As much as I hate to admit it, Sarah Palin is not going away any time soon and I feel forced to try to understand her appeal. Michael Joseph Gross gives her an in depth profile in Vanity Fair that comes as close as anything to describing the human car crash that is the Palin debacle in progress:
Backstage in the arena, a little girl in Mary Janes pushes her brother in a baby carriage, stopping a few yards shy of a heavy, 100-foot-long black curtain. The curtain splits the arena in two, shielding the children from an audience of 4,000 people clapping their hands in time to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The music accompanies a video “Salute to Military Heroes” that plays above the stage where, in a few moments, the children’s mother will appear.
When the girl, Piper Palin, turns around, she sees her parents thronged by admirers, and the crowd rolling toward her and the baby, her brother Trig, born with Down syndrome in 2008. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, bend down and give a moment to the children; a woman, perhaps a nanny, whisks the boy away; and Todd hands Sarah her speech and walks her to the stage. He pokes the air with one finger. She mimes the gesture, whips around, strides on four-inch heels to stage center, and turns it on.
And how. Palin and the crowd might as well be one. She’s glad to be here with the people of Independence, Missouri, “where so many of you proudly cling to your guns and your religion”—the first laughline in a 40-minute stump speech that alludes to many of the perceived insults she and her audience have suffered together, and that transforms their resentments into badges of honor. Palin waves her scribbled-on palm to the crowd, proclaiming that she’s using “the poor man’s teleprompter.” Of the Obama administration, she says, “They talk down to us. Especially here in the heartland. Oh, man. They think that, if we were just smart enough, we’d be able to understand their policies. And I so want to tell ’em, and I do tell ’em, Oh, we’re plenty smart, oh yeah—we know what’s goin’ on. And we don’t like what’s goin’ on. And we’re not gonna let them tell us to sit down and shut up.”
The crowd’s ample applause at these lines swells to something vastly bigger when Palin vows defiantly that “come November, we’re taking our country back!”The phrase plays on the name of this event, “Winning America Back,” which has been billed as a Tea Party rally organized by a grassroots Missouri political-action committee that no one had heard of until a few months ago, when the event was announced.
Behind the curtain, Piper plays with other children, oblivious to the speech. She runs in circles, plays hide-and-seek, poses for snapshots, and generally acts as if she were in another world—until she gets the signal to do her job: march to the podium, pick up Palin’s speech, and allow Palin to make a public display of maternal affection.
On cue, Piper parts the curtain. As the child appears, a loud and doting “Awww” melts through the crowd.
Sarah Palin’s connection with her audience is complete. People who admire her believe she is just like them, and this conviction seems to satisfy their curiosity about the objective facts of her life. Those whose curiosity has not been satisfied have their work cut out for them. Palin has been a national figure for barely two years—John McCain selected her as his running mate in August 2008. Her on-the-record statements about herself amount to a litany of untruths and half-truths…
[continues in Vanity Fair]
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