She is just as much a fantasist as our current President. She is just as corrupt, and lies just as shamelessly, because she believes every lie she tells.
That's what makes her loved.
I have said here many times that, if the Republican Party could re-nominate George W. Bush for President, it would. He remains far more popular within the party than their actual candidate, John McCain, who in nominating Palin has come close to creating a literal McCain-Bush ticket.
Those who are now gleefully condemning the pick, and wondering how it has raised McCain's poll numbers, don't get it.
For conservatives, as for liberals a generation ago, fantasy has become reality. It is a hallmark of a generational election that this happens inside the incumbent party. Everything argues against what you believe, so you believe in it all the more. You create your own fantasy world in which what you believe is always true, and anyone who questions always false, and you may even be willing to die for that belief.
Isn't that what Confederates did for their fantasy? Isn't that what Populists did for their fantasy? Isn't that why Republicans went down to with Hoover even after he sent Douglas McArthur out to crush the Bonus Army?
More important, isn't that ultimately what was inside the anti-war movement of a generation ago, its secret sauce? Abandon reality. Embrace fantasy. The world will conform to what you pretend it to be.
Want to know how I know this is true? When Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain gave their big speeches to the Republican Convention last week, they wore their hair down. All other nights they kept it pinned up. They deliberately made themselves up as figures of right-wing sexual fantasy, and made of that stage their bed.
Why is it no one caught this? Because today's press, like the media of a generation ago, is caught up in the fantasy.
The whole point of Nixonism was that the world was as it was, that fantasy has no place in the real world. That rejection condemned any who participated in the New Left of the 1960s to exile from the majority view ever since. Even Bill Clinton, despite George H.W. Bush's failure, despite Bob Dole's weakness as an opponent, despite even the economic growth he generated, was never able to win a majority of America's votes, and why he grew increasingly hated by the right as his success became more apparent. That's why conservatives still like pictures of Bill and Hillary from the 1970s, he with a scuffy beard, her with thick glasses. Hippies. Evil. Reject them.
When did this considered judgment turn into rank prejudice, and when did the reality of Nixonism become the fantasy of Nixonland which eventually coughed up Sarah Palin like a hairball, a Bizarro World Earth Mother?
I would argue that it began during the Clinton impeachment a decade ago. Conservatives insisted that scandal wasn't about the sex, so much as it was lying about the sex. But reality is it was about the sex. They should have done what conservatives do -- find a hotel room and check in under an assumed name -- rather than enjoying fellatio right there in the Oval Office.
Organizations like Moveon.org, blogs like DailyKos, the whole new liberal framework is, like the New Right of a generation ago, an attempt to counteract the fantasies of the ruling class with a reality-based community that can challenge and overthrow them. The typical blogger isn't some pimply-faced kid typing in their pajamas. They're more like me -- middle-aged, respectable, and horrified at the fantasies driving policy.
My daughter got it right two years ago, when I first compared today's wingnuts to the hippies of a generation ago. They're not hippies, they're haties, she said.
Hatred and prejudice create a reality-distortion field, in which what you support is defined by how angry it makes the object of your hatred. Sarah Palin is a product of that distortion field.
She is, and always has been, pure fraud.
- She took her small town from a surplus to a deficit, transforming it from Northern Exposure to Big Box Central in the process -- America's northernmost strip mall.
- She embraced earmarks, hired a lobbyist to go after them, and supported the Bridge to Nowhere, going so far as to literally build an access road to nowhere when that was the only way to spend the money.
- She has no truck with evolution or global warming, preferring to ignore science and exterminate polar bears and wolves in favor of exploiting resources.
- She has made common cause with insurrectionists who wish to seize Alaska for themselves, buy it all up, and then carve its wilderness like a giant steak for their delectation.
- She made the choice that her child would bear a child, and then demands that government keep that choice from other families.
- She lies with impunity, and anyone who criticizes becomes an object of faux-scorn. The whole purpose of the "lipstick on a pig" nonsense is to seize the language, let the Far Right say anything but let the majority say nothing.
- She didn't know what the Vice President did a month ago. She didn't know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were private until a week ago, when they were seized and made public.
Yet at the same time Sarah Palin appears to be the fantasy President for an immense number of people. What's most important to understand is there is no contradiction between her lies and this fantasy.
The problem is that the fantasy is shared only by a relatively small, and diminishing, portion of the American electorate. Sarah Palin is the wingnut's Janet Joplin (left), a symbol of all they adore and of the excesses of her time.
The fact that she was apparently discovered by Karl Rove and the Christian Right is also important to our story. Karl Rove has become Bill Graham. The evangelical church has become what the nation's elite universities were in the 1960s -- fat, corrupt, elitist, arrogant, claiming to be holders of truth but now unmasked as just bigots with fat wallets.
So I have no doubt, still, that given an honest election, Barack Obama will win. I wonder, still, whether such a thing is possible, since the difference between the modern fascism of Rove and the hippies of a generation ago is that those kids just thought they could seize power and he really has it.
But I will cling to my belief in reality throughout this crisis. And I urge you to cling to your belief in it as well.