Sarah Palin, who believes she can beat Barack Obama, is still pretending to be a regular, just-folks girl. She flies economy class! And she keeps in touch with The People: "I just tweet; that's just the way I roll."
Palin has declared her weighing of a presidential run both to the New York Times Magazine and Barbara Walters, whom she told, "I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and ... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing."
It might be a good thing for Democrats, especially if the GOP candidates get entangled in the messy Palin forcefield for awhile. For the discourse? Maybe the discourse on authenticity and how it is that Palin manages to convince supporters she is just like them, even as she lives an extraordinary life. We see a little bit how this life is structured in Robert Draper's Times piece: haphazard, surreal, engorged on ever-growing attention.
Rob Walker hit on this contradiction yesterday at the Awl, on "the media genius of Sarah Palin: She wants to be perceived as dull, regular folk, someone who spends her days doing nothing more remarkable than riding in a prop-plane to a pristine fishing spot, or popping into the backyard TV studio to do a segment on Fox-just like everybody else in America."
It is her shamelessness, or oblivious, that allows her to say things like this of Beltway people and liberals and the president:
"They're in an isolated bubble - Barack Obama mentioned that in his press conference, and I agree with him, he is isolated from what average Americans are talking about," she said, referring to the president's words after the midterm elections. "But what he was meaning, of course, was that he's not in touch with average Americans. I am - because that's who I am. That's who surrounds me, common-sense Americans who just want government on their side, not riding their backs. And I tweet to reach out to them."
It also allows her to describe her social media output, which then becomes fodder at White House press conferences, as "Just expressing my feelings via Twitter and Facebook. I choose them because they're convenient for me, especially from Wasilla." Also convenient: that backyard TV studio and the Fox gig, and the book deals, and the two reality shows.
But she's still pushing that hockey mom line, telling Draper, "As I replied to Politico, [Republican hopefuls] want to be trusted to tend to our nation's economic woes? They want to be trusted to take on the likes of Ahmadinejad, but they won't take on a hockey mom from Wasilla? Until they do that, I dismiss them."
Elsewhere in the profile are sentences ripe with hilarity, intentional or otherwise: "'Some within the establishment don't like the fact that I won't back down to a good-old-boys' club,' she declared on Fox Business Network." And "Nonetheless, it was a good night in Palin's estimation: a majority of her endorsees won, the Republicans took the House and Bristol survived another round of voting on Dancing With the Stars." This is vintage Palin: her inability to see the irony or the contradictions, the conflation of entertainment and reality TV-style shenanigans with politics.
She also calls out sexism as she sees it:
She cited a recent Anchorage Daily News article that commented on her casual manner of dress at a rally for Joe Miller, as well as a Politico headline that used the word "drama" for an item about Representative Michele Bachmann's quest for a Republican leadership position. Palin viewed these references as sexist - but also, she said, as "distractions."
Distractions from what, exactly? Her continued fame is predicated not just on her charisma and her willingness to say ridiculous things, but in her engagement of small-bore annoyances alongside trying to take a stand on monetary policy. Maybe that's what makes some people still believe she's just like them. It may not get her to the presidency (God willing) but it's gotten her pretty far.