My Fair Veep
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the Arctic plain ...
I hope John McCain doesn’t throw his slippers at Sarah Palin’s head or get as acerbic as Henry Higgins did with Eliza Doolittle when she did not learn quickly enough. McCain’s Pygmalion has to be careful, because his Galatea might be armed with more than a sharp tongue.
For the first time in American history, we have a “My Fair Lady” moment, as teams of experts bustle around the most famous woman in politics, intensely coaching her for her big moment at the ball — her first unscripted interview here this week with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.
Eliza, by George, got it and brought off the coup of passing herself off as a Hungarian princess rather than a Covent Garden flower seller. Sarah’s challenge is far tougher, and that’s why she’s pulling the political equivalent of an all-nighter. She doesn’t have to pass herself off as a different class or change her voice or be more highfalutin. The McCain campaign is reveling in its anti-intellectual tenor.
Sarah, who is now so renowned that she is known merely by one name and has a name ID of 90 percent, has to be a Kmart mom who appeals to Kmart moms and dads. She’s already shown that she can shoot the pig, put lipstick on it, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Now all she has to do is also prove that she can be the leader of the free world on a moment’s notice, and field dress Putin as adeptly as she can a moose.
After devilishly mocking Obama — and successfully getting into his head — with ads about how he was just a frothy celebrity, like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, it turns out all the McCain camp wanted was an Obama of its own. Now that they have the electric Palin, they’ve stopped arguing that celebrity is bad. All they do is worship at her cult of celebrity. As Rick Davis, a top McCain adviser, said: “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”
Wasilla will be crawling with four groups — ABC staffers, frantically getting ready for the big showdown; McCain staffers, frantically tutoring Palin for the big showdown; McCain vetters, who are belatedly doing their job checking to see if Palin is a qualified White House contender and doing their best to shut down Troopergate and assembling a “truth squad” posse of Palinistas to rebut any criticism and push back any prying reporters; and journalists — from Sydney to Washington — who are here to draw back the curtain on the shiny reformer image that the McCain camp has conjured for their political ingénue and see what’s behind it.
Gibson has his work cut out for him. His problem isn’t coming up with a list of questions, but finding time to drill deeply enough into all the unknown territory of her life. It’s a task that dwarfs the drilling job the oil companies are doing on Alaska’s North Slope.
In the end, none of it may matter, since Palin has rocketed in the polls, drawing women and men with her vapid — if vivacious and visceral — scripted cheerleading. But if you’re reading this, Charlie, we want to know everything, including:
What kind of budget-cutter makes a show of getting rid of the state plane, then turns around and bills taxpayers for the travel of her husband and kids between Juneau and Wasilla and sticks the state with a per-diem tab to stay in her own home?
Why was Sarah for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, and why was she for earmarks before she was against them? And doesn’t all this make her just as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry?
What kind of fiscal conservative raises taxes and increases budgets in both her jobs — as mayor and as governor?
When the phone rings at 3 a.m., will she call the Wasilla Assembly of God congregation and ask them to pray on a response, as she asked them to pray for a natural gas pipeline?
Does she really think Adam, Eve, Satan and the dinosaurs mingled on the earth 5,000 years ago?
Why put out a press release about her teenage daughter’s pregnancy and then spend the next few days attacking the press for covering that press release?
As Troopergate unfolds here — an inquiry into whether Palin inappropriately fired the commissioner of public safety for refusing to fire her ex-brother-in-law — it raises this question: Who else is on her enemies list and what might she do with the F.B.I.?
Does she want a federal ban on trans fat in restaurants and a ban on abortion and Harry Potter? And which books exactly would have landed on the literature bonfire if she had had her way with that Wasilla librarian?
Just how is it that Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers money (since they haven’t yet)?
Does she talk in tongues or just eat caribou tongues?
What does she have against polar bears?