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2008 Presidential Election

[Politics: Palinapalooza!]

Sarah smiles in Henderson—in a sea of American absurdism

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Sarah Palin poses with supporters during a rally in Henderson.
Photo: Steve Marcus

If you don’t think about it at all, it makes perfect sense. One minute you’re eating Kettle Korn outside the Henderson Pavilion, waiting for Sarah Palin with a couple of racist suburbanites (“Those people don’t vote anyway,” says one). You’re feeling pro-American and talking about how you don’t want to redistribute wealth if it means helping lazy poor people, because you’re Christian.

The next minute, you’re cheering for state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, who is cheering for high heels, I wear them too! And the crowd roars, because  a) Cegavske will legislate better if her calves look taut? Or b) bunions?

Anger, Fear, and Racism Follow Palin Rally

A few people are wearing “Caribou Barbie” shirts and one a “Clintons: Axis of Evil” pin, and more than a few are carrying on about Palin’s “no BS” character in this sea of political BS. But the BS of any rally isn’t as troublesome as the underyling tone of the comments:

“We still haven’t seen a legitimate birth certificate [for Obama]. He was born in Kenya, then flown to Hawaii,” says former Circus Circus cashier Barbara Dimmick, a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton and was devastated when Barack Obama won the primary. “He was raised Muslim.”

Or the assorted “terrorist!” shouts and “Obama go home!”—to where?—bellows.

Or even this excerpt, from a $16 Palin bio being sold at the rally by Family Christian booksellers, about her decision to enter the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant in 1984: “Though uncomfortable parading before judges in a swimsuit, she was thankful for the scholarship she received.”

Three hours after the gates open, Palin shows up, stands in front of a backdrop of giddy women and girls holding campaign-provided “homemade” signs and champions women’s rights.

“Are you ready to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America?” she says—no BS. And if you haven’t slipped into a defensive coma by now, you wonder why the Palin puppeteers decided to have her hype feminism in a suburb of Las Vegas. Could it be because this is the least feminist place they could imagine? Because surely, the women who live here—on an economy fueled in no small part by the legal and illegal commodification of women—wouldn’t see the irony in Palin promising to stand up to sexism in “places where women are sold like commodities” around the world, while standing in Vegas? Yay, goes the crowd. Yay! Slip into your heels, paint on the lipstick and head for Vegas—we’re going to break that glass ceiling.

There’s this grotesque xenophobia going on across the nation with relation to Obama—the bogeyman theory—that when the mild-mannered black man gets into the White House, a wall of fire will ignite around him, and he’ll grow fangs and call up Bin Laden and let out a villainous cackle and burn everyone’s Bible and nuke the motherland.

Would that Sarah Palin offered the same promise of metamorphosis. How delightful it would be if she, having winked her way into the White House, then broke out of her Neiman and heels and I’m-just-so-darn-glad-to-have-been-chosen demeanor, and erupted as a person who wouldn’t tolerate—much less encourage—racism and sexism.

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