I Care About Palin, Why?

Posted on 22. Nov, 2009 by in Uncategorized

Palin Book Tour

Sarah Palin at a book-signing event in Henrietta, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Sarah Palin is everywhere.

News sites, blogs, TV, a strip mall near you. At this point, I half expect the former governor of Alaska to message me in my Google inbox: “Don’t cha know I have a new book?”

I guess this book and its adjoining tour is a big deal. Palin was the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, and any book written by an almost-VP deserves some media attention. But thousands of people camping out over night for an appearance like it’s the Duke/UNC game?

Certainly it has more to do with Palin’s public status than her writing prowess. I haven’t read “Going Rogue”–and I won’t–but I’m comfortable assuming it won’t be mistaken for Hemingway. So the question turns to: just why is Palin still so damn popular?

It’s something I had been struggling to figure out until the answer dawned on me this morning. It happened while reading Maureen Dowd’s column “Visceral Has Its Values.” As is usually the case, I disagreed with most of what Dowd wrote, but her column did help illuminate something for me. Part of Dowd’s argument is that democrats, Obama in particular, should take note of the “visceral” power that Palin has. Writes Dowd:

Obama showed a flair for the theatrical during his campaign, and a talent for narrative in his memoir, but he has yet to translate those skills to governing.

As with the debates, he seems resistant to the idea that perception, as well as substance, matters. Obama so values pragmatism, and is so immersed in the thorny details of legislative compromises, that he may be undervaluing the connective bonds of simpler truths.

And, a bit later:

Palin can be stupefyingly simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is impressively complex but he seems static.

She nurtures her grass roots while he neglects his.

When I read these passages, what sticks out is how Dowd describes the two. Obama is a politician. Palin is a B-List celebrity. Dowd even calls Palin a “conservative celebrity” before referencing Obama’s below 50 percent approval rating a few paragraphs later.

Now, I’m not sure why Palin ever got so popular in the first place, and maybe I never will be. But it makes sense why her popularity remains strong now. Remember when Obama was on the campaign trail, giving speeches and dropping sound bytes, rousing the masses and inspiring thoughts of hope? Of course you do, it led to his election.

What happened then? Well, he got bogged down with, you know, being president.

But Palin doesn’t face that. She’s a celeb concerned with pushing her image first and just about all else second. Her political thoughts (when coherent) are about as consequential as a threat from a two-year-old. “Awww, that’s cute.”

It’s pretty easy for the public to be happy with Palin. She’s not making decisions that affect their health care or their friends/relatives in Afghanistan.

At the end of yesterday’s article about her Michigan book stop, there was this passage:

“I’m looking forward to her giving me hope,” said Cheryl Geraty, waiting in the rain in Grand Rapids.

That sounded something like Mr. Obama, who had effectively started his own campaign for the White House on a book tour in 2006. No, Ms. Geraty said, shaking her head and smiling, “It’s a different kind of hope.”

Yeah, an inconsequential one.

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2 Responses to “I Care About Palin, Why?”

  1. Nicholas Martinez

    22. Nov, 2009

    The only reason why anyone gives her any attention is because she’s attractive and folksy, she doesn’t rattle any cages and she’s talks in a twang. America sops that stuff up like gravy. It just goes to show you just how dumb and superficial Americans truly are.

  2. Carla

    23. Nov, 2009

    I question the assertion that Palin is popular. I think more attention should be paid to, popular among whom and does that group equal “the American public”? I tend to think “the American public” likes Palin because she entertains not because she’s a politician who cares about policy… which is what politicians do when they’re not talking to us. Palin wants to famous, like “Fame, I wanna live forever” type-fame. There’s nothing wrong with that but that said, I don’t get the comparison between her and Obama or any other politician.