Guys. I think it’s time. I really think it is. We need to talk about Sarah. Palin. We need to talk about Sarah Palin. And maybe about the possible ergot poisoning happening in Alaska, because the speech she gave to endorse Trump has been haunting me in a way that I can’t quite put into words. (Don’t worry, I’ll let her do the wording.)
So. Sarah Palin. What a trip, right? She’s like Tara Reid from a few years back, popping up every now and then just to remind us, it seemed, how much we hadn’t missed her. For some reason the PR guys behind 2016’s worst excuse for a presidential candidate and the PR guys behind purposefully firebombing poor (very) old John McCain’s doomed presidential run decided that they were both bored as hell and needed to join forces. Why? Because SNL has been boring lately, the media train that is Star Wars the Force Awakens has quietened down a little, and people are going to need some new crazy to fuel the blizzardy week. Or maybe they’ve just given up hope.
They’re actually post-post-postmodern literary geniuses looking for a stage.
I’ll take any of those options for $200, Alex.
Now, there are tons of articles out there tearing the speech apart as “nonsense” and as “psychobabble” and as “giving a sendup Paula Abdul’s run on American Idol” (that last one was just the article I’m writing in my head, but wow on point, right?) But I’m not here to do that. No, I want to take some of the best quotes to highlight their literary quality. Because it takes a lot of prowess, and a lot of ignorance, to say so many words that fit together so poorly with such a big smile. Let’s begin.
“Are you ready to make America great again? We all have a part in this. We all have a responsibility. Looking around at all of you, you hardworking Iowa families. You farm families, and teachers, and teamsters, and cops, and cooks. You rockin’ rollers. And holy rollers! All of you who work so hard. You full-time moms. You with the hands that rock the cradle. You all make the world go round, and now our cause is one.”
-This is the equivalent to the band’s calling out the city that they’re in during the first song. Sarah Palin knows you’re there, you plebeian masses. And she’ll prove it to you by reciting all of the jobs she found “normal people” do on Wikipedia. And to show she’s a soaring orator like “Barry Obama,” she’ll use the literary technique of repetition, using words and sounds multiple times in a sentence to indicate a unity. In her case, the first use is generally sensical, while the second use is generally… just words, sort of strung together with phrases taken from discarded Bon Jovi lyrics. But still. Powerful. Let’s continue.
“Well, I am here because like you I know that it is now or never. I’m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedom. And if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Thank a vet, and know that the United States military deserves a commander-in-chief that our country passionately, and will never apologize for this country.”
-Here we see Palin moving into the real meat of the issue, her head’s in the game, but her heart– her heart is just in the song. These lines are, of course, the inspiration for the astoundingly poignant upcoming sequel to High School Musical 4, High School Musical 5: Fight for your Right(s), where Troy is drafted into a newly mandatory army and sent overseas where he must fight the forces of a decidedly Middle Eastern-looking evil, in order for them to release their hold on the American people’s freedom of self expression through dance. The villain is the Capitulator-in-Chief, who would rather negotiate with enemies than see his country obliterated by nuclear holocaust. The hero leads the army in a decimation by droid fire, and then sings a touching duet moment with his pregnant wife while dancing on the ashes of what was recently an elementary school. The movie ends with his triumphant return home and his encouragement to everyone in his hometown to fight for their right to dance, before he tragically dies of radiation poisoning. Recently announced: In High School Musical 6, the gang goes to Havana for Spring Break!
“He is from the private sector, not a politician, can I get a “Hallelujah!” Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily.”
-Here we see Palin’s sophisticated use of verbal irony, assigning the character trait of fiscal responsibility to a figure with multiple bankruptcies and business failures, in order to highlight the fallibility of the superman character in the narrative.
There’s a lot more to the speech, but honestly I got bored of dissecting it. When listening to Palin’s speech I couldn’t help but think of this quote by Dr. Robert (Bono) from Across the Universe:
Dr. Robert: We’re navigators, we’re aviators, eatin’ taters, masturbatin’ alligators, bombardiers, we got no fears, won’t shed no tears, we’re pushin’ the frontiers of transcendental perception. Wait… Is Sarah Palin tripping acid? Because that was a gonzo kookookachu moment if I’ve ever seen one. Is she beaming down on us from a higher plane of consciousness? Mhm, probably not.
But she was definitely chosen as a speaker for a reason. Because after McCain’s fail, nobody involves Sarah Palin to help boost political credibility. You may as well call Tina Fey to speak in her place, for all the country sees her as a credible political entity. What Palin is used for is the old Razzle Dazzle.
She draws a crowd. And that crowd, no matter what their political beliefs, keeps listening until the end. People always use the term “like a car crash” to describe something you can’t look away from, but I’ve never seen a car crash happen in real life. I think a better term is “like that one couple having a heated fight at a party.” You know you shouldn’t watch, and deep down you don’t really care, but man is it entertaining.
See, Trump doesn’t really want the nomination. No, I know, he’s certainly making a show of pretending like he does. But what Trump’s career has shown us is that Trump’s power is in the ability to command attention. Not to influence thinking, not to engage in discourse or wield power over intellectuals, but to loom large in the consciousness of the masses– to engage in the Platonic immortality of not being forgotten. The Apprentice, Trump Enterprises, the illustrious Miss Universe pageant. The strength of his personality grows with every hash-taggable situation.
Or, to put it in a quote,
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
This campaign is a win-win for Trump. Will he get the Republican nomination? Probably not. Will he win the presidency? Nope. But in the next two years after the race, will any book he puts out, any show he stars on, any business venture or endorsement deal or reality show fuckabaloo he participates in be the top story on every news outlet in America?