Editor’s Note: I wrestled all day with whether to promote this excellent post to the front page. Ironically, the main thing that gave me pause was the fact that so many people suggested today that Palin might have been literally drunk, even though that is not what this author is doing. In the end, I decided “Why not?” I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Today we saw someone who was once a rising star in the conservative world explode in an inglorious display of crass opportunism.
Sarah Palin, that darling of a failed John McCain presidential bid, has resurfaced to throw her voice and her support behind the gilded toad of the GOP, Donald Trump. Where she was once a strong Tea Party leader, promoting free market ideas, limited government, and power back in the hands of the people, today she forsook it all, in favor of a big government, foul mouthed, Wall Street liberal with atrocious hair.
Far too often, we see that power corrupts and fame can be an intoxicating drug. Palin and her family became a political hot topic in 2008, targeted by comedians and tabloids, as well as the conservative punditry, anxious to foist this fresh, bold, “Mama Grizzly” into the limelight, and to sweep up ratings for themselves along the way. For a bit, it worked. Voters and TV execs alike were enthralled by she and her whole family. Daughter Bristol, as an unwed mother to a beautiful baby boy, wrote a book about abstinence and toured the nation to give the warning to wait, don’t do what she did, learn from her poor judgment! She even got a reality TV show out of it for a short while.
Meanwhile, “Mama Grizzly,” Sarah Palin, garnered her own reality show, as well as a spot as a contributor for Fox News. Who knew that serving a half-term as governor of Alaska, then filling the VP slot on a losing GOP ticket could translate into such a prolonged stint of celebrity? One could argue that there were many reasons for it, ranging from her beauty to her being a symbol of “every woman.” She didn’t have an Ivy League background. She was a working mom. She also wasn’t above getting her hands dirty, both figuratively and literally. She didn’t have a phalanx of aides handling her affairs. She seemed content to do things on her own, in her own way, and that was refreshing for a public who had for far too long seen the political class as out of touch with every day humanity.
Then the novelty began to wear off. The Tea Party hasn’t been as active, outside of social media, so there weren’t as many opportunities for Palin to stand before a crowd, beguile them with colloquial banter and declarations of a rebel spirit, or to grab headlines. She lost her gig as a contributor with Fox News several years ago. So what else was there? Well, daughter Bristol has decided to be a blogger, covering everything from the mundane to the nonsensical. Oh, and she’s now got baby #2 for baby-daddy #2, as well. She’s still single. So much for learning from our mistakes, abstinence, and anything resembling moral clarity.
There was the drunken family brawl the Palins were involved in last year. It briefly trended on social media and for a moment, the Kardashians were given pause. Just today, while Sarah was making a desperate lunge for one more moment in the sun, her oldest son, Track, was presumably posting bail for beating up his girlfriend. You would think this would be a time for a mother to be closing the ranks and tending to her family breakdown.
No, sadly, the mask of the Sarah Palin so many of us were drawn in by has slipped. Rather than a warrior for conservative principle, we now see the oh-so shallow pool of her conservatism. She could have endorsed literally ANYBODY else running, but she threw her full-throated support behind a man who has said he identifies as a Democrat, has backed single payer healthcare, eminent domain, abortion, and a progressive tax on the wealthy. He has attacked real conservatives, shows a glaring lack of knowledge on most every important issue facing our nation, and covers it all with a gross layer of incivility and arrogance towards any who question him or hold him to task. He is all these things and will be the death of the GOP, or any chance of growing conservatism in this nation, again, if he is not stopped.
Make no mistake. Palin isn’t alone in this betrayal of the ideology she once rode to prominence. Talking heads from Hannity to Levin to Limbaugh have cut the throats of the entire conservative movement, all for the ratings a sideshow freak like Trump brings. Palin’s move, as well as the past few months of fawning, slack-jawed devotion to all things Trump that those who (formerly) enjoyed conservative talk radio have had to endure shows those of us who still value principle over celebrity just how unreliable and self-serving those who would be our “voice” truly are.
If it’s true that we reap what we sow, the next couple of months will see Palin and her brood fade into obscurity, once and for all. Those talking heads (I’m looking squarely at you, Sean Hannity) who are obviously in the Donald’s soiled pocket need to see their ratings plummet, as a fitting response to their willingness to turn a blind eye to this fraud in our midst and build him up, even as he tears the name of conservatism down.
Am I angry? Yes, I am. I’m angry at Trump for his charade. I’m angry at voters who would let this man rise so high in the polls, and an unwillingness to see how closely they mirror the Obama fans from 2008. I’m angry at radio personalities, TV news creeps, and attention seeking has-beens for putting their own self-interests above our nation’s well-being. We had the strongest bench in many years, but more qualified candidates are pushed aside in favor of this Manhattan bully.
We are so close to the edge. The cult of personality will not draw us back. Now is the time for putting celebrity aside, not embracing it. We need sober, seasoned, rational leadership, and anyone in a position to highlight the need who chooses, instead, to glorify our most inept deserves to reap all the consequences due their selfish motivations.