August 14th, 2009
09:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Begala calls Palin 'about half a whack job'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala hammered former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday - calling her "flaky and an intellectual lightweight."

Begala was asked on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" to respond to a Politico story in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined several ways for Palin to repair her image.

Although Begala called Gingrich "a brilliant political strategist," he said giving advice to Palin is an exercise in futility.

"Here's the problem," said Begala, a CNN contributor. "He is trying to treat her like a serious person. She is not. OK? She is about half a whack job. She does not have the intellectual heft of Newt Gingrich or almost anyone else in the Republican Party, and I think she has proved that."

He continued: "I admire Newt Gingrich for pretending that she is a serious person. But Sarah Palin has proven herself to be flaky and an intellectual lightweight."

Conservative journalist Terry Jeffrey, appearing alongside Begala, defended Palin for having "rock solid principles." But he said Palin needs to be more aggressive in opposing the president's policies. At this point, Jeffrey said, "I think it's not proven" she can go toe-to-toe with President Obama.

Filed under: Extra • Sarah Palin
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Darrell LaMere

    Begala's candor is a little brutal but right on target. Palin better just milk it for all the self-aggrandizement she can .She is not presidential material period. McCain has created a monster whose only weapon is arrogance.

    Darrell LaMere

    August 14, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  2. No fan of Palin

    Begala ought to know a whack job when he sees one, he's been associated with liberal loonies for years now. Same tired democratic strategy from CNN, attempting to paint Palin and Limbaugh as the face the Republican Party. The truth is that a whole bunch of the people attending town halls across the country distrust this Congress and this President.. Deal with it..

    August 14, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  3. RR

    who is Begala?

    August 14, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  4. Frank

    I usually agree with Paul Begala, but this time I don't. Sarah Palin isn't half a whack job, she's a full blown wacko. Why the Republicans continue to give her credence is beyond me. C'mon people. The election is over. You don't have to pretend she has any brains anymore. Call a spade a spade, er... call a wacko a wacko!

    August 14, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  5. Dianne


    Look at your own self. You aren't that bright yourself...

    August 14, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  6. gl, Pittsburgh

    No Sara Palin needs to stop lying.

    August 14, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. RayRay

    She is a lightweight but by the same token Obama is a great orator and a lousy leader. All this intellectual grandstanding by liberals is curious since some of the challenged leaders in Congress are Democrats.

    August 14, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Mark

    Begala is simply stating the obvious, I actually think he's being charitable by calling her just half a whack job. She clearly qualifies as a full whack job.

    August 14, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. Jeff

    I would LOVE to see Sarah Palin and President Obama go "toe to toe" and discuss the health reform issues....

    Let's see the stuff that Sarah is made of and whether or not any of her rhetoric holds up.

    August 14, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  10. Mitch

    It's about time a pundit said what millions of Americans have been saying for months. Palin is the intellectual equivalent of a bag of nails.

    August 14, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  11. Ken

    The only "whack job" is Begala; his hyperpartisanship should disgust anyone who believes their should be some semblance of civility in politics. His specialty always has been engaging in ad hominem attacks, a tactic which betrays where the true lack of ideas lies, in the far left wing of the Democratic Party, the place Begala calls home. When you're incapable of serious thought, go on the offensive and belittle your opponent, regardless of how much superior to you they may be in character. And I think we all know how a contest of character between Sarah Palin and Paul Begala would end. Sorry, Paul, you lose.

    August 14, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    "....about a half a whack job?" No way! There's nothing "half" about it. Palin is a full fledged whack job!

    August 14, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. joe

    Palin is an idiot. Shes also insane. She also would be someone who would abuse her power if she was President. Say what you want about Obama but I cannot picture him using the FBI or CIA like the KGB, GRU or Gestapo which is exactly what I can see from her

    August 14, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. JH

    She couldn't go toe to toe with an 8th grader who has taken a debate prep class..... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GOP push her as the next presidential candidate..... if so no worries in 2012

    August 14, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  15. Brian


    continuing to bring up Sarah Palin is absurd and a complete waste of time. we have much bigger issues to concern ourselves with instead of continuing to mention an irrelavant non-contender.

    August 14, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  16. Joe

    Only "half a whack job?" Come on, Paul, stop being nice. You know she's a whole whack job and then some.

    August 14, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  17. Desert Denizen

    He's half right!

    August 14, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. cindy

    WOW – how old is he? Are we still in Jr. High?

    August 14, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  19. MBSeattle

    Sarah Palin is and will be irrelevant to the Heath Care debate until she knows the facts. She speaks with no authority or responsibility for what comes out of her mouth, kind of like Rush Limbaugh.

    Any idiot can give you a red meat meat speech. The American people badly need facts.

    August 14, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  20. CO

    Palin's trying hard to put herself on par with the President and to undermine him as much as possible. Yet, she never shared any of her enlightening opinion pieces before the campaign. She's become so full of herself after a dose of limelight and fame.

    August 14, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  21. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    Palin is a manipulative wack job... there lies the problem. She will manage to take many over the cliff with her with her phony wink and smile.

    I wonder what God has told her today?

    August 14, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. Faye Marie

    He's right...Palin IS a wack job and most of us have thought so ever since her first interview with Katie Curic. She'll never get elected to any top office. She should give it up and go find an admin job. That's all she's qualified to do.

    August 14, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  23. dude85

    Political lightweight hardly. End of life was axed by the congress. She is right

    August 14, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  24. Leilani

    Begala is right

    August 14, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. Quick, Palin Passed Gas - Breaking News

    Begala is half-right.

    August 14, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
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