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The Gist of Vanity Fair’s “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”

September 7, 2010

THE GIST of Michael Joseph Gross’ controversial Vanity Fair-article “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”:

One of the people.

“People who admire her believe she is just like them, and this conviction seems to satisfy their curiosity about the objective facts of her life. Those whose curiosity has not been satisfied have their work cut out for them.”

2012 presidential hopeful.

“Last July, the quarterly filing by Palin’s political-action committee, SarahPAC, revealed a formidable war chest and hefty investments in fund-raising and direct mail, the clearest signs yet that she may indeed run for president. Republican leaders privately dismiss her as too unpredictable and too undisciplined to run a serious campaign. But on she flies, carpet-bombing the 24-hour news cycle.”

Versatile public voice.

“Palin’s public voice is an instrument of great versatility. In a few moments, she can turn from kind to hateful, rational to unhinged. At her best Palin can be folksy and pungent. But she needs outside help to give her voice its national range.”

Identity politics.

“Falsehoods never damage Palin’s credibility with her admirers, because information and ideology are incidental to this relationship. Palin owes her power to identity politics, pitched with moralistic topspin. She exploits the same populist impulse that fueled the career of William Jennings Bryan—an impulse described by one Bryan biographer as ‘the yearning for a society run by and for ordinary people who lead virtuous lives.'”

Dog-whistle Christianity.

“Whenever I heard Palin speak on the road, her remarks were scored with code phrases expressing solidarity with fundamentalist Christians. … But it is Palin’s persistent encouragement of the prayer warriors that most clearly reveals her worldview: she is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on.”

In public vs. In private

“Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible.”

Moose chili.

“‘This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy,’ says one longtime friend of the family. ‘That woman has never hunted. The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It’s all a joke.’ The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin ‘[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before—‘Do you got any moose?’ Desperate.'”


“Palin is on track to earn well over $3 million in speaking fees for events this year.”

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