It’s not only the economy that’s adrift and directionless – it’s also all the Sarah Palin watchers. Try as Palin has and try as journalists might and try as viewers do, the post-election Palin news has not really merited our attention.
When she attempted to make up for the paucity of interviews she gave during the campaign – whether her inaccessibility was imposed or chosen – by inviting every journalist on the face of the earth into her kitchen, her gurgled sentences, half-baked reasoning and naked ambition were, well, boring.
Without her campaign hairdresser, make-up artist and, most of all, speechwriters, she’s a bit limp and lackluster at this point. At that gathering of the Republican governors two weeks ago, she tried to position herself at the top of their food chain, but got literally and quite rudely pushed out of the way by a colleague as she was taking (hogging?) questions at the press conference. Then she inexplicably included part of her old stump speech in her much-anticipated keynote, to the governors’ annoyance.
Last week, she tried to make a press feast out of her annual Gubernatorial Pardon of the Symbolic Turkey. Wearing her usual pre-campaign casual clothes with her accent muted back to something her friends actually recognize, she gave an interview post-Pardon, with an unfortunate drama unfolding in the background. A guy looking disturbingly like a Vermont country friend of mine is feeding a turkey head-first into a cone-shaped killing machine, its heavily vibrating death throes rocking him and the machinery.
The guy stares at the media circus in front of him as he automatically removes one now-dead bird and replaces it with another. But then I don’t have to tell you about this because it has been posted endlessly, and even now, a week later, it is still being shown on TV. If you haven’t seen it and you’ve got three minutes you want to devote to discomfort, you can find it here.
I have found the endless repeat of this video irritating, but there are two Palin-esque aspects to the affair that are worthy of comment, both of them discussed on the ever-reliable Alaskan blog Mudflats.
The first is her delayed attempt to deny that she knew what was going on behind her, despite the fact that there were a number of folks present at the time, not the least the well-known local TV photographer Scott Jensen, who reported that she knew. According to Mudflats:
The turkey slaughter was already underway when the governor chose the spot. The photographer pointed out what was going on and asked her if she wanted to move. She said, “No worries.”
Only in the face of the non-stop flap did Palin try to deny that she knew what was going on. The late-night comedian David Letterman riffed on her excuses in the clip I’ve included at the end of this piece.
The second point – that Palin has a “tin ear” – is even more important and Mudflats makes it with clarity:
The scene did not offend her [i.e. Palin], but the critical step of imagining the scene from another’s perspective was completely missing. What about the vast majority of Americans who never get closer to their meat than the supermarket? What about small children who love animals that happen to be watching the 5:00 local news? There are all sorts of distasteful or unfortunate things in the world that are just part of life, but they’re not going to score you political points by standing in front of them and broadcasting it out to the world. This is the problem. Lack of perspective, lack of empathy and lack of understanding that this just might be controversial.
If only Sarah Palin were like Thanksgiving: We gorge ourselves for a couple of days and then it’s over. Instead she’s more like the turkey: her gobbling is pardoned and she continues to scratch in the dirt.
Here's the David Letterman clip: