Greta Van Susteren on Dick Cheney: 'He's Not Afraid to Say Things About the Women'

What would make a Fox News host imply that a conservative hero is sexist? His mild criticism of Sarah Palin.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney made headlines recently when he hazarded that it was a mistake to put Sarah Palin on the GOP's 2008 ticket. "I like Governor Palin. I've met her. I know her -- attractive candidate," he said. "But based on her background, she had only been governor for, what, two years? I don't think she passed that test of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake." The "controversial" comment put Palin in a position to play the aggrieved victim, a role in which she thrives: Her base rallies around her most eagerly when they perceive an insult.

More in a moment on how she milked the opportunity in an interview with Greta Van Susteren. But first, look at what the Fox News host added as a quick aside. "Vice President Cheney took a little bit of a slap at Condoleezza Rice in his book, saying she got all teared up," Van Susteren said. "He's got two daughters. And I believe that he's been a good father to them. But he's uh, he's not afraid to say things about the women. But I don't know what that means. Anyway."

Until now, we could only wonder what it would take for a Fox News host to insinuate that a prominent Republican and hero to movement conservatives has a recurring sexist streak. Now we know what it would take: observing that Palin wasn't qualified to become president after two years in the Alaska statehouse. Because what other than sexism could explain that assessment?

That brings us back to the Palin interview.  

"Your response to Dick Cheney?" Van Susteren said.

"Well seeing as how Dick that -- excuse me, Vice President Cheney never misfires, then evidently he's quite convinced that what he evidently read about me by the lamestream media, having been written what I believe is a false narrative over the last four years, evidently Dick Cheney believed that stuff, and that's a shame," Palin said. "So he characterized me as being a mistake."

Do you know, dear reader, what the real mistake would have been?

Here's where the mistake would have been, Greta. I believe it's had I not answered the call. I was honored to get to run for vice president of the United States alongside Senator John McCain. I was honored to accept the nomination from the GOP. And I think that the mistake would have been me just deciding that, hey, I love my 86, 87 percent approval rating up there in Alaska as the governor, moving and shaking and watching corrupt politicians and businessmen go to prison for crony capitalism, um, working on 16 to 20 percent of domestic energy supplies being able to be increased via Alaska's resource development. Ethics reform legislation that I was working on. That led to that 86 percent approval rating. I could have decided, you know, I don't want to be bloodied up. I don't want my family to go through what we will have to go through in order to put ourselves forward in the name of service to this country.

But I did it. It would've been a mistake to have hunkered down, just lived that luxurious, if you will, comfortable lifestyle in Alaska.

Instead, we, like so many other people across this country decided, we will do all that we can in order to defend our republic, put America back on the right track, and I believe I did the right thing in accepting that call.

Palin's salary as governor of Alaska: $125,000 per year.

And after she tore herself from that luxurious lifestyle, sacrificing "like so many other people across this country" to do her patriotic duty? ABC News reported some of the details back in 2010:

Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary -- a haul now estimated at more than $12 million -- through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.

That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn about $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.

What a coincidence that Palin is getting rich as she carries out her solemn patriotic sacrifice, selflessly working to author self-promotional books, repeat talking points on TV, give speeches to cheering audiences, and tweet her candidate preferences. What would America do without people so convinced of the need for a better governance that they'd resign from governing to effect it?

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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