Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury | Politics | Vanity Fair

This article by Michael Gross is a scorching expose of this enigmatic comet on the political horizon. It's even more powerful because Mr. Gross WAS one of Ms. Palin's most ardent supporters until he undertook the research for this piece.

Sarah Palin is a public servant who quit as governor of Alaska to market herself and run for higher office in 2012.  This is the first most obvious contradiction highlighted by Mr. Gross.  That she considers herself a viable politician is a function of her incredible ego.  She's a Diva in the most extreme sense.  The whole marketing campaign that will surely culminate in a a declaration of her candidacy is about her, her world view, and her admirers.  She keeps herself firmly in the bubble, allowing no one to enter, no reporter to ask uncomfortable questions, and appear before no audience that is not carefully selected and properly adoring.  She's the spokesperson for the blissfully ignorant, happy white folks as she shows off her "poor man's teleprompter," (her hand) while referring to the Obama administration's "talking down" to her and her followers.  Her followers are quite satisfied with the projected image and don't question her methods, her lifestyle, or her background.  She's one of them, or so they think.

Sarah Palin is a serious yarn spinner, for whom the truth is relevant, but a good speech needs to be embellished with tall tales and energetic spin that bears little resemblance to the truth. Mr. Gross out and out calls her a serial liar.

Then Palin departs from the script and speaks as if from the heart, describing her fear and confusion upon discovering that Trig would be born with Down syndrome. “I had never really been around a baby with special needs,” she tells her listeners. For what it’s worth, this statement is untrue. Depicting the same moment of discovery in her own book, Palin writes that she immediately thought of a special-needs child she knew very well: her autistic nephew. Such falsehoods never damage Palin’s credibility with her admirers, because information and ideology are incidental to this relationship.

She has a volatile personality and has incredible mood swings, mostly in private with her aides and family.  The anger is legendary among former staff, associates and even with her family.  This is not a unique characteristic for potential world leaders, but with Ms. Palin, the Diva, even close aides, acquaintances, colleagues, feel the heat unabated.  Ms. Palin seems blissfully unaware of the potential for damage to her career.

Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible. A onetime gubernatorial aide to Palin says, “The people who have worked for her—they’re broken, used, stepped on, down in the dust.” On the 2008 campaign trail, one close aide recalls, it was practically impossible to persuade Palin to take a moment to thank the kitchen workers at fund-raising dinners. During the campaign, Palin lashed out at the slightest provocation, sometimes screaming at staff members and throwing objects. Witnessing such behavior, one aide asked Todd Palin if it was typical of his wife. He answered, “You just got to let her go through it… Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn’t even mean.”

She's also a pretty woman and uses her looks to defuse the volcanic temper.

She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman.” (The friend elaborated on this last point: “Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, ‘I’m gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.’ That’s how she rolls.”)

Her religious faith plays a major role in her behavior, her secretiveness, and her politics.  She's a particular kind of fundamentalist Christian who believes that she's a "prayer warrior" who gets protection from fellow warriors who provide a "shield" against evil.  Her world view tells her that she's good, her opponents are evil, "and the war is on."  This particular world view holds that politics is a war against evil and so should be fought with any and all available weapons, which for Ms. Palin include volatile rhetoric, shading the truth, keeping her business arrangements secretive, and totally insulating herself from the "evil" media in order to preserve her "goodness."

The term “prayer warrior” describes a person who offers a specific kind of supplication: asking God to direct an unseen battle between forces of light and darkness—literal angels and demons—that some Christians believe is occurring all around us. A leading member of Wasilla’s Church on the Rock, the non-denominational evangelical congregation where Palin sometimes attends worship, confirmed this understanding of the term. When Palin thanks prayer warriors for keeping her covered, she is thanking them for calling on angels to shield her from demonic attacks.

The Diva syndrome is a condition of supreme ego and the conviction that the world exists for one's own pleasure or advancement.  Anyone who stands in the way of a Diva is scorned, destroyed verbally, or fired.  Teamwork or competence is not an issue, it's what I want when I want it and damn those who will stand in my way.

But the real concern is with Palin herself—they don’t want her to find out they have talked with a reporter, because of a suspicion that bad things will happen to them if she does. The salty, seen-it-all bartender at one of the town’s best restaurants says, “I wish you luck—but I like my job.” Has PalinTroopergate. The Alaska Legislative Council found in 2008 that Palin “abused her power” as governor in attempting to get Trooper Wooten fired.

Her Diva syndrome extended to her work style as governor.  She often clocked out after four hours and was completely unable to carry on extended conversations about budgeting or state business because of her lack of knowledge about math, logistics, or simply how things work.  Most of the actual administrative work was carried out by an aide who refused to talk to Mr. Gross for fear of reprisals.

Her famous family only reluctantly became part of the 2008 campaign. Ms. Palin did not, (yet another "fable") get the approval of her family.  Todd, her husband, suggested that the kids stay at home for their schooling, and a more secure environment, but Ms. Palin insisted on "having them around."  The kids rarely did homework, grades suffered, discipline lapsed but Ms. Palin was served and the kids were used shamelessly for specified promotions (suffering at the same time from negative exposure from the "lame stream media").

This is the Sarah Palin that is the prospective front-runner for the highest office in the land presented to us by the Tea Party dominated Republican Party.  This person who views her own self-interest as more important than her public service, who shamelessly uses her family for her own promotion, who keeps herself firmly inside the protective bubble provided by her handlers wants the most important public servant job of all. I'm wondering why? She's not an administrator, she's not competent at anything other than media manipulation, self promotion and personal charisma.  Even her children sometimes say the she's "pretending to be someone she's not."  This showed in her brief tenure as Governor of Alaska.

Even Palin’s strongest supporters say they feel confused by what their former governor has become. “She quit us,” says one Wasilla woman. “We elected her, and she left us.” 

She is a media personality, not a legitimate candidate for public office. I'm not sure or convinced that she even knows how to be a governor, much less President.  I wonder who will be pulling the strings, deciding policy, doing the mundane administrative chores, sitting meetings, etc. for her if she does declare her candidacy, neo-con supporter William Kristol perhaps?  George Bush was in the bubble? George Bush was incompetent and simplistic?  I've a feeling we haven't seen nothin' yet.

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