Friday, September 03, 2010

revelation 17:4

Vanity Fair | It was a baking-hot Kansas afternoon, and from the lobby I watched as three slender, solemn young hairstylists and makeup artists approached a front-desk clerk at the Hyatt Regency hotel, in Wichita. The tallest of them said, “We’re here for North Star.” The desk clerk understood. He nodded and directed the three women to the Keeper of the Plains suite, on the 17th floor, where North Star herself awaited. The North Star is mentioned in Alaska’s state song and appears on its state flag. Fairbanks lies in a region called the North Star Borough. Palin is on the way to making North Star a personal brand. If she ever does run for president, it might well serve as her Secret Service code name.

Hours after the styling session, three bodyguards and one aide accompany Sarah, Todd, and Piper to a $1,000-a-plate V.I.P. dinner to raise money for Wichita’s Bethel Life School. Each guest has a photo taken with Palin and receives a “personally autographed bookplate copy” of Palin’s autobiography, Going Rogue. (The autographs are fake, made with an Autopen.) After dinner, Pat Boone, his skin a taut orange against the trademark white suit, leads the crowd in the singing of a spiritual. Congressman Todd Tiahrt, who will receive Palin’s endorsement in his race for the U.S. Senate, tells everyone to buy a copy of Palin’s book—“so Sarah can buy a Learjet!” (Learjet is based in Wichita.)

Palin delivers basically the same speech she gave 18 hours earlier to the Tea Party group in Independence. You could pretty much replace the word “constitution,” from yesterday’s remarks, with “Bible,” and be good to go. Then Palin departs from the script and speaks as if from the heart, describing her fear and confusion upon discovering that Trig would be born with Down syndrome. “I had never really been around a baby with special needs,” she tells her listeners. For what it’s worth, this statement is untrue. Depicting the same moment of discovery in her own book, Palin writes that she immediately thought of a special-needs child she knew very well: her autistic nephew. Such 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.”