Today we observe the passing of the political career of the pit-bull with lipstick herself, Sarah Palin.
Her year and half long stint as a very moderate Republican governor produced a massive expansion of the socialist collection of oil revenue for the state of Alaska that was produced mainly with the backing of Democrats. Then she became McCain’s “bold” and very untested, unverified choice of her as Vice President. While she couldn’t name a single newspaper she read and looked so stupid it made Tina Fey (who did her SNL impression) a huge success and likely cost McCain the election, she was still able to transform into some kind of a radical right-wing icon, who was stoking the fires of violence late in the 2008 election, inciting hateful statements about Obama and Democrats with nothing to back it up but that space between her ears.
Since then she became a self-absorbed pundit, a C-grade Reality Show celebrity and an “author” of books about herself. Her family joined the cause celeb as well and within a few years, her daughter was voted off Dancing with the Stars while nobody noticed and her husband’s reality show was laughingly dismissed.
It would have been nearly impossible to imagine her demise 2 years ago. After becoming the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican Party in 2008, she was a phenom. Her prospects for the nomination became extremely bright, almost, inevitable. She was so popular among conservatives that even her misspelled Tweets could make headlines around the world. Her popularity soared so high, she resigned as Governor of Alaska to pursue more intriguing interests. She turned her influence into book tours and high-paid speeches. She received a lucrative contract from FOX News as a pundit and became the de facto spokesperson for the burgeoning Tea Party movement. She created SarahPAC and went around the country as a kingmaker in elections. She even had a map on her website with Congressional districts that were “targeted” by her organization with a cross-hair over each district on a map of the US to illustrate her emerging power.
Yet problems became very apparent even by 2 years ago. Her misspelled Tweets gave her a name as illiterate and speculation that her book was mostly written by the guy who helped her made her look less than smart. Then she made a series of flubs. At an interview, she continually looked at her hand as if she was reading a cheat sheet. Turns out, her hand, which could clearly be read by a zoom, had the words “tax cuts” written on it. Comedians from Bill Maher to Jay Leno asked the question “what kind of a Republican needs to remind herself about tax-cuts?”
Her high-paid speeches were widely panned when she began to give the same generic speech about eliminating taxes and regulations to groups like the Wine Wholesalers Expo, where increased regulation is widely perceived as good for the industry.
Her numbers among moderates plummeted (which were always weak) as the nation got Palin-fatigue. Pretty soon moderate Republicans began to abandon her as the prospects of her being a realistic Presidential candidate began to fade. Abandoning her governorship for her own pursuits made her look self-interested and unrealistic as a political candidate. Yet still, nothing could shake the media’s obsession with Palin, which gave her a huge soap box to stand on and rattle off whatever she wanted. She launched a reality show, which didn’t do so well, though escaped outright failure and gave the Palin clan a new outlet. Bristol Palin’s pregnancy gave even her estranged boyfriend interviews on talk shows and a book deal. Bristol joined Dancing with the Stars and made it all the way to the end thanks to conservatives who kept voting to keep her on the show, presumably to piss liberal Hollywood off.
The Tea Party then took control of the Republican Party in 2010 and took back a record amount of seats in the House. Palin’s picks didn’t do as well as she liked, yet she was seen as successful none the less. She was riding high on the crest of a movement that was going to “take the country back”, as they claimed (yeah, because running Congress for 12 years and the White House for 8 alleviates you from responsibility after 2 years). Little did Palin know. The trouble was just beginning.
Turns out that one of the gun sight targets she had on her little map was Gabby Giffords, a Democratic Congressional member who was tragically shot in the 2011 Tuscon Shooting. Six people died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, one of Rep. Giffords’ staffers; and a nine-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green at Gifford’s Congress on Your Corner meeting. Giffords herself was wounded severely in the head and eventually had to leave Congress. While many indirectly implicated Palin as part of the problem that lead to the events, much of this talk was backed off in the following days as it became clear that the killer was mentally ill and had no political motivation. Obama came and gave a memorial speech that was well received as the nation mourned a senseless and horrific tragedy.
Yet Palin felt slighted by the media who mentioned her gun sights. It was the first time she had to face a hostile media and her response was poorly timed and poorly delivered. Palin decided to give a speech, reportedly against the advice of FOX News head honcho Roger Ailes, the same day as the memorial that mainly focused on how she was a victim. She even used an anti-Semitic term, “blood libel”, a term used to describe Jews putting blood in matzo and didn’t even make any sense in the context she used, to paint herself as a victim of a media out to maker her look bad. Very little attention was given to the actual victims of the Tuscon Shootings. This turned out to be her most fatal mistake.
Almost instantly, all the diva rumors became an official part of her brand. Republican rivals criticized her lack of judgement and her poll numbers plummeted. Most importantly for her political career, FOX News began to think twice about using her in their commentary shows and a rift between her and Roger Ailes began that would not be healed.
Palin emerged from the crisis heavily scathed. She no longer had the unquestionable loyalty of the Republican Party, who began to put distance between the two. She no longer had the unquestionable loyalty of Fox News, who began to use her less frequently. Her Tweets stopped making headlines and even the Tea Party began to question her viability as a Presidential candidate. Some even openly encouraged her not to run. Why? Because they saw the poll numbers. She had become an uninspiring, divisive person, who would certainly lose the general election and likely be embarrassed in the primaries, taking her Tea Party affiliation with her.
By the time the elections rolled around she was no longer seen as a serious candidate, she was seen as a sometimes reality show diva and sometimes pundit along the lines of Anne Coulter. Palin must have known this, which is a rare talent among politicians, because she never got close to really throwing her hat into the ring. Instead she teased it. She didn’t show up to the Iowa Caucus, she showed up near it. She didn’t announce her candidacy, she showed up in the same state on the same day as Mitt Romney when he announced his.
These hi-jinx got her headlines, yet cost her more credibility. While threatening to overshadow Romney’s announcement, she announced to some reporter who asked her what she was doing on her “vacation”, Palin gave some rambling speech about Paul Revere announcing 2nd Amendment gun rights to the British or something. It was confusing and completely wrong, since the 2nd Amendment didn’t exist for another 20 years and Paul Revere’s Ride definitely had more to do with warning the Colonial minutemen about the British invasion than any long-winded announcement about political ideology.
Her trip to England netted an even more embarrassing moment. When Palin remarked that she would like to meet conservative British icon Margaret Thatcher an aide responded “Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.” It was a huge slap in the face and conservative wind-bags tried to fire back but the damage was done. The Empress had no clothes. Palin was not a serious person. So why did the media take her seriously?
I suppose they were waiting for her official announcement about her intentions to run, the media has learned to never laugh too hard at anyone because you never know. A smart move since the clown car that became the Republican Primary did give opportunities to many laughable candidates. So many talked up Palin’s fundraising ability and her support in the base and among the Tea Party. Palin did continue to raise money, for a potential run, a mere weeks before she decided to bow out. A move that clearly suggest that she was milking her base for all they were worth. When she did officially bow out, it came with little fanfare, on some conservative pundit’s radio show, who’s name I can’t even recall (and don’t care to even Google). Ailes and Fox News were pissed about the snubbing, while the rest of the country gave a collective eye roll about what had become so obvious by then it barely even made headlines or merited any real discussion on social media.
Pretty soon the Lamestream Media, as Palin called them, AKA her loyalist supporters who gave her the voice to insult them, began to realize that the rest of the country stopped caring about Palin a long time ago. Even Fox began to abandon her. Ailes leaked out information about his disagreements with the diva and in the Summer of 2012, it was leaked out that Palin’s contract would likely not be renewed. The announcement was confirmed on a Friday afternoon, where all the least important news is often dumped.
By the end, the Diva who once had so much clout she had FOX News pay for a personal studio set up in her house in Alaska, was barely on the network at all. Her daughter who once made headlines on her Dancing with the Stars stint, was voted off in the early stages to hardly any notice (in the months leading up to the election), while her personal reality shows had been canceled or failed. Her husband Todd’s reality show career had failed with his own show being rejected by even the lowest brow cable channels (I’m looking at you TLC), and his most popular stint on NBC’s summer program “Stars Earn Stripes” Had been a critical and financial failure, highly criticized by veterans groups and military spokespeople.
As for Palin herself, her career in politics is over. Her decision to abandon the Governorship sunk any real chance of going into Congress or continuing in Alaska politics. Apparently she is deeply unpopular in her own state and even at the height of her fame, Sarah Palin toilet paper was about the only sign of her in Anchorage. Her career as a pundit is all but over since the shining city on the hill for pundits, FOX News, has decided they don’t want anything to do with her. Could she live on like Beck in obscurity? Perhaps, yet she has proven to be less enterprising than the Beckster, going with the quick reality show road to fame. Could she become a think-tank person or lobbyist? Not likely. She isn’t that smart and has no influence on Capital Hill. So where does she go?
Home, where she can wait to be a member on the next reality show that features washed up celebrities.
These sorts of meteoric rises often end in disaster when the person who rises can’t really handle the heat and, in the end, proved that they didn’t deserve the spotlight. Palin is a classic example of that. While she proved adept in the beginning, ultimately, she and her family crumbled under the pressures of too much fame, too quickly.