Sarah Palin appears on the cover of Newsweek magazine in running gear this week and has taken issue with said cover because of its marked focusing on her femininity. Sarah Palin says the Newsweek cover is “sexist.” She took to her Facebook account and lambasted the magazine for “focusing on the irrelevant.” And, for once in her constant battle with the Sarah Palin-bashing liberal media establishment, she’s absolutely right. The Newsweek cover story, which is about the growing problem of Sarah Palin’s polarization of the Republican Party and her detrimental presence in politics in general, does focus on the irrelevant. It focuses on Sarah Palin.
Newsweek could have focused on real “news” (the quotation marks are Sarah Palin’s) this week and devoted a small segment of their magazine to the review of Sarah Palin’s ode to herself, Going Rogue: An American Life, which hit bookstores on Tuesday. Instead, they chose to put the former governor of Alaska on the cover with her bare legs a-showing (giving her ammunition to jump on her tried-and-true but oh-so-tiring gender victim train) and write about her political motivations, her political future, and her political liability to the GOP and to the overall political picture.
But what about the continuing debate over additional troops in Afghanistan and supporting the corrupt regime of President Karzai? What about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s comments on Palestinian statehood? How about focusing on the bitter debate going on over the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City? How about a picture of a missing child on the cover of Newsweek to draw major attention to one that has disappeared?
As Sarah Palin continues to misdirect and distract with ridiculous statements about sexism, real news and relevant issues are neglected or completely ignored. Sarah Palin contributes to the irrelevancy of herself as an issue by pointing out something of superficial value, when the Newsweek cover is political, geared toward the political, and shows a Sarah Palin dressed and ready to run. It suggests she might still be in the hunt for political office. If it is sexist, it is only so in the small-minded world in which her parochial brand of politics finds comfort.
But she is correct in that Newsweek has focused on the “irrelevant” because, again, they focused on Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin has done nothing but make herself the darling of the lunatic fringers, the birthers, the neoconservatives who still believe the manifest destiny of the United States is to rule the world. For most Americans, she is a political nonentity, a player on the field, but one merely interfering with the ongoing game or barely participating, even to the detriment of her own team. She has marginalized herself with her polarizing statements, her constant defensiveness, her ever-present martyr complex, and her faux folksiness. But she did herself the greater disservice when she resigned as governor of Alaska and no matter how she keeps spinning it, she looks like — she is — a quitter in the eyes of many, especially those within the GOP. Going rogue was one thing, but unburdening herself of the public trust given her by democratic mandate was and is an indication of political irresponsibility, no matter what political stripe one wears.
Sarah Palin is certainly a charismatic character that draws a crowd. She is a public figure that some identify with and support. But she is also someone attempting to straddle the fence between public celebrity and political viability. The former she has; the latter becomes less evident with each passing day. Many within her own party do not wish to be associated with her or her brand of politics. So she can sell books and sell out arenas. But so can Jon Bon Jovi, who also has a bestselling book on the lists.
News magazines like Newsweek enjoy putting Sarah Palin and others like her on the cover because it generates interest and sometimes controversy — and sells the magazine. Her remarks on Facebook that Newsweek‘s cover was “sexist,” “focusing on the irrelevant,” and “out of context” simply attracts more attention to the magazine. It sells more copies. It in no way reaffirms Sarah Palin’s political worthiness.
But Sarah Palin hasn’t been relevant since she undermined her own credibility when she resigned her office as governor of Alaska. Talking about her and writing about her does not make her relevant against the overall political backdrop. The more her celebrity status rises, the less political viability she seems to have. Getting into a verbal tete-a-tete with her almost son-in-law shows her immaturity and lack of political awareness (awareness that everything impacts your political pedigree). Stating that the health care legislation mandated the formation of “death panels” to get rid of the old and infirm was simple political irresponsibility and asinine hyperbole at its worst, something that reasonable voters — which most Americans seem to be — will not tolerate.
So although Sarah Palin’s celebrity star seems to be ascendant, her political future does not. And although she may remain a peripheral player, the periphery is all she may ever enjoy.
Newsweek and other magazines use her as a “hook” or an attention-getter. The “sexist” Newsweek cover is definitely geared to grab someone’s attention due to the simple fact that Sarah Palin is attractive and fairly popular. But politically relevant? Perhaps as relevant as a third-stringer that only impacts the game for a few minutes.
Sarah Palin said it best herself on her Facebook attack on the Newsweek cover: “When it comes to Sarah Palin, this “news” magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant.” And since that focus is Sarah Palin, there isn’t a liberal or Democrat in full attack mode that could have phrased it any better.
Newsweek magazine cover (via HuffingtonPost.com)