I highly recommend Game Change, the HBO film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 campaign
. Ed Harris is magnificent as John McCain, who is portrayed very sympathetically. I feel prouder than ever not to have voted for Barack Obama. I might even have voted for
McCain, if the man were not so enamored of military solutions to foreign policy problems.
While watching the Biden/Palin debate sequence, I told my ladyfriend that she (my ladyfriend) had played a role in these events. "If you hadn't spotted the Bush bulge
in 2004," I said, "Palin would have been wired during that debate." And perhaps even during the Couric interview.Update:
After I wrote the first version of this post, I was directed toward various articles from 2008
which alleged that Sarah Palin
was indeed "wired"
during the debate with Joe Biden. If so, why didn't she change her hairstyle? Women can cover their ears; men have not had the ability to do so since the early 1970s.
Even so, I urge you to click on the photo to enlarge it. The anomalous wire runs from her glasses to the ear canal; you can see the thing rather clearly in the full-sized version of this image. If Game Change
offers an accurate reflection of Palin's basic inability to keep facts lodged in her cranium, one can easily understand why the McCain campaign staffers resorted to this strategy.And now let's get back to our original story...
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace
has not contested the film's authenticity, so we can be reasonably certain that the script mostly reflects the facts. She says
“Game Change” is not a movie about Sarah Palin. And it’s definitely not about staffers like me.
It’s a film about the vast, murky gray area in which the majority of politics takes place...
I'm not sure you can make a film about a gray area. Films have protagonists and themes; films are about people and ideas. Sarah Palin is a nice person undone by a bad idea.
The former governor of Alaska got in over her head because she believed all of that nonsense about the supreme virtues of self-confidence. Convinced that an assertive and optimistic attitude would allow her to bluff her way through any challenge, she learned too late that people must be realistic about their limits. In the days before America became mired in the cult of positive thinking, a good-hearted ninny like Sarah Palin would have known better than to try to bullshit her way through a presidential campaign.
The person who should have vetted Sarah Palin was Sarah Palin.
Palin is an otherwise fine person who never had any business in politics. Someone who doesn't know the basic facts about (say) the Second World War should not run for high office. Or even low office. Hell, she shouldn't even be voting.
Palin is not stupid. She is something more troubling -- a reasonably intelligent woman who grew up in a culture that repeatedly drums home one message: "It's okay if you don't know anything about anything."
Back in 2004, I didn't take the strange affair of the Bush bulge so very seriously, even though this blog propelled that story into the national consciousness. To be frank, I promoted that meme because it made me giggle. Now the giggle sticks in my throat. The bulge represents a larger problem.
Sarah Palin and George W. Bush (along with a number of other political stars I could mention, not all of them Republican) are living exemplars of Robert Mitchum's famous maxim: Half the people in America are faking it.
If memory serves, he said those words in the 1950s. Things are different now: The number of fakers must be over 75%. The most significant difference between Mitchum's day and our own comes to this: Back then, people didn't expect the fakers to run the country. In 21st century America, being a faker confers a political advantage. Non-fakers are viewed with envy and distrust.
In the 1980s, I saw a poll which held that the majority of Americans under 40 refused to believe that the US and the USSR were allies during World War II. That poll jibed with my personal experience. I found that those who didn't know the truth about the alliance became infuriated when I tried to set them straight; some people even called me a communist, simply because I had managed to stay awake during history class (and had seen a lot of movies made during the 1940s).
The worst thing about badly-educated fakers is that they resent anyone who knows anything. The ignorant many will always want to vote for the ignorant few. Hence Palin. She is hardly the last of her breed.