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Sarah Palin, Plain and Tall

Even Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, says he won’t resign because of the controversy surrounding him, so why does the governor of another state suddenly hold a press conference and say she is going to resign?  Kinda catches you off guard.

Sarah Palin’s hiding an affair? With Joe the plumber?  Fred the electrician?  Ralph the carpenter?  William Kristol?  Or Sarah’s husband, Todd, has had an affair?  With Laura Bush?  Barbara Bush?  Tina Fey?  Bristol’s pregnant again?  By Ted Haggard?  Tony Perkins?  Mark Sanford?  David Letterman? Willow and Piper are pregnant?  Track’s gone AWOL?

Well, noooooooooooooooooooooo.  The Governor’s spokesman, David Murrow, says, “She’s looking forward to serving the public outside the governor’s chair.”  Chair?

Well, forget the word choice.  Welcome to the second stage of Sarah Palin’s march to the White House. The plan would seem consistent with her performance as John McCain’s running mate.  As demonstrated last fall, Sarah Palin is someone who can’t chew gum and read a newspaper at the same time.  To serve out her term as Governor of Alaska would be a distraction, make it impossible for her to focus on the larger political goal.

Rumor in Alaska has focused for weeks on what needs to be done to repackage Palin as a candidate with a normal IQ.  Send her back to grade school?  Enroll her in the Conservative Book Club?  Let her do that Playboy center spread? Ask her to stop opening her mouth?  The last may be closest to the truth. According to Vanity Fair, the re-packaging of Sarah Palin has already begun, so it’s just a matter of providing her with a passel of mentors who have already determined that Palin will be the next president of the United States.

The New Republican think tank has been meeting ever since the night of the election, setting Palin’s course for the future.  Although the illustrious group has largely remained invisible, over the last few weeks names of the participants have slowly leaked out: Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, Samuel Wurzelbacher, Bernie Madoff, Ayn Rand, Patricia MacLachlan (whose book, Sarah, Plain and Tall, has always been an inspiration to the governor), Ted Stevens, Mark Sanford, Larry Flynt, John Ensign, Mel Gibson, Todd Palin, Newt Gingrich (who admits he may have plans of his own), Larry Craig, Levi Johnston, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We’ve actually been thinking about a film biography, loosely based on MacLachan’s novel but moving the setting from the Mid-West to Alaska,” Mel Gibson, one of the governor’s close advisors, has remarked.  “Palin would play herself in a kind of rags to riches frontier story, overcoming the challenging environment of the state and through perseverance and talent rising to the state’s highest political office.  It’s in inspirational story with Biblical overtones and the added bonus that the hero is a woman.”

Another possible approach toward the presidency—this according to Dick Cheney, though off the record—is that once Palin steps down as governor, and her Lieutenant Governor takes over, Alaska could provoke a little war with Russia.  Palin could come to the rescue by being appointed negotiator with the Russians in order to demonstrate that she does, indeed, understand foreign policy—certainly, Cheney argues, better than the current occupant of the White House.

Finally, there’s always drilling for oil in Alaska’s national parks. The idea—attributed to Ted Stevens—is that the exploration and actual production of oil and gas be carried out surreptitiously in remote areas of the state, capped, and ready for production during the next energy crisis.  At that time, Palin can ride in on her moose, solve the  potential catastrophe and take full credit for her foresight, thus asserting her position as a visionary with America’s needs always in her sights (gun sights, that is).  As a friend said of her, “You know, she’s always believed in ‘drill, baby, drill,’ it’s simply that the liberals would rather stew in their own economic mess.”

Or maybe this is all wrong—there is no other shoe to drop.  Maybe it’s simply that Sarah Palin his signed a contract for a huge advance with The New York Times and she’s writing her memoir: Lipstick on a Politician.

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C.  His email is clarson@american.edu.