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July 6, 2009
Sarah Palin: The Most
Irritating Is Yet to Come
culture not primarily consumed with the pursuit of permanent celebrity
would today be thanking itself that the ghastly spectacle of Sarah Palin
was now dragging itself out of the spotlight and back
home where she
could live out her days gutting fish and killing moose. Alas, we are not
that kind of culture.
Sarah Palin’s rambling, semi-coherent speech Friday immediately did
something no other single event has done in 30 years of history –
attempted to connect a living American politician to Richard Nixon in a
good way. The air hadn’t yet cooled from Palin’s speech before Nixon’s
patient rebuilding efforts during the 1960s was being dragged out of the
bag of stale political history. That the parallels end with two
politicians promised to be departing national politics while their body
language said something entirely different wasn’t important. When
there’s a mindlessly vapid connection to be drawn, you can bet it’s
going to be flogged endlessly until it has even seasoned political
observers hoping that the networks would get back to talking about
There is little doubt that Palin will be around for everyone to kick.
Her suggestion that she was being hounded out of office by angry critics
playing politics as usual had all the sincerity of a professional
wrestling rivalry. Maybe this is her plan for shoehorning herself into
presidential politics (it’s hard to imagine someone who appears to so
much love the spotlight not at some point get lured into it by its siren
the other hand, her resume suggests something else. That and elements of
her speech in which she blamed her resignation on people criticizing her
job performance make it appear that she’d rather work a job in which
she’s not actually held accountable for anything. It appears that what
she really wants right now is a job where she can whip throngs of
aggrieved rubes into a frothing anger. Anger about what? Well, just
about anything that catches their generally anti-government fancy. Palin
excelled at doing this on the campaign trail so well that after she
brought out a side so ugly in the American Right, that the guy at the
top of the ticket was booed when he sought to diffuse it. Until she
actually runs for office, she can do this and ignore criticism since her
job won’t hang on it.
This work is suited to her history. Her academic career was pure
Blutarsky in its duration. Afterward, she did a turn in sports
broadcasting. None of it suggests someone building herself toward
crafting forward-thinking policy, but all of it in its totality suggests
someone who wants work superficial enough that it doesn’t infringe on
pursuits of recreation and leisure.
fact, the entire thing would make envious that one guy everyone knows
who can’t hold down a job. True to form, Palin – like that one guy –
blamed everyone else for leaving her job as Alaska’s governor before one
term was complete. If only everyone else weren’t so hard to work with,
she’d be happy at her job. Contextually, it’s like walking off a fry
cook line after three weeks while declaring customers to be a hassle and
yourself better suited to managing a local bank branch.
Unfortunately, politics isn’t just about resume, something that is
especially true today as the line between entertainment and everything
else is so easily blurred. It should be enough to ask people to remember
recent political history, like that she walked away from a job before
one four-year term was up. But, this is a culture that not only
cherishes reality Tee Vee, but gives reality contestants who lose in a
particularly amusing way their own shows. What we’re seeing today is the
modern political equivalent of Sarah Palin voted off the island, with
the prospects of her very own spin-off.
Stay tuned. The most irritating is certainly yet to come.
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