This week, much of the media coverage has been all Sarah, as the former governor embarks on her triumphant victory lap around the country after publication of her book. Meanwhile, the news that will become history was happening in Washington, where Democrats in the Senate managed to move the nation one step closer to rectifying the situation that makes us No. 37 in the world in terms of public health according to the World Health Organization.
Palin’s been coy about her plans for the future, but nobody’s really fooled by her demure refusal to say what she plans to be doing in 2012. While some rational, responsible elected officials are busy working to solve America’s critical problems—the broken economy, the two wars, the antiquated health system, the crumbling infrastructure, the spiraling effects of environmental irresponsibility—Palin is preening for the cameras, pretending—and apparently actually believing—she has what it takes to be president. (Can anybody tell me—does she know yet whether Africa is a country or a continent?)
It’s disheartening that anyone—anyone at all—would take Palin (or her fellow rabble-rouser Glenn Beck) seriously as a candidate for public office. That as many as 20% of American adults do so is tragic and frightening. These entertainers represent exactly what we don’t need in this country or anywhere else in the world: people who don’t know the difference between thinking and emoting, who mistake populism for policy, and who think the end justifies the means when it comes to lying or deliberately stoking public fear and rage.
In her public appearances, there’s one sure way to tell if Palen’s either lying or talking about something she doesn’t know anything about: her mouth is moving. Since her book came out, staffers from John McCain’s campaign have been kept busy trying to correct the record on the many negative assertions she made about them in her book. Since her “death panels” rhetoric apparently didn’t play well in Peoria, she’s now making the ludicrous claim that under the proposed health reform legislation, those who don’t buy coverage could face jail time. When she’s not torturing the truth, she’s chanting the same mantra as all the other wing-nuts at the fringe: “No, no, no.” (And is there anything left of the old GOP but the fringe?)
You’ve got to hand it to her—Sarah knows how to grab a headline. And in America, people may choose to be willfully ignorant, negative, and mean spirited. It may not be morally right, but it’s legal.
Sarah will do what Sarah will do—and so will the rest of us. Every day, we make practical and moral choices about which books to buy, which TV stations to watch, and whether to “think” with our intellects or emotions.