I suspect good progressives are too hip ever to have watched Judging Amy, but the new infotainment-friendly Sarah Palin strikes me as the runaway offspring that Tyne Daly was too embarrassed to tell Amy Brenneman and her siblings about…
Andrew Sullivan complains “She wants to be a celebrity, not a politician. And if she could get to be a politician using the prerogatives of a celebrity – and a propaganda channel like Fox News – she would be happy. That’s what’s at stake here – beneath this farce.” Which is a pretty good summary, assuming that the nouns in the second sentence got swapped in the heat of live-blogging: Palin wants to be a celebrity, and was willing to act out what she understood to be a politician’s role to get the prerogatives of celebrity. When Bill Kristol’s Cruise Ship of
Fools Neocons breezed into Juneau, Palin had aged out of the beauty-queen pageantry competitions that seem to have been her formative social training, her unwillingness or inability to handle the tedium of actual governance had her underlings trembling on the edge of revolt, and her attempts to reclaim Modern Supermom status on her own or by proxy weren’t going so well. It was… providential!… that Someone should send unto her a Messenger, trailing clouds of astroturfing calculation, proclaiming that Sarah Palin could be chosen to stand among the Elect. For lo, all her life she had been journaling, recording both the firewood-stacking and the prayers that were the Aleph and Omega of her Real American(tm) small-town red-state life — and at last her determined piety was rewarded! Prosperity Gospel, unbelievers!
For in her latest incarnation, Sarah Palin represents an American stereotype at least as old as the Chatauqua circuit and as new as the American Idol wannabes who get showcased in the early episodes of each new season for their combination of fervent conviction and utter lack of talent. She wishes — she feels entitled — to be Famous, in the way a thirteen-year-old writing fanfiction understands “famous”: Everyone should know her name, and want to be just like her, and love her not for her talents or her achievements but just because she’s Sarah. After all, God wants her to be happy, and how can she be happy if she’s not famous?
I’m not an Oprah watcher, but I think Ms. Winfrey did a pretty good job of undercutting Palin’s “serious” pretentions here. The Sarah cut-n-pasting a word salad of political talking points and half-remembered celebrity tropes, seasoned with pageant-queen nods and tics, was not a politician or a writer or even an entertaining racouneur — she was a silly, self-involved, aging Tina Fey impersonator. Pathetic, and scary.