So Joe McGinnis (The Selling of the President; Fatal Vision; Going to Extremes) has moved next door to Sarah Palin (“You betcha!”; “In what respect, Charlie?”; “All of them.”). And Palin’s first, instinctive, most characteristic response has been to leeringly imply the author’s temptation to pedophilia, to send hubby over to act (in McGinnis’ words) “increasingly hostile,” and then to complain as though she is being ill-used.
Note, as we still (somewhat exhaustedly) say, the irony: Palin, who shleps her children from coast to coast to display them to her slavering public like what’s-his-name in The Dead Zone brandishing a toddler as a human shield, is suddenly protective of their privacy. Palin, who quit the only job she’d ever had that might have given her credibility as a national political figure, in order to dance the Tea Party hootchie-cootchie on saloon tables and trade association daises across the land (for money), is now bitching about her privacy. Palin, a good Christian woman whose religious tenets literally include the admonition to “love thy neighbor,” sends hubby over to crack his knuckles menacingly.
All of this, plus radio frother Mark Levin announcing McGinnis’s email address, prompting 5,000 of Sarah’s Sheeple to swamp the author’s account–it’s all great/appalling theater, yes. But what’s really striking is not the hypocrisy. People like Sarah Palin live in hypocrisy like a fish lives in water; it’s the essential element of their survival, without which life itself is unimaginable.
No, the really noteworthy thing is (as we also exhaustedly say) the stupidity, stupid.
Anyone who has read a minimum number of spy novels or seen a basic survey course’s syllabus of thrillers knows that you can do one of two things when you realize your office has been bugged, your transmissions are being monitored, or your computer has been hacked. You can tear out the bugs and cease the transmissions. This will, of course, inform your adversary that you’re wise to his snooping, prompting him, presumably, to quit.
And that’s how the Palins have responded–by suggesting that somehow they’re being spied upon and revealing to the “spy” that they know what, supposedly, he is up to. It’s the obvious, emotional, impulsive, and childish way to react, and it may have been too much to expect Palin, who like all cult figures alternates between preening grandiosity and indignant claims of victimization, to do otherwise.
But there’s a better way, and it doesn’t take a tactical genius to realize it. You leave the bugs and mics in place and exploit the situation for your own advantage. You–and this may be a step too sophisticated for McGinnis’s neighbors–pretend that all is well. You then proceed to spread disinformation, deceit, lies, mis-directions, and all manner of false “intel,” knowing full well that they’re listening and taking it seriously at the other end.
That’s what Sarah Palin should have done, if she had been a sharp operator instead of a knee-jerk demagogue. She’d not only have hand-delivered a plate of cookies to McGinnis herself, she’d have graciously welcomed him to the neighborhood and wished him good luck in his journalistic endeavors.
And then she’d have made sure he witnessed what she wanted him to witness: Sarah, not as avaricious provincial ignoramus-grifter, but as caring mom. Tod, not as snow-machining bodyguard who once joined a club dedicated to Alaska’s secession from the union, but as super dad. The kids as happy, courteous little ladies and gentlemen. The dog (assuming there is one) as well-trained and fluent in three languages. The garden as a model of horticultural accomplishment and embodying a deep, deep love of “the land.” And everyone, God bless us, everyone skilled in the baking of cookies.
That, and all the rest of the phony-baloney bullshit you want someone to see who’s writing a book about you.
But we are talking, here, about the same woman who didn’t have the wit to tell Katie Couric, “What newspapers and magazines do I read? Oh, fuck, Katie, I read the New York Times and the local Alaska papers, okay?” So instead McGinnis gets, and we get to watch, Sarah the Nasty. “By being here, I have learned things,” McGinnis told the Washington Post. “And I’ve gotten an insight into her character, into her ability to incite hatred, that before I only knew about in the abstract.”
You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Joe.