The majority of the media has been taken over by the feds in an effort to suppress this. Want proof? Didn’t you find it a bit odd that we caught Bin Laden 3 days after Trump, of all people, got Obama to release his birth certificate? Did you actually look at his birth certificate? After 3 or 4 days covering the death of Osama, a completely manufactured lie, the media moved onto 3 weeks of Anthony Weiner’s weener coverage. The Pentagon is not only controlling the news stories, they are also controlling the commenting. 90% of the comments you’re reading are manufactured garbage. This is what your tax dollars are paying for.

If you want the real story about what’s going on in America then by all means read and share the following story before our democracy ceases to exist. The future of our country is in your hands. Are you going to do anything about it?

3 years ago
Posted by notwhet

Hey Whet, the context was given by Boehner himself at that time. "Congress writes the laws, the President decides if he wants to sign them or not". Secondly, "the President has no plan". Did your computer blue screen immediately after your "plucked" quote. must encourage this?

3 years ago
Posted by ChristinaCC

I am glad some people have the time to waste on matters like this. You could spend a life time trying to figure out anything logical about Sarah Dumb as Rocks Palin. So why bother? Get a real education not from Rush Limp Paw but a respected certified college. The Tea Baggers and No Nothing Do Nothing Republicans are really heading our country into failure. Who could have seen it? The John Birch Society as well as the Tea Baggers are trained or a better term is brain washed by The Koch Brothers who own $22 billion a piece and buy elections for these nut cases. They also are spending millions every day advertising on TV for Big Oil and they complain in TV ads about Obama and Democratic Senators spending. Yet The Koch Brothers are selfish. Anarchists like their father who co-founded the John Birch Society a dangerous mixed up radical group.

3 years ago
Posted by TeaBagDouceBagersUnit

Like all good for nothing Tea Bag members she wants our government to default on our national debt. Completely irresponsible. Too bad we can't recall her as a product defect. We have had enough of these Tea Bag Robots. She is the worst. That is why she trains them. They pay her over $50000 a gig. Not bad for media whore. They have a real numb skull in their pocket.

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