Like any huckster selling remedies and wisdom she doesn't possess, Sarah Palin is hardly the first or worst (or is it best?) of our venomous media liars. The Palin didn't invent right-wing chicanery, but she's honed her own incendiary opportunism. Death panels, paling around with terrorists, Birtherism worth investigating, and let's now all praise W. for bagging bin Laden. Feh!
The legacy of Palinesque lying, whether congenital, pathological or tactical, carries one obvious, lasting, real-world impact -- more Christine O'Donnell-Sharon Angle kin. True, when competing with master dissemblers Limbaugh and Beck, the Palin is late to the Lying for Dollars Multi-Millionaires' Club. But those true fringe scammers spent decades honing their "black hole" style of entertainment, mastering the art of gobbling up reason and truth like deep space spirals munching solar systems.
Considering how little of political substance she learned in three years, the Palin remains the luckiest, flakiest vaudevillian around, her wacky sneers and smirks the perfect cover up. Yet, she's not lied us into a trillion-dollar war -- though "Drill, baby, drill" turns "Kill, baby, Kill" when God identifies enemies "too big for their britches." Nor has Palin enacted a media Black List akin to Joe McCarthy forbears, nor plunged the nation into depression. Who knows what fiascos Alaska avoided because she quit being governor to attain her celebrity destiny, "famous for being famous"?
Her mounting voter negatives aside, the Palin wins one dubious modern competition -- the most successful, self-promoter to make a brand (indeed industry) of misrepresentation and innuendo, profiting handsomely from books, TV shows, endorsements and speeches. A babbling bobblehead. Though less dangerous to the world than discredited liars like W. or Cheney, the Palin train wreck persists, suckering the gullible and the witless media that glamorizes (then feasts on) flakey fakes.
Palin's Spawn: Bachmann, The Donald
Without the Palin refudiations, would we suffer our national epidemic of outlandish mendacity, laughable if not so corrosive? Doesn't the Palin inspire the breathtaking assaults on common sense known as Michelle Bachmann? Would the Donald's notoriety rise above village crazies, mouthing any nonsense passing through his sieve-like head? Nope. Thanks, Sarah.
As demented McCarthy long ago seeded the hateful fringe now hijacking the GOP, the spawn of the Palin will eclipse her own historical position in footnotes -- as failed V.P. candidate, failed governor, and failed, unelectable, politician, indeed a national joke. Hey, it's a career, and in politics ripples can expand expectedly, for good and ill. Condemned by a 1954 Senate censure, the ostracized, disgraced McCarthy turned to drink and died at 48 only three years later. Can bad things still happen to bad people?
Before Palin, power-made schemers lied to pitch otherwise unsellable, indigestible crimes -- hawking Vietnam or Iraq wars with smoke and mirrors. Official falsifications once had real-world context and point, however dastardly; thus, Colin Powell's career was sacrificed to get U.N. okay on Iraq. Before the Palin, important liars fooled all of the people some of the time. The Palin lies with abandon, simply for publicity that week, not whether she impacts a real political decision; careening mindlessly from the mundane to the serious, one wonders if she ever cares whom she hoodwinks.
Sound Bite Gamesmanship
For me, the Palin transforms public lying, producing a never-ending patter of media gamesmanship -- or ridicule disguised as entertainment. No pretense to accuracy, no evidence to impede thought, pure sound bites laced with prejudice, jingoism, and racial fear-mongering. Who more than Palin turns politics into TV's Jeopardy, though she acts like wrong answers count the same as right ones. Will our grandchildren not scoff at delusional Creationism? Or denial of man-made climate change?
No doubt there's some magical mystery tour at play, for the Palin holds her own. Her splashy performance makes Mitt Romney looks like Mayberry's Barney Fife. Ditto, Tim Pawlenty, whose modest competence disappears inside itself. And then there's Newt Gingrich, who lies worse than the Palin but -- lacking her smiling sneer -- shrinks to irrelevance.
Perhaps the Palin's lying doesn't offend as it should because it's tweeted, not spoken out loud. She is so verbally-challenged off the cuff, some award sympathy and that deflects her dishonesty. Her pathology invokes pathos in the uninformed and comic snarkiness amuses the pathetic faithful. Millions apparently respond to the petty, high school put down artist, the snickering cheerleader with inside, coded jokes.
Obama or Palin? What's Plan B?
In only three years, the Palin has legitimized mendacity, shocking the left by proving how many wingbats agree that willful contempt of the truth is just dandy. But this is one empress without clothes -- the bigmouth mudslinger who has no real solutions to any problem. It's quite amazing how her tiresome regiment still resists all content, even a political hobbyhorse. Her fare is fringe comfort food that distills mythic Reagan smugness with knee-jerk Bushism seasoned by Tea Party goofiness. Talk about no "there" there.
Curiously, Obama also gets tagged as an empty suit because his unfeeling "pragmatism" squashed what sounded great as campaign rhetoric. Yet, he's opposite to the Palin -- a conventional, wonkish politician stocked with outdated, Democratic messaging and seeming agendas to fix things. Obama brims over with facts and proposals, albeit half-baked and diluted, but he does converse in ideas, honors expertise, and respects learning and science. But unlike his unprincipled, "everything is negotiable" secularism, the Palin denies compromise, knowledge or "elitist" competence. Her credo voices the faithful's fixation on reductive, moral absolutism: opponents are not just wrong, but wicked sinners full of bad faith.