Sometimes art imitates life, sometimes life imitates art, and sometimes people get the two confused.
It would be impossible to document the full depth, scope and scale of the mass-media savagery of former US Republican VP and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. It would be even more impossible to document the all the evidence which debunks every piece of dirt that has been raked up to bury her. The National Review does a magnificent job of trying, with this standout line on the snobbery of the elite:
"While we rightly argue that the Sarahs of the world, if they are to be taken seriously as leaders, must read and study more, why do we not also suggest that the Baracks of the world could do a little more chain-sawing, run a coffee shop for a summer, or drive a Winnebago cross-country? (Who knows, he might meet a fellow woodcutter who knew there were 50 states or that it was dumb to make fun of the Special Olympics.)
Vanity Fair magazine, whose name alone reminds you that they are better than you, recently ran a drive-by assault on Palin by one Todd Purdum. The piece was called It came from Wasilla. The title of the article, equally, reminding you that they are the self-confessed authorities on pop culture narrative and you must accept their view uncritically, lest you want to feel tragically left out.
Here's the standard pop culture narrative on Palin, or as it is known by those who think somewhat more critically, Palin Derangement Syndrome;
She's a political joke. She said "I can see Russia from my house" (a line parroted by a previously unheard-of comedienne, which many to this day still attribute to Palin...seriously). She didn't know that Africa wasn't a country (an unchecked, unattributed claim "leaked" to a popular blog, totally false, yet adopted by mainstream press)...
She has no experience for the office position, a lightweight (despite having more administration experience than Obama). Everything she says is stupid (yet Democrat VP Joe Biden is seemingly unable to open his mouth without having to change feet)...
(Take a breath) she's a crackpot creationist (even though her Pa was a science teacher, a subject she majored in). And Matt Damon scoffed at this being a concern for someone who "could have the nuclear codes". Yes, that wonderfully cool guy in those Bourne movies. The actor. The one who is paid to be something he's not.
(Another breath) she shoots moose, poisons wolves, and murders salmon. Which means her idea of "Right to Life" extends only to humans. How backwards is that?
And so on. All uncritically accepted, rehearsed and repeated throughout pop culture.
And none of it actually real. Although, like all good lies, based on a (heavily spun) grain of truth.
So, this Vanity Fair piece has Palin with "clouds of tabloid conflict and controversy that swirl around her and her extended clan" and then lists some, in a (vain?) attempt to appear coherent. I do so love it when the media tell us there is scandal, and then promptly fabricate some, often from thin air, in order for their claim to ring true, just in case you actually read past the headline and into the hyperbole.
Here's a taste of Purdum's list, a little light on supporting evidence:-
-a slew of formal ethics complaints against her in her home state.
These included a complaint that she wore a jacket with a small logo relating to her husband's fishing business during an impromptu TV interview. At current count, 15 out of 15 dismissed as frivolous. You'd think this would count as relevant in Purdum's narrative, but relevance has never been a strong point amongst those who are trying to make a strong point.
By the way, this ethics complaint system, born from the right ideas, has turned into a ridiculous hate-fest much like the Victorian Vilification Laws which tried to stop pastors speaking truth here. The complainants pay nothing for the fun of ruining others' lives with baseless lies.
- surprise pregnancies.
This is controversial? Well, I suppose it would be to those who would much rather abort their 5th pregnancy upon learning it's a Down Syndrome child. That's so much more enlightened. And let's face it Vanity Fair readers, having any children is inconvenient.
- the two-bit blood feuds.
Since Purdum is not big on providing references and evidence, it's not entirely clear what is being referred to here. Perhaps he means the "Troopergate" incident, where Palin dismissed a state trooper for Tasering a 14 year old boy. Actually, she offered the trooper a re-assignment and he quit. Purdum doesn't clarify whether or not painfully Tasering a 14 year old boy is considered "controversial". Had Palin dispensed of said trooper using a Moose rifle, Purdum might have had the makings of a valid point.
That one belongs in the standard Palin Derangement Syndrome list. Along with
- "she had over $150,000 worth of clothes supplied during the GOP campaign". Clothes which were returned- washed and dry cleaned I believe.
- The scandalous "Family Travel expenses on the Republican campaign trail". The only thing scandalous there is that she offered to personally reimburse a proportion of them, when the hundreds of other statesmen and women who rack up the same manner of expenses do not.
It's ironic that, like most people, I knew and cared little for the subject of Sarah Palin's VP selection in '08. In fact, I'd heard of Bristol Palin before Sarah. The time elapsed between the announcement of the Republican VP pick and the hordes of media rummaging through her garbage (literally), was about equal to the flight time of a Piper from the Lower 48 to Alaska. At least they had lots of daylight once there to rummage around for dirt.
Nope, I really didn't know much about Palin then. But I'm simply so fond of using pop culture narrative as a barometer of how little truth prevails in the info-tainment media, that I just had to find out. So, thanks to Palin Derangement Syndrome, she has another fan Down Under.
Which brings me to my favourite soundbyte from the Vanity Fair piece. Purdum states that "Palin's life has sometimes played out like an unholy amalgam of Desperate Housewives and Northern Exposure".
My, how quick are the info-tainment media to use a TV Show analogy. Why? Because that's the world they live in.
You see, serial liar Michael Moore and several other self-righteous activists insisted that Sarah's youngest, Trig, was not actually hers, but was an out-of-wedlock birth to then-16-year-old daughter Bristol, covered up to avoid a scandal. They even demanded to see the birth certificate (this, from people who insist that seeing the birth certificate of the president is not necessary). This fable was echoed on news blogs everywhere, even down here, and by people who didn't care if it wasn't true.
Yes, a plot which comes straight from the script of Desperate Housewives. Perhaps I shouldn't scorn the media so much for creating fantasy. Perhaps I should pity them, as their minds are ruled by their own creations. In layman's terms, they believe their own lies.
I rather like Desperate Housewives. It's fun. The difference is, I know it's not real. On the other hand, Mr. Purdum, Palin's life is quite real. It's your writing which reads like an unholy amalgam of TV soaps, sitcoms and women's gossip magazines.
UPDATE: Alaskan Governor's office announces a 19th "Ethics Complaint" against Palin, one of them illegally published in the media by the complainant, a breach of the very same ethics laws! How apt...
Campaign Spot story here
Real Clear Politics