Sarah Palin Pop Culture Celebrity
As we discussed on last night’s edition of OTB Radio, Sarah Palin is a story that simply refuses to go away. Despite the campaign being long over and her return to Alaska, where she had managed to live without notice in the lower 48 for years, controversies surrounding her continue to crop up.
Has a failed vice presidential nominee ever stayed in the news cycle nine months later?
There was even a mini-scandal over Sarah Palin’s toenails, of all things.
This week, a Vanity Fair piece dusted off stories of infighting inside the McCain-Palin campaign and CBS News is rehashing it as well. I don’t much care about the story, frankly, but I’m bemused by much of it. Despite having believed from Minute 1 that the Palin was an awful choice for the VP nomination, the idea that she had some duty to do whatever campaign manager Steve Schmidt instructed because he was “the commanding general” is absurd. Clearly, though, a lot of people on Team McCain bear a lasting animosity towards Palin, as if they blame her for losing a campaign that was so out of reach that they picked Sarah Palin as running mate.
Palin also managed to garner attention from a recent spread in, of all places, Runner’s World. First, it was because she looked a little un-governorlike in some of them.
Now, there’s concern in some circles that she used the American flag as a prop:
This one, too, strikes me as rather silly. But the upshot of all this, I think, is that Palin has crossed the line from politician to pop culture celebrity. A handful have done while retaining their gravitas. Palin hasn’t. And while she’s had some “help” in this regard, she’s largely done it by her own choices.
UPDATE: Amusingly, I no sooner finish this post than see Jim Geraghty has written a post dubbing Palin “The Angelina Jolie of Politics.”
Today almost everyone faces some sort of challenge in balancing work and family; I don’t know too many people who believe there are sufficient hours in a day. And then along comes this woman who’s made all of these “conservative” choices and now has an amazing career, a supportive husband, a beautiful family, great health and appearance, and she bears it all, including the inevitable hard times, with pluck and a smile, as far as we can tell. (For all we know, perhaps behind closed doors, Sarah Palin screams into a pillow when it all gets to be too much. But what we know about her suggests she relieves her stress by shooting moose.)
A short while back, Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum suggested, only half-jokingly, that actress Angelina Jolie’s “entire Oscar-winning, serial-adopting, Brad Pitt-snagging, plane-piloting, unattainably hot-looking existence makes women around the world feel hopelessly inadequate and therefore unhappy.” Perhaps Sarah Palin is the Angelina Jolie of the political world.
In her opponents’ minds, Palin’s made all the wrong choices, and cannot, they insist, be very bright. Yet she’s happy and successful. She is an anomaly that invalidates their worldview, and for that, they attempt to immiserate her — regardless of whether she wishes to run for national office again.
I think that’s one leap of pop psychology too far.