This was written about three months ago… it’s held up, and, even, gained in meaning. Why does Fox News pay MILLIONS to a rightwing has-been when there are MILLIONS unemployed… and their beloved Tea Party just slashed extended unemployment bennies for the newly-unemployed? More on that later… first, take a look…
Last I heard about Sarah Palin was contained in a story with the headline, “Sarah Palin tours India and Israel to get to grips with foreign policy”. It was tempting to see this headline in itself as illuminating, if not incisive. Who else would undertake a crash course in foreign-policy issues by starting with countries that, in turn, start with the letter “I?” You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to see some significance… the joke writes itself.
Before that, the top item in Sarah Palin news was a spat between Palin and comedienne Kathy Griffin. As soon as it was announced that Griffin would play a Palin-like character on an episode of Glee, Palin was on the attack. On Fox News, live from Alaska… with water and trees in the background, naturally… she called Griffin a “50-year-old bully” and attacked her for mocking the former governor’s daughters. It was familiar Palin… smiling, finger-pointing, imprecise, and attacking a professional comedienne for making fun of people. Yet, it was all so lame. The Palin bite had gone. The Palin buzz has gone. Sarah Palin’s over, so over. How over? A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that her approval ratings among committed Republicans in the US had faded dramatically since previously measured last October. In fact, her “strongly unfavourable” rating has skyrocketed among Republicans. In recent political commentary in the US, the talk is of her presidential bid “imploding.”
Television destroyed Sarah Palin, just as it made her. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again… the arrival of Palin as a major political figure in 2008 was an emanation of the reality-TV culture, anchored in the belief that ordinary or “everyday” people, inarticulate though they may be, and with all the baggage of messy personal lives, are truly compelling public figures. Palin was the political equivalent. A figure that refracts national identity as it’s shaped by the culture’s most powerful medium. Authentic, populist, and dismissive of sophistication in thought and action. Then, television duly destroyed the Palin authenticity. The arc of her national political career began with a defining speech at the Republican National Convention in September 2008 and ended in November 2010, a few episodes into Sarah Palin’s Alaska. The show, a cringingly inevitable reality-TV series, gave her a huge platform, and she blew it. If her exposure on TV in 2008 brought out the authenticity, the show brought out Palin’s inner princess. She talked about being a mom 87 times an episode (I’m exaggerating, but only a little) and made dubious attempts to make political parables linking her family, the outdoors and wildlife. It was ego unbounded. This… after quitting her job as governor of Alaska. The series had many memorable moments and scenes, but what lingered… and obviously had an impact on Republicans… was the unsubtle undermining of Palin’s assertion that she and her family are “normal average Americans”. A salmon-fishing trip for the kids involved using a private bush plane to fly to a remote wilderness lake. Palin asserted that such a trip is “an everyday thing” in Alaska; yet, any fool watching at home knew the cost had to be in the many thousands. A mountain-climbing trip to Mount McKinley was presented as a trip in the family RV; yet, viewers were gobsmacked to find that the vehicle was more like those giant luxury tour buses used by rock bands.
Television isn’t kind to blatant hubris and hypocrisy and the series amounted to an epic failure to enhance Palin’s status as the genuine voice of authentic America. Television is flow, not content, and, in politics, TV isn’t a problem to be managed, but an instrument to be played (Marshall McLuhan told us so and it’s true.) The flow of Sarah Palin’s Alaska amounted to a river of platitudes and patently insincere assertions. Palin failed to play television as an instrument. The medium that gave her exposure and heft as a figure representing everyday reality and ordinary people’s views, finally, diminished her fatally. After succumbing to the temptations of a reality-TV series, Palin was exposed as overexposed. The other week, while on Fox News attacking Kathy Griffin, she had all the political heft of some batty lady calling into the phone-in radio show from remote Alaska and braying about things that made sense only in her own head. The presence, the charisma, was gone. Palin arrived as a creature of TV and the medium has eaten her up. Never mind the primaries and US presidential election in 2012. The political obituary can be written now.
23 May 2011
The Globe and Mail (Toronto ON)
This is also JP’s world… think on it…
This has particular resonance for us as Orthodox Christians. Some konvertsy are attempting to hijack the Church and ram rightwing shibboleths down all our throats in the name of a notional “culture war”. Jonas Paffhausen is such… his pal Matthew Tate is such… Moriak and Dahulich appear to echo such rubbish (one would think that po-nashemu sorts who came from the ACROD would show more good-sense)… the “OCA Truth” crowd marches to the tune of these demented drummers, too. Indeed, one can generalise and say that all of the former splinter Episkies who came to us from the PECUSA/TEC are radical rightwingers bent on deforming Christ and His Church… it’s why they were run out of the TEC… it’s why we’ll have to do likewise. They’re the Orthodox equivalent of Sarah Palin… they’ve had a 25-year run as the “darlings” of the Church… they’ve proven themselves empty and without merit. As a wise old Serbian priest said, “I’m glad that they’re Orthodox… everybody should be Orthodox. However, they can’t go about telling me how to be Orthodox”.
Sarah Palin, politically, and JP, Tate, Dreher, Freddie M-G, Mattingly et al, religiously, are cut from the same bolt of mouldy and moth-eaten cloth. They’ve all proven themselves devoid of anything substantially good… look at Lil’ Mizz Sarah resigning as Alaska governor to become a high-paying Fox News shill and look at JP refused to release any information on the Dickie Wood affair. They’re cut from the same block of wood… does it surprise you to find out that JP’s a rabid and extremist Tea Party rightwinger? Am I being catty in pointing up that JP was silent about his Tea Party pals slashing unemployment bennies? The number of employed people is going down, even in official figures, and this poseur says nothing. He’s in favour of those who slammed their boot-heel full-force into the faces of the prostrate unemployed! That means that he does so, as well, in God’s eyes. JP (and all those who agree with and defend him) will have to answer on the Last Day for his heartless, selfish, and smirky approval of this travesty… everyone who lost their living and suffered due to his cheerleading for the ‘baggers will accuse him… and, if he doesn’t turn from his sins and live, St Peter will trip the trap under him. He’ll have a WARM home for eternity…