Monday, November 16, 2009

Palinio ad absurdum

Honestly, I've had enough of Sarah Palin, more than enough, and, as I watch the Palin PR train steam its way around the media, including on Oprah today -- what level of hell is that, I ask? -- I blame myself for being so Palin-focused this past year. Well, maybe not "focused," but I have written a lot about her, and what an awful waste of time it has been.

It was one thing when she was a veep candidate, an unavoidable figure on the national stage, and when she was actually in office, back when there was a point to her, but now that she's just a self-aggrandizing and woefully delusional, not to mention exceedingly dishonest, political celebrity in search of money and attention, still pushing her weight around even as she wallows in self-styled victimhood at the hands of nefarious elites, pushing her "death panel" lies, her incongruous theocratic-libertarian right-wing worldview, and her me-first persona, the object of so much lustful affection from the neocons at The Weekly Standard, the extremists in the conservative media, and the mob-like GOP base, there doesn't seem to be a point at all, except perhaps to the extent she's contributing to the ongoing Republican civil war.

Except that she's now a bestselling author, what with Going Rogue already destined for huge sales, and so we face the ongoing media blitz that seemed to peak today on Oprah. No, I didn't watch, and, no, I won't, given how much I dislike them both, but, thankfully, others did, to them we turn, if we must. Michelle Cottle found that Palin "came off looking... pretty good," which is hardly surprising, given how packaged she is and how prepared she no doubt was, and it wasn't like Oprah was going to sabotage her own catch by pulling a Katie Couric and embarrasing Palin with a few relatively tough questions:

All things considered, the sit-down should prove a plus for Palin. That said, it did raise a few questions about the long-term prospects for her reinvention tour. This is clearly a woman who has neither forgotten nor forgiven the many injuries she feels were unfairly visited on her last year by the media, the Democrats, the McCain campaign, and other "haters." It's possible she realizes that she made some significant mistakes, but that realization is clearly buried under a massive glacier of resentment and irritation at others. Asked point blank by Oprah if, when she got the call from the McCain campaign, she had even a moment of wondering whether she was ready for the job of vice president, Palin stuck with the "I didn't blink" assertion and reminded us of all her executive experience. The only failure or naivety Palin remains willing to acknowledge is that she didn't realize the perfidy or self-interestedness of those around her. Palin is charming and charismatic enough that this wasn’t a big problem for the length of an unexceptional Oprah interview. But it promises to make any future political runs verrrrry interesting.

Interesting, perhaps, but Palin doesn't stand a chance on the national stage, where she would only embarrass herself further. It's one thing to look good on Oprah, another to reach out to voters beyond the GOP mob, to put together a coherent policy platform, and come across as a worthy national leader. It's hardly surprising, after all, that an overwhelming majority of Americans thinks Palin is not qualified to be president. There is a great deal of delusion in the American electorate, but a lot of voters were paying attention last year, and they didn't exactly like what they saw. Still, you shouldn't count out the influence of her conservative admirers, the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh, Kristol and Barnes, Coulter and O'Reilly, the increasingly dominant faction of the GOP behind the Doug Hoffman insurgency in NY-23, and so you never know.

But back to Oprah: Some critics were less kind than Cottle, including the Times's Alessandra Stanley, found Palin's performance "surprisingly unsmooth," which is also hardly surprising, given how easily rattled she is when challenged outside of her narrow comfort zone. As prepared as she may have been, all the preparation in the world can't cover up her core. She generally looks good, and is generally amusing enough, but beneath the surface is a woman who is, as I put it repeatedly last year, both a twit and a thug.

At Slate, Christopher Beam noted that "Oprah avoided going into full Oprah mode." For the most part, she stuck to "the Palin-approved script" -- and, for the most part, Palin stuck to hers.

Oprah closed the interview by asking whether it was true that Palin might be getting her own talk show. Instead of an answer, Palin reached for the butter. "Oprah, you're the queen," Palin said. "You have nothing to worry about." That may be so. But for Palin, a talk show would be a best case scenario: Top billing. Pre-set conversation topics. A favorable audience. And once and for all, a media filter of her own.

If you still can't get enough, check out Andrew Sullivan's courageous live-blogging of Palin's appearance on Oprah. I say "courageous" because it no doubt took a certain self-sacrifice to sit through it all. Sullivan does stellar work peeling back the layers of bullshit that thinly disguises the real Sarah Palin, and his post is worth reading -- it's certainly more enjoyable, I can only imagine, than actually watching the interview, and many of his points only further discredit a woman who, to me, has no credibility at all.

Okay, enough. We're already well past the point of Palin saturation, and even tonight's ugly Ravens-Browns Monday nighter, a game featuring two of my most hated teams in professional sports, a dull game tied 0-0 at the half, is more interesting than the predictable cult of narcissism that is Sarah Palin. This media blitz is just a rerun that would have been better left in the can, bestseller and all.

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  • Unless you think Palin has a legitimate chance to become President of the U.S., your relentless assault on her is absolutely gratuitous. If you don't feel she has a chance to become President then ignore her. If you do think she has a chance, well, then, say what you want -- it's a free country.

    I can only assume you're either consumed with hatred of the woman regardless of what her future holds, or a deep-seated fear that she may be the next POTUS.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 AM  

  • It takes a rather warped sense of proportion to see mockery of the rich and powerful as "hatred." That, after all, is the basis of a great deal of comedy going back to the Greeks, through commedia del arte, Shakespeare, the Restoration and 18th century English and French comedies right up to the Marx Brothers and Mel Brooks.

    The best part is that Ms. Palin sets herself up for all of it like Lady Sneerwell or Margaret Dumont.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 10:44 AM  

  • All right - I'll give you a bone and say it's mockery and not hatred. Even so, why all the mockery unless you're concerned she could become President? Or ARE you concerned she could become President? I really doubt it myself, but then again I thought Obama's getting elected was EXTREMELY unlikely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 AM  

  • Anon, no one will accuse Petite Sarah of a foolish inconsistency. As a relentless supporter of supply-side economics, being a Palin means spending half your life trickling-down on pregnancy test strips.

    By Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS, at 11:42 AM  

  • If it's mockery of Palin rather than mockery in general you dislike, you must have some specific reason to take offense - or some fancy explaining to do.

    Of course insisting that making fun of the most clownish political figure in memory is "hatred" is a cheap rhetorical trick, called "poisoning the well" to which I responded in kind by impugning your motives for defending her -- see how easy, and stupid, a game it is?

    That we should refrain from mocking any fool that has little chance of winning a presidential election seems arbitrary and restrictive, doesn't it? That's a restriction you won't find much respected by any political school of thought now or in the past. Indeed none of us has any chance whatever to be elected to anything, yet here you are with teh condescending mockery.

    It's a long tradition and cartoons and lampoonery were as rampant in the ancient world as they are in the Sunday papers. You're not going to end it.

    In fact if the inflated balloons of public figures were off limits to those with pointed observations, we'd have to stop pretending to being a free country wouldn't we? And Sarah Palin is an inflated balloon such as the Montgolfier Brothers could be proud of.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:54 AM  

  • Even so, why all the mockery unless you're concerned she could become President?

    Are you kidding? I'd love to see her try. Ms. Palin is a rich vein of straight lines, and I don't want her to shut up or stop appearing on TV or "going rogue" or whatever she does. The jokes right themselves. What I also think is hilarious is how Republicans defend her with a straight face as if she's the future of the GOP. Now that's acting.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 1:17 PM  

  • Fogg and Bobby -- "The Evasion Brothers." Why can't you just answer the question, "Are you concerned, afraid, upset, whatever, that Palin might become President? And just so you know, I don't think she's experienced enough to do the job, much like our current President. Personally, I like Mitt Romney. Now you can start insulting Mormons.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:51 PM  

  • I thought my previous answers made it very clear, but apparently I was typing too fast.

    No, I am not concerned, afraid, or upset that she might become president any more than I am concerned that we will be assimilated by the Borg.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 2:24 PM  

  • PS: Anyone who voted for George W. Bush instantly forfeits the right to accuse another candidate of a lack of experience.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 2:31 PM  

  • I'll let the people who voted for W. know that. I never voted for him, however. In 2000 and 2004 I voted for someone to his "right," if you will. That said, your statement is absurd on its face -- it's like saying an alcoholic (perhaps an appropriate analogy with W. in mind) cannot form the opinion that someone else is drunk.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:31 PM  

  • Huh? Okay, whatever....

    By the way, Mr. Romney's faith and practice is of no concern to me. It is, however, of great interest to the fundamentalist Christians who believe the LDS Church is some kind of cult.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 5:06 PM  

  • I've been following this exchange all day, and I'd just like to weigh in. My criticism of Palin isn't gratuitous. While I don't think she'll ever be president, it's undeniable that she's a leading figure in the Republican Party and among conservatives generally. And she continues to put herself forward as a major public figure. Indeed, she seems to crave the attention, and she clearly has aspirations either to continue her career in politics at the national level or to become a leading right-wing media figure. So why ignore her?

    I dislike her immensely, but I'm not consumed with hatred. I write about her as I write about other, similar figures, like Romney and Huckabee, O'Reilly and Limbaugh, Kristol and Malkin. If I write a bit more about her than about the others, it's only when she's put herself out there for criticism as a public figure, and when she dominates the news, as she has been during her current PR offensive.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 8:35 PM  

  • In conclusion, there is no doubt you HATE her. Deny it all you want, but you're all a bunch of self-important prigs! Happy blogging, you "superior" elitist snots!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:38 AM  

  • If hate devalues an opinion, your angry opinions have little of it left.

    If you're not self-important why are you telling us how important your opinions are and if you're not feeling superior, why are you denouncing us? Of course it's to make it seem you're not slinking out in shame after having made a damned fool of yourself.

    Anyway, the important thing is not dislike, it's the reason for the dislike and the evidence for the reason - something you refuse to discuss, for obvious reasons. No, she has little chance of being elected, but that's not the point. The point is you.

    You know, some people are smarter than others. Is that elitism, or nature? Is it honest to say that's not true? Is it elitism to insinuate that you belong to some more sapient group than we do which it seems you are doing, and thus ripping the guts out of your snotty rejoinder? Of course it is.

    I'm sorry Duke, but you can't have your bullshit and sling it too.

    Anyway, if a word to the wise is sufficient, it's certain that it will take many more to be rid of you.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 4:16 PM  

  • Mr. Stickings: your writing is superb, and you are correct on this matter. Thank you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:13 AM  

  • I agree with Michael! I also think Sarah is full of envy of now Pres. Obama and is extremely jealous of the fact that he won and has somehow been "denied" privileges she obviously feels she was entitled to. I feel she is also arrogant, ungracious and full of herself. She needs to move on from the “stump” position of touring the country so everyone around her can tell her how great she is. I also find it funny, the very thing people accuse Pres. Obama of being, they strive to become! Rock star status, eliteism, full of themselves! I just find it extremely sad to see that she has not moved on in a years time as everyone else, except her "followers" have!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 8:24 AM  

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