Now that the hoopla surrounding Sarah Palin’s book tour has somewhat subsided, it’s time to figure out just what’s so important about it.
Only a few glimmers of reality have surrounded the coverage. For my money, Max Blumenthal, Saturday Night live, and Levi have it all figured out—and Billy Graham has allowed himself to be co-opted.
Simply put, many people, conservative and liberal alike, have underestimated Sarah Palin. She is a one woman wrecking crew. Blumenthal’s take on Palin in his TomDispatch.com article is striking for his focus on her destructive ability. By the time this book tour is finished, she will have succeeded in splitting the republican party, solidifying a new hard right religious base, and making enough money to turn Alaska into the New Jerusalem.
I’m only jesting about one of these pronouncements; but the fact is, Palin isn’t about rebuilding. She’s about destruction. There is a reason she was called “rogue.” Leave it to Saturday Night Live to once again capture the essence of Sarah Palin. In a deft mashup of the film 2012 and campaign clips, the destruction that ensues from the election of Sarah Palin as president in 2012 seems to be a prophecy that rivals any armageddon scene the Left Behind series could ever create:
Max Blumenthal destruction thesis is correct, but it needs a little beefing up. The havoc caused by Sarah Palin’s imagined election as president is a hint at what she’s all about today. Palin’s belief and worldview is not about creation and building, its about destruction and dominion. Destruction of what is “Evil” and building up for the “kingdom”; that is, a government run by Christians and Christian principles, and vetted by conservative hard-line beliefs, not theology. In order to have that happen, the current order, especially the Democrats’ version of government order, has to fail. What most liberals, Christians included, don’t understand, is that destruction paves the way for a new order ordained by God according to this belief system. Palin and those who ascribe to these fundamental beliefs regarding “bible prophecy” know that destruction must come, and violence has to occur. (Matt 11:12) Those who want to wrestle for “God’s Kingdom” will have to be forthright, plainspoken, and not about building bridges. Sounds like Sarah Palin to me. Couple Palin’s mission with the tea parties, and well, you get the picture.
Whatever you think about Sarah Palin, you have to admit, any way it goes, the dice have rolled right by her, even when it seems she has crapped out. Palin may have taken a hit for quitting the governorship, but hey, when you’ve got your own tour bus like Brent Michaels in “Rock of Love” with your picture painted on it, who wouldn’t quit Alaska and smelling like salmon? Besides, she’s not even riding the bus, she’s flying to each location for the most part, in a gulf stream jet just like Creflo Dollar and other word of faith folks.
Being welcomed with signs greeting her as “Queen Esther” I imagine is pretty exhilarating. Palin’s audience and a meal with Billy Graham while on tour confers top notch spiritual affirmation and legitimacy to the “Queen Esther” moniker. I happen to know that recently Graham’s people kept a well-respected scholar of American Religion waiting in Montreat, citing Graham’s poor health. Palin however, sashayed right into an audience with the Reverend, and a dinner invite! Having Franklin Graham add that “Daddy feels God was using her to wake America up,” fits right in with that “Queen Esther for such a time as this” spiel. Graham’s imprimatur on Palin’s religious status will go a long way with her followers. The icing on the Palin party cake, perhaps, was hearing Pat Robertson describe her book on the 700 Club as “This is one gorgeous cover, this picture is unbelievable.” Both evangelical icon and Pentecostal media mogul have placed their seal of approval upon her.
This book tour, however, has settled in my mind once and for all a discussion I had last year about whether Palin was an evangelical or a Pentecostal. I am going to stick by my original pronouncement and say Pentecostal most emphatically. Palin’s articulation of her testimony in the book, letter to baby Trig from “God” written in her own hand, and the altar call at the end of the book point to her mystical, miraculous bent, much more suited to Pentecostals and Charismatics, than evangelicals.
Palin’s brand of testimony linked with affirmations, of God’s hand in her life, says more than any erroneous statements about policy. She speaks in a language her people can understand. I have never seen her more articulate than when the 700 Club’s David Brody interviewed her. Of course it could have been clever editing, but I doubt it. Religious language is what Palin is most comfortable with, and the pithy statements she puts out about “Death panels” or last year’s quip about Obama “Pal’n around with Terrorists” have stuck in her followers’ minds. The statements do not have to be true, only spoken with authority. I probably sound like chicken little at this point; after all, how destructive can anyone be who is less than articulate on general matters and who quit the governor’s post? Very. Let me explain my rationale.
Many people have tried to place Palin in several categories: Beauty Queen, Evangelical woman, ditzy brunette, and other reductionist gendered figures. Yet everyone has forgotten the goddesses. Some were virginal, while others represented fertility and motherhood, like Isis. Still others were about sexuality, like Astarte. But some were destructive, like Kali. That’s Sarah Palin. Goddess of destruction, with Diana the huntress, and Astarte thrown into her mix. Goddesses of destruction have plans… plans to lay waste to all they see. You might think of Sarah as a Christian “goddess” sent by the Lord to cleanse and purge the country for the small town folks that she professes to know, be, and love. Except in the Christian tradition, there is only one God. That tweaks the goddess analogy a bit.
Fortunately for Palin, there are a host of Biblical characters, and for a white Christian woman of public stature these days, being labeled a modern day “Queen Esther” is good for book sales and self-promotion. Being labeled “Queen Esther” is better than having to own up to being a one-woman wrecking crew. Like Queen Esther, Palin was picked from McCain’s Vice-presidential beauty contest, and perhaps singlehandedly destroyed McCain’s chance for the presidency. She upended the good evangelical narrative by having her pregnant daughter on the political stage with Levi the Baby Daddy, who is now Levi the Playgirl Centerfold. She quit a good paying job as governor, a job that gave her political credibility to finish a book, get paid even more money, and go on a book tour. These are not the actions of someone you can easily peg, but they are the actions of someone who believes that they are “called by God,” and savvy about their calling. She is Sarah the barracuda, that mean girl who’s cute, loves God, and oh yeah, tells you everyday you are going to hell. Think of the movie Saved, and you get the picture. We’ve all known that girl, and most of us wanted to see her turn into a pillar of salt. But no matter how much she messes up, lies, and obfuscates, she still manages to get people to love and believe in her. For Republican candidates in the 2010 election, they are damned with her support, and damned without it. What a predicament!
There is however, one person who stands in Palin’s way: Levi Johnston. Everyday he is alive, taunting Palin on several television shows with “she knows what I have on her” is a day she cannot completely relax and bask in her fame. Even if what Johnston says is suspect, the fact that he does know something about their home life, and is vocal about what he knows can only make Palin nervous. The tit-for-tat snarky comments between Palin and Johnston are both funny and sad, and the tantalizing “there are some things that I know (about Sarah) that are HUGE” is a scimitar hanging over Palin’s carefully coiffed hair. His recent comment that Palin called her down syndrome baby “retarded” is either a big FAIL on his part, or an indictment of her mothering skills. No matter what he says for now, most of his criticisms and reveals are not sticking. Yet it’s the mere mention of Levi that causes Palin’s eyes to darken ominously, and to stutter. For all of the accolades, prophecies, and groveling of political operatives, it may be left to a young playgirl model to give the definitive word on Sarah Palin. I do hope, however, he remembers that his son’s grandmother can field dress a moose.