The Corner

Ouch! Yes, It’s Palin Again

Dr. Grace Vuoto of the Edmund Burke Institute is a leading social conservative in Washington, D.C. Here’s her just-published take on Sarah Palin’s recent maneuverings:

Rather than stating her intentions, she is deliberately flirting with the media, indicating she may jump in at any time—or perhaps not. This strategy is tarnishing her image: Again, she appears to be more interested in bolstering her celebrity status rather than being a serious political figure and doing what is best for the nation.

. . . .

Mrs. Palin has failed to give a very good reason as to what is taking so long for her to make up her mind. Recently, when Fox News host Sean Hannity asked her whether she would seek the Republican nomination, she said she is still weighing family considerations. For the rest of us, that takes about one hour: one conversation with our spouse usually resolves whether the family can undertake a new plan. It does not take months to determine what a family is ready for.

The truth is that her family is not her main consideration.

. . . .

Since 2008 Mrs. Palin has sacrificed her political career to promote her pocketbook; this strategy is yielding ever-diminishing returns. She has chosen the path of style over substance.

Mrs. Palin famously quipped in 2008 that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. Mr. Obama subsequently noted that a pig with lipstick  “is still a pig.” Since then, Mrs. Palin has constantly pursued celebrity over credible politics in a time of national crisis. Hence, the biggest pig in the room with lipstick on it turned out to be the half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. [NB. A factual error in this last paragraph in the original column was subsequently corrected by Dr. Vuoto. This is the corrected version. — MP]

Now, I am not what could reasonably be called a Palin fan. The list of people I would rather see as president is staggeringly long — the number of names on it would probably reach the eight-figures range before one would encounter a listing for “Palin, Sarah.” But I think Dr. Vuoto undersells Palin’s accomplishment in creating her current stratospheric level of media stardom. More important, I think Vuoto has an endearingly anachronistic misunderstanding of what “credible politics” is. As I have written here before, we are living in a political Age of Celebrity in which candidates like Palin and Obama can thrive. I concede that neither Obama nor Palin has so far demonstrated any ability or qualification to be president. But — unlike Obama, who asked for the job — Palin is under no obligation to do this. Don’t blame her for understanding the New Rules of politics, and playing by them. If she actually runs, and even more so if she wins, her obligations will be different. In the meantime, she is a media creation who has succeeded in turning the tables on the media, and in exploiting them to a fare-thee-well in pursuit of personal fame and fortune. She is the symbol of our age, the embodiment of many of our contemporary culture’s values. Again — I can’t stress this enough — I’m not saying she should be president. I’m just saying that blaming her for living her life the way she does is like a faulting a fish for liking its native ocean.

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