Palin then and now

Sarah Palin is a media magnet like Donald trump. However much you know that they crave attention, that it is the very oxygen of their existence and they would wither away if they were ignored, it seems almost impossible to avoid reading about them and talking about them. I am as guilty as the next political observer of this behavior. I am not sure why that is but I suspect it is for the same reason that people are fascinated by sociopaths in general. Most of us cannot imagine behaving in such ways and try to understand what could be driving such peculiar behavior.

Julia O’Malley was a reporter in Alaska who covered Palin before she became famous nationwide and says that she has undergone a major transformation for the worse since being plucked out of the obscurity of Alaskan politics and thrust into the national media limelight and the person she describes back in the early days of her political career is unrecognizable from the person we see now.

But back in the day, I liked her – and so did many in my community. I’m not conservative, but she grew on me when I worked as a reporter in Anchorage in the mid-2000s, and the reason had nothing to do with politics. She was a kind of regular person I recognized as of this place. Tough, funny, pragmatic. She loved Alaska like I did. If you didn’t know her then, it’s hard to explain or believe.

Above all, Palin was nice. If a reporter called her office, she called back on their cell phone: “Hi, this is Sarah.” Like most people here, she was religious, but didn’t talk about it publicly. Like most people, her family hunted and owned guns, but she didn’t talk too much about that either. She was fuzzy on policy details, but only insiders noticed. She made a big deal about government corruption.

These days, you can’t find people here who have something nice to say about her last decade in politics. Nobody wants to talk about Palin.

There is speculation from time to time about her running for state office, but chances seem remote. Dermot Cole, a columnist at the Alaska Dispatch News, told me Alaskans don’t take her seriously.

“She has long since become part of the entertainment business, which is what she has in common with Trump,” he wrote in an email.

Having transformed to becoming a purely media creature, she has become the embodiment of Oscar Wilde’s quip “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” She now uses everything as a way to promote her brand and advance her narrow agenda, even if it involves dragging in her family. Her son’s recent arrest on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, brandishing a rifle, and threatening to kill himself could well be, as she says, due to PTSD acquired while serving in Iraq, even though he served only one year there and did not see any combat. But it takes someone like Palin to somehow drag president Obama into it, even though her son went and returned from Iraq during the Bush presidency.

Larry Wilmore has had enough with Sarah for using even her son’s PTSD problems as just another political weapon.

(This clip aired on January 21, 2016. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Palin herself neither surprises nor interests me. What has me constantly gobsmacked is the number of people who see her as a person they can relate to and who would make a good President or Vice President. Even my own sister, who is a teacher and in most ways seems pretty sensible, feels this way.

  2. lorn says

    Palin complaining about the treatment of vets runs contrary to the accepted dogma on the GOP side that they want to privatize the VA. Let them fight our wars, and then come home and fight their insurance companies for treatment … great. A terrible idea.

    Will it be Palin versus Koch astroturfing or will the GOP be able to spin privatization as beneficial despite the vast majority of veterans wanting to keep the VA structured the way it is.

    I’m going to have to stock up on popcorn.

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