Sarah Palin’s Biography in 2064
October 6, 2008
In honor of Sarah Palin, who would have been one-hundred years old this year, Shotgun Books is releasing Palin: Maverick, Stateswoman, and Mom. The first chapter follows:
Not since the evening Richard Nixon resigned more than three decades earlier had Republicans so dreaded a night as October second, 2008. Even Democrats reached with trepidation for their television controls. Only sadists root for someone to suffer, and most of the seventy million Americans tuned in did not want to witness another rhetorical train wreck. Republicans prayed for only minor ineptitude. Democrats yearned for another troubling television performance, certainly, but not one that humiliated Governor Sarah Palin, merely one that would forever send her back to Alaska where her folksy expressions and ignorance of national and international issues would not only be forgiven but cherished.
Palin’s opponent in the vice-presidential showdown, Senator Joe Biden, did not underestimate the governor – he had studied her numerous winning debates in Alaska and understood what she lacked in knowledge she overcame with prettiness, charm, and an ability to bond with voters – and spent days drilling with his team in a Wilmington, Delaware hotel suite. The debate of October second would not be another wide-ranging oral examination by network news anchors, pedantic Charles Gibson and suspicious schoolmarm Katie Couric. This debate was formatted, at Republican insistence, to allow Palin to respond to questions in her style and express what she thought and felt rather than what she did not know. The moderator was also ideal for Republicans: Gwen Ifill had been writing an almost-finished book about the age of Barack Obama and other African American politicians and would likely stifle relevant follow-up questions to avoid appearing to favor Obama’s running mate.
In a sleek black dress Palin stepped smartly on stage, double-pumped Biden’s hand, and asked if she could call him Joe. Middle Americans swooned. This time, their girl Sarah was at ease. Heck, she said she knew this was a bad time for the economy and all any of them had to do was go to a kid’s soccer game and ask. The problem was the federal government had not provided sound oversight, but her partner, John McCain, had sounded that warning bell. Why the noted deregulator deserved such credit, Gwen Ifill did not ask and neither did Sarah’s supporters. They were delighted she promised new energy would be coming with reform.
We will try to only intermittently interrupt Sarah Palin’s flow with the knowledge and rhetorical skill Joe Biden had developed in thirty-five years in the Senate. Biden was not relevant to those Sarah addressed. He was too sophisticated. They wanted their next-door neighbor to tell them the economic crisis was caused by predator lenders who wanted them to live beyond their means. She was right about that. Who could disagree? Certainly not the Everyday American People Joe Six Pack Hockey Moms who’d begun a telepathic embrace across the nation. Sarah would protect them against this strange man, Barack Obama, and his running mate, who’d both voted 94 times to increase taxes. It didn’t matter Biden said McCain, by that standard, had done so 477 times. The Democrats’ plan to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans didn’t mean squat in the homes of Six Pack Moms. Sarah said she’d been a certified tax cutter as Mayor of Wasilla, and that resonated. So did her promise that McCain’s $5,000 health care tax credit would allow them to get out there and buy their own health insurance, and keep government out of things since it was only patriotic to note government couldn’t fix everything and was often the problem in the first place.
Cheers and fist pumping greeted Sarah’s assertion she’d taken on the big oil companies as Governor of Alaska and fought against Barack Obama, who’d voted to give those tax breaks to oil companies that she then had to turn around and kind of undo in her own area of expertise, and that’s energy. Everything would be all right, Sarah assured her base, if those East Coast politicians, who don’t allow energy-producing states like Alaska to produce much domestic energy, would stop forcing us to rely on unfriendly foreign countries to produce our energy. Don’t they understand? Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future, to our economic future, and to our national security. Biden wondered how we’d achieve this with only three percent of the world’s oil while consuming a quarter of the global supply, and with McCain frequently opposing development of alternative energy sources. That didn’t worry Sarah. She was bothered many people thought global warming was man made. Maybe some of it was. But not all. Cyclical changes in weather were also important. And so were those countries which even polluted more than America would ever stand for.
Sarah winked. Perhaps not at this point but sometimes. She smiled and winked and looked right into the camera, straight into the hearts of Middle Americas. She understood them. She was them, and they were her and happy to all of a sudden be so pretty and perky and good at punching big boys from the East.
Despite her state’s proximity to Russia, Sarah Palin had by October second, 2008 stopped claiming geography blessed her with foreign policy expertise. She was instead alarmed that Barack had been against the troop surge in Iraq and wanted to run up the white flag there. That would be a travesty. Why wouldn’t Barack admit the surge worked? The base was nodding and clapping. They were the tough people who’d long fought this nation’s wars and whose kids had done so in this war, along with the boys of Palin, McCain, and Biden.
There was international consensus that Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon would be destabilizing, but no politician framed the problem like Sarah: an armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. That, she explained, is because President Ahmadinejad had claimed Israel is a stinking corpse, a country that should be wiped off the face of the earth. A leader like Ahmadinejad, who is not sane or stable when he says things like that is not one we can allow to acquire nuclear energy, nuclear weapons. He’s the kind of guy, along with Kim Jong-Il of North Korea and the Castro brothers, who Barack Obama wants to meet without preconditions. The base yawned when technical Joe pointed out Ahmadinejad was not the most powerful leader in Iran or in control of the military. Five former Secretaries of State, as well as friends and allies, had urged the United States to sit down and talk. That little mattered. Republicans had long declared: freedom is on the march. Sarah’s people didn’t hear Biden’s explanation that the only thing really on the march was Iran, which benefited from chaos wrought by Republican policies.
Sarah rebuked Biden and the Democrats for constantly looking back and pointing fingers while claiming to be the party of change. Past is prologue, Biden replied. Hockey Moms and Joe Six Packs jeered that uppity response and were already concentrating as Sarah explained: nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period. She hadn’t responded when Biden earlier noted that increasingly agitated Pakistan already held nuclear weapons. Sarah clung to her script. An Iraq-like surge was now needed in Afghanistan. She ignored Biden’s point that three weeks of U.S. spending in Iraq equaled seven years funding for Afghanistan. What counted was that John McCain knew how to win a war. How did he know? People had already learned not to ask Sarah difficult questions or risk riding into another verbal labyrinth.
Sometimes Sarah tossed in short and confusing sentences. When Biden said the middle class had gotten the short end of the stick financially and he could prove it by going back to his old hometown, she said say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. Was Sarah, in the first clause, alluding to the shattered child asking baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson to deny he’d helped fix the 1919 World Series? In the second, was she trying to invoke Ronald Reagan’s 1980 “there you go again” riposte to a remark by Jimmy Carter? Sarah never explained. Historians concluded she must have confusedly combined two staff-prepared one-liners. That endeared her to followers: she was unlike a traditional president; she was the new Sarah Barracuda.
To the question of whether she believed, as Dick Cheney did, that the vice president is also a member of the legislative branch, Sarah responded: well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.
Joe Biden insisted the Constitution had always limited the vice president to the executive branch. Sarah was unfazed. When asked if her inexperience was an Achilles heel, she declared: my experience as an executive will be put to good use as a mayor and business owner and oil and gas regulator and then as governor of a huge state, a huge energy producing state that is accounting for much progress towards getting our nation energy independence and that’s extremely important.
Discussions at the kitchen table with her husband were also vital and so was her world view shared with John McCain: that says America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights.
Note from Shotgun Press – The appeal of Sarah Palin, during the collapse of financial institutions and loss of jobs in the fall of 2008, was almost enough to rescue crotchety John McCain, but Barack Obama edged him in the November election. Even that was a victory for Sarah. She was positioned to lead the Republican ticket it 2012 but declined since Obama was a popular president who’d cleaned up some of the Bush-Cheney detritus. She knew what would happen in 2016.