"Give Palin credit. She has a gift for attracting attention," says Allison Steele, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. With all the discourse about Sarah Palin among Republicans as well as Democrats, I believe that most would agree.
True to her narcissistic core, Sarah Palin is masterful at taking center stage. So when I turned from the front page of Sunday's paper to its continuation inside and came face on with a beautiful photo of Oprah shoulder to shoulder with Sarah and her daughters Piper and Willow. I got a bit ill. In the world of marketing, image is everything. Create an image and brand your product. So what's to come from the branding of Palin with this recently released book and all the photo opportunities that come with it?
The image evokes -- See Sarah. See her smile. See Sarah be pretty (she is). See Sarah look wholesome ... now we move into marketing territory where public opinion gets shaped by manipulation of impression. If all the photo ops from this upcoming book tour help to shape public opinion to think of Sarah Palin as wholesome, then she gets to dig her heels in deeper and strengthen her power base.
So why the ill feeling to suddenly come over me before even picking up my morning coffee? Cause if Palin is anything, it isn't wholesome. She is divisive, deceitful and drawn to agitate. She encourages people to embrace hate and intolerance, and she ignites others' vigilantism.
I look at the photo with Oprah and wonder what Oprah was thinking during the photo shoot. Was she also feeling a pit in her stomach, fearing how her connection to Palin might get used in future months? To my eye, the photo is a familiar look -- a "we're one big happy family look." Puhleeze!
There couldn't be two women who are more different. Oprah reads, encourages others to be informed and grapples with understanding complex issues. She recognizes differences in people and works hard to honor them, not malign them. And Oprah collaborates and consults with others. She can take advice and learn by opening her mind to what others have to say.
I might be naïve, and I might come back to say mea culpa, but I'm less concerned about Sarah Palin becoming a presidential candidate than I am with her becoming more powerful in the party and thus more capable of spreading hateful rhetoric. These next several weeks will be telling. If she is able to pull a new rabbit our of her hat in the form of a political philosophy that could help Republicans win local and state elections, then she'll become more of a force to be reckoned with.
In regard to the presidential race, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "If she grows, she'll be the Republican nominee. More than anybody else in the party, her future is in her hands." Oh Sarah, I'm praying that the American public does not evaluate your "hands" according to your latest manicure. I'm hoping that they don't evaluate your hands by how lovely they look adorned by your bracelet and jacket. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my fellow Americans can see beyond the branding and recognize that your hands must be kept from squeezing the life out of the liberties we fought so hard to achieve.