THE MYTH OF SARAH CINDERELLA
The New York Observer's blog has excerpts of a subscribers-only interview with Sarah Palin that was published in the October 2007 issue of Monocle, a rather frou-frou British magazine ("Edited by Wallpaper* founder and Financial Times columnist Tyler Brûlé, Monocle offers a comprehensive global briefing under a single editorial brand. In print and online, writers and photographers are dispatched to over 50 countries every issue to deliver stories on forgotten states, alluring political figures, emerging brands, fresh forces in popular culture and inspiring design solutions").
Now, one might wonder why an Everygal small-state governor was even being interviewed by this ultra-chic magazine. And one might also assume that Everygal would be shocked by such attention, and perhaps a bit flustered. But not only did Palin seem utterly unruffled, she managed to slip her #1 self-branding catchphrase into what appears to be her very first answer:
Monocle: You must have heard the recent gossip that Rudy Giuliani, if he emerges as Republican nominee for President next year, might ask you to be his running mate. Would you consider it?
Sarah Palin: I think it is so far in outer space, the possibility that he would ever want a hockey mum from Wasilla to be his running mate, that I haven't considered it. I think the obligation that I have here is to serve my four-year term as a governor of Alaska. That's the deal that I struck with voters. There is much more that Alaska can do to contribute to the US and I think I can help it do that as governor. But it would obviously be an honour for me to serve the country. And for Alaska's sake too, it would be very good for our future for an Alaskan to be serving nationally....
(Emphasis mine, not that you needed it.)
She's slick. She was slick then. She was self-branding relentlessly even then, when allegedly she was nothing more than a backwater citizen-governor.
Why does this matter? Because the GOP is going to try to fool America again into believing that the Democrats are slick phonies and John McCain and (especially) Sarah Palin are Jes' Folks. Here, I'll let GOP flack Patrick Ruffini give you the spin points:
The Regular People Party
...something about the Palin pregnancy controversy compels me to make a slightly provocative point that I also think aptly sums up the Republican identity in this week of GOP-centrism.
At its heart, the Republican Party is the party of regular people.
...Republican leaders at the national level have tended to tap into apolitical America more. Theirs are usually not the candidates who are scheming from birth to be President.
...As the Politico notes, everything about [Palin's] life experience reinforces the narrative that she is not an all-consumming political animal....
This myth wins votes. You know how it goes: Al Gore had a lifelong ambition to be president, as opposed to George W. Bush, who "did not lust for the White House." Hillary Clinton's presidential run was the fulfillment of a "secret pact of ambition" with her husband. Obama is running out of pure ego while McCain is running as a selfless service to his country. And so on and so on. (Hell, a month ago we had David Brooks telling us that Ronald Reagan "was forever associated with the small-town virtues of Dixon [Illinois]," even though Reagan was elected president 43 years after he went Hollywood.)
Don't let them sell us this myth again. John McCain is very, very ambitious. And so is Sarah Palin, even though every journalist is so bedazzled by her carefully buffed ordinariness that you'll always be told just the opposite.
Did I say "ambitious"? Read this Time story just linked by Atrios. Then tell me she isn't a "political animal."