A culture that knows more about the sexual peccadilloes of its cinematic court jesters than the crimes of its elected officials probably deserves leaders of grotesque incompetence. We understand (and care) more about power-hitting Third Basemen than our Supreme Court Justices. We feel that the romantic heartbreaks and triumphs of a pretty girl with no discernible talent, other than attracting media attention, are more vital to our lives than the institutional larceny practiced in our Congress. We are addicted to celebrity and allergic to thought.
Our society’s current infatuation with Alaska’s Governor, Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice-President is the apotheosis of Ignorance as Guide, the perfect expression of what happens when People magazine becomes a nation’s Baedeker. She’s nice to look at, she’s got an easily digested “story,” and she’s just like us (only better). Who wouldn’t love such an agreeable character?
Mean old ogres who can look beyond the GILF eyeglasses and feisty Roseanne-style sound-bites see a not very bright opportunist being used expertly as a pawn in the game of politics, where, like every other stratum of American life, style trumps substance and an individual’s ability to mesmerize simultaneously the folks at Fox News and Us wipes away the stain of vapidity.
The Governor, we are told, allegedly appeals to disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, who are irked that neither their party nor their party’s Presidential nominee selected her for a position on the ticket. But, really, are American women that stupid? Here is a brief list of Palin’s steadfast beliefs: She’s against abortion in the case of rape or incest; she wants so-called “creationism” taught in public schools; she discerns no connection between human behavior and global warming; she advocates “abstinence only” sex education, despite personal experience with that method’s unpleasant results; she thinks John McCain’s obdurate insistence on wasting more lives and treasure in Iraq is a swell idea. Which of these positions do the Palin admirers think will earn a Clinton supporter’s vote?
As our inboxes fill with chain emails gleefully denouncing the Anti-Christ Obama and celebrating the achievements of an honest-to-God American woman, with kids and a knuckleheaded husband to boot, it’s hard not to wonder if the upcoming election will be a kind of referendum on our brief experiment with democracy. Citizens of sound mind surely couldn’t re-install the bumbling hypocrites who have mismanaged our republic for the past eight years. That’s inconceivable, absurd — as inconceivable and absurd as Sarah Palin being President of the United States. But when ignorance triumphs, as it has so tellingly for nearly a decade, dominating our pulpits and airwaves and newsstands, the unthinkable becomes possible.
If only it all led to bliss.