The Changeling

In just a few months, we have seen several stunning transformations of Governor Palin. The once unknown Governor of our mostly frozen frontier state burst onto the world stage. Instantly she was vilified by countless women who blogged, emailed and kvetched out loud that she was a terrible mom for accepting McCain’s offer.  Her nomination drew raised eyebrows from most politicians and news anchors. McCain – in their expert view – was betting it all on red. For the establishment on the Left and Right, she was as welcome as a polar bear sniffing at the igloo door. We had met Sarah The Usurper.

She then gave some speeches filled with GOP soundbites and folksy colloquialisms, and TA-DAH, suddenly she was hailed as our GOP Joan of Arc by thousands of ardent evangelsits and evn more midwestern farming familes thrilled that someone lively had joined McCain as running mate. We had met Sarah The Orator.

FOX news was giddy. MSNBC was laughing nervously. CNN was harrumphing because they couldn’t get an interview. After the GOP handlers finally conceeded an interview with the gentle Katie Couric, we discovered that Sarah Palin might in fact be related to the comedian Michael Palin, who brilliantly portrayed the village idiot in more than a few hilarious Monty Python episodes.  We had met Sarah The Bumbler.

It’s still hard for me to believe that anyone can be that terrible in a TV interview with someone as friendly as Katie Couric. Could Sarah Palin really be that incompetent; that inarticulate? My 9th grade daughter could have answered those questions better. How could someone so lame have achieved the pinacle of state leadership? Alaska is a remote wilderness filled with lonely men who spend way too many months in the subzero dark. It’s possible they may have voted with their loins more their minds when they elected Ms Palin. We had met Sarah the SNL Ratings Booster.

But we have experienced yet another Sarah Palin since then. In the past week, she has acquired more media coverage than in all her prior years as mayor, governor and VP candidate combined. Her expressions are still folksy, but she is tough, outspoken, and seems to have more than one brain cell after all. You dont have to agree with her, but you do have to acknowledge that she is at least as intelligent as any of the people interviewing her. We have met Sarah The Redeemed.

So what’s next for this shape shifter; this changeling? Without doubt, it has been a fascinating display of political trial by fire. It has also been a great lesson in how our opinions and our perceptions about a political figure can be molded by snippets of video on TV or youtube. Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message” and perhaps we have seen with Ms. Palin that the medium is the persona. Surely she hasn’t changed at all. Surely she is just a frail human being who sincerely thinks she can do something significant with her life for the benefit of others. Perhaps one day we will get to see see the real Sarah Palin, Moose Burgers and all. Until then, we will have to live with a changeling.


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