For the last many weeks I’ve been trawling through the Internet’s vast sea of informational and speculative glop, in search of something that will throw light on the US presidential election. News reports, blogs, essays, cartoons, videos, photos—nothing has been too long or badly-written or biased or foul-mouthed or weird to look through, because I really, really want to know.
I’m looking, specifically, for something that might explain the whole Sarah Palin thing. It’s been the object of a media feeding frenzy for so long, and so much bile has been spent on it, that I should be enlightened, but really, nothing I’ve seen so far has given me anything to work with.
I know, I know. Who are we to ridicule other countries’ candidates for high office when we regularly tolerate criminals, murderers and the sons and daughters of the above just for being their sons and daughters, in our own political offices and institutions?
But like it or not, the whole world has gotten involved with this election, so we really do have to ask ourselves: What on earth do the long-suffering American people see in her?
It’s not her trenchant mind. Look up her three major television interviews (with Charlie Gibson of ABC, Sean Hannity of Fox and Katie Couric of CBS) for endless examples of an extraordinary capacity to spout sentences comprised almost exclusively of Palin-patented phrases, like “put the government back on the side of the people”, “ruffle some feathers”, “get in there and reform”, “I’m so proud of my son/the American people/this great country”, “I killed the bridge to nowhere”, “a maverick team”, and “look for efficiencies”. Also, if I hear the phrase “eighteen million cracks” one more time, I will throw up.
It’s not that she’s fantastically articulate, viz. this sentence from the Fox interview, in response to a question on the economic meltdown: “Well, you know, first Fannie and Freddie, different because quasi-government agencies there where government had to step in because the adverse impact all across our nation, especially with homeowners, is just too impacting”.
It’s not that she’s well-informed, as it appeared from her total inability to work out what in the world the Bush Doctrine is, until the interviewer took pity on her and told her, at which point she bounced straight back into cliché-land. In fact one of her key abilities is to completely ignore the substance of a question, using the fact that the other person spoke as a prompt to trot out the same old fatigued lines. (If you find yourself in need of a laugh, check out the spoof interviews, including Jay Leno’s Tonight Show parody.) What really stumps me is why, if McCain needs to protect her from public exposure and the press, he chose her in the first place.
Conventional wisdom says it was the whole ‘smokin’ hot babe’ thing, since that seems to be her greatest appeal: not just a woman who hunts and field-dresses moose, but an attractive woman who hunts and field-dresses moose. To my eyes Sarah Palin, what with the quasi-beehive balancing precariously atop her head, looks like something out of yearbookyourself.com—which, if you haven’t been there to see yourself in a variety of nostalgia-drenched looks, I strongly recommend. Add to this that grating Mountain-Alaskan accent so excellently lampooned by Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live, and I’m totally at sea.
So, I like to think, is America. If there’s a silver lining to what looks like the worst political joke of the century, it is that the vice-presidential debates should be a real hoot.