Becoming the caricature

Interesting take on Sarah Palin by Ross Douthat at The New York Times:

Palin was caricatured viciously, but in response she decided to essentially become the caricature, giving her enemies exactly the kind of Spiro Agnew-in-heels performance they expected, and then chasing celebrity in destructive (if lucrative) ways once the initial firestorm around her subsided. The only thing that can be said in her defense is that her choices, while misguided, have been very, very human.

Douthat was extrapolating on a piece by John Podhoretz discussing Palin’s descent from a socially conservative good-government reformer able to think outside the ideological box to a shrieking self-made martyr more interested in self-promotion than anything else.

The fault here lay not with her attackers but within her. She embarrassed herself in two interviews, and decided the blame lay not with her own ill-preparedness but with the media that had come after her. Understandably enraged by the misogynistic and practically psychotic attacks on her, she came to embrace her status as a kind of martyr for the social-conservative views that had not been the truly distinguishing features of her meteoric political career up to that moment.

I had never heard of Sarah Palin before she landed on John McCain’s short list for VP, and I’ve never seen much about her to admire, beyond her ability to read a speech someone else wrote in a folksy, determined way. You betcha. I think she has been a toxic influence on American discourse, and I hope her 15 minutes ends soon. But for those who once admired her, I think these pieces (and The Atlantic article by Joshua Green that inspired them) do a pretty good job of explaining her fall.

3 Responses to Becoming the caricature

  1. Kristen says:

    I can only hope she’s truly fallen. I grant that she is physically attractive (a welcome change in politics) but I still can’t account for why so many people would vote for her, or even go hear her speak. On top of that, she has opened the door to Christine O’Donnell and other pretty women with kooky political agendas and sketchy qualifications (I nearly included Michelle Bachman there but I’ll grant her some validity). Sarah Palin’s admittedly unintentional role in the last several years has seemed to be, “how far can I push the American people before they stop thinking of me as a political candidate”? And it surprises me that we haven’t quite gotten there yet. At least not if you consider CNN – which seems to be enamored of her – a harbinger of current politics. However, I think this says more about the party divisiveness that rules the nation right now than Sarah Palin – people want to believe that because she says things, they are true, and as a result, give her too much credit for saying them.

  2. Mary Louise Byrne says:

    After hearing Obama’s measured and articulate interviews about the bin Laden excursion, it is impossible for me to figure out why Palin would even be put in the same category. I don’t understand what has happened to the republican party overall. Although I have never voted republican, they used to have some very impressive moderates — remember Everett Dierksen?

  3. joe mostowey says:

    I used to Vote Republican, Watergate and the Conta affair put me off, as there was no personal responsibility, no integrity and honor as a group, and no punishments ever meted out.

    In the 1990’s I voted republican in state elections, and then watched them under the guise of privatization gut the state workforces, replacing them with expensive consultants, – who’s companies made generous contributions to these same politicians, giving them employment opportunities – all made legal by the Governors and General assembly. You rarely hear of a Virginian politician being arrested or put on trial – it’s not because they are more honest than other state’s politicians. on the contrary – much of what is legal in Virginia as far as politicians are concerned, is illegal in the federal sphere, and in other states.

    New Jersey and New York Politicians are not more crooked than Virginia’s – Their states just have stricter laws, better ethics and actually have investigations of politicians wrong doings.

    Here in Virginia, If the Federal Government had not intervened, Phil Hamilton would have walked away Scott free. Our “attorney general” had no interest in the case, Our “Governor” had no interest in the case, and Because he was not re-elected, our General Assembly had no interest in the case.

    Yet what is different about Phil Hamilton accepting a Job for Legislation, and the Attorney general, who accepted Campaign contributions from the Navy Veterans Charity, a fraudulent organization – and then refusing to investigate them? Or our esteemed Governor taking an $80,000 dollar campaign contribution from Northrup Grumman, A state contractor, in legal default, who after the election was given an increase in contract length, and increase in payments, a decrease in oversight and allowed to directly report to the governor for oversight?

    There have been zero improvements in performance, in fact several large scale failures have cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Yet We hear nothing from state ethics committees.

    Just like in Watergate and in the Contra affair.

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