For we mere mortals it is usually fun and always compellingly fascinating when we see the high and mighty slip on a banana skin. In the last week it is two American politicians, Sarah Palin and Anthony Weiner, who have provided us with the humour and pathos of seeing how far the mighty can fall, and laugh at their discomfiture along the way.
Sarah Palin is currently engaged in criss-crossing the United States, meeting and greeting ‘the people’ on a ‘one nation’ promotion. (Where have I heard that expression before?)
Despite her denial that she is running for president in 2012, this latest exercise is nothing more than the Clayton’s presidential campaign; i.e., the campaign you have when you’re not having a campaign.
Sarah Palin has many things going for her – she is extremely attractive, she has a gutter-rat shrewdness for knowing what buttons to push to get the response she seeks, and she is never stuck for a word. She knows what resonates with her core audience, never missing an opportunity, even when one doesn’t exist, of trying to make a political point.
The problem with Palin is that she is neither bright nor knowledgeable which you have to be if you wish to follow this folksy, worldly-wise kind of political approach. She is, however, arrogant. Ignorance and arrogance do not sit well together. They combine to make a cocktail with potentially disastrous consequences.
At the moment she is in no real position of political power so we can look forward to her gaffes with much amusement. The latest, the ride of Paul Revere, came from a no brainer, really innocuous question. Palin couldn’t help herself – the buzz words that resonate: “arms”, “freedom”, “gun”, “liberty” were all inarticulately wrapped up in Palinspeak, requiring the mainstream media to supply subtitles for the benefit of those of us who went “what?” and then fell about laughing.
Two aspects of this blunder I find interesting. The first is Palin’s inability to …fess up to making a boo boo. Even I, not an American, know about the ride of Paul Revere. How is it that she doesn’t? What are they teaching, or not teaching, within the American education system? Was she ever paying attention? Who knows – she doesn’t!
There would be more respect for Palin if she had the balls to be able to say ‘well I stuffed that up’, and have fun with acknowledging the stuff up. But she can’t, and that is the arrogance coming to the surface. She must always be right, or more accurately, she can never be wrong! Palin reminds me of Pauline Hanson when she was at her political prime. It will be interesting to see if she suffers the same fate.
The other Palin-blunder repercussion which I find to be the most disturbing aspect of this debacle was the attempts by Palin supporters to re-write Wikipedia’s historical entry on Paul Revere. Palin can’t be wrong, therefore history must be – so let’s change it. It is plaudits and bouquets to the Wiki people that these attacks of historical vandalism were corrected so promptly and further ones prevented. Wiki’s credibility has certainly increased as a result.
For Palin the show goes on and her inability to speak off the cuff will continue to supply the water fountain joke moments.
Anthony Weiner introduces the moment of pathos to this week’s political sit-com. The real issue is not Weiner tweeting photographs of private bits and pieces to the world at large. Ultimately this is an issue for Weiner and his wife and no one else. However, it is the subsequent action of lying about it that is the real cause for outrage, and the serious lack of political judgement, the real cause for concern. His about-face, when he finally acknowledged that he had erred after a week of panic and obfuscation, made it sadder and more pathetic. One hates to see the death of talent. He would have been in hot water if he had been honest at the outset, but hot water only not necessarily boiling. He certainly would have got brownie points for honesty – a commodity fast disappearing into total obscurity when it comes to politics and politicians.
Being a politician in USA is no easy task. In the current political environment, political participants as well as the mainstream media are driven by a conservative and rabid pack of bicycle seat sniffers. This should suggest that imprudent behavior is bound to have professional consequences. Weiner’s lack of political judgement, as well as his attempts at covering up his indiscretions, renders his short and mid-range political future to a place between bleak and non-existant.
And so we end the week with two politicians telling whoppers! Not a good example to set the rest of us.