Don’t Cry For Me, Wasilla
How fast was that train going when it hit that car on the tracks? It was not my intention to write about Sarah Palin, yet again, but I couldn’t help myself as she flashed across my television screen this morning. This has got to be the longest-lasting train wreck ever in American politics. The train just keeps moving forward – off the tracks now – plowing its way toward who knows what.
A pundit on Morning Joe today called it Sarah Palin’s “Victory Tour.” Everybody laughed because it’s a funny concept that a losing VP candidate just keeps on keeping on. No matter that the economy continues to falter with the stock markets around the globe falling precipitously; no matter that the real victor in the presidential race is planning his new administration; no matter that the Republican Party is in defeated shambles; the Wasilla Bunny — a nod to Eveready Batteries – continues beating her attention-getting drum and rolling from TV camera to TV camera.
This morning, as I watched her once again bring up Bill Ayers in an interview, I realized that she has got one foot firmly planted in the “glorious past” while trying to forge to the front of the line that would make up the Republican future. Her backward looking posture sent me even further back in time to another charismatic woman who rode populism married to fascism to a position of great influence and power, Eva Peron. Finally, in my historically thinking mind, I found that woman who most resembles the rise of Sarah Palin. Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to compare the personal life of Sarah Palin with that of the often unseemly Eva Peron; but politically I see some interesting parallels.
Senora Peron came to a position of influence by aligning herself with an older, well-connected man with political ambitions. Of course, the alignment took the form of marriage, the only option open to a woman in the Argentina of that time. But once she had used her considerable abilities to rally the common people of Argentina behind her man, touting her very legitimate ties to them, she became, as first lady, a power in her own right. One of the first things she did was to take her revenge on the “elitist” society of Buenos Aires by shunning them the way they had shunned her. The common people of Argentina loved her for it, and her husband Juan Peron appreciated her ability to form a populist base for his party. She became his confidant and in time became regarded as one would a saint among the common people.
She represented to them the possibilities that they had of moving up society’s ladder. Of course, the whole thing came down to a Hollywood-movie-worthy ending when she was taken from her people by cancer. Since that time, her sainthood has become a fact to many Argentines.
Spooky, huh? If you’re not quite there yet, throw into this mix that Juan Peron aligned himself with Adolf Hitler during World War II and basically ran a fascist-style government in his own country. It’s always interesting how quickly populism can turn into fascism with the help of a strong military element within the government. Juan Peron was a career military man on top of everything else and was not afraid to use it to solidify his power.
The more I look at that period, the more similarities I see in the McCain/Palin election playbook. Standing at the elegant balcony of the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Juan Peron gave throngs of supporters speeches about what he stood for, but the real star was “Evita.” It was for her that the crowds really came to life. She was the catalytic converter of his “Presidency.” She ignited the crowds to a level of frenzied support. Obviously, she possessed tremendous charisma and enough presence to put it to good work. Doesn’t this sound a lot like Sarah Palin? Even in defeat she manages to dominate the news media – all the while decrying its liberal bias – on her “Victory Tour” through every show that will have her. There she is being all “folksy” and saying things like, “John McCain, bless his heart…” That’s code for, “poor old thing doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
So the train wreck that was the McCain/Palin campaign continues to surge forward long after it should have come to rest. I sense that other ambitious contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination are gritting their teeth at this week’s governors conference. While not coming out and saying what they really think about Governor Palin, they almost to a man hint at their disdain, pointing out that it is far too early to be looking forward to 2012. But undeterred from her grand ambition, Sarah Palin charges ahead, eyes firmly fixed on 2012, even though she has given some recent lip service to the contrary.
Will she succeed? Most pundits say no, but who really knows? Only time will tell, but I still believe that she will find a crowded field of competitors emerge over the next three years and we’ll all find out what she’s made of. So far, she still looks like somebody who talks off the top of her head because she lacks any real depth of understanding outside a few issues. Today at the governors conference she offered – without using the campaign mantra “drill, baby, drill” – the same solution: let’s show as governors that we can drill our way out of this oil crisis. It’s the same old Sarah offering the same failed solutions to the same old party that seems stuck in a time warp.
My wish as a Democrat is that somehow she prevails in her quest for the Republican nomination while not losing her ways of talk first, think later politics. If the Religious Right rallies behind her pushing their social agenda one more time on the American people, I think they will find themselves on the losing side in even greater numbers. So I say, “Don’t cry for Sarah Palin. She can take care of herself.” I also say; “Run, Baby, Run!”
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!