In completely unsurprising news, it appears that Sarah Palin is going to be (kind of sort of) joining the team at Fox News.
I write ‘kind of sort of’ because there aren’t a whole lot of details yet, but it looks like she won’t have her own show but will instead be a Fox Guestie. Of course, she may always change her mind, but I would think that Fox is smart enough to lock her into a solid contract. She will be BIG money/ratings for Fox. And I fully expect that this news has the GOP powermachine all anxious.
While I obviously am not a Palin fan, I don’t think that anyone can deny that the idea of Palin has become almost metaphysical. And not just to her supporters. “Palin” now represents, in a strange way, the ultimate expression of democracy. The sticking point there being, of course, that we are not a democracy. But the idea that anyone (yes, even YOU) could control the shots, combined with the idea that anyone (yes, even YOU) can override the current party system and define the country, pretty much has resulted in Palin-the-Idea.
However you look at it, it is a pretty empowering concept, which is why I don’t think that there is anything Palin (the person) could do to damage Palin (the idea). And that applies to both a pro-Palin sentiment AND an anti-Palin sentiment. Because what the meta-Palin represents to me is the fact that the conservative use of a social pyramid scheme (‘we the powerful will convince the powerless masses to support us against their better interests by pretending that they could one day be us’) has gone terribly awry. And, given, history, it was only a matter of time.
The conservative power base didn’t pick Palin. Well, they didn’t pick her to be the new face of the GOP. I don’t think they EVER intended for her, alone, to be able to wield ANY power. Instead, they picked a puppet VP candidate who looked, sounded, and worshipped like a big chunk of their voters, perhaps thinking that this would keep that chunk satisfied and willing to continue to support the Republican machine. My *personal* theory is that the GOP intentionally picked an uber-conservative woman to pander to the far right conservative voters because they thought there was no chance in hell that people would actually prefer an unqualified far-right female to a moderate male.
First, Palin was WAY more charismatic and acceptable than the GOP could have expected. I am guessing that they had no idea (see, e.g., Liddy Dole, Hillary Clinton, etc) that their voters would identify so absolutely with a female leader. So that when so many people IMMEDIATELY got on board with the idea of Palin as VP, the GOP machine must have just thought they had managed to placate their ubercon base. They had given the ubercon base a pawn in order the get the base to accept McCain as king; what the GOP didn’t realize was that the ubercons would make that pawn their queen.
Second, the ubercon base identified with Palin in a very personal and intimate way. She reflects their values. And she was very much a real outsider. I think that a lot of people looked at her and saw what they themselves might have been if they had been just a little smarter, luckier, or more ambitious. And I think that it was the ambition, surprisingly, that a lot of people respected. And so the people came to “own” Palin. So much so that when she refused to let the GOP pull her strings (even when she probably should have), the idea of Palin took hold. The idea of the rogue everyman. People had so internalized the Palin idea that any perceived insult or attack on her was personal and thus, unwarranted and unfounded. So that even when Palin did or said things that were simply objectively “bad” for politicians, there was always a justification for her existence. And usually that justification was the very fact that she did or said something completely wrong.
Third, the GOP machine made the mistake of thinking that they could shut Palin down. Thinking, perhaps, that if they didn’t give her the support and handlers that she needed, the public would see her as grossly incompetent and her star would fade. Instead, it just made McCain staffers look like tools. And make the ubercons take their queen and leave.
So, while I may not like Palin or Palin-the-Idea, I certainly appreciate that she represents the power that a particular group of voters can have in its party. While I don’t really think that she has the support to get elected in 2012, and I think that eventually the ever canny GOP will get its shit together and rein the ubercons back in, I’ve got to admit I’m a little jealous. I really wish *my* particular subset of people-who-vote-dem could get it together like that and force a uberlib on the Democrat Party.
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