For the most part I stay away from commenting on Sarah Palin, in part because she has very nearly become a non-factor in American politics. But once in a while she’ll do something that is worth commenting on, if only because it provides a cautionary tale.
Take her comments on this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in which she tweeted: “That #WHCD was pathetic. The rest of America is out there working our asses off while these DC assclowns throw themselves a #nerdprom.”
On her Facebook page Palin added this:
Yuk it up media and pols. While America is buried in taxes and a fight for our rights, the permanent political class in DC dresses up and has a prom to make fun of themselves. No need for that, we get the real joke.
Now I’m not a particular fan or particular critic of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It is something of a Washington ritual, a night in which comedians and presidents deliver comments that are often funny and sometimes clever. The evening is harmless and quickly forgotten. It’s hard to get worked up about it either way. Unless you’re Sarah Palin.
Set aside the fact that in 2008 Ms. Palin tried very hard to become part of the political class in D.C. she now despises. And forget about the fact that as this report shows, in 2011 Palin appeared at both the Vanity Fair and MSNBC after-WHCD parties. (Her daughter, Bristol, went to the dinner.) From the pictures, she appeared to be yucking it right up with the elite media and politicians. Or that in 2009 then-governor Palin was scheduled to attend the dinner but canceled her plans due to emergency flooding back in Alaska. (Her husband Todd attended the D.C. ass-clown event in her place.)
The point I want to make is that Palin’s faux populist appeal is merely a convenient cover for what appears to be a consuming bitterness–rooted, I suppose, in her bad experiences and bad memories from the 2008 campaign.
To be fair, Ms. Palin was treated unfairly by many members of the press corps, though it also needs to be said many of her problems were caused by being ill-prepared and out of her depth on the national stage. (The Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson interviews were devastating not because they were “gotcha” interviews, but because she foundered even when asked basic questions, like which newspapers and periodicals she read.) It should be said, too, that many politicians have been savaged by the press, including George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, yet they never lost their grace or dignity.
Sarah Palin is an example of what can happen when a person is consumed by bitterness and grievances. It has a corrosive effect, and over the last several years she has, if anything, become even more brittle and embittered. From a human standpoint it’s a shame. And from a political standpoint it’s precisely the countenance and bearing conservatism and the GOP need to avoid.
The American people aren’t usually won over by angry politicians, and Sarah Palin is one angry individual. Fortunately, she’s also a marginal one.