Newsweek's Alter: Palin is GOP 'Icon' Despite Her 'Fibs' & 'Absurdities,' 'Rubs Us the Wrong Way'

On Monday's Countdown show, substitute hosted by liberal MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, during a segment with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter about former Governor Sarah Palin's resignation speech from the weekend, Alter referred to what he called Palin's "fibs" and "absurdities" as he reminded viewers that she is very popular in the Republican party despite the flaws Alter and his ilk see in her. Alter: "She is now an icon within the Republican party, and we can, you know, laugh at her and point out all of her fibs and all of her absurdities, but she has a hard core constituency within that party that suggests that her career is not entirely over."

Alter later recounted some of the elements of her weekend speech, including "attacking the national media," and contended that her words would play well with Republicans, "even if it rubs us the wrong way." Alter:

The whole thing was, kind of, patterned on what you would use as a playbook to try to position yourself for a presidential run. Rejecting the stimulus, you know, every Republican in the House voted against the stimulus, and there were only, what, three in the, in the Senate who voted in favor of it. So, you know, standing there and saying that she's against Barack Obama's recovery plan, good politics within the Republican party. Attacking the national media, good politics within the Republican party. So there was some reason behind a lot of what she said, even if it, you know, rubs us the wrong way.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment with Alter from the Monday, July 27, Countdown show on MSNBC:

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Jonathan, let's talk about the quality of the speech. Doesn't it seem that Sarah Palin had much better writers at the Republican convention?

JONATHAN ALTER: Yeah.

O'DONNELL: And has she given a good speech since then?

ALTER: You know, here speech at the Republican convention was written by a guy named Matthew Scully, who had been a Bush speech writer in the White House. And you remember that some of those speeches that President Bush gave, especially around the time of 9/11, were really eloquent, good speeches. And he wrote her a barn burner for that convention. And you're right. She hasn't even come close to matching it since, but I'm not sure if, for the faithful who were out that convention, it matters too much. She is now an icon within the Republican party, and we can, you know, laugh at her and point out all of her fibs and all of her absurdities, but she has a hard core constituency within that party that suggests that her career is not entirely over.

O'DONNELL: And were there key elements in this speech that appeal to those elements in the Republican party?

ALTER: Oh, yeah. I mean, the whole thing was, kind of, patterned on what you would use as a playbook to try to position yourself for a presidential run. Rejecting the stimulus, you know, every Republican in the House voted against the stimulus, and there were only, what, three in the, in the Senate who voted in favor of it. So, you know, standing there and saying that she's against Barack Obama's recovery plan, good politics within the Republican party. Attacking the national media, good politics within the Republican party. So there was some reason behind a lot of what she said, even if it, you know, rubs us the wrong way.

O'DONNELL: How does yesterday's speech compare to Nixon's "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." I mean, they both have bitter tones in them, but she delivers her bitterness with a smile.

ALTER: She does, and it's also important and useful to remember that it was only six years after Nixon gave that speech on the night in 1962 when he lost for governor of California that he was elected President. Now, I'm not suggesting that I think the odds are good that Sarah Palin is going to be the next President, but it's really important not to count people out in American politics. People love a comeback, and she is very, very good at what Nixon called the "mobilization of resentments."

O'DONNELL: All right, Jonathan, speaking of predictions of political futures, I want you to leave us tonight with a prediction. What are the chances Alaska Governor Sean Parnell will be picked as the Republican running mate in 2012?

[BOTH LAUGH]

ALTER: I would say those chances are zero. Much better odds, Lawrence, that Sarah Palin will -- since she's not going to go the fancy speech, substantive speech route -- that she'll get a reality TV show of her own and cook moose stew on the air. That's speculation, but you heard it here first.

O'DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, of MSNBC and Newsweek, thank you for your time tonight.