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July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin: The Most Irritating Is Yet to Come


A 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 Michael Jackson.


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 song).


On 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.


In 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.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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