The United States’ Political Squirmish

This past Tuesday, while preparing dinner, I listened once again to Sarah Palin’s unmistakable voice reinvent the English language. So overwhelmed, I wept (and not because I was chopping Vidalias at the time). You see, I lived with Sarah Palin for two years. That’s how long it took to research and write Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin (Howard Books, 2011), an insider’s look into the rabbit-hole that is Sarah Palin’s life (a process that included documenting over 50,000 emails between Mrs. Palin and confidant Frank Bailey).

During this spreech (Sarah’s earsplitting cross between speech and screech), Senator McCain’s ex-running mate endorsed Donald Trump. For Sarah, this was a windfall: as an unreal reality star on the decline, she could bask in Trump’s spotlight. And she did not disappoint. Vote for Donald, she bellowed, because when it comes to oil rich countries, “we’re paying for some of their squirmishes,” while they’re yelling, “‘Allahu akbar’ and calling jihad on each other’s heads…” Drawing on an old favorite, she added that “In fact it’s time to drill, baby, drill, and hold those folks accountable.” When she chuckled and said, “Heads are spinning,” she must have been channeling well-documented hatred at me (and my co-authors) because I grew so dizzy I nearly sliced my thumb.

Unfortunately, this buffoonery is suddenly serious business. One has to wonder what the hell is going on when Sarah Palin (whose visit coincided with the arrest for domestic violence of her son, Track – a situation she blamed on President Obama – and the second birth out-of-wedlock for her daughter Bristol) is considered a political asset. Only in Donald Trump-land (and/or Ted Cruz-ville) is Sarah suggesting you have “…the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve…” considered a coup (Trump even went so far as to suggest Sarah might have a role in his Cabinet, though I suspect he cheekily meant in his literal cabinet, alongside beach towels and pillowcases).

When Blind Allegiance came out, the book’s stunning revelations caused a stir. For one, it seemed impossible that Senator McCain offered this supremely unqualified woman the vice presidency without any substantive vetting (according to emails to and from Sarah and McCain’s team, not even her tax records had been collected within 48 hours of her being offered the VP slot, nor did they interview anyone in her administration). Or that a woman whose tenure as Alaska’s governor consisted largely of initiating covert vendetta’s against perceived enemies (including an effort to destroy the career of her ex-brother in-law – an Alaskan state trooper – and encouraging and abating a smear campaign against a neighbor who complained about too many tour busses in the vicinity of the governor’s mansion). The book further established that Sarah broke campaign finance law while running for governor, a matter she steadfastly denied until it was no longer credible. The business of being governor? Never a priority, not when it came to coordinating ghost-written autobiographies and op eds.

So how is this woman – who ought to remind us how dangerous it is to place an unqualified and dangerous person so close to the most powerful job in the world – now an asset to someone seeking the most powerful job in the world? Apparently not enough people learned that lesson. And once again, with the ascendency of Donald Trump – a man whose statements are, according to Politifact, either mostly untrue or totally false 63% of the time – we find ourselves staring at another preposterous potentialpolitical force. Build a wall paid for by Mexico? Ban all Muslims from entering the country? “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”

Trump and Palin constantly complain about the bias and unfair nature of the media, but it is precisely the media to which they owe their ascendency. On Tuesday, every major network gave a former half-governor-quitter wall-to-wall coverage and then debated, with straight faces, the merits of her endorsement. Daily they broadcast the same egomaniacal ranting of a man who is, beyond explanation, the GOP frontrunner. When the British Parliament debated this week over whether to ban Trump from visiting, Labour’s Jack Dromey pithily said: “Donald Trump is a fool. He is free to be a fool. He is not free to be a dangerous fool on our shores.”

For Trump, he could care less what the Brits think. After all, he is free to be a dangerous fool on these shores and, just maybe, a dangerous president.