Ship to wreck

Apropos Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump, an old post from October 201o.

She’s mastered the new political medium created by 24/7 cable news, blogs, etc., an over-caffeinated world in which half-truths, spin, winking falsehoods, and simmering status resentment constitute a fair and balanced communicative style. She is a celebrity, hence her life, her private life, is as much a part of her political brand as her policy positions and accomplishments in Alaska. Her propensity to respond to what appear to be trivial snipes, things ordinary politicians would ordinarily ignore, is a continuation of the persona that was presented in 2008: hockey mom, political maverick, and all-around western tough gal. She’s anything but an ordinary politician. Her legend is enhanced by (1) the fact that she’s a ‘target’ and (2) that she responds in kind (she’s no weak-kneed libral). In the play book of contemporary Republican politics, if you’re a target of ridicule in the mythical MSM, you are part of the real America, you are an authentic conservative (not one of those country club types who speak in sonorous tones — and in complete sentences — on the floor of the Senate), and you are a promising presidential candidate. I can easily imagine a Republican fantasy ticket of Palin/Prejean in 2012.

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Andre Agassi’s tag line in the Canon ads “Image is everything” fits the new political reality. I think, at this point, Palin is famous for being famous and not much else. It is an open question of whether this “category” can sustain a presidential candidacy through the Republican primaries and debates. It appeared to me that the candidacy of Fred Thompson, which flamed out because he seemed to lack energy and interest in politics, was premised on being famous (a star of the big and small screens). Palin doesn’t lack energy or a willingness to joust. It might come down to the question of which candidate is more likely to keep Republican primary voters awake during twenty two-hour debates: Romney, Pawlenty, or Palin? I’m betting on the former Alaska Governor.

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Outside of ultra-conservative chavs (who are not a majority among Republican voters . . . unless the birthers movement takes off unexpectedly), I don’t see much support for Palin, going forward, in the Republican Party. She’s anti-pork, so she would cut off the flow of milk to Alaska from the federal government teat. Could she even carry Alaska in a general election? She has a better chance of making a boatload of money using the media to bash the media, one of those performative contradictions that have marked her public persona since last August: she opposes the “politics of personal destruction” yet seeks to destroy her liberal opponents in a silly slurry of anti-American accusations; she’s a fighter who nonetheless quits; a hockey mom who fancies Neiman Marcus; a mama Grizzly bear who protects her cubs, yet exposes them — using them as political props — to the harsh glare of the media; a family values candidate who publicly trashes the father of her grandchild; an avatar of abstinence, who allows non-same sex sleepovers under her own roof.

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