Friday, July 17, 2009

Sarah Palin: the Paris Hilton of politics

Sarah Palin: the Paris Hilton of politics?

Everyone has a take on Gov. Sarah Palin's recent resignation. Here's mine: I think she likes the "kitchen" a whole lot but can't actually take the heat, loves the adulation but not the scrutiny, likes power and fame but not the hard work and detail-orientedness it usually entails.

Probably never before in American politics has there been so much political buzz about someone who seems to know little about policy and issues and less about how to articulate them.

But this isn't just me talking. Listen to what some Republican pundits have been saying about her. Mike Murphy calls her a "political train wreck;" Peggy Noonan says, "She's not thoughtful enough to know that she's not thoughtful enough;" David Brooks says she is "unfamiliar with the traits of equipoise and constancy, which are the sources of authority and trust."

Now, Palin who doesn't want to be a lame-duck governor who "milks" her position, wants to be an ex-governor who milks her national celebrity status. In the narrative running in her head, she is the aggrieved heroine who has been wronged by the hated liberal media, who will storm the national stage, and rescue and "progress" the nation.

Realistically, she may turn into the Paris Hilton of politics — one who is famous for being famous.

More charitably, Palin wouldn't be human if the adulation hadn't gone to her head. And she wouldn't, well, be American if she didn't try to cash in on her celebrity status. After all, isn't it a quintessentially American trait to parlay any fame or notoriety into profit and more fame?

What I find most telling, though, is when influential pundits like William Kristol back people like Palin. As I've said before, when neoconservatives court narcissistic, intellectually incurious politicians, it usually says something — that they want ambitious, election-winning candidates they can then manipulate to start unnecessary wars, give tax cuts to the wealthy, and bend the Constitution.

Palin's best bet for the future is, probably, to be a political talk-show host. There is a market for people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh — conservative blowhards who double as entertainers, who wield influence but have no accountability or responsibility, who have no constituents to answer to, who can churn out conspiracy theories to their faithful each week without qualms. Sarah Barracuda would fit right in.

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