Shut the hell up, Sarah

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’ve wanted to do a column under that headline for five years now. Even got to the keyboard a few times but held back. Really don’t know why. Lord knows she’s given any thinking person a pot full of reasons to tell her to “take a hike.” But now it appears she’s pissed off more than half the country and a majority just wants her to shut up and go away.

A new NBC/Wall Street/Annenberg poll has found 54-percent of voters – regardless of party – have heard enough of the Wasilla wastrel. Even four-in-ten Republicans don’t want to hear her uninformed babbling anymore. Among Democrats the margin is two-thirds.

But it’s not just the self-serving Alaskan opportunist the public is fed up with. More than half the respondents are tired of hearing Rev. Jesse Jackson’s opinions on this, that and the other. Nearly half would like former Vice President Cheney to put a sock in it and go silently back to Wyoming with about 43% saying “enough already” to Newt Gingrich.

Aside from being just plain without talent or knowledge enough to make any sort of meaningful contribution to the national dialogue, Palin’s problem – and to some extent the others – is the result of several things. First, none of those named has any legitimate public platform. All did at one time. But no more. They have no substance and nothing relevant to say. They’ve worn out their welcome.

Second, the media made them “personalities.” As such, they have nothing meaningful to contribute. No public office. No institutional connection. No platform of any kind. They’re just supposed to be opinionated, funny, crusty, say controversial things, be available and show up.

Think all the people you know. You know lots of folks. But are they all friends? Do you invite all these folks to your house? Do you even want all of them at your house? Probably not. Oh, you may work with some, socialize with some, go to church with some. But are they all people you want to hang out with all the time? Probably not. People come and go in our lives but few relationships stay. Those that do are based on something more than “personality.”

The media has “made” these people – Palin, Gingrich, Jackson et al. Not because they’re good, upstanding, honest folk with something important to say. No. They’ve made them “personalities” to fill long stretches of what would otherwise be “dead air” or empty pages because they can be counted on to be controversial or entertaining if not illuminating or meaningful. They’re creatures of the media and, when they no longer can bring ratings or subscriptions numbers, they’ll be discarded by that same media. Old news.

Palin, in particular, is nothing more than a media “personality.” She’s offered nothing positive or important to the national dialogue since you first heard her name six years ago. She’s a creation: partly by the media but mostly by her own hand. When the national spotlight accidentally shined on her in 2008 – at the behest of a confused John McCain – she was ready. Immediately ignoring McCain speech writers and political advisers much smarter than her, freelancing interviews without campaign approval, copywriting her name and image and signing a long-term contract with a major speaker’s bureau before the campaign was over, Palin grabbed the brass ring. The media loved her. Well, more like developed a case of heavy breathing.

But, like those people you know but don’t necessarily want in your home, Palin’s reliance on marketing rather than any real political knowledge, made her someone with no staying power: hot at the start but destined to burn out with the broad market. And she has. There’s never been any “there” – there.

Now, she seems unaware times have changed – that her popularity is only with a minority of people as totally uninformed about realities of the world as herself. Her books aren’t selling. Her TV show is gone. No political group with broad appeal is inviting her to the stage. The mainstream Republican Party is ignoring her. Were it not for Fox “News” she’d have no public forum at all but she’ll eventually lose that, too. Oh, she’s still making appearances at trade conventions and right-wing gatherings. But not for the large six-figure fees she got a couple of years ago. Now she’s signing autographs for fewer people and hawking books and bumper stickers out in the lobby.

Personality without talent – without smarts – without some sort of knowledgeable, serious core – has no staying power. Something newer and shinier will always replace it. Palin’s 15 minutes of fame are about gone. She offers nothing relevant to today’s discussions. Never has really. Only criticism and senseless carping. You can get that at any neighborhood bar.

So, along with a majority of you, I offer my own heartfelt advice to the former Wasilla mayor: shut the hell up and sit down.

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