Digression: How to Handle a Palin

Sarah Palin

When Sarah Palin speaks, you must not listen. It's a celebrity trap. (Photo by sskennel/Flickr

There is one overwhelming worry — and one only — that is shared equally by today’s Democrats and Republicans: not war, not deficit spending, not climate change, but what to do about Sarah Palin. Here, as a post-partisan public service, is the answer.

We must first understand what Sara Palin is. She is a celebrity. She is, as Abraham Lincoln observed of Edward Everett (the featured speaker at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg) well known for being well known. She did not get her celebrity by doing anything, it was given to her by John McCain when he anointed her as a candidate for vice president, with about as much thought as he gave to the selection of that day’s necktie. She is not famous for her leadership or her thought or her tenacity; she is famous for her fame.

Celebrities inhabit a parallel universe that operates under laws of a very different nature. Life there is based not on carbon, but on TV face time. Their planet is awash not with water, but with sex appeal (and Sarah Palin knows this very, very well). And the oxygen that a celebrity must have in uninterrupted, abundant supply is attention.

In our world, fame attaches to those who, say, write a brilliant book every four or five years, or who make a profound scientific discovery once or twice in a lifetime. Not so on Planet Celebrity, where to be out of the limelight is to be out of air. In our world, when a politician, for example, gets caught exhibiting immorality, treachery, greed or profound stupidity, he gathers his suffering family around him, holds a weepy news conference and disappears from public view for at least a few months. That is the nature of shame in our society. On Planet Celebrity, the news conference is the point of the exercise, because if it’s well done a contract with Fox Television or CNN — TV face time that you get paid for — follows immediately.

So we can see now what everybody’s been doing wrong about Palin. When she says something that is breathtakingly stupid, some Democrat or Republican holds a news conference or engineers a wiki-leak to point out how stupid that was. Which gives Palin the chance to hold another news conference to complain about gender discrimination, and to go on Oprah to explain how downtrodden she is. Far from experiencing shame, she gets more oxygen. She wins.

On Planet Celebrity, down is up, and water thrown on a fire, explodes. To put a celebrity’s fire out, you must smother it with inattention.

Listen up, anti-Palinists. The next time a reporter runs up to you with a breathless acount of the latest vapid utterance of Sister Sarah, here’s what you do: adopt an expression of sorrowful sympathy, say, “Did she, really?” and walk away. Say nothing more. The next time, say, “How sad,” or “You know, I just feel for her family.” And shut up.

If everybody does this, consistently, after just a few weeks Ms. Palin will implode like a vampire caught in the sun. But it’s going to require that a lot of politicians, who desperately want to be celebrities, give up face time on TV that is available in unlimited quantities to those who want to discuss the Palin Philosophy. So it will be difficult, but as leaders of the nation you are well aware that short-term pain is often required for the good of the county.

So good luck. And you’re welcome.

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6 Responses to Digression: How to Handle a Palin

  1. Neal R. Bruckman says:

    Sarah Palin was clearly (and continues to be) the best-qualified of all four candidates
    for national office in November 08. Her celebrity is based not upon “being famous for being famous” but on her ability to give voice to the hopes and dreams of the vast majority of the American people. his the totally tone-deaf Obama will never be able to do. Obama’s efforts to turn the United States into a European-type Social Democratic state will fail, like all of his other initiatives already have. I hope that Sarah’s
    leadership will help him do so.

    • cathy says:

      I agree Neal, she was elected Mayor, before she was elected govenor, before she became a best selling author and then joined a very small elect group of women being nominated to run as vice president (Geraldine F. is her only cohort I believe) and then she got trashed by McCain, investigated by the media and trashed by the democrates. And people still love her if they have done any independent thinking about her. She may not be everyones cup of tea for President, but she is a force that can’t be shut-up and that scares a lot of politically thick minded people on all sides of the fence.

  2. RJ Caster says:

    Didn’t President Obama ride a wave of celebrity into the White House? Surely, I do not agree that Mrs. Palin has proven herself capable or worthy of the office of the Presidency, but neither did Freshman Senator Obama. PS, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” was running through my head while I read this…

    • tomlewis says:

      The difference, I think, is that Obama became well known for his thought and actions. For example, lots of people speak to political conventions, but very rarely in such a way as to become instantly a person of national interest. As he moved higher in office, of course he became better known, but it seems to me this is fame, distinct from celebrity, because it was earned. No one anointed Obama, or paid his way (as they did for GW Bush) to the top of the political food chain, where Palin was tossed by McCain and now teeters in per pumps. (I was humming “How to Handle a Woman” from Camelot.)

  3. cathy says:

    I was wondering what news media you were listening to — to get get such an uuniformed opionion of Palin? Men (and women alike)are threatened by her because she is pretty and smart. No she didn’t go to a recognized “political prep me for public office college” and yes she has a funny accent. But as I have gotten to know more about our great state of Alaska I realize alot of people talk that way up there. It’s a bit refreashing to hear my Canadian side of the family accent in the media even though it is politically incorect. As far as her not doing anything try these on for size: she WAS loved by the democrats when she forced the corrupt repulicans out of public office, she battled against Exxon and got an annual paycheck for every Alaskan from the oil companies (by the way they do that in one of the Canadian provinces too). And as far as celebrity goes she was a hero in Alaska long before McCain threw her to the wolves. The number one selling book in Alaska pre-McCain was Palin it was in all the bookstores and grocery stores for more than a year. She also became a loving spokeswomen for mothers of disabled children and teen/un-wed pregnancy. One additional thought she gave that fantastic speech at the rebulican convention off the top of her head. In best management style she insisted that her staff get her a copy of her old notes, the teleprompters were up and ready with the final edit and everything crashed. She made most of her extemporanious comments off the cuff. It is a spectacular achievement that I can tell you now is being studied by conservative womens educational institutions all over the country. Of course the problem is that liberals think she is stupid and they discredit her for her achievements. I believe they work hard at this because they are afraid of the force that she has the ability to become.(almost like a Thatcher, by the way did you read Thatchers open letter to Palin in Newsweek?) The democrates are trying to kill Palin now before she can get stronger, it’s kind of like killing your young because they don’t tow the partyline, remember they loved her when she was a republican going after republicans. I’ll finish by saying “shame on all the wolves (rep/dem/media) for devouring those who are trying to make a difference outside the politically correct box. We the people are smart enough and care enough to figure out who is ready and who isn’t ready to lead.” The only exception was Obama, he became President by voting “present” he has no executive leadership experience, the media is only now exposing what they didn’t expose during the campaign. This is evidenced by the five liberal news broadcasters that have quit CNN and MSNBC and joined FOX. They are still liberal and still prefer the big government way but they are on FOX. FOX must be a little more fair and balanced than we are willing to admit.

  4. Theobromine says:

    Sarah Palin – someone called her dumb!

    I do not think Palin is dumb as far as her own interests go. I have not confirmed but have seen that she gets $100,000 for an appearance. She has a country charm and beauty not unlike EllieMae or Daisy Dukes. Those NASCAR guys will vote for her. She does not speak for Republican women who have dozens of other brilliant, hard-working choices that have been in office for 10-20 years in DC and are humiliated that she is getting the attention. She has tapped the Lindsey Lohan motherlode of “all press is good press”. She has branded herself as a character more successfully than any other political woman, “Caribou Barbie”. She also knows the power of outsourcing – she can get other people to run the country just like she got ghostwriters for her books. She has beaten George W. at his own game. Girls just wanna have fun! Let the serious politicians get over it and watch her step over their fallen campaigns through the power of Twitter! (I shudder)