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John McNamara

John McNamara

Posted: July 15, 2009 01:31 PM

Palin: Idiot? Genius? Or Something Else?


She's too cunning to be labeled stupid.

She doesn't read, write or speak well enough to be called intelligent.

She loves the camera and the camera loves her right back.

She has the ability to constantly surprise and unsettle -- kind of like a stalker, appearing at odd hours on the door step with a tray of "I'm sorry I set your desk on fire but I love you" cupcakes, smilingly oblivious to the restraining order.

So let's add it up:

Not a moron.

But not smart.

Charismatic.

Determined.

Full of surprises.

What does it all mean?

Cary Grant had a theory. A career is like a crowded bus. When your ride is up, you get off and someone else gets on, taking your place. Not another you, necessarily but a younger, fresher someone who fills a similar space. You could argue that just as Cary Grant stepped down onto the curb, Tom Hanks grabbed the rail, so that older affable, shrewd, enduring, iconic star with a gigantic appeal and talent to match gracefully made way for the next generation of same.

I think there's a lot of truth to what we'll call The Cary Grant Theorem and it's borne out by the two biggest cable news cycle events of the last 30 days:

Michael Jackson got off the bus.

And Sarah Palin grabbed his seat, probably knocking a few old ladies like Ann Coulter and Newt Gingrich out of the way.

Because like Michael Jackson, Sarah Palin, more than anything else, is a weirdo.

Is she Jackson-level weird? Not yet. But Michael Jackson was famous for forty years. She hasn't even been famous eleven months. And she's plenty weird already. Which is kind of an achievement in itself. I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone in the public eye who's shot this high, this fast, starting out a little odd and then, in mid-ascent, before all eyes, blossomed like a display of Fourth of July fireworks into a bursting full tilt, hi-def, fruit loop weird-plosion.

Michael Jackson's music stopped entertaining us long ago. His fame was his life, his life was bizarre and the arc of that life was on a downward trajectory. But he blazed as he fell. And we all watched. He played his part, we played ours. He needed to be looked at with awed eyes and open mouths.

Palin, arching upward now, has the exact same need. She does not have the need to identify and fix problems. She does not have the ability to think of others outside her enabling, tight circle.

She certainly does not have the capacity or character to lead.

Based on her having resigned from two of the most important posts she's held in her political career, day to day governance bores and annoys her.

What she has is the need to amass power.

Sarah Palin seeks fame in order to make more fame then live on that fame, then hunt down more fame still, then live inside fame, until fame finally consumes her.

Sarah Palin will dominate the public stage for as long as she wants to. She may never be at the center of it but she will be a loud, bright, ongoing side show for a long, long time.

We need to keep her happy and far, far away from any real power.

The idea of electing her to an office that has an American eagle on the carpet and a view of a rose garden is as frightening to imagine as going back in time to an alternate universe in 1992 -- where the ribbon is being cut on The Micheal Jackson Cuddle 'N Tickle Day Care Center.

Like Jackson's desire to play peek a boo with six-year-olds, Palin's desire to become a world leader should create waves of genuine panic then a constant storm of jokes, to be rained down upon her hourly, forever.

These jokes are crucial to nullifying her. She has no sense of humor and she actually takes them personally then engages in battles with TV hosts and comedians. Her inability to let the tiniest critique roll off her back could save us from that Judgment Day missile launch her fervent little Book of Revelations heart may desire.

Palin jokes are like Ali's rope-a-dope strategy with Foreman -- drive her crazy (well, -er), tire her out, taunt her to her feet, repeat, keeping her in the fight and well away from actual decisions.

In other words, Man's Only Hope could be David Letterman.

In the meantime, watch her.

Watch the drive, the focus, the paranoia, and most of all that little extra something you catch in the smile, glimpse in the high voice or the rambling, self-justifying speeches that seem like alien messages from another planet being beamed into her head, all of it adding up to a dominant trait only Michael Jackson showcased with the same hungry pride:

Weirdness heard the world over; weirdness that will live forever and, most disturbingly, weirdness that will attract, amass and empower the even-weirder.

Call it The Corey Feldman Theorem.