Sarah Palin, the Musical
The media is ecstatic that the Palin show is playing again. And the timing of Going Rogue may be just right.
That Sarah Palin, what a tease! This book tour of hers is one of the all-time great hoochie coochie dances. The tea partiers are lining up like rubes at the “Direct from Gay Par-ee!” tent at the Dingleberry County Fair. The star attraction knows that you may take it off, but you don’t take it all off. As governor, she left the stage when she still had her political pasties on. As “author,” she knows that the key is to take off just enough to keep the crowd transfixed and wanting more, but not so much as to stand revealed in all her nakedness.
While Palin has been back in Alaska dictating imagined grievances to a ghost, America itself is mired in grievances that are all too real.
Maybe she doesn’t always get the proportions right, but it’s unwise to underestimate her. The timing of Going Rogue—a.k.a. “the most substantive book on policy” that Rush Limbaugh has ever read—couldn’t be better. The media are dying for relief after three months of health care, Afghanistan, and the economic slump. Obama’s cerebral aloofness makes him a cold fish in a hot medium, and Michelle, who used to provide the human crackle, looked as downcast as her husband’s latest poll numbers when peddling health care to seniors last week. • Tina Brown: Sarah Palin Drops the Act While Palin has been back in Alaska dictating imagined grievances to a ghost, America itself is mired in grievances that are all too real. Palin is hitting the airwaves at a time when crossover voters in the last election have been left without prospects by the self-dealings of a callous financial elite. There’s a growing lack of connection to a passion-free president whose advisers all seem to be chosen from the same bloodless class. There’s an uneasy longing for something or someone to punish. Hence the desire on the right to prove, before there is evidence, that the Fort Hood shooter was a terrorist rather than a nut case.
• Michiko Kakutani: Memoir Is Palin’s Payback to McCain Camp (NYT)• Max Blumenthal: Palin’s Literary Partners • Gallery: A Palin Wardrobe Primer• Lee Siegel: Leave Palin Alone• More Daily Beast contributors on Palin’s book tour. Not that Palin betrays in Going Rogue the slightest clue how to provide any answers to the hornet’s nest of problems swarming around Obama. Her book offers just the usual stale jeremiad about "fiscal responsibility" and a need to return to the policies of Ronald Reagan. Anyone want to guess whether she’s found the time to read that copy of The Looming Tower that McCain adviser Steve Schmidt gave her when she joined the campaign so she could bone up on the roots of terror in Afghanistan? She spends so many pages trashing Schmidt in her own book we never find out. One of the problems with the Republican argument right now is that government red ink isn’t your No. 1 bugaboo when you’re wondering how you’re going to hang on to what’s left of what you thought was your life. Just as the GOP’s representatives in Congress don’t seem to recognize that a majority of their constituents want a public option in the health plan (despite poll numbers resoundingly telling them just that), they don’t seem to understand that the American public is willing to load the government with debt if doing so will pull this economy back from the brink. It’s an index of the fog we’re in that Palin’s confrontational ignorance still feels refreshing to a lot of Americans. With waves of sullen anger rolling through the country, her stringent vitality, her media mistakes, her unpredictability, and her pert victimology at least give us a reality show everyone wants to watch. Someday there’s going to be a Broadway musical about Sarah, maybe based on the book. I see Going Rogue! (the exclamation point will be a must) as a blockbuster in the tradition of Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, and Funny Girl. Or, come to think of it, Evita. Every 40-plus diva on both coasts will fight for the starring role. And there will be juicy parts for those cast as Todd, Bristol, and Levi. What a hoot—except that this musical isn’t a comedy. Just by being out there again, Palin will fuel the tea party cranks, the talk-show ranters, and the suicidal wing of the GOP with the sheer force of her Q rating. To many people who feel marginalized and left behind, Palin’s brashness seems to represent clarity when in fact she represents ignorance. David Brooks might consider Sarah Palin “a joke” and “a potential talk-show host,” as he told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. And he’s probably right that there’s no way she can actually get elected president. But that won’t necessarily stop her from getting the nomination. I have a persistent hallucination: Sarah Palin atop the GOP ticket in 2012, running with—yes, Lou Dobbs. Just to add a bit of gravitas.
Tina Brown is the founder and editor in chief of The Daily Beast. She is the author of the 2007 New York Times bestseller The Diana Chronicles . Brown is the former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Talk magazines and host of CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown .