Friday, July 10, 2009


It's been a long week, seven days of non-stop coverage of Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin, with occasional mentions of the health care debate in Congress, and just a soupcon of CIA skullduggery. The news media really does believe in the "if it bleeds, it leads" mantra, which means that real news, news that affects us more deeply and directly than celebrities, is buried deep within the paper or the newscast.

And it isn't just the death of a celebrity that outranks hard news. The shenanigans of celebrities also take precedence. Why else would we be so fascinated with what soon-to-be-former Gov. Palin has done or will do? Make no mistake, Sarah Palin has become a celebrity and she counts on that status, which she can mainly because of the way we have been trained by the media. One of the crispest and sanest evaluations of Ms. Palin came from Ellen Goodman in her latest column.

I never believed that it would be easy for Palin to go back to Alaska after the bright lights, big-cities lure of a national campaign. But I didn’t expect this.

“Life is about choices,’’ she said. I guess her choices were: wrestling with a state Legislature, paying lawyers’ fees for ethics investigations, and putting her kids through the ringer. Or making a bundle as an author and speaking star before audiences that adore her.

It wasn’t only “the politics of personal destruction’’ that pushed Palin over the edge. It was the politics of personal adulation. ...

There’s been a lot of comparisons made between Palin’s rambling resignation speech and Mark Sanford’s soul-baring confession of adultery. Sanford fell head-over-heels in love - “Despite the best efforts of my head, my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body’’ - in ways that made us squirm for him and Argentina. Palin fell in love with her star turn. What we see are two middle-age politicians discovering in the most painfully public way that they may not be the people they thought they were.

Sanford is not the straitlaced conservative family man he thought he was. Palin is not the pit bull, lipstick on or off, she thought she was. The woman who wanted to win didn’t want to govern. The woman who glowed in the limelight wilted in the spotlight. And when the going got tough, she got going . . . going . . . gone.

Well, if she didn't want to govern, what did she want? To win at all costs? To be known on sight? If that is the case, then she won't do even as a candidate for the GOP come 2012. If that party is to survive, they will have to come up with a candidate who has the experience of finishing what s/he starts (rather than cutting and running) as well as at least some gravitas.

So what does that leave Ms. Palin? I think John Parisella got it right in his op-ed for MacLeans:

... At best, she will remain a political celebrity we can expect to see on the lecture circuit, campaigning for Congressional and senatorial candidates, and doing high-powered fundraising events. We can also expect her to be a regular commentator in the media.

She'll be with us, if only on our televisions. Over and over and over.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Celebritude is a great word, I am going to steal it.

9:21 AM  

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