Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 5: The Seriousness of Palin Fatigue vs. the Fun of Watching Her "Farcissism"

When I first started blogging, and Sarah Palin, who was about to begin her second year as Alaska's governor,would come up, I tried to be careful to edit out my biases that might be read or seen as sexist. When writing critically, my pre-2008 presidential campaign articles concentrated on environmental issues in state policy.

After her selection as John McCain's running mate, one of the first national reporters with whom I was able to discuss sexist treatment of Palin was Michelle Goldberg. She told me of her surprise at how well Alaskans seemed to be dealing with such an Alpha female. Since her Alaska visit in 2008, Goldberg has continued to cover this issue well. Here is a somewhat prophetic snip from Goldberg's July 2009 Daily Beast resignation coverage of Palin:
Yet some of her most ardent backers have a different explanation: She’s gearing up to run for president in 2012. As Bill Kristol, a man who’s had an enormous role in creating her national profile, wrote, “If Palin wants to run in 2012, why not do exactly what she announced today? It's an enormous gamble—but it could be a shrewd one.” He continued, “[H]aven't conservatives been lamenting the lack of a national leader? Well, now she'll try to be that.” And there were parts of her speech suggesting she’s getting ready for a new challenge: “It would be apathetic to just kind of hunker down and go with the flow. We’re fisherman. We know only dead fish go with the flow… There is such a need to build up, and fight for our state and our country.”

On the face of it, it seems preposterous that Palin might think she could maintain any political credibility at all after walking away from her job simply because she has her eye on bigger things. But Palin has long had an almost dementedly inflated sense of her own destiny. In one of the most quoted passages of Todd Purdham’s eviscerating Vanity Fair profile of Palin, he writes that, in traveling through Alaska, several people told him that, in trying to understand their governor, “they had consulted the definition of ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” Said disorder, Purdum points out, is marked by “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.”

As a description of Palin, that sounds about right. It also sounds about right as a description of Newt Gingrich, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, and maybe even Bill Clinton. There is nothing new about politicians who are staggeringly egotistical and heedlessly dishonest, politicians with fantastic reserves of self-righteousness and self-pity but a shriveled capacity for loyalty. But we don’t usually see this particular kind of craziness in women. Palin is the rare female politician who is as much a megalomaniac as her male peers. Maybe more.

Goldberg goes on to illustrate the way Palin seems to lie, even when a normal person would realize you're gonna get caught:
Palin’s public statements have been full of petty, easily refutable mendacity, delivered with the vehemence of a compulsive liar. Purdum’s piece reveals one tiny but telling incident, in which Palin told McCain aides that she and her husband had been without insurance of any kind in the early years of their marriage. “Checking with Todd Palin himself revealed that, no, they had had catastrophic coverage all along,” Purdum writes. “This sort of slipperiness—about both what the truth was and whether the truth even mattered—persisted on questions great and small.”

Those questions persist. Palin herself seems to beg them to be brought back up, every day. It is part of the celebrity cult's baggage. As many have noted, Palin has brought the marriage of celebrity culture to political culture in a unique way. We're 50-plus years beyond Ronald Reagan selling 20-Mule Team Borax soap on the Death Valley Days TV weekly.

Palin is everywhere, every day. I've long dreaded that some day more will have been written about Palin than about everything else in Alaska history. We may be arriving there soon.

Rebecca Mansour from SarahPAC, Palin's most effective verbal response organizer, must be overwhelmed by the clashing images crossing her desk and screen every minute: The kids nastily tweeting and facebooking away, the DWTS vote fiasco, doing 180s on Korea at the same Rebecca has to teach Palin how few miles Seoul is from the DMZ. Tough job.

Palin's people must be enduring fatigue, with the book tour, reality show series continuity (another 5 weeks), abstinence fairy dissonance and other stuff intruding on the product branding process and what not.

So is the rest of the country. Palin Fatigue might soon become serious. Every plank of Palin's platform now seems to be packaged in episodes designed to be rolled out a couple of days apart. Relentlessly.

All this generates internet hits on the web. It makes some people money. That crosses over into print media profits too. Like nothing else out there. If they could somehow fix Sarah's voice, the package would be an even bigger phenomena.

Living in Wasilla, I heard someone say, long, long ago, when asked about Palin's popularity, "Maybe she's too fun to watch to make up for the rest."

I didn't know what he meant. Was it physical attraction? Or was it her latent comedic value, her "farcissism."

Here's part of Friday's coverage of this new word Palin has helped launch. Adele M. Stan's article at AlternNet may have started it:
It seems, in fact, that Sarah Palin's "new feminism" is nothing more than narcissism dressed up in feminist clothing. Call it farcissism. For when it comes to matters that affect her directly, Palin is all about feminism writ large. Despite her anti-government rhetoric, Palin on the campaign trail applauded Title IX, the federal mandate that barred federal funds from educational institutions that discriminated against women, even in their sports programs. This heralded a record expansion of girls' and women's athletic programs, of which Palin, a star basketball player known statewide as Sarah Barracuda, rightly availed herself. [bold added]

Stan goes on, regarding the uniqueness of Palin's ambition:
I have seen Palin derided in sexist terms, and called on progressives to cut the crap when I see it coming from our own. But I wouldn't count on Palin to step up for a liberal feminist -- unless Palin found a way to make it about Palin herself.

"There is a narcissism in our leaders in Washington today," Palin writes inAmerica By Heart (via the Huffington Post). "There's a quasi-religious feeling to the message coming from them. They are trying to convince us that not only are they our saviors, but that we are our saviors... as candidate Obama proclaimed on Super Tuesday 2008, 'We are the ones we've been waiting for, we are the change that we seek.'"

Yet it's Palin who has a so-called reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," based around her own life in her home state. It's hard to get more narcissistic than that. And it's Palin who wants to reshape feminism in her own image -- to hell with any woman who's faced a different form of sexism than she has.

When calling narcissism or farcissism on Palin, I don't use the terms lightly. Too many women of ambition are tagged as narcissists simply for behaving as ambitious men do. But if there were ever an example of someone living in a glass house, it's one whose life is willingly scripted and served up on a flat screen, for the modest payment to Palin of $250,000 per episode.


Digby, commenting on Stan's article, wrote:
I cringe when I see some of the things people say about her too, and have also called out progressives for being jackasses. But that doesn't make her a heroine either, especially when she's so incredibly disrespectful and arrogant to her fellow females in similar situations.

Palin's walking a thin line here. In the past week, she has dissed Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush. Palin is sparring with HRC. The mama grizzly is roaring so loud and stridently, she's probably going to wonder in about two weeks at how isolated she is beginning to feel among so many, more experienced, mama bears. Just when her voice turns hoarse from all the yelling.

At the end of the weekend, Palin will be in the Dallas-Houston area, for book signing, and other events for her favorite causes there. The mama griz is descending from her new winter lair in Arizona on Babs' den.

Meanwhile, as Robert Paul Reyes unintentionally illustrates here, male writers continue to fall into the traps Michelle Goldberg and others first noted:

Barbara Bush missed her calling, she has the comedic timing and the deadpan face of a professional comic. The former First Lady expertly set up her zinger:

I hope she`ll stay there. There are millions of us who agree with Barbara`s sentiments, but Hollywood has a stronger pull on Palin than Wasilla.

The former First Lady didn`t say.

I sat next to her once and I was impressed with her intelligence and grasp of the issues. A politician who can see Russia from her porch and is a steadfast supporter of our North Korean ally, isn`t going to dazzle anyone with her mental acumen.

Mrs. Bush was struck by Palin`s beauty, it`s unfortunate that the former governor of Alaska doesn`t realize that her looks are her greatest asset.

We're probably reaching a point where the conflict between the actual worth of Palin vs. the image we're being bombarded with with reaches some sort of critical mass.

My hunch is that Palin's people know she has to announce by the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan's birth on February 6th. But they'll milk this flighty ambiguity, until celebrity-driven suspense is trumped by the yet untried post-Citizens United presidential race gravity.

Nobody knows when that might be. Meanwhile, we'll have to endure a period of "farcissism."


Anonymous said...

you make it sound like a progressive is some kind of enlightened/above-average sort of person.

i used to think so too, until i started reading your drivel about sarah palin.

i'm surprised that you're not obsessing over bristol's weight like jesse does so well.

Anonymous said...

As always, great post Phil!

You wrote;

"We're probably reaching a point where the conflict between the actual worth of Palin vs. the image we're being bombarded with with reaches some sort of critical mass."

To the end in which she crashes and burns.
That is what I was hoping you would finish up with.

In any case, I am in complete agreement with your post. You know $arah well. You have not disappointed me yet with any of your posts.

Job well done!
I hope you and your Family had a Happy Thanksgiving and have a Happy, Healthy, Joyous Holiday Season!

mary b

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:01 - Blogs that are critical of Sarah Palin don't make them one in the same. The IM has its distinct characteristics of a bare knuckle fighter and is un-apologetically critical of all things conservative.

Phil Munger is more of a coffee shop discussion. He has given very reasoned critiques from a Wasillian's perspective to this unprecedented phenomenon that can now be known as the creation of farcissism by our home-grown former half-term Governor.

Those that are to have known her are thrown under the bus the moment the scales have fallen from their eyes.

Those that fell in love with her under John McCain's roll-out that have also become "haters" are also discarded easily.

Yet those that continue to support her no matter how constantly and consistently she proves herself unfit to lead, are the only ril Americans left?

We know why you want to take back this country, but we'll keep marching toward progress at the cost of our State's tarnished reputation under one of the most fascinating Great Pretenders of our time.

Happy Thanksgiving Phil. Quyana, Thank you for your efforts, as tiring as they may get.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping that Obama does a switcheroo and moves Hillary into his VP slot for 2012 to juxtapose a true intelligent, accomplished, hard-working woman of substance with the vapid, vaccuous Hollywood Barbie.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as "...drivel about Sarah Palin." Sarah Palin is all snark, drivel, and sniffle. If she isn't being venomous, she's whining about being picked on unfairly. Poor baby, poor baby. Geez, I hate whiney women.

Great article, Phil.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you mean by "has to" announce by Reagan's 100th birthday. If she were to announce Feb 6, the only thing she would accomplish is beating Barack Obama in being the earliest candidate to announce. She hasn't announced an exploratory committee yet, which is almost mandatory to allow legal allocation of funds for travel, polling and early boots on the ground. If she is doing this already with SarahPAC funds to try to keep it secret, she will almost certainly run afoul of FEC rules. ( who would be surprised with a PAC that has "Visa Bill" as a line item in its Q report) I think the only reason she will run for President is to get her hands on the SarahPAC money so she can keep up her fancy traveling lifestyle under the guise of campaigning. If her Thanksgiving day petty Facebook whine-fest gets the wider exposure it deserves, I believe she will have jumped the shark. I think the reason it's not is the major media knows it will finish her and they need her if the 2012 race is going to be at all interesgting. Without Palin it's a bunch of old white guys against Obama.

Anonymous said...

Well phill, I been a visitor since day one. We have had our spats over a few things (the remake of the Juno poster), but I'm sure glad you are continuing with the Saradise Lost !

Farcissm = yeah... Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Phil. I always enjoy coming here.

One problem: How would she pass a national security vetting?

Anonymous said...

Not-to-miss video on youtube where the Palins get the Tiawanese animation treatment. It's called "Growing Up Palin: Ex-governor and her family become celebrities" .

lilly lily said...

Great Post.

She is overexposed and everything she does is ridiculous. A cartoon character.

B.S. stands for Bull S--- not Beautiful Sarah. B.S.Sarah will be destroyed by her own words.

Everything she says is idiotic, from her twitters to the moronic drivel word salad on Faux News.

Day by day she loses. She isn't gaining, she is losing one person after the other, and one point in the polls after the other.

Anonymous said...

Reyes near the end of the article wrote: Mrs. Bush was struck by Palin`s beauty, it`s unfortunate that the former governor of Alaska doesn`t realize that her looks are her greatest asset.

Correction need to the bold word:

Mrs. Bush was struck by Palin`s beauty, it`s unfortunate that the former governor of Alaska doesn`t realize that her looks are her only asset.

PMom (GA)

AKPetMom said...

Excellent dissection Phil and interesting reading.
This week's Palin family overreaction festival is just another example of how desperately this family needs bone up on the fine christian art of "turning the other cheek". Unless they master this principal before she hits the campaign trail they will not get far. The microscope will be of a much stronger magnification and the specimens of Palin family history under it will be much more numerous than they are now. If they can't handle the current scrutiny they won't last a week with Mama G as a Primary Candidate, much less as the GOP nod.

This family, all of them, need to take a deep breath and commit to exhibiting a bit of tact when choosing and fighting their battles against "the haters". Better yet, ignore the haters and focus on improving yourselves so that the haters have nothing to hate you for!

The time that they save fighting battles can be spent brushing Sarah up on American and world affairs and geopolitics; perhaps her Fox Studio could be converted into a situation room with world maps covering the walls and flash card learning tools stacked on every surface.

The young ladies of the family would spend their days becoming familiar with etiquette and manners and only speaking when spoken to.

Oh, who am I kidding! If Mama G throws her hat into the ring we are going to be seeing the best Palin reality show EVER! Then, when the smoke clears, it will be back to business as usual in Alaska. We can heal and we will. I for one can't wait for the day when fellow travelers once again ask me "So, do you all live in igloos up there"?

Patrick said...

Great post, Phil!

"Farcissism" really hits the nail on the head.

Also, AKPetMom, excellent comment. By the way, how do you heat the igloos in Alaska? I always wanted to know... Maybe I should ask Sarah Palin?

Kevin said...

A slight problem. "Farcissism," appears to have been coined to represent a blend of "narcissism" and "feminism." But it comes across to this reader as a blend of "narcissism" and "farce," which better fits the Palin phenomenon. Sarah Palin is a undeniably a woman, but she is not a feminist. She is a narcissist, and she is a farce, i.e., a caricature just beyond the limit of plausibility.

Anonymous said...

I agree. My first thought was "farce" and "narcissism" which fits her perfectly.

Anonymous said...

Can't access your most recent post. An error message shows up when I click the link from Gryphen's blog.

Anonymous said...

All farce, no feminism there.

Being feminine does not equate to feminist. Feminist works for women's equality on all matters.

Phil, great job on bringing together many factors to expose her farce, and true vindictive and self-serving nature. She uses her gender to make a buck from every last ounce of (self-) worth, leveraging her good looks and the pair of glasses that hide her derisive reactions. Watch closely you will find that there are many a moment of lack of confidence to deer-in-the-headlight moments to oh-am-I-not-the-most-brilliant cocky moments. Very not leaderlike.

Even as she has ridden and stood on the pantsuits of the feminists, she has the audacity of cynicism to be derisive about them.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt repeatedly. But she has shown that she is shallow, totally self-serving in every aspect of her life, and has no real appreciation of women's quest for equality.

So what is her message to feminists? She thinks feminists play victim. Hello! No, feminists recognize that therea are many women who are not treated as equal in society, workplace and in every aspect of life. Yes, Sarah Palin has been a hypocrite in projecting an interesting message. Let's see if we can parse it.
Hey women, if you want to progress, have your husband stay at home busy raising your brood! Oh, yeah, that's what the men say to the women, usually. It does not work for women when a man says it; why would it work if a woman plays it out? She is no feminist. She is a sexist person.

She is a disgusting person.

Anonymous said...

"farce" and "narcissism" fit nicely.
No feminism.

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