Friday, December 4, 2009

The Chief's Person of the Year: Sarah Palin

It occurred to me this morning that there is just no getting around it: this year belonged to Sarah Palin.

I can't think of a single person who can summon a scrum of reporters by doing next to nothing. Sure, Barack Obama's life is probably more scrutinized and analyzed, but he's the President. Palin's just ... well, Sarah Palin.

And yet even with attention that most politicians would sell their mothers for, she's done nothing to further a political career. She quit a cushy job as governor of Alaska, needlessly fought with the father of her grandchild in public, alienated many supporters with a spotty record of making public appearances and threw campaign staffers overboard. None of these thing will endear her to people who could get her elected.

Her memoir and subsequent book tour were huge successes -- but the book was "self-serving and omitted several significant details," demonstrated zero command of policy, and was filled with so much score settling that it will almost certainly come back to haunt her in the future. She continues to fight with a media that she should be manipulating. Her approval numbers have plummeted. This is a person who is not taking advantage of some serious post-election media attention.

So what's next for Palin? Beats the hell out of me. Palin has clearly demonstrated that she's incapable of being a serious candidate for President, so that pretty much leaves her the "political celebrity" niche. But she's not very good at being that either (one needs more than a FaceBook and Twitter account to manage the kind of fan base she controls). Furthermore, her celebrity is intimately tied to the possibility that she could run for President. The instant that ceases to be a realistic scenario, she will stop attracting as much attention.

There are three people who absolutely love Sarah Plain: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton. Much of the silliness and pettiness that comes with being President hasn't really affected Obama, and I'd posit that much of that has to do with the Sarah Palin sideshow filling much of that vacuum. In case you haven't noticed, Mitt Romney has been conspicuously quiet since last November. That's because it's best not to interrupt your opponent when she's hanging herself. Lastly, the more ridiculous that Palin appears to the public, the more Presidential Hillary Clinton seems and the more likely she is to become the Dems' heir apparent after Obama. If you want to thrown in a fourth, let it be the press. Contrary to what Palin and other conservatives think, the media loves her. She makes their lives easy and profitable.

I don't know how long the nation will have to endure Sarah Palin. It's likely that her star will lose some luster sooner or later, but this was her year. Don't be surprised if she gets the nod from Time -- it's a sure fire way to sell some magazines.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is one of the worst things that has happened to this country in recent memory. She is living proof of how far at least some segments of this country have strayed from the principles of democracy and how irresponsible the media can be in the pursuit of profits over the pursuit of truth. John McCain should have to answer for what he did in selecting her to be his VP and elevating her to the national stage.