Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah Palin: History’s InflataDate

Professional breeders know how little it takes to get a warm-blooded male excited; often the merest abstract outline of the proper object of desire will do it. Sarah Palin, hollow as a hologram, is proof positive that the macho-cultists of the GOP don’t really require much more than, say, a stallion, bull, ram, imprisoned skinhead or drunken frat boy – the merest mimicry or burlesque of competence is enough to "energize the base". The Governor has amply demonstrated that she can imitate an executive; indeed, a good performer, she can impersonate a sentient, committed, adult politician deftly, even inviting us in on the joke of her faux folksiness, (much as George Bush has done for lo these countless years). But as several people have pointed out after the fateful Katy Couric interviews, when Sarah is truly being Sarah – that is, not having her lines fed to her by teleprompter, embedded earpiece or the First Dude – she is blank as Alberto Gonzales’ recollections. She cannot tell you what she reads, or what the Supreme Court has done, what regulations her running mate supported, who she tried to fire or why, et cetera. Investigation, reflection, introspection, confession: she has no use for any of these things. Sarah is a skater on the surfaces of existence, rather in the mode of fellow Northwesterner Tonya Harding.

Many excellent performers are themselves similarly null at the center of their beings; it may even be that many performers take to the stage in overcompensation for their sense of nullity (or for the horrifically abused/degraded sense of self which that nullity may mask). Being nobody exactly, the performer may feel a deeper than normal need to be a Somebody, and also to try on many different roles in a lifelong quest to become who he or she “is”. They become "personalities" in the broadcast sense, without ever becoming authentic individuals -- which would require a certain arduous or at least conscientious inwardness, of which the performer often is incapable. So there is often a fair bit of the psychopath, or sociopath about performers – there’s just not enough being at the core to anchor strong feelings, convictions, loyalties, conscience or sense of responsibility. Except to those in the star/narcissist’s immediate circle, this doesn’t matter much in the case of the stage prima donna, but it matters awfully when the mummer finds his or her outlet on the religious or political stage. Then the performer’s bottomless need for self-validation synergizes with the dogmatist’s dislike of nuance, ambiguity and self-reflection and, in the worst case, with a high-strung tendency to project their own phoniness, duplicity and amorality onto scapegoats (devils, witches, Jews, Communists, queers, dopers, welfare queens, libruls, terrorists, et cetera) and to use their sociopath’s shapeshifting charisma to sell these projections to the lynch-mob cult of their artfully fashioned “personality”. Then do they become truly malignant forces.

I suspect strongly that a real account of Sarah Palin’s life would be, like those of George Bush or John McCain, a tabloid document (the Inquirer sounds so plausible here) of self-blind vacillations, indulgences, manipulations, betrayals, of paranoiac suspicions and vendettas, within which the one consistency is an obsessive drive to be a bigger and bigger Somebody. All of this has suited Sarah Palin perfectly for the GOPAC Insta-Candidate Program which, like a somewhat louche rep company, has nurtured her all these years. If she’d been left to her own devices, Sarah’s story might have resembled that of moron/Machiavel “Suzanne Stone” (the Nicole Kidman character in To Die For) or the aforementioned Tonya Harding. Under the ministrations of the GOP however, she could instead end up like Peter O’Toole’s Lord Gurney in The Ruling Class, converted from a harmless loon to a reactionary political force, whose view of humanity as rotting corpses is the prophetic projection of a dead soul.


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