Assigned Reading: Camille Paglia: Can Palin Ever Come Back?
Of all of the analyses of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s sudden resignation last week, this is perhaps one of the best. It reminds me of Camille Paglia’s post-election assessment of mainstream media adulation toward Barack Obama — honest, well-written, and true. Here’s the part of her column devoted to Palin:
I assume that family priorities — personal as well as financial — had become all-consuming. Given her success with finalizing the massive Alaska pipeline project, I think Palin should have stuck it out, but of course she is master of her own fate. What certainly was blameworthy was the chaotic and rushed statement itself. Something so politically consequential needed more careful composition and rehearsal. Why provide more fodder for the vultures and harpies of the Northeastern media?
Unfortunately, it’s pretty obvious that Palin still lacks that cadre of trusted pros who are the invisible elves behind every successful national politician — the assistants who gather and vet material and who filter proposals and plan logistics. In a way, this is part of her virtues — her complete freedom from routine micromanagement and business as usual. She does her own thing with seat-of-the-pants gusto. It’s why she remains hugely popular with the Republican grass-roots base — as I know from listening to talk radio. Callers coming fresh from her rallies are always heady with infectious enthusiasm.
Of course you’d never know that from reading hit jobs like Todd Purdum’s sepulchral piece on Palin in the current Vanity Fair. Scurrying around Alaska with his notepad, Purdum still managed to find comically little to indict her with. Anyone with a gripe is given the floor; fans are shut out. This exercise in faux objectivity is exposed at key points such as Purdum’s failure to identify the actual instigator of Palin’s extravagant clothing bills (a crazed, credit-card-abusing stylist appointed by the McCain campaign) and his prissy characterization of Palin’s performance at the vice-presidential debate as merely “adequate.” Hey, wake up — Palin cleaned Biden’s clock! By the end, Biden was sighing and itching to split.
Whether Palin has a national future or not will depend on her willingness to hit the books at some point and absorb more information about international history and politics than she has needed to know in her role as governor. She also needs a shrewder, cooler take on the mainstream media, with its preening bullies, cackling witches, twisted cynics and pompous windbags. The Northeastern media establishment is in decline, and everyone knows it. Palin should not have gotten into a slanging match with David Letterman or anyone else who has been obsessively defaming her or her family. Let surrogates do that stuff.
The vicious double standard is pretty obvious. Only the tabloids, for example, ran the photos of a piss-drunk Chelsea Clinton, panties exposed, falling into her car outside London clubs a few years ago. If Chelsea had been the scion of Republican bigwigs, those tacky scenes would have been trumpeted from pillar to post in the U.S. as signals of parental failures or turmoil in clan Clinton. As a Democrat, I detest the partisan machinations that have become standard in Northeastern news management and that are detectable in editorial decisions at major metropolitan newspapers nationwide. It’s why I, like a host of others, have shifted my news gathering to the Web.
As an aside, something I found funny was Paglia’s use of Chelsea Clinton’s recent partying as an example of the media’s double-standard. Now, you know how I feel about going after a politican’s family, either on the right or on the left, but because I not only hadn’t heard anything about Chelsea’s wild night nor had I seen the pictures documenting it, I thought I’d go looking for them.
Amazingly enough, while the story of her recent encounter with Al Cohol is fairly widely available on the Internet, the related photographs are extremely difficult to find. Quite a contrast from what I remember about Jenna and Barbara Bush during their college years. The Bush twins’ pictures, of course, were everywhere.
Regardless, Paglia is pretty well spot-on in her assessment of Sarah Palin’s strengths, weaknesses and political future. Only time will tell. I, for one, will be rooting for her.