Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, those darlings of the “let’s-piss-off-the-liberals” crowd, have been in the news again lately (but what else is new). Both separately and together, the two of them have shown the kind of attention-getting ability that makes our corporate-owned media fawn and flatter and drool over every attempt to extend their brands, over every incoherent tweet and ghost-written Facebook posting. Not bad, for a talk-show host who’s previous TV show was cancelled due to poor ratings, and a former beauty-pageant contestant, small-town mayor and half-term Governor who was plucked from obscurity by a desperate and senile John McCain.
Beck had his “8/28” rally last weekend (at which Palin made a guest appearance), and aside from Beck lying about holding George Washington’s First Inaugural address in his pudgy little hands, there wasn’t much there, there. Beck claimed that the rally wasn’t about politics; it was about “Restoring Honor,” and ushering in “the beginning of the end of darkness,”and “reclaiming the civil rights movement” (from the darkies, no doubt), and yadda yadda yadda. Obviously, a gathering of people who are 98% white and are not at all racist can do wonders to bridge the racial divide that still exists in this country.
Beck seems to be setting himself up as a 21st-century version of Jerry Falwell, which is funny as hell, considering the fact that he’s a Mormon, which is something just below Christian Scientists and just above Jehovah’s Witnesses on the standard evangelical moron’s chart of “Not-Christian” Christian denominations. Some people think that the animosity towards Mormonism displayed by the Religious Right can be overcome by Beck’s charisma and popularity, and perhaps pave the way for Mittmentum, but I’ll believe that when I see it. But there is no doubt that this modern-day Father Coughlin has settled on religious fervor (not to mention holy birdshit) as the next con to use in order to fleece the masses more thoroughly and completely:
Beck said, “I want to show you first that miracle that happened at 10:59. There are several versions of this, or at 9:59. There are several versions of what was happening. Do we have the videotape? At 9:59, what happened was there was a flock of geese. It was a flyover if you will. Somebody caught it on tape. Here’s the flyover. This was happening just as the opening music was starting. We wanted to have a flyover, but you can’t flyover in the District of Columbia. It was perfect coordination and perfect timing. Coincidence? Maybe? I think it was God’s flyover. It was not supposed to happen. We couldn’t get a flyover. We couldn’t even get anybody dressed in a military uniform to present the flag. We tried for almost a year. We couldn’t get it done. Thank God, we had our flyover.”
As always with teabaggers and other assorted know-nothings, the best part of the whole event was watching and hearing the participants eplain in their own words just what it was that brought them together in this hour of America’s greatest need:
Palin, meanwhile, is the subject of a new Vanity Fair profile by Michael Joseph Gross, which breathlessly claims that it “delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits—a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family—and the sadness she has left in her wake.” Crikey!
What we get instead is a lot of gossipy stuff about what a bad tipper Palin is; how Palin uses her kids as political props (which, of course, no other politician has every done before); how Palin uses ghostwriters (NO! No one has ever done that before!); how Palin has loud arguments with her husband; what a bad temper Palin has; how mean Palin is to the little people when there are no cameras around. In other words, the same kind of shallow political journalism that conventional wisdom mouthpieces like Politico do all the time, with little or no substantive reporting on what Sarah Palin actually stands for, and what kind of damage she is capable of doing if she were to ever achieve higher office. As Melissa McEwan at Shakesville puts it:
No, she’s not the worst because she’s a bad tipper and reportedly has the unmitigated temerity to have loud fights with her husband. And she’s not the worst just because she politicks with the mendacious, aw-shucks, insufferably affected demeanor that’s been a central part of conservative identity politics since Ronald Reagan’s carefully blushed cheeks. She’s not even the worst because she, like pretty much every other politician who’s angling for the presidency (not that that makes it right), consorts with political operatives who do shady things like set up questionable payment schemes for her speaking engagements.
She’s the worst because she’s an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, anti-socialized healthcare, anti-social safety net, pro-social Darwinism conservative asshole, just another self-proclaimed bootstrapper who belittles feminists and their advocacy for the programs and policies that help marginalized women and girls, who trades on being a rightwing token while demeaning the very activism that has afforded her the public platform on which she brazenly basks in the luxury of her disdain.
See also Jessica Grose and Hanna Rosin, who have similar points. One could argue that Palin’s self-proclaimed status as a “Mama Grizzly” and folksy, family-values conservative makes her more vulnerable to charges of bad parenting and unladylike behavior than politicians who don’t exploit Mom and Apple Pie as much as she does. In the end, however, it’s not going to bring her down, and it certainly won’t hurt her in the eyes of her ardent supporters, who already assume that whatever the “lamestream media” writes about her is going to be full of lies and anonymously-sourced innuendo.
The closest that Gross gets to any real reporting is when he describes all the shell corporations that have been set up solely to, as he puts it, “to pay Sarah Palin to give a speech.” He describes one of them this way:
In effect, PAL-PAC was a disposable entertainment company, set up to put on a one-day show that collected the contact information of thousands of people who came to see Palin in the flesh, and to give her their money. The organization has not been mentioned again anywhere online or in local newspapers. The group’s financial statements are curious. PAL-PAC was registered in Missouri last November; as of April 15, 2010, when it made its second quarterly disclosure report to the Missouri Ethics Commission, two weeks before Palin arrived in Independence, PAL-PAC had only $3,202 in the bank. This was not nearly enough money to reserve the venue, much less cover security, printing, advertising, or any of the other expenses associated with throwing an event for 4,000 people.
Unfortunately, like the rest of the article, a lot of innuendo gets tossed around, but little substance. Just exactly how illegal/unethical are these shell corporations? Gross doesn’t say – he just throws stuff out there, with no follow-up as to the ramifications, no attempt to connect the dots. It will take another profile, written by a better journalist, to tell us what we need to know about Sarah Palin.
The next installment of this saga will be on 9/11, when America’s Grifter Sweethearts will get together on Palin’s home turf to discuss ways to increase their superstardom (maybe they’ll announce a 2012 Palin/Beck presidential run?), and further separate the rubes from their hard-earned cash. Soon their faces will be on every magazine, and their voices will be on every frequency…
UPDATE: Edited to include Shakesville link.