Isn't it funny how some of the best political criticism ever comes quite by accident and unawares -- in this case, into an open mike?
The scene was a Sarah Palin address Friday night at a Cal State -- Stanislaus fund-raiser. You can see some of that above. Afterward, unawares into the open mic, an unseen reporter utters the money quote of the year in political analysis:
"Now I know the dumbness doesn't come from just soundbites."
THE ASCENT of Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, says something really bad about America today. And I'm not necessarily talking politics; I'm talking about things moral and culture here.
How is it that the biggest thing in the Republican Party right now is a woman who, judging the YouTube evidence, was a pretty horrible sportscaster on Anchorage TV? This before going on to be equally bad at everything else.
After tanking as a TV sports babe, Palin went on to be mayor of a little Alaska city, then parlayed that into the governor's mansion.
In Juneau, she served as an unexceptional (and basically unknown) chief executive, before being plucked from obscurity by Sen. John McCain to be his running mate in 2008. In that role, she was an woefully unprepared, extraordinarily gaffe-prone veep candidate who excited crowds by playing to their worst instincts.
And, unsurprisingly, the woman who sowed as much division inside the McCain-Palin campaign as she did among the electorate became a failed vice-presidential candidate when the Republicans went down in flames. This was before, less than a year later, she became a failed governor -- resigning her office amid a flurry of media scrutiny and state ethics investigations.
MEANWHILE, some point out that the woman isn't doing so hot at parenting, either.
But there is one thing at which Sarah Palin is really, really good -- promoting herself. And by extension, making money -- lots and lots of money -- off that self-promotion.
In a Salon column by Joan Walsh, we learn this about that "fund-raising" speech Palin gave in Turlock, Calif.:
Palin's entire appearance was controversial. Raising money for California State University-Stanislaus, she reportedly charged a $75,000 speaker's fee and asked for another $18,000 or so in expenses, including first class plane travel for her entourage and luxury accommodations. Although CSU is a public university, its leaders didn't disclose Palin's demands -- saying a private foundation was raising the funds, and was thus exempt from public disclosure laws – and we only know about them because intrepid student journalists found the contract in a dumpster.IT TAKES a special lack of integrity to make the kind of money Palin does for being such a colossal f***-up. For being such an ill-informed, unprepared doofus. For being such a political failure, not to mention a quitter.
In her speech Friday night, the vengeful Palin trashed the students as "dumpster divers" with her trademark meanness: "Students who spent their valuable, precious time diving through dumpsters before this event in order to silence someone ... what a wasted resource," she told the crowd. "A suggestion for those Dumpster divers: Instead of trying to tell people to sit down and shut up ... spend some time telling people like our president to finally stand up." CSU student journalists were barred from the speech.
It takes a special kind of gall to charge $93,000 to give an awful speech at a fund-raiser for a cash-strapped public university.
It takes a special kind of moral disorientation to be the public embodiment of Sarah Palin, Inc.
And we're just the kind of morally disoriented country to let her get away with it.