Published Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 1:27 PM
The last time I mentioned Sarah Palin in this pastoral kind of patch it was at the direct request of our beloved editor. Hacks of my generation tend to do what editors request, so I produced.
I said, in synopsis, that because she was sassy and a breath of fresh air on the political scene, and since she had gorgeous eyes and legs, that I would be tempted to cross party lines here in Ireland and vote for her election to the local town council. She would be a bit of craic at that level.
I added, however, that she was a Calamity Jane kind of character, not the sharpest tool in the political box, and that I would never vote for her at any level much above the local council. And I concluded, again in synopsis, that I could not believe America would consider putting her an aged colleague's heartbeat away from being the most powerful woman in the world. Or words to that effect.
This was directly following her selection as John McCain's running mate. As we thankfully now know that did not lead to anything.
What I clearly remember afterwards was the very considerable reader reaction to my piece. Over here we tend to believe that Irish America strongly supports the Democrats.
That was largely borne out in the reaction, but I was surprised there was a quite significant segment of support expressed for Palin and
McCain. There are Irish and Irish American members of the Republican Party reading the Irish Voice too, and some of them were quite angry with me for saying what I did.
Okay, I enjoyed all the reaction, and in a few weeks after Barack Obama's election it is fair to say I forgot all about Sarah Palin from Alaska.
And dammit, the Irish Voice editor mentioned her name to me again last week.
"Is she not back in Alaska again murdering moose?" is what I said.
"No,” says Debbie. "She has written a memoir called 'Going Rogue' and she is on a promotional tour for it all through the country at the moment. More than that, I'll have you know that she is the most popular speaker the Republicans have at the moment, she's drawing huge crowds.
“And there is even the emerging suggestion that this might even be her opening shots in a campaign to run for president in 2012. She has not said that herself, but there are some other people saying it. She's very much in the headlines again. Will you write your reaction to that for me?"
Hacks of my generation tend to do what editors request...
I pursued Sarah into the churning surf of the Internet, and dammit I finally caught up with her in a place called Grand Rapids, Michigan, courtesy of an excellent reporter called Kevin Connolly (has to be Irish!) who was covering her book promotional tour.
I even saw a video clip of her in action in Grand Rapids, and in all fairness she is looking well. She was a lady in red on the night, her lower lip was glossier than ever, her eyes were bright, and the brief glimpse I caught of her legs was very satisfactory indeed.
And she's surely on the stump. Kevin said that she was razoring the spin doctors that had such trouble with her during the presidential campaign, giving them stick right left and center, the bloody city slickers.
There was not much ideology in the book, he said, but that did not matter at all to the thousands who had been waiting in line for hours to buy their copy of what is already a runaway bestseller.
Grand Rapids, he said, would be an extremely Republican little backwater, and the other stops on her tour were similar party strongholds. And they love Sarah to bits.
"Run for president!" called out the little old ladies who were patiently knitting their way up to the top of the queue.
He found that the oldest Palinite in the line was 82. There were kids there as young as 10 years saying she was their heroine.
Middle-aged businessmen patiently standing in line told him that Sarah was one of them, she understood the real America, she was not of the liberal elite from the big universities in the big
cities, she was a 9-to-5er who knew the score down at the grass roots of Grand Rapids and all the Grand Rapids that make up rural America. Kevin was highly impressed by the linkage between Palin and the plain people and said, as he concluded near a small diner called the Red Robin close to the normally placid entrance to the Woodland Mall, that Palin's continuing popularity is already probably beginning to worry opponents.
Interesting indeed. And I thought she was back shooting moose in Alaska!
Which brings me to a weightier thought zone than the ones I normally enter. We all know about the Teflon Effect in politics and Life generally. Is there a mutation of that on the reverse side in the modern media?
If that media, for whatever reason, feeds in a frenzy on a flamboyant subject for a period, is it ever able to cease so doing? Are those subjects going to be spot-lit forever long after the original cause has dissipated itself?
And what are the effects of this continuing exposure upon the masses? Will Sarah's glossy lower lip still be adhering itself to the nation's screens when those 10 year olds in Grand Rapids are 40?