Towards a Limited Sort of Sympathy for Sarah Palin | Bleader

Towards a Limited Sort of Sympathy for Sarah Palin



So Mark Kirk's political crush, Sarah Palin, was on Oprah (it wasn't very interesting) and the subject of a cover story in Newsweek (the story is less comprehensible than anything Palin's ever said, but I suspect it was more for the cheesecake cover). Because she's a Big Deal, and must be Reckoned With.

Or, not. Sarah Palin peaked immediately after her speech at the Republican National Convention, and her political relevance is only what sinecure hacks like Matthew Continetti or confused pols like Mark Kirk bestow on her, which is to say not much. She doesn't have a constituency; she doesn't have a political philosophy, and doesn't seem to be courting a movement; she really only has one thing.

She is now what she wants to be: a celebrity. My limited sympathy for her came about when it was revealed that her son Bristol was named after Bristol, Connecticut, home of ESPN and Palin's dream job. This may remind you of Kanye West's line "she couldn't afford a car / so she named her daughter Alexis" (cf. my new favorite site, It's honestly, well, kinda poignant in a kinda sad sort of way.

Look: she's a grifter. And I don't particularly mean to single her out by saying so. Lots of politicians are grifters, whether in office (Rod Blagojevich, William Jefferson) or afterwards (any number of pols turned lobbyists). Public service isn't a particularly good way to get rich or famous - well-known, perhaps, but not famous, which is categorically different.

Palin actually reminds me a bit of Blagojevich. They both have good hair, a certain broad, irritating charisma despite their hamfisted public personas, and a love of adulation combined with seeming lack of interest in actual governance. Blago, despite being under indictment, seems a lot happier now that he's a semi-employed semi-famous person instead of, like, governor. Unfortunately, he stuck around until we had to kick his ass out. Palin straight went "rogue" instead of sticking around for the long slog of governing the socialist utopia of Alaska, and for that she deserves some begrudging respect for making a more honest living. She's been criticized for being a quitter; a nicer way of putting it would be to say that she had the self-awareness to bail. Now she's rich, and Alaska has a governor who theoretically wants the job. It could be much worse.

The McCain campaign cynically used her; she cynically used them; forget it, Jack, it's DC. Will she run for president? Only if she stands to benefit. Will she win? No, not even the Republican nomination. "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?" She beat you to it. How do you solve a problem like the political media? Read a book, or a blog, or something.