Saturday, November 08, 2008



The lynch-mob mentality is nothing new to America and, arguably, it was perfected in Hollywood, where mean-spirited people routinely make audience-friendly movies. Seems a tad contradictory, right?

Well, that's show biz, kid. And politics. Yes, now people with pretensions of running the country have adopted Hollywood's "mean girls" spirit.

Part One: Flashback

Norma Jean Baker, an ambitious puppy, came to Hollywood in the late 1940s, and was snapped up by the suits at Twentieth Century-Fox, who renamed her Marilyn Monroe and groomed her for stardom.

Hollywood created Marilyn, exploited her for a little more than 10 years and then set out to destroy her when she exhibited she had a mind.

I've no idea if, when Monroe died of an overdose on August 5th, 1962, it was intentional or accidental, but I am convinced that she was murdered.

By Hollywood. By the studio system.

Part Two: Flashforward
It's August, 2008 and John McCain, the Republican running for President of the United States, takes everyone by surprise when he selects a seeming unknown, Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, as his vice president - although it became increasingly clear not only that Palin was actually choosen by certain higher-ups, strategists, in the McCain campaign, but also that she wasn't exactly an unknown entity. She was well-known by a group of influential conservatives pundits, whom she aggressively courted.

An aside: I had an immediate, near-visceral dislike of Palin who, at turns, came across as such dubious movie characters as Tracy Flick ("Election") and Lonesome Rhodes ("A Face in the Crowd"). She seemed jaw-droppingly unqualified and this first impression was exacerbated by the venom she casually spewed about Barack Obama on the campaign trail.

And unlike most people, I don't perceive Palin as a modern woman. Quite the contrary, I find her rather retro, almost creepily so.

When McCain lost the election, without missing a beat, his camp - allegedly unbeknownst to him - set out make Palin the scapegoat.

Like Monroe, she was created by an evil system, exploited by it and then cruelly abandoned by it. She was on her own now.

Consequently, I've gone from a Palin detractor to a Palin sympathizer.

There's no doubt that Palin was complicit in all of this. But to put it bluntly, she's getting a raw deal - a very raw deal - from the very people, overpaid morons, who mindlessly foisted her on us in the first place.

Part Three: Flipflop

I never expected much from Sarah Palin but I did expect more from Rachel Maddow.

My decision to flipflop was prompted by Maddow, the MSNBC pundit who, up until about 9:30 p.m. (est) last night, I admired and enjoyed. I liked the way she thinks. She's smart, savvy, quick and sarcastic. Hey, what can I say? I'm a die-hard liberal.

But, frankly, her coverage on Friday of Palin's sad attempts to defend herself against a huge machine which includes the McCain campaign, probably McCain himself and the carnivorous media (and, by extention, Maddow herself) was outright disgusting. Hands-down. No argument.

It was the first time that I could say Rachel Maddow was toxic.

Of all the people who covered the election, Maddow came across as the most sensible and fair-minded. Certainly, she would see that the villain of the piece is not Palin but the monolith that is the McCain campaign. But no.

Gloating and glib, in a piece titled "The Annotated Palin," Maddow took it on herself to dissect - literally dissect - every sentence in Palin's response to the McCain cowards (probably men) who have set out to destroy her professionally because their hopeless candidate didn't win (a failure that, by the way, has the potential to damage their careers along the way).

Maddow played right into their hands. Her schtick went on for a good six or seven minutes and, as a male feminist, I found it appalling.

I can't decide who's worse - the anonymous McCain person leaking all the anti-Palin stuff to the press or the media which continues to spread the possibly fake (and possibly libelous/slanderous) tips so eagerly. Of course, it's been assumed it's a woman within the McCain camp doing all the spilling - thereby setting woman against woman. Very nice, guys.

And very typical, too.

Anyway, as Palin talked, Maddow gleefully dissected. And we didn't just get her voiceover. No, we were treated to shots of Maddow in the upper left corner of the screen making her trendily snarky facial expressions. Only this time, it looked more as if she was having an extended seizure.

I felt like I was back in Junior High. Depressing.

And the sad fact - something missing on Maddow - is that Palin spoke this time with absolute clarity. There was nothing wrong with what she said.

Very unattractive, Rachel, and very much beneath you. Go back and look at that ugly segment. If you're still happy with it, congratulations. You'll have a career as imposing as, say, Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaugh's.

A dubious aspiration indeed.

Note in Passing: At one point during the election campaign, one of Joe Scarborough's guests astutely opined that Sarah Palin possibly didn't work well with "handlers" probably because she was used to running her career on her own, mom and pop-style, with her husband, Todd.

She has certainly proven this to be right in the past couple of days, as she set out to defend herself. From where I sit, she's better when she, and only she, is in complete control of herself. My Question is, how on earth can she possibly pursue a national office - and run a major campaign for one - if she prefers going solitary, eschewing handlers?

Seems problematic.

(Artwork: Marilyn, Sarah and Rachel who - what? - just doesn't get it)


Moviezzz said...

Excellent post, Joe. I completely agree.

I was never a Palin fan, found her convention speech mean spirited, her stump speeches evil, and disagree with her on just about every issue. Yet these past two days, I found myself actually defending her.

I think all these stories coming out about her tell us more about how much vetting McCain did, rather than anything about Palin.

As for Rachel, I love her, she lives in my area so is a local hero, watch her show whenever I can, but I also found that "Annotated Palin" segment last night a bit much. She is better than that.

Sheila said...

Wow! You said it all. I also love Rachel - but her handling of the Palin story last night left me with a bad taste. Very disappointing!

Ben said...

I agree. I loath Palin and love Rachel, but I had to turn off the set during the "Annotated Palin" bit.

Anonymous said...

Maddow has done better but, remember, she's been getting lots of positive coverage lately. She's a rising new media star and maybe she's starting to flex her muscles a bit. Cut her a break. Hopefully, she'll return to form.

Cheryl said...

Here's the thing... Palin was not picked from obscurity. She actively lobbied for the job of VP and, far from being this little unknown hiding under a bushel basket on the tundra, is one of only 50 people who are called Governor in this country.

There had to be some pretty bad dust-ups for staffers to "go rogue" and spread these stories which, in fact, I believe to be true. If she had really done her job as "the candidate," and staffers thought of her as a possible presidential candidate in the future, the outcome would have been far different IMO.

Campaign employees need to hitch their wagon to a winner. If anyone thought that she really was one, their pieholes would have been shut tight.

Name me one other person ever parodied on SNL whose own words were used in a skit. Never happened. Palin sunk her own boat. So, sorry, but I can't get on board with your analysis.

She is charismatic in the way that Huey Long was and was ready and able to go after Obama on religion. (She said while it was up to McCain to make the call on Rev. Wright, she certainly saw that as a viable line of questioning.)

I could go on but I am really tired of Sarah Palin and hope she will be relegated to a footnote in history. And I think she will be. She does not have the intellectual ability, nor the inquisitive mind, required of a leader in a very complicated world.

The Pico Iyer story summed up nicely the geography behind the candidates - Barack and Palin. She is preparing for the "end of times." Barack is trying to move us forward.

Lynn said...

Maddow and Olbermann are soaring in the ratings. Maybe the success is going to Rachel's head. I'd like to believe it's only momentary. I think she's great and that Annotated Palin was just a lapse in judgment.

joe baltake said...


I absolutely agree with you about Palin. It's the McCain campaign that offends me. Regardless of Palin's ability as a politician, what the McCain campaign is doing - and the cowardly way they're doing it - affronts my sense of fairness.