Is Palin Impersonating Tina Fey?
The Poet’s Eye is working this little personal spiritual exercise where I’m supposed to pretend that I’m trying to forgive and bless those who unduly tax my patience, time or credulity. In the process of this internal journey I asked myself why was I so disturbed by Sarah Palin? Why does she just Bother me? She is magnetic for a fact and maybe she disturbs me the same way that magnetism disturbs a compass needle or mass disturbs space-time. I’m usually quite receptive to any message that a beautiful woman is peddling. I can’t tell you the prattling nonsense that I have endured just to stare into the eyes of a beautiful woman. I love beautiful women. Why then did I get a cringing feeling in my stomach when this one came to mind? At first I thought it was her politics, that had to be it. But as it became apparent that Sarah didn’t have any political ideas to speak of, I had to delve further for the source of my antipathy. In this quest, I was reminded of Tina Fey. Even before her amazing impression of Palin I was a goner for Tina Fey. If Tina Fey was only slightly more like Lisa Simpson, she would be the complete image of my ideal woman. I’ve always been a groupie for intelligent women and funny intelligent women are even better. Fey’s impression of Palin was no great stretch since they naturally resemble each other so much physically, but intellectually they hardly fall on the same scale. Or so I casually assumed.
If she looks so much like my dream woman, why do little hairs stand up on the back of my neck as if a damp, sinister draft had just blown into the room when I hear her speaking? Maybe it’s her voice. That had to be it. Her voice grates on the ear like a rusty hacksaw. I put it somewhere between a nag and a whine. It’s a voice that was built for scolding. Of all the voices in the world, it’s probably the last one that I would want to hear saying, “Honey, it’s time to get u-up…” It had to be the voice. When I heard that voice parrot the same crowd-button lines over and over I would get a nausea in my limbs the same as I feel when I hear drunks laugh like fools at some tired old bad joke. I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.
But I really didn’t think it was the voice. Did I suspect she was on the dark side? Not really. Perhaps unwittingly working for them, but not evil herself. Did I consider her to be stupid? No, she was a solid C student who was popular with the rest of the kids. By all rights she should have served her two semesters as a cheerleader, gotten pregnant by the left tackle on the football team, married, joined the PTA and happily gained weight in the trailer park dreaming of being on the Oprah Show,….in the audience. In other words, she strikes me as dazzlingly average. So what was it about her that disturbed me? I could be secretly envious of her joy-ride to fame and fortune I suppose. I’ve always thought that it was a planetary tragedy and a miscarriage of universal justice that I wasn’t the toast of the literary world, but I’ve become content in my obscurity and fame seems like too much trouble anyway. But it has to be a thrill to base-jump into fame like she did with no discernible skill, talent, training or discipline, a pure Natural. She is so obviously enjoying herself as she laps up the attention and the adoration and the money. I could just be jealous that she can sell millions of books that she didn’t even write when my profound and nuanced volumes of genuine self-written wisdom languish on the shelf. Nah, that’s not it either.
Then one day I saw her holding forth on Fox with the usual slogans, rousing but vacuous homilies and folksy leavin’ the G’s off her passive verbs kinda talk, and it dawned on me. I would feel fine about Sarah if she were just a newsbabe on Fox. If she was Regis’ sidekick or part of the coffee clatch on the View, I would be good with that. She is likable and seems like a fun person in a Tupperware party sort of way. That’s when I realized that what disturbed me about Sarah had nothing to do with Sarah herself. I’ll bet she would be a blast after about four jelly shots. What disturbs me is that this person is even hypothetically being taken seriously as a possible leader of the Free World. That’s the disconnect. Sarah doesn’t disturb me, it’s the idea of Sarah as President that disturbs me. It’s not her fault, she’s just riding the wave. It further disturbs me that it’s possible for a person with such demonstrable deficiencies in every skill-set necessary for a President, to even for a minute be considered for the job and by so many otherwise sane people.
What disturbs me is that Sarah’s prosperity is the proof of the sad state of our political system where pure marketing foam can totally displace any philosophical nutrients, where branding and image are far more persuasive than ideas or arguments, where presentation totally trumps principle. This is where I began to forgive Sarah. She couldn’t be blamed for the fact that an alarming fraction of Americans are either so desperate or so ignorant and brainwashed and product oriented that they will vote for a bagel if the TV commercials are slick and Glenn Beck tells them to. That’s when it dawned on me that Sarah Palin was actually impersonating Tina Fey. She had already become a parody of herself, why not milk the cow? Her trademark little wink takes on a whole new depth and meaning. I nearly forgave her completely when I saw that she was just an aspiring actress and had not even the slightest intention of ever becoming President of the United States.
Sarah Palin might not know the difference between a salmon fillet and a filibuster or what the iniials NATO stand for but she’s as savvy as Tina Fey when it comes to writing divine political farce and mastering the subtle art of self-satire. She plays the modern media like a banjo and she has developed a brand that doesn’t depend on the contents of the can. She’s selling pure patriotic blue sky and selling it hand over fist. Her star is hung securely in pop-star heaven. Why would she want to be President? It would be much more fun to be Tina Fey.
Suddenly there was no disconnect. As long as I was buying in to the media echo chamber narrative that there was some remote possibility that Grizzly Sare might someday be tweeting from the Oval Office, I was disturbed by Palin. Now that I’ve settled myself with the observation that Sarah’s goals don’t include either the gray hairs that go with the office of President or the cut in pay, it is much easier for me to bless the woman as prescribed by my spiritual exercise. Suddenly I saw her as a fellow carny with a touring show selling turpentine and laudanum in shiny charlatan bottles. I could relate to her. It was just show business, hucksterism pure and unashamed. I can admire that. So I bless her. May she live comfortably the rest of her life on her celebrityness. She’ll probably play the ‘will she or won’t she?’ game until the Convention but after that she will have enough media juju to need no further job ever in her life than just to BE Sarah Palin. It’s brilliant really. Tina Fey couldn’t have written it better as an episode of 30 Rock. It’s high comedy.
Thus The Poet’s Eye came to terms with his disturbed feelings about Sarah Palin. Henceforth, I shall simply enjoy her as a foxy MILF and a naturally gifted entertainer and not give myself the terrors by imagining what would happen to the Republic if we elected her as President. I know that’s never gonna happen. Finally, to complete my spiritual task, I forgive you Sarah. Doesn’t that feel better? And I bless you. I hope you are around forever. That way the C students of the world will always have a spokesman and Tina Fey will always have a job.
“She looks very happy in Alaska. I hope she stays there.” —Barbara Bush