Pop culture politics and the Palin paradox

Sarah Palin: A wink at those who bought her act

According to the book — and movie — “Game Change,” 2008 Republican Presidential nominee John McCain’s presidential campaign staff found vice presidential pick Sarah Palin on YouTube.

After deciding to pick a woman to try and help McCain close the gender gap with Democratic nominee Barack Obama, the staff searched the Internet for female politicians and elected officials — prominent and obscure — to provide a jolt to McCain’s flagging campaign.

And YouTube is where they found Palin, delivering one of her “moose-hunting soccer mom” speeches.  In the offices of Capitol Hill Blue, news of Palin’s selection brought shock and comments like “are you f—ing kidding me?”

McCain strategist Steve Schmidt decided Palin was the game changer he needed.  He regrets the decision to this day but rationalizes it by saying “life doesn’t give do-overs.”

The “vetting” process on Palin was so rushed and so incomplete that they didn’t know — until it was too late — that she was dumb as a stump, had scandals galore in her past and would be a loose cannon.

But McCain’s selection of Palin plucked the obscure governor from Alaska — a state long known for political flakes — and turned her into a national phenomenon.

Schmiidt originally defended his choice as one borne out of political necessity.  They faced a political pop culture opponent who’s charisma masked his lack of experience or ability so they decided to take a chance on creating their own instant celebrity who would appeal to the unenlightened, shallow political masses.

What they got was disaster, a lightweight who played well for the cameras under controlled conditions but who didn’t know what the Federal Reserve was, who thought the Queen of England served as head of state (she didn’t know England even had a prime minister) and who couldn’t name a single newspaper she read on a regular basis — even though she claimed to read several.

Schmidt’s crass political move left the nation with a boil that remains today on the body politic.

It showcases, more than any action is recent years,  the vapidness of the political landscape and the ever-increasing void of leadership in this nation.

Perhaps it is ironic that McCain’s so-called “political professionals” found Sarah Palin on YouTube — a self-serving video web site with the motto: “Broadcast Yourself.”

The video that sold Sarah Palin to the McCain campaign was placed on the video-sharing service by — the envelope please — Sarah Palin.

That video, having served its purpose, disappeared from YouTube years ago.

But the sad legacy she spawned remains.

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8 Responses to "Pop culture politics and the Palin paradox"

  1. Danny Adams  June 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

    “I recognize that any of the buzz surrounds the fact that I happen to fit a demographic that is appealing to the ticket right now. That’s the reality. Again, I happen to fit a demographic at a time that the Republican Party needs to get with it and change and progress and allow others to be a part of public service. It’s gender, it’s age, it’s kind of the maverick being from the outside. It’s a combination of things.”

    –Sarah Palin, from a speech she gave at the National Governor’s Association meeting in D.C. in February, 2008.

  2. Sandy Price  June 11, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Well, the icing is finally on the Republican upside down cake. The farewell commentary is well done and in good taste and hopefully we will not have to hear the name Sarah Palin again.

    I read “Game Change” and loved it. I did not see the movie but would love to see a musical comedy on the stage. The GOP really stepped in it with the election of 2008 and then their revamping of the agenda put a cork in all the right places.

    I can never again even think of voting for any Republican as long as they have this new concept of destroying any chance at trying to raise kids in public school. Actually my kids did not attend public school until they attended the University of California Berkeley. This ignoring our public schools may be the reason the religious right entered the world of politics. I had no problem locating Secular private schools but I had to search for them.

    The voters have the leadership to keep this religious stuff going or stepping up and changing the system to educate all children. Somehow this Democracy was what was planned by our founders and America will go with the winner, no matter how bad this could be.

    It will be very difficult for me to accept America as a Christian nation. I have worked for 50 years trying to keep America as a freedom for everyone type of nation. The people voted for the contrary and only a surge of freedom workers can make the change. It is shocking to me that the numbers are too close to call.

  3. David Johnson  June 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Name calling, inaccurate information and outright deception is the hallmark of most liberal bloggers, newsman and other assorted “geniuses”. “doesn’t know what Federal Reserve System is or that the Queen of England is not head of State”. I am surprised you didn’t accuse Ms. Palin of not knowing the names of all 57 States, or of not knowing the Austrian language or perhaps that Polish Death Camps existed during WWII.

    • Capitol Hill Blue  June 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      How many states? Were you home schooled by Michelle Bachmann? :)

    • Jim B.  June 12, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Whoa, David…RE: “Polish Death Camps existed during WWII.”….Obama already made that mistake by calling it that….He had one of the largest group of Polish individuals outside of Poland located in Chicago up in arms when he made that remark. The correct term is “Nazi Death Camp”.

      Even the prime minister of Poland was upset:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/world/europe/poland-bristles-as-obama-says-polish-death-camps.html?_r=1

      Since he made that blunder, he’s expressed regret for the remark to the Polish President.

    • Alex  June 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

      I think you’ve confused the number of United States with the number of varieties of Heinz ketchup. ;)

  4. Jim B.  June 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    The title of that book — Game Change — reminds me of the old, old expression — “The more things change the more they stay the same.”….Therefore, in the end, the Repub. party didn’t really change things up in 2008, it was the appearance of change — a surface change, but just below that veneer, the same, worn-out, obdurate ideas and strategies were in play.

    Doug quote of the week: “Schmidt’s crass political move left the nation with a boil that remains today on the body politic.”

    ….and there is no poultice to bring down that swelling.

  5. Lillibet Hunt  June 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    We are, as a nation, stuck with shallow politicians in an era of deep politics, a term coined by Peter Dale Scott. We now know that the leadership of the Republican party believes YouTube is the best forum to find running mates, while important offices require something so much more. Hannah help us all.

    Sure, Obama has had his gaffes, including that 57 state thing. Haven’t we all. The problem is, those gaffes seem to indicate the touted intellect is in fact, about a mile wide and an inch deep. Repeatedly, there is consistent failure to appreciate problems with so much of administration policy vis a vis those pesky Constitutional requirements, for a single example.

    But we’ve got a surplus of problems for the likes of Team Sarah or her opponents. Take NDAA. Please. Add to that drones, hit lists, ongoing operation of secret prisons, Gitmo, two plus wars ongoing, one ended — three of them new, new enemies, new fears, decimation of rights, economic woes, and growing distrust of our nation in the world. And on the other side, there was Sarah Palin, a one woman force majeure, making waves throughout the body politic, and all due to a YouTube video???

    Can any of this be real? Can someone wake me when the popcorn runs out in this nightmare movie?

    Does anyone get terribly afraid contemplating the two sides of the 2008 election as we are about to venture into another election year abyss?

    And that’s the problem with selecting candidates on charisma rather than character. We elect leaders on soundbites, slogans, and push polled robo-calls.

    We got Team Sarah only as a campaign last time around. Sadly, we deserved her and them. Had there been sufficient manipulation of election machinery, we could have elected her team, for she was and is, a woman least likely to ride in the back seat.

    So much for early Halloween, 2012 edition.

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