THE MOST NAIVE MAN IN THE WORLD... me. Let me tell you about a story-idea memo I sent to the editor of Vanity Fair in October 2008, when it looked increasingly likely that the Obama-Biden ticket would prevail over the McCain-Palin one. Here’s what I wrote:

“I think it would be a great story, if the polls prove correct and the Obama-Biden ticket wins, to do a Sarah Palin profile a few months after the inauguration, after she has returned to being governor every day, the national parade has moved on, and the national G.O.P. isn’t policing her every press appointment and utterance.

“The idea would be for me to go to Juneau and interview her in March or April, for a story to run in May or June. And it would be a ‘What I’ve Learned’ piece—what, with a little perspective, she has learned about the country, the national campaign process, and herself.

“Whatever you think of her, she’s endured the most whirlwind three-month period that probably any national candidate for office has—from little-known and reasonably well-regarded governor to heavily scrutinized, heavily polarizing, heavily mocked figure on the national stage. (Just watched her on SNL, where all these things were in play, as well as the sheer culture shock of her hanging out backstage with Lorne.) And factor in the fact that she gave birth just a little over four months before McCain chose her as running mate, and that some time between that birth and her being tapped by the G.O.P., she learned her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

“Whether she’s prone to self-examination or not, I think she won’t be able to help but look back on the year 2008 and think ‘Good God! That was everything life could possiblty throw at me! How did I get through it?’ And I’d genuinely love to hear the answer to this question once she had some distance from it all.”

I know, I know—what a rube! I actually admired the way Palin had taken on the entrenched, patronage-driven political culture of Alaska. And I thought that she had taken an inordinate amount of sexist crap on the campaign trail (as had Hillary Clinton) just because she was a woman. Though I in no way believed Palin to be qualified to be vice president of the United States, I thought there was a good chance she would grow, admirably, from her 2008 experience.

I never remotely imagined that she would resign from office eight months later.

And that—as we now know, two books, a couple of reality shows, and thousands of tweets later—was just the beginning. Even recently, after the Gabby Giffords shooting, I somehow had this goofy, naïve expectation that Palin would rise to the occasion, as nearly every political figure on the national stage has. Instead, she spoke bizarrely of “blood libel” (which I know from long-ago Hebrew-school vocab tests to mean something other than what she perceives it to be) and made the moment about herself.

So what would have happened had I actually sat down with Palin in early 2009? Probably, I’d have fared as well as the bow-tie guy on The Hot Box with Avery Jessup.

January 15, 2011  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark


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