Matt Zencey

Essays for Huffington Post

Sarah Palin and the Eastwood/Obama ‘Empty Chair’

Posted: 09/05/2012

By Matt Zencey

Riffing on Clint Eastwood’s bizarre “empty chair” routine at the Republican National Convention, Sarah Palin sent a tweet accusing President Obama of an “Empty Chair Style of Leadership” with a link to a child’s high chair.

That jab was classic Palin: scoring a political point with a gratuitous personal insult. It was also ironic, since Palin often faced similar criticism about her own leadership as governor.

After all, she was the woman who left her chair in the Alaska governor’s office empty for the last 17 months of her term.

Even before she quit, legislators of both parties complained Palin was not sufficiently engaged in the normal day-to-day work a governor does with the legislature.

You might say legislators complained about her “empty chair” style of leadership.


Hey Fox, Here’s What a Real ‘War on Christmas’ Looks Like

Posted: 12/16/11 03:18 PM ET

By Matt Zencey

Christmas season is here, and that means Fox News is again hyping whatever examples it can find of an alleged “War on Christmas.” The Puritans who landed at Plymouth Rock knew how to wage war on Christmas: They banned it.

As historian Stephen Nissenbaum documents in his 1997 book, The Battle for Christmas, from 1659 to 1681, celebrating Christmas was illegal in Massachusetts, punishable by a fine of five shillings. Here’s how famed fundamentalist preacher Cotton Mather described Christmas in 1712, according to Nissenbaum: “The Feast of Christ’s Nativity is spent in Reveling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty . . . by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Reveling.”

“The Puritans were correct,” Nissenbaum writes, “when they point out — and they pointed it out often — that Christmas was nothing but a pagan festival covered with a Christian veneer.”


It’s a Mystery Why the Tea Party Loves Sarah Palin

Posted: 01/07/11

By Matt Zencey

Rightfully or not, Sarah Palin is claiming major credit for helping Republicans take over the US House and almost grab the Senate. She is the presumptive favorite among Tea Party conservatives as the candidate to beat for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

To those of us who witnessed Palin’s short-lived career as Alaska’s governor, the passionate Tea Party enthusiasm for her is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

Apparently few of the Tea Party faithful are familiar with her record back in Alaska. As governor, she ran the kind of big government they despise and showed a slick politician’s slippery regard for ethical propriety and truth. . . .


Next sample: Excerpt from “Unlikely Liberal: Sarah Palin’s Curious Record as Alaska Governor”

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