Watching Palin

John Bucher is digital editor of BCBusiness Online.

For schadenfreude junkies, it has been a delicious fortnight.

Two weeks ago, Sarah Palin, the fresh Republican vice-presidential nominee, was a political star ascending. Huge crowds came out to see her wherever she went, she delivered a caustic Convention speech that energized a listless Republican base, and she made Barack Obama, who was slipping into a pull-away stride, look suddenly vulnerable and very much in reach.

Democrats began to worry: Is it possible that, even in this perfect-storm political season, we could lose again?

Well, they might still. But if they do it won’t be for a lack of public censure of Sarah Palin. She’s on fire, yes. Two weeks ago it was in the good way; now it’s in the melting-down dripping-at-the-edges way. And all it took, it seems, was a few media interviews to ignite the flame.

My media cup hath been running over. Here are the last two weeks’ finer statements by and about Palin, in no particular order.

“In what respect, Charlie? What, his world view?”

     —Palin responds to a question by ABC’s Charlie Gibson: “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”
“For a seventy-two-year-old cancer survivor to have placed this person directly behind himself in line for the Presidency was an act of almost incomprehensible cynicism and irresponsibility.”
     —New Yorker essayist Hendrik Hertzberg, writing after Palin’s wandering, fragmented, occasionally incoherent interview with CBS’s Katie Couric.
“Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to…I don’t know, you know…reporters.”
     —Sarah Palin, expanding on why she believes Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her foreign-policy experience, in that interview with Katie Couric.
“I can see Russia from my house!”
     —SNL’s Tina Fey, impersonating Sarah Palin discussing with Hillary Clinton the progress women have made in this 2008 election, an immediate sketch-comedy classic.

“Frankly, I have had it. The sexist treatment of Sarah Palin has to end.”

     —CNN’s Campbell Brown inveighs against the McCain campaign.
“I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she’s going to have the nuclear codes.”
     —Actor Matt Damon, in a CBS interview, compares Palin’s nomination to a “bad Disney movie.”
“Well, Alaska and Russia are only separated by a narrow maritime border. You’ve got Alaska right here, and this right here’s water, and up there is Russia.”
     —SNL’s Tina Fey, again impersonating Sarah Palin, this time – ouch – using the Governor’s actual words.

“I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t.”

     —New Yorker humourist George Saunders poking imitative fun at Palin’s answer (from the Gibson interview) about her willingness to be John McCain’s running mate.

“Ideologically, she is their hardcore pornographic centerfold spread, revealing the ugliest underside of Republican ambitions – their insanely zealous and cynical drive to win power by any means necessary, even at the cost of actual leadership.”

     —Salon’s Cintra Wilson delivers a blistering diatribe on the “political Viagra” that is Sarah Palin.

“Palin appeals to the white trash vote with her toned-down version of the porn actress look.”

     —Heather Mallick, lobbing at a similar criticism at Palin in a September 5th column that was ultimately removed from and apologized for.

And now two days remain before Palin’s vice-presidential debate showdown with Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden. Will the meltdown continue? What’s your call?