Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sarah Palin: Angry authoritarian and demagogic fake

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Sarah Palin illustration (by Edward Sorel)
Sarah Palin illustration (by Edward Sorel)
[source: Vanity Fair]

Vanity Fair has a wonderfully in-depth and absolutely devastating profile of failed politician, polemic conservative figure and wannabe folk star Sarah Palin. It’s by far the most detailed and enlightening piece about the ex-Governor of Alaska and almost-U.S. Vice President to date and explores the dark inside story behind Palin’s ongoing crusade for the religious-Right, including numerous accounts from several close sources to the Palins to paint a vivid and seedy picture of the woman who masquerades around as “one of the people” whilst treating with utter disregard, if not downright vindictiveness, the very people who allow her to live the high life she loves to so much to begin with.

The whole thing is far too long to quote, but here are some of my favorite excerpts (if only to whet your appetite – I assure you, it’s quite the delicious read) [emphasis added]:

[A]nywhere you peel back the skin of Sarah Palin’s life, a sad and moldering strangeness lies beneath.

Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible. A onetime gubernatorial aide to Palin says, “The people who have worked for her—they’re broken, used, stepped on, down in the dust.”

Palin’s former personal assistants all refused to comment on the record for this story, some citing a fear of reprisal. Others who have worked with Palin recall that, when she feels threatened, she does not hesitate to wield some version of a signature threat: “I have the power to ruin you.”

But it is Palin’s persistent encouragement of the prayer warriors that most clearly reveals her worldview: she is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on.

Chuck [Heath, Sarah’s father] wouldn’t—couldn’t—talk about his daughter; the strict rule in the family now is no interviews, ever, without Sarah’s permission. After we had been walking for a while, he looked around and asked where Sally [Heath, Sarah’s mother] had gone. “Sally’s upset,” said the woman marching next to him, glaring at me, “because you are not following orders.”

Despite railing at the press for invading her family’s privacy, Palin showed little ambivalence during the campaign about making some aspects of the childrens’ private lives public to serve her interests. Soon after her nomination, she brought up with McCain aides the subject of Bristol’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy by Levi Johnston: “Would it be good for the campaign if they got married before the election?” she asked, and went on to wonder whether one weekend or another would be more advantageous for media coverage.

You’re just putting on a show. You’re so fake,” one of the children said when Palin made a point of praying in front of other people. “This is not who you are. Why are you pretending to be something you’re not?

To be fair, none of this is exactly shocking or unexpected news. Anyone who thinks that someone like Sarah Palin could’ve just erupted on the stage when she did and stay there as she has based on nothing but charm, wits and policy is seriously kidding themselves. The piece basically confirms what we’ve all known about Palin for about two years now: She’s a classic narcissistic control-freak who has a desperate need for cameras and attention to validate her fantasies of mattering to people, and will stick to her guns (figuratively speaking …) and viciously attack anyone who gets in her way.

Lack of groundbreaking revelations nonetheless, it’s always nice (if only in a schadenfreudelicious sort of way) to see popular targets get hammered like this. The more credibility that ignoble charlatans like Palin lose, the better for the rest of us. Now, it’s just a question of how many people will read the thing. Make sure you aren’t one of the (hopefully) few who won’t. And kudos to journalist Michael Joseph Gross for his excellent work.

(via @ebertchicago)