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.