What is America? The default answer would include something about bootstraps, the lifting of which is available to anyone willing to work hard, regardless of background, in a land where all live free, and that, as long as you have a dream, you can aspire to success. Give it a few seconds and some qualifications trickle out, depending on your political affiliation. Trump’s addendums—hardly his alone—would include a couple of quips on the preponderance of the American military, the additional requirement of Christianity as one’s choice of faith, and the reminder that, though this was a country of immigrants, it never was a country meant to cater to them and it certainly does not, and should not, now. Sarah Palin further misconstrues what should be a straightforward answer, one noble in its simplicity. She popularized Joe Six-Pack, the do-it-all handyman for every male demographic Republicans seek to attract. In the process of political pandering, Mr. Six-Pack is meant to invoke the image of the ideal American—all of them, at the same time—though he works much better as an image of mockery.
So does Sarah Palin. She entered the mainstream political scene as John McCain’s running mate for the Vice Presidency. “You see he hired his nurse,” Chris Rock joked. Anybody who didn’t know who she was (all of us, I’d guess) would have felt a little more assured after hearing the first ten minutes of her acceptance speech. She was celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary on the day of her speech, she was a “hockey mom” who cared very much about her children, her son had just gone off to serve in Iraq, she fought special interests and was tired of politics-as-usual, a phrase much more popular now than it was then. We don’t expect much from our Vice Presidents and Palin certainly delivered just enough in that speech to quell initial reservations. But once we saw her stumble with basic policy questions, once it became clear to us that her solutions and criticisms amounted to little more than inchoate babble—thanks, Katie Couric!—we became deeply concerned that, should anything happen to John McCain once he assumed the presidency, this was the person who would be leading our country. That simply would not do.
McCain lost and Palin’s career took off. She became a personality, someone unhinged and answerable only to podiums and pre-recorded statements. She curated her rough, outdoorsy, mom persona and embedded herself deeper in the fringes of American politics, as if being Governor of the most out of the way state wasn’t enough.
Having recently re-emerged to present Trump with her endorsement, did we need any more justification for why he shouldn’t be president? No, but we can see the incomprehensible stand of the Republican Party, the elephant donning American flag overalls atop a camouflage onesie, which is always entertaining.
This is the party now, supposedly, home to anti-PC language. I say supposedly because the Republican candidates have simply substituted words. Ted Cruz, for example, introduced the phrase “New York values” and made several insinuations about what he meant, all the while not saying what he wanted to say. PC language. Ben Carson appears confused by language, not understanding the full extent of what carpet bombing would mean for civilians. The Republican Party, in general, doesn’t seem to understand language, at all. At the very least, they have very little knowledge of how they’ve used it.
While placating her Republican base, Palin condemns the very establishment they all belong to, wailing about the ills of crony capitalism and horrendous trade deals, all the while presenting Trump as the answer to it all, as if his presidency, once waived around like a miraculous baton, would solve, literally, everything. Curiously, though she calls out the failures of the majority Republican Congress, and the power of special interests, she still protects all the Republican and tea party members because, I imagine, they’ll really stand up for the GOP once Trump is elected. I feel that the phrase “Thanks, Obama” would sound really well coming from her. Her endorsement speech was a casting director’s dream: Palin was the absolute perfect person to deliver it. Her give-it-to-ya-straight delivery, the ain’t-gonna-take-it-anymore mannerisms—Palin didn’t so much as deliver a speech, as she did an entry to a poetry slam. Here’s an example:
Pro constitution, common sense solution that he brings to the table,
Yes, the status quo has got to go, otherwise we’re just gonna get more of the same.
And with their failed agenda, it can’t be salvaged—it must be savaged!
How can you keep from raising your hands and snapping your fingers in appreciation of such honesty? Chills. I got chills.
With Palin, I always get chills. But they’re from cringing, impinging lines of supposed government lies that Trump can destroy, and let me tell ya, oh boy, he’s gonna do it. That was the structure of her entire speech, and anything she said in the beginning was later contradicted or complicated by the end. That’s been the strategy of the GOP: Say whatever inflammatory and hateful thing you want at the beginning, and by the time we get to it again at the end no one will have remembered and we’ll sound much more reasonable at that point. Just think of Nikki Haley’s response to President Obama’s last State of the Union—she was praised as what the party should look like, that this was what the GOP stood for. But she failed to denounce Trump’s acerbic proscriptions. Ann Coulter opined that Governor Haley should be deported. The GOP thinks there’s room for both.
Sarah Palin, and her endorsement of Trump, show me otherwise.