A guest editorial
Sarah Palin, the ‘rogue’ we made
— The St. Albans, Vt., Messenger

At 7 this morning there were 1,500 people in Grand Rapids, Mich., standing in line to meet Sarah Palin who picked the mid-sized city to begin her “Going Rogue” book tour.
It’s the first stop of many and despite a world chock full of news, she’s the topic that dwarfs all others.
We can feign surprise, or outrage, or support — depending on one’s politics or interests. But people’s preoccupation with Ms. Palin — Republicans and Democrats alike — is about as predictable as salt water tasting salty. There is the sense that we need to be sheltered from her media on-slaught, but that’s a bit like fish needing to be sheltered from water. Those who complain the loudest are the very ones who pull the shades and then pore over every little word she says — or, for the men, pore over every little image they can find.
The Palin factor is about as American as it can be. We need water-cooler talk and the state of the economy is wearing thin as a conversation starter. Would you prefer to talk about the Senate’s struggle with bank reform legislation or this from her long- awaited reflection of all things serious: “That day in sunny Texas when the divorce rumors were rampant in the tabloids, I watched Todd, tanned and shirtless, take the baby from my arms and walk him back to the ranch house so Trig could nap while I made calls. Seeing Todd’s blue eyes smiling, I chuckled. ‘Dang,’ I thought. ‘Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd?’”
Dang. Sucks the breath right out of you, doesn’t it? After that, talk about the president in China is like watching fog disappear before a searing morning sun.
So what does all this mean? Probably not what the chattering class worries it means — which is that Americans view her as a serious political force going forward. As Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks, have done before her, Ms. Palin is establishing herself as a celebrity with a defined audience. Celebrities don’t translate into political leaders.
We have, as a culture, created what we have before us. We have given her attention and the power that goes along with it. She’s simply using the tools she was given, and profiting handsomely. She’s ex-pected to collect a cool $5 million for a book that already sits atop the bestseller lists.
She is practicing that most American of axioms: nothing moves unless it’s sold. We’ve told her she has a package that might sell, and she’s taking advantage of the offer. And for her, it’s all upside: being governor of Alaska doesn’t pay much and is pretty much a dead end job. Besides, once you’ve seen one Alaskan bear you’ve pretty much seen them all — the digs down south offer greater styling selections. She’s not sure she even wants to be president, but she’s willing for the rest of us to pay her for the unending speculation between now and then.
And the problem with that is . . . ?
That’s she profiting, and we’re not?
That we’re terrified people might like what they see?
That she represents the “normal” American life that is being played out each day, a life that needs to be better understood?
There isn’t a thing “normal” about Sarah Palin or the life she now leads — starting with the attention being showered by the media and the $5 million she’s about to tuck into her bank account. That separation between the haves and the have nots, puts her on the privileged side of the equation. And Americans are fairly astute about the need to separate a pretty face from a qualified voice to lead.
Enjoy the spectacle for what it is — America’s favorite pastime: entertainment.

— Emerson K. Lynn