Friday, October 30, 2009
Everyone's existence needs a bane.
It's a little surprising that Sarah Palin is still news one year after she was the vice presidential candidate on a ticket that got beat badly. It was not a rocket ship to fame for William Miller in 1964, it wasn't much help to Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, but these aren't normal times. Right now, the G.O.P. needs young stars, and for all her flaws, she has more star power than any other Republican under 50 years old, and the Party Of Angry Old White Men can't afford to have an angry old white man at the top of the ticket in 2012. Given her baggage, and given the fact that she bought some of that baggage herself when she became Sarah "No Mas" Palin earlier this year, she probably won't be the standard bearer, but the G.O.P. could definitely do worse.
While her continued play in the press is unusual, it's a complete shock that the press is still talking to Levi Johnston. If the world had gone according to plan, she would still be governor now and he would be her son-in-law. But neither of those things are the case, and in an odd way, it's the weird soap opera twists and turns that keep the press interested in these people.
Let me correct that comparison. Soap operas have plots and writers and character development. The lives of the Palins and the Johnstons are more like an episode of The Best of Jerry Springer.
I don't find myself agreeing with conservatives very often, and I would have more respect for them if they were actually consistent. Let's try a little thought experiment, shall we? Let's say some major Democratic politician had a daughter who gave birth out of wedlock before she graduated high school. Just to make it easy, let's say it was Chelsea Clinton. Conservatives would still be screaming about it to this day. It's would be the fault of Chelsea the slut, it would be the fault of Bill the slut, it would largely be the fault of Hillary the bad mother, more interested in being co-president than raising her daughter.
Back when being an unwed mother was a badge of shame, the shame was equally shared by the young girl and her family. In Sarah Palin's case, I think she deserves some blame for not being more protective of her daughter's future. She's proud as all get out of being a small town girl, but coming from a small town means everybody knows everybody's business. Having your daughter dating a kid whose mom sells drugs isn't acceptable, and it's exactly the sort of situation where parents in a family with a top-down authority structure would draw the line. But Todd was having too much fun winning snowmobile races and Sarah was too busy being governor, so their daughter's future wasn't a priority, just like the start of poor Trig's life wasn't a priority when the chance to run for vice-president presented itself.
Now Levi Johnston is going rogue, a young man with a chip on his shoulder and more importantly, people who are happy to listen to him tell his side of the story of the odd time when the Palin family was thrown into the circus of massive media spotlight. He's going to pose for Playgirl, a magazine I didn't even know still existed. He says Sarah called Trig "the retarded baby". Sarah's people gave a non-denial denial about this, saying you can believe the word of anyone who pose naked for the world to see. You might recall that a waitress said she heard Governor Palin say "So, Sambo beat the bitch" after Obama finally won enough delegates for the Democratic nomination. I don't know if she said either of those things, but given her level of intelligence, education and class, I can easily believe she did.
John McCain chose Sarah Palin. In many ways her story outshone his during the last few months of the election. Unlike most vice presidential picks, she was a major reason his candidacy never gained traction. She had a chance to get real political power, but she's too hooked on instant gratification to do the hard work that power entails, and preferred to get in line at the money spigot. She shouldn't be surprised that Levi Johnston is standing in the same line. She knew her daughter was pregnant out of wedlock when she agreed to be a candidate, and a private family matter became a national headline. The Palins want to freeze Levi out of the life of their grandchild, and they have the right to do that. Levi has the right to tell his story and remind the world that Sarah and Todd are not upstanding Christian role models, just over-reaching white trash.
After all, everyone's existence needs a bane.