Sarah Palin and America’s Wine Wholesalers: A Bust?

Palinwolf Based on reports from Las Vegas this morning, (and here) Sarah Palin gave a keynote address to the attendees of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association's (WSWA) Annual Convention. And as suspected, she had nothing to say about the issue of wine and spirits.

Again, this is not a surprise. No one expected Palin to be educated on issues of the three tier system, the history of wine and spirits in America, the constitutional and legal issues that surround directs shipping or self distribution or the wholesalers support for federal legislation that would exempt state alcohol laws from Federal anti-trust laws or court challenges based on the Commerce Clause.

Perhaps the only interesting thing she reportedly had to say and that relates to this industry was her support for "deregulation". Not specifically deregulation of the wine industry, but deregulation in general. I'm not sure how well that would sit with an organization that has claimed any deregulation of the three tier system would spell disaster for America.

One wonders if Palin's attendance at the WSWA annual conference had its intended effect: to bring in more attendees. Perhaps we'll find out if attendance at this years convention is up or down over previous years.

But one thing to keep in mind is that when an organization solicits an appearance by a politician at an event they are managing, there is an implied endorsement of their political views. I think the people at the top of the national association of wine and spirit wholesalers appreciate and understand this. And yet I don't think they necessarily endorse Palin's particular brand of conservatism. It's a pretty paleolithic set of political views that puts her on the far right wing of the American political spectrum.

No one is going to try to smear wholesalers by association with Palin. At least I can't see a good reason to try to do so. It would be dishonest. The WSWA clearly wanted to add an attraction to their annual convention that, by some accounts, had seen a severe decline in wineries exhibiting at the event.

There is a certain "Damn the implications and meaning" quality to WSWA's use of Palin as a Keynote speaker. In my view, WSWA engages in this kind of communication regularly, particularly when they play the minor card and the "tainted alcohol" card when talking about the implications of reform to the three tier system—something they view as a disaster to their members' financial interests. In other words, it's no surprise the WSWA would do or say whatever is necessary to make their case—even if it means appearing to side with one of the most intellectually incompetent national political figures to arrive on the American stage in years.

58 Responses

  1. MAZ - April 6, 2010


  2. Evan Dawson - April 6, 2010

    Governor Palin has been drilled carefully to use certain buzzwords, and one of them is “deregulation.” She has never demonstrated an ability to explain how it relates to certain industries, what effects it might have, how much regulation is appropriate, etc. It’s as simplistic as you can imagine.
    The disappointing thing here is that she clearly didn’t feel compelled to do any homework about issues of importance to her audience. This is not an attack on the GOP or ideologies; in fact, I don’t think she has much ideology. She doesn’t have many ideas. She is a kind of blank canvas for the most basic tropes, and curiously she doesn’t seem to have a desire to go deeper than that. That’s her choice, ultimately, but it makes one wonder what possible value she had today.

  3. John Kelly - April 6, 2010

    Funny, Tom – has MAZ ever commented here before? Looks like another tea-bagging Rethuglican out trolling the interwebs for any mention of Palin, just so they can post the same vile anti-democratic anti-American invective they are spewing everywhere else.
    Good point about WSWA doing and saying whatever is necessary to maintain their stranglehold on free trade. It is WSWA’s take on which way the political winds are blowing that interests me. Did they engage Palin to speak because they are so sure the GOP is going to sweep the 2010 election cycle?

  4. Thomas Pellechia - April 6, 2010

    “…one of the most intellectually incompetent national political figures to arrive on the American stage in years.”
    Does this statement suppose that she has an intellect at all? Evan says she’s a blank canvas. I think she’s a vacuum, except where money is concerned.
    John, don’t you find it all so funny how tea baggers and their ilk are so easily persuaded to give money over to obvious con artists, and against their self interests. Remember that famous HL Mencken quote in an earlier century: “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

  5. karen marie - April 6, 2010

    Hey, Thomas — Palin is a vacuum especially where money is concerned!

  6. Steve Heimoff - April 6, 2010

    Tom — you should have deleted MAZ as spam, which it is. IMHO.

  7. Blake Gray - April 6, 2010

    Maz is entitled to his opinion. In contrast to Sarah Palin, at least we know what Maz’s opinion is.

  8. Thomas Pellechia - April 6, 2010

    Karen Marie,
    You are right. I misspoke!

  9. Tom Wark - April 6, 2010

    Steve, given my slap at Palin, I’ll leave it. Fair is fair

  10. - April 6, 2010

    For a person you say is intellectually incompetent, she was able to scoop about $100k from your organization…. now that really is incompetence – but the question is WHOSE?
    Sarah Palin never asked to come speak to a bunch of booze merchants, she is booked for a fee through an agency, and I don’t think I have seen any requirement that she become an expert on any group she speaks to… she knows energy, government, politics, special needs, etc….
    I understand that the Bowler’s Association is having her speak to them at their convention later this year… do you suggest she would have to learn how to bowl 250 before she can speak to them? You pay the bucks and you get her political speech. Did you think she would tell you how to fix regulatory liquor laws?
    I think Bonzo Obama, with his two teleprompters and a speech written by some white house dolt that would stretch into 3 hours…. just long enough to drive everyone to drink… would have been a better idea. His kind of intellectual is just your cup of tea… ooops… coffee.
    As for deriding the Tea Party, if you had any brains you would realize that they outnumber the liberal dolt class, so don’t get too snarky… they probably buy all your booze.
    I tell you what…. if I had to chose who would have a happier and more successful life, I would go with Sarah Palin over a dolt blogger like you Tom. Anyday. Anywhere. Anyhow.

  11. karen marie - April 6, 2010

    Oh, please, Mr. Facebook — the only “special needs” Palin is expert on are her own.
    Ever notice how she drags her “special needs” child around without his glasses or hearing aids? How well do you think that kid is going to do, already developmentally challenged, when he is able to neither see nor hear?
    Why would you suggest that anyone here thinks she would need to bowl 250 to speak to the bowlers association? No one here was suggesting she become an expert on wine tasting or even how to mix twelve different cocktails, but it’s not unreasonable to expect someone who claims to be qualified to be POTUS to have some rudimentary understanding of the issues facing an industry group that she is addressing for 100 grand.
    You people are really hung up on teleprompters, aren’t you? What difference is there between a teleprompter and reading from a printed speech? Oh, that’s right — it’s “poor people” technology, as Ms. Palin likes to remind everyone, ad nauseam.
    It’s pretty clear you know absolutely nothing about the president’s speechwriting, or even realize that no modern president writes all of their speeches on their own. In fact, I would be willing to bet that if you learned that he did in fact write all his speeches, you’d be bitching because he’s not working on unemployment or the financial crisis, or plans to nuke Iran. Who the hell do you think Peggy Noonan is? She was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter. Yes, that’s right, your other crush did not write his own speeches — he had a girl do it.
    This is not a contest for who’s life is happier, and I you could not win an argument that the President’s life is not more successful than Palin’s. He hasn’t quit despite the stupidity directed at him from people like you on a daily basis.
    I’m glad, however, that you have found meaning in your life chasing around the internets defending your current crush, but you might want to take it somewhere you’re not considered a complete idiot, otherwise you might get your feelings hurt.
    Good luck with that.

  12. viva - April 7, 2010

    Mrs Palin dressed her word salad with Pouilly Fuisse today. And did anyone appreciate it? You men are ingrates.

  13. Richard - April 7, 2010

    OK, folks, what you have here is a perfect example of why there are problems in this country. The invective mud slinging from both sides – there is no logic, only one person shouting louder than the other person – this is what MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN do every day; this is what our Congress and Senate are doing. They are too busy trying to out shout each other and make a point (albeit an invalid one) to discuss the issues logically and rationally.
    The Sarah Palin phenomenon is representative of today’s “American Idle” society (and yes the “Idle is intentional, not a spelling mistake) and the proliferation of “anti-social media.” There is no longer face to face interaction, only media sound bites, and vituperative attacks behind the anonymous screen of (fill in the blank with Twitter, Facebook, you name it). Americans have either become so ignorant, that they can’t think for themselves – or, more likely, the proliferation of information and “instant news” has exposed the undrlying ignorance that was already there.
    A nation that elected (purportedly elected?) “W” twice and let him run up ruinous budget deficits (10 trillion) and horrendus national debt (2.5 trillion) and continues now to support the bailout of people/ banks / nations too illiterate to not have gottten into the mess to begin with, is a nation doomed to failure. Americans continue to want, want, want, and stand around with their hands out but refuse to act responsibly when it comes to asking “where does the money for our want come from?” A nation where “taxation” is a dirty word; where 95% of the people can’t define words like “socialism,” and/or “democracy,” and/or “Republic,” is, again, a nation doomed to failure.
    Thus, the uninformed, unlettered ignorance proliferated about politics, wine, health care, socialism, and “fill in the blank” is astounding. Unless the United States can come to terms with some of these issues and start working together – that’s “together,” and find a common ground and stop the derisive, angry denunciation of each other, the US will fail. Abraham Lincoln oft quoted the Bible saying that “a house divided against itself will not stand…”
    PS: Sorry Tom! I know this is about wine, but I just couldn’t help myself.

  14. mydailywine - April 7, 2010

    Wow, is this a wine blog? Although no Palin fan myself, it is interesting to me is that there was no similar outcry over ultra-conservative Ken Starr (and a dogged Prop 8 supporter) and his association with SWRA.

  15. Brendan - April 7, 2010

    Tom – We’ll it sounds like she actually said something very important that you are missing based on your moronic Palin bias.
    My lede would have been: “At the WSWA today keynote speaker Sarah Palin called for deregulation, contradicting WSWA dogma”.
    Now that’s a story, too bad you missed the opportunity to hype that bit.

  16. Kathy Simpson - April 7, 2010

    I find this conversation typical of what is happening throughout the country: the mud-slinging de-focuses people from the real issues.
    The question I have for WSWA is – why didn’t you hire a keynoter to address some of our industry’s very dire and pressing issues? Are you saying that whatever a controversial politician has to say is more important than solving some of the wine business’ challenges? Smacks of sensationalism to me. And, instead of hiring someone who has no link to the business whatsoever so stimulate attendance, why don’t you do some analysis to figure out why people aren’t coming anymore? Then provide solutions to those problems.
    I didn’t buy a ticket to Vegas – not because Palin was/wasn’t speaking. But because I need to be here working!

  17. medieval clothes - April 7, 2010

    I understand that the Bowler’s Association is having her speak to them at their convention later this year… do you suggest she would have to learn how to bowl 250 before she can speak to them? You pay the bucks and you get her political speech. Did you think she would tell you how to fix regulatory liquor laws?

  18. Grapelady - April 7, 2010

    Please don’t use the graphic sexual term teabagging when referring to the Tea Party supporters. On April 15, there will be Tea Party protests held across the country. Why not attend and see firsthand that they aren’t spewing “vile…anti-American invective.” Quite the contrary, they support adhering to the Constitution and the Republic as designed by the founders.

  19. Grapelady - April 7, 2010

    Why are some people so afraid of opinions contrary to their own that they’ll squash free speech if it doesn’t agree with their own (narrow, conforming, IMHO) views?

  20. Grapelady - April 7, 2010

    Again, another vile personal diatribe from a supporter of the status quo. Sad. This country needs all of its citizens to critically think about and address the issues, not the personalities. Enough with the Alinsky tactics, already.

  21. Grapelady - April 7, 2010

    Sorry, that comment about the diatribe was intended for Karen Marie, not for Mr. Facebook.

  22. jimmy - April 7, 2010

    bottom line is even with or without Palin WSWA is a bust.
    it appears that she is no draw at all as attendance is way down.

  23. JC Campione - April 7, 2010

    My grandmother used to tell me, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” I read this post, Tom, and I see nothing but your hate. If you have differences with Gov. Palin, spell them out and spare us the gratuitous vitriol. Ad hominem “arguments” are only convincing to those without any real grasp of issues. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but to continue in this unnecessarily snide direction is off-putting and alienates at least half of your potential audience. But perhaps, this is what you’re after – a specialized niche, the politically leftist wine drinker. If that is the case, good on you and I’ll see you down the road.

  24. Tom Wark - April 7, 2010

    Your request that I spell out my differences with Gov. Palin is a fair one.
    The differences I have with her is her willingness to engage in political debate and discussion when she is clearly unqualified and surely knows she is unqualified. I on the other hand believe that an individual should should have the self possession to know their limitations and not engage in debate and discussion on issues about which they know nothing.
    There are solvent and insolvent intellects in the political world. In my view, Gov. Palin is clear intellectually insolvent. This is not uncommon. What’s really bad is that she likely knows she’s an insolvent intellect yet pretends otherwise.
    However, that wasn’t really my point in this post. My ultimate point was two-fold: 1) It appears likely that WSWA failed in their bid to use Gov. Palin to get more people to their convention and 2) It does not surprise me that WSWA would be willing to associate themselves with an insolvent mind, as long at it furthers their aims.
    I hope this didn’t come off as “snide” since it was only meant to be a response to your request and fairly represents the way I view Gov. Palin and her association with WSWA. I’ll see you down the road.

  25. Mark's Wine Clubs - April 7, 2010

    There is part of me that truly wishes he was there to hear that part of the speech….yes please deregulate the wine industry…wait that’s not what these guys want? To bad…it’s in my talking points.

  26. John Kelly - April 7, 2010

    Sorry Grapelady – not buying your spin. Funny you should mention the double entendre – it was not in my thinking when I wrote it – I was simply referring to the invective I find coming from the Tea Party astroturf. It’s telling that it triggered your particular reaction.
    Quite the contrary? You and I have extremely divergent opinions on what “adherence to the Constitution” means, and what the intentions of the of the Founders were. Frankly I’m praying that the Tea Party becomes a viable third party. Best of luck obtaining a majortiy.

  27. John Kelly - April 7, 2010

    BTW – Sorry, Tom.

  28. Roy Richardson - April 7, 2010

    Interesting John, it seems to be you who troll the internet looking for oportunities to bash Palin to include a goofy Facebook page with the express purpose of inciting impressionable college students into doing your ideological dirty work of protesting Palin’s CSU Stan vist. Kinda ironic and hypocritical huh?

  29. Kathy Simpson - April 8, 2010

    Can we talk about wine again?

  30. Len - April 8, 2010

    Karen (yet another misinformed, misguided lib),
    I know who Peggy Noonan is. She was a special assistant and speechwriter for Ronald Reagan for 3 of his 8 years. While she is an incredible writer (I believe she has a few of her speeches in the top 100 political speeches of the 20th century) and did have a hand in writing some of Reagan’s speeches, your comments lead us to believe that she wrote all his speeches and that Reagan didn’t write any of his own. In fact, Reagan himself wrote most of his own speeches. Do a little research before you comment on the greatest president of our time. Oh, sorry, people like you don’t do any research, you just spew.

  31. Cynthia - April 8, 2010

    Hey Karen,
    You nailed it. Nothing but net. Thanks!

  32. Cynthia - April 8, 2010

    whoa, don’t know what that facebook profile is about. First time posting here, after following a link.

  33. Helen - April 8, 2010

    I know why they booked Palin.
    She is the Queen of Whine after all.

  34. Nancy J Powell - April 8, 2010

    Which is off base and when the Dems end up keeping control of both houses….I am sure the GOP will be dreaming about the sweep in 2016 and WSWA will be part of that too.

  35. GS - April 8, 2010

    Grapelady, um, so you are okay with not being allowed to vote and no women in congress? After all, in the world of our founders woment were not permitted to vote let alone run for office. Calling this group of morons tea partiers and thier movement is an insult to the brave men who actually particpated in the original. You see, they were protesting the taxes on the tea becuase King George was a monarch with complete rule over them. Hence, they had no representation in Britain. Every moron out there with their despicable signage has a vote and a representative in the house and two in the senate. I didn’t like it when Bush and his republcian house and senate were running up trillions of dollars in deficits buy cutting taxes for the wealthy, enacting medicare programs for the wealthiest over 65 and invading countries bnased completely on lies so I voted to change it. And change it we did. Live with it.

  36. GS - April 8, 2010

    Um, Len, President Obama writes most of his speeches. So waht exactly is your point?

  37. Joan Bailey - April 8, 2010

    Oh, my gosh! What an apologist for such a loser. Sarah Palin leaves office as governor, people apologize for her and think nothing of it. She once ran for VICE PRESIDENT and you don’t think it’s important when you’re being paid $100K to understand a bit about your target audience when speaking to them? Geez. Get your head OUT OF THE SAND!

  38. labman57 - April 8, 2010

    If she was unwilling or unable to adequately prepare for her VP debate in 2008, why would anyone expect her to do a bit of research about her target audience when giving a keynote at a wine and spirits convention?
    She shows up, makes a few snarky comments about the POTUS, tosses out a few lame metaphors and puns, and collects her speaking fee.

  39. lkern - April 9, 2010

    AMAZING use of false equivalency. Sorry, it’s simply this: Palin makes a stupid speech, smart people call her stupid because she deserves it, Palin supporters get all huffy and never realize they are being duped by a money-hungry quitter. Gee, 100k for that? Bet she wrote it in the limo over there. You can tell by the posts right here: The left thinks, the right believes.

  40. lkern - April 9, 2010

    Well said Karen, well said.

  41. James in Denver - April 9, 2010

    Is Sarah retarded?

  42. rbd - April 9, 2010

    $ara is a waste of $$$

  43. Larkhill - April 9, 2010

    Stumbled on this blog and read all the comments on Ms. Palin. Delighted to find the level of common sense expressed by the wine community in response to Palin’s latest foray into the world outside her head. It’s like a nightmare we can’t wake up from, isn’t it?
    Anyway, Reading all your comments makes me want to support you. I’ll be buying wine instead of beer from now on…

  44. Tim - April 9, 2010

    I was there Ladies and Gents and you now all know that she is an idiot and more importantly, they made a mistake. Ironic that what she represents is independence and deregulation and lower taxes and so called freedom…I would be very worried if I were The Discovery Channel. BTW 100K is a normal fee for a speaking gig, this one time it should have been free.
    I truly loved the line that “cultured yeast was like a mentor” and she did have oenology written on her left hand so she would remember how to pronounce it. Cheers Tom for sharing!

  45. Proud Liberal - April 9, 2010

    Shame on your organization for inviting Sarah Palin to speak. I am today officially starting a boycott of all wine and spirits until you apologize. I am sure that it will sweep the country and be very successful, like most boycotts are.

  46. [email protected] - April 9, 2010

    Is she had nothing to offer. Nothing to say. You didn’t learn anything. Why did you pay for her performance?

  47. Linda - April 9, 2010

    Another cretinous right wing talking point/ slogan. Do you guys have some idiot locked n the basement making these up (along with the genius tea party slurs). Oh right, maybe you put our last President to work. He always had a way with words.
    As for Palin, she has the mentality of a hostess at Denny’s. To associate with her is an embarassment.

  48. Linda - April 9, 2010

    ahahhahahhahhaha funny stuff

  49. Linda - April 9, 2010

    You need to loosen the tin hat sweetie. Tea Party klan militia fronts are less than 25 per cent of the population and they want to secede from the union I wish to God they would. Lincoln should have let the South go on their merry way so the rest of us could proceed in an intelligent civilzed fashion.
    I’m not even going to bother to address your silly defense of Frau Palin except to say au contraire, she IS an expert on booze as she drinks enough of it, but the nuances of fine wine, I doubt it. Not enough class, and like every other area, the woman is uneducated.

  50. Flowerandfrijole - April 9, 2010

    Dear Grapelady — tell you what? We’ll stop using the term “Teabagger” when your side stops using the following terms:
    “The Annointed One” “Messiah,” “Obamacare,”
    “Latte Liberal,” “Godless Liberal,” “San Francisco Liberal,” “Hollywood Liberal,” “Real” American (implying that anyone who thinks differently than you is somehow not really an American), “government takeover”, “free” health care, Marxist, Socialist, Nazism, Facism, death panels, “lame stream” media, the list goes on and on and on and on…
    The thing about you “election deny-ers” is that you seem very adept at dishing it out, but you really suck at taking it.

  51. David Sullivan - April 12, 2010

    Ahhhh… further evidence of an industry (WSWA) in decline as it adds little value in this generation and time. B2B, P2P and the Social Media revolution have pulled back the curtain on ineffective and empty institutions. Thomas Jefferson grew grapes and made wine. Would he approve of restrictive legal regulation of wine commerce? Free the grapes, toast our nations entrepreneurial spirit and drink to our health. Get involved locally to voice your opinions.

  52. Len - April 12, 2010

    Um, GS, um, you are an idiot, um. Um, read Karen Marie’s, um, post that I was um, responding to and then, um you’ll get my point.
    Um, but then again, um, maybe not.

  53. Craig Wolf - April 13, 2010

    To provide the facts and clear up any misconceptions –
    WSWA brought Governor Palin to the Convention because she is a best-selling author, former Vice-Presidential Candidate and Governor, and is someone people find interesting and provocative – whether you agree with her or disagree with her. We regularly bring in speakers from all walks of life – not necessarily to speak about the industry, but rather to give their perspectives on a range of issues. We didn’t expect her to endorse our positions or oppose them – and she didn’t take any positions on direct shipping or other regulatory concerns – either pro or anti. Her comments were generally about working hard, being patriotic, less taxes and a government that does what it should do, but no more – hardly revolutionary concepts. And the Convention was very successful – up a couple of hundred people from the previous year – with over a thousand people filling the auditorium to standing room only capacity for her speech and Q and A. And if you missed the Convention, you missed my speech on /Thursday where I talked about the importance of – and our ongoing efforts in conjunction with the wine associations – creating an online community where suppliers can find wholesalers and wholesalers can find suppliers.

  54. Kathy Simpson - April 15, 2010

    Craig – not buying it. The decision to hire Palin for the keynote was a cop out and sensationalistic, to say the least. Just read the comments posted here and there’s your proof. Stick to industry issues and we’ll start coming to WSWA again. Times are tough, sales are down, and no one has time to go to Vegas to play and listen to political speeches.

  55. Craig Wolf - April 15, 2010

    Love to have you at WSWA – but we appeal to a broad group of people who have varying issues and perspectives. And from what I can tell about the comments posted above – a lot of sound and fury – but none were actually there to see the Convention and what it offers. Easy to vilify, misconstrue and go off on a tangent if you weren’t there.

  56. John Kelly - April 23, 2010

    Roy I have no I idea at all what you are talking about, but it sounds like you are skating towards libel. Smart move, commenting without any links to your identity. Brave.
    I was responding to posts by MAZ and grapelady. I have no need to bash Palin – she does a good enough job on her own. Time to get back to wine. Peace, out.

  57. Laurie - May 14, 2010

    What a waste for those who took the time and attended the event. However if nothing else at least it has encouraged debate wine wholesalers and the industry as a whole.

  58. マジコン - October 9, 2011

    thanks !! very helpful post!Keep working ,great job!

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