Palin Redux: Still Crazy Dumb After All These Years

SNL Satire Downplayed Her Fraudulence

Awash with grim, hard times, and pained by Robin Williams’ tragic departure, those of us whose survival depends on comic interludes have not yet abandoned hope. Did not Williams show the way, mining laughter from misery? There are goofy right wing stalwarts, like Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Louis Gohmert, still parading as lords of misrule. But who matches Sarah Palin as clueless clown – blundering on, immutably dense, feet firmly cemented in mouth? Her latest, get-rich-quick stunt – her subscription-only TV channel about all things Palin. What a deal, for only ten bucks a month? Are bikini-laden, gun-toting NRA ads on tap?

Who guessed, in the meantime, Palin would overtly sabotage the core mantra of her party’s free-market capitalism? In her latest book she bizarrely skewers the notion that compensation, sanctified by that invisible market hand, isn’t the recipient’s sacred property, menaced by taxation thievery. The jealous, unintentionally funny Palin taunts Tiny Fey of Saturday Night Life with faux outrage, urging her to share “all the money that you made off of pretending that you’re me.”

Of course, Palin doesn’t really mean “all,” for that smacks of socialistic Comrade Obama. Palin never means exactly what she says, even when printed. What’s fetching (to her fans) and maddening (to rationalists) is how little “there there” occupies her non-stop word-salad. Perhaps such public incoherence, though, answers to a perverse American freedom to foster any crazed train of thought, however lacking “engine” or destination.

Hypocrisy is thine: will Caribou Barbie share the treasures she pocketed by “pretending” to be an adult leader? Does not Palin reveal, by now unilaterally dragging up her greatest mortification, she’s even dumber than the figure skewered in ’08 by SNL: “I know that they portrayed me as an idiot, and I hated that.” But not fed up in six years enough to offset her insularity (say, with education) nor reverse an indelible image of goofiness in our national memory bank. Do not the dumbest among us reinforce stupidity by never learning from disastrous experiences?

Pretense of a Fake Fake

Still reveling in willful ignorance, Palin misses what Fey most dramatized about this wannabe V.P. – not mere ignorance about governance but that insipid, sneering conviction that valued NOT knowing. Smug, right wing righteousness, in command of so much truth no more need be sought, was the satiric target – ridiculing the delusion better educated, more intelligent folks must be nervy, elitist intellectuals. What “true American” doesn’t intuit that hunting moose, while shunning “book learnin,” better trains you for international tussles with the Putins?

In retrospect, I challenge Palin’s distortion that Fey “pretended” to be her, as if mimicking a real person. Fey targeted not the actual Palin but her phony campaign persona, thus exposing the era’s most outrageous poseur. Was Fey “pretending” to mimic the real or the know-nothing Palin, or satirizing the impossibility of separation? It is Palin who forever pretends to be what she isn’t, and won’t ever be: an informed, trustworthy adult. Instead, she plays the misleading, mudslinging, outraged agent provocateur. Fey hit comic pay dirt by pretending to be a fake fake, exposing the profound Palin anti-intellectual smugness that transcends mere ignorance.

Is anyone thus surprised that years of humiliation have improved neither Palin’s judgment, nor linguistic skills? More Palin blather: “I think SNL is egotistical if they believe that [Fey’s impression] was truly an effect on maybe the public debate about who should lead the country in the next four years.” Does her word-salad mean “had an effect,” and who cares what SNL “believes”? What’s that “maybe” doing, and how does “egotistical” fit TV jokesters who fret little over long-term impacts? Palin is, as usual, dead wrong: the sensational tumult of this TV satire impacted the presidential race, plus instilling an irremovable taint on John McCain’s legacy.

Palin’s schtick is unchanged, proving this hustler is only expert at PR that extorts money from willing suckers. She’s the same illiterate clown six years later, proving the great distortion by SNL was toning down the ineducability of a lucky, witch-fearing personality. On the positive side, Palin redefined the bottom threshold (we pray) for the grossly inadequate candidate for national office.

And now . . . the latest whopper

Finally, she still doesn’t know when to shut up: “If I ran into Tina Fey again today, I would say: ‘You need to at least pay for my kids’ braces or something from all the money that you made off of pretending that you’re me!'” Palin says. “‘My goodness, you capitalized on that! Can’t you contribute a little bit? Jeez!’” “At least pay for braces”? Or an even a bigger chunk? “All the money”?

Palin thinks she’s joshing, but clearly she never got the original joke, what drove the satire. Where’s any acknowledgment she scoffingly “pretended” to run for the world’s second most powerful position? And what dimwit tin ear invokes the corporate word “capitalized” when shaming another performer about splitting up what never was hers? The mind reels when recalling the multi-millions of loot Palin grabbed by her “performance,” true only in its falsehood. What’s next, that she’s practically “dead broke” if Fey refused to hand over “her” share? To reprise a famous scientific quip, “Palin may not only be dimmer than we imagine, but dimmer than we can imagine.”

Is another Palin meteor likely – the true hayseed from a weird, small state, absent political or intellectual wits, yet winning the visibility and cash game? True, the slowness of her decline testifies to her endlessly novel ways of making a lying, smirking fool of herself. Here is a true marvel on our public stage, a living, breathing, hustling Pinnochio who keeps “writing books,” chattering away and opining that Obama (whom she elevated) deserves impeachment because his policies offend her.

Nor does she win kudos for loyalty towards hapless, smitten John McCain, who lifted her from obscurity into riches. Her campaign misbehavior revealed a petty, grasping fundamentalist ideologue allergic to compromise. Today, she clearly favors Ted Cruz over McCain, whose contempt showed when he called Cruz a “wacko bird.” In fact, Cruz is a smarter, better-educated, more power-savvy version of Palin, thus far more dangerous. He will get much closer to the GOP nomination, thus our top job. Palin the pioneer Tea Partier paid the prize for a range of stupidity Cruz won’t repeat. Outside of Texas Cruz is a “wacko bird,” but he’s a mental giant compared to Palin. That’s a legacy of sorts, the Tea Party birdbrain who makes the next generation look good.

Robert S. Becker was educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English). He left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. "Writing for the public taught me how to communicate." From '92-02 he did marketing consulting, grant, and business writing. Since '02, he scribbles on politics, science and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. Read other articles by Robert.