Saturday, 1 May 2010

Sarah Palin, The Kingmaker?

The Kingmaker
Guest post by Finny

Sarah had been irritable for weeks. As soon as she woke up, her stomach started churning. When she spoke to anyone, her chest heaved as she drew in quick breaths of air and then swallowed repeatedly. No matter how much water she drank, the dryness in her mouth was constant and unbearable. On this particular morning, she had waited for her cell phone to ring. She picked it up every minute or so, looked at it and put it back down. It should have been so simple. She had put in calls to various prominent Republicans, asking for their endorsement of her as a candidate for the Presidency, so that she could appear shocked and humbled in a staged press conference with sympathetic reporters when she stated, “I am honored that the Republican leadership has ‘called an audible’ and required me to run for President of the United States.” But none of them had called her back. She was already consumed with hatred for the incredibly ungrateful Scott Brown— he had ignored her, and he owed her everything. She had her writers endorse him on her Facebook page despite his request that she not talk about him, and how did he think he had won? It was her power that had propelled him, and he did not even acknowledge it. Imagine that. He was in D.C. acting like he had succeeded on his own merits when he should be showing his appreciation. And there was something about his persona that really bothered her. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it—was it that he relied on his good looks too much? Shoved his family into the forefront of his campaign? Used props so he could pretend he was a member of the working class? Posed seductively in a magazine? She just wasn’t sure.

She glanced at her phone again. Still no messages. This was just not what she had expected; her advisors had told her that the most powerful politicians would be trying to ride her famous coattails. Or, as she liked to say, coat-tells. Instead, she was being ignored. How could this be happening? A sickening dizziness overtook her, and out of nowhere she found herself recalling how in high school, she had obsessed over a boy named Curtis, and decided that the two of them should be an item. Then one day in gym class, she had overheard another girl exclaiming to her friends how excited she was that Curtis had asked her to the movies and wanted to date her. Sarah had come completely unglued, crying and stamping her feet. Well, in time I had Curtis right where I wanted him, didn’t I, Sarah mused, I got him and I still have a part of him today. I got what I wanted. She repeated the affirmation, enjoying its healing power. I need to calm down, she told herself. But she could still feel the pounding of her heart in her ears so she found a distraction: on the table was Jason Recher’s briefcase.

Not one to be limited by ethical behavior, Sarah pounced on the opportunity to leaf through her well paid aide’s files. She loved snooping in general, and she was also somewhat obsessed with Jason, so the opportunity to rummage through his belongings seemed enticing. She opened folders until she found one simply labeled, “future”. Inside she found pages and pages of recently photocopied articles, commentary, blog posts and poll numbers—all about her, all completely unfavorable. Panic started to erase the calm she had felt. Her hands started shaking. She picked out a handwritten list. On it were neatly printed names, news programs, and quotations. At the top was the heading, “Asked if Sarah should be President.” One of them caught her eye immediately: Dick Cheney. This Week. “I haven’t made a decision” And the next: Bill O’Reilly. GMA. “Sarah needs to go to college.” She glanced at another: Hayley Barbour. State of the Union. “…she is legally qualified…” What was this? Was he counting her detractors? Collecting quotations that humiliated her? Sarah fumed. She read just one more: Karl Rove. OTR. “She has not made the step, the transition from successful vice presidential candidate…” She slammed the whole file shut and dialed Jason, then quickly hung up. Then she called him again, and then hung up. She paced around the room, furiously tugging at her clip-on hair until it came loose. In another attempt at distraction, she turned on her computer and googled herself. One of the first headlines read “Scott Brown Praises Palin, Endorses Romney”. As she read the headline, a sound emerged from her lips. It was a low, groaning moan that quickly made its way into a high-pitched scream. Her entire body shook as she looked around the room for something to throw or kick. There was a knock at her door, interrupting her in mid-meltdown. She peeked through the peephole: it was Jason. “Get in here.” She growled. Jason was apparently used to this kind of thing. He cleared his throat and then said quietly, “Sarah, I need you to listen to me. There is something that I want to tell you—oh, by the way, I left my briefcase here. Anyway, Scott Brown has just announced that he is endorsing Mi-“ He got no further. “I KNOW THAT!” Sarah shrieked. Jason immediately tried to calm her, “Well, now let’s talk this over.” He took a deep breath. This was going to be a very, very difficult morning.

Jason Recher had driven over to the ugly hotel where Sarah was staying so that he could speak to her before she became too manic over the whole endorsement thing. He was truly worried about her. She had not been sleeping or eating. Lately she did not keep much of her family with her on the road. Sure, she was a multi-millionaire, but her life was not easy. All of her family depended on her to provide for them. Her children, her grandchildren, even her husband needed her to keep them living in the style to which they had become accustomed. Every day was a contest, to see if we could all make it through one more day without IT being made public. So many, many people knew. Thank god for a spineless mainstream media, that’s all he could say. But it was still only a matter of time. It was like a race, running away from the truth…and running toward more money. He had walked through the lobby and ridden the elevator to her room, all the while thinking of how to keep her calm and reassured. She was a difficult person to work for, and yet he did everything that she asked. Granted, some of the things she asked him to do were humiliating. Like holding Trig during the book tour, or supervising the other employees on a smelly bus while she flew in a private jet. Or opening bottles of water for her, and bending the straw at a certain angle. Once she had even made him fluff her hair in the back because she said she said she didn’t think it was big enough. He had his doubts whether that was the real reason why she asked him to touch her hair. However, in this economy, finding full time work as a political aide was very tough, and he should feel fortunate. If she was abusive now and then, he reminded himself, it was understandable. He needed this job.

Almost imperceptibly, Sarah switched into another mode and became quiet and contained. A recently published book noted that there are “two Sarahs”, but there are actually many more. And this was the scariest Sarah of all. She eyed Jason warily. “Well, thanks for coming over to let me know I’m the laughingstock of the Republican party.” She said icily, and lifted the folder from his briefcase up, as if she had found something shameful that belonged to him, “So, is this yours?” Jason drew another deep breath. Sarah continued, “I guess when I hired you and paid you extremely well, that I expected more from you. You are completely incompetent, by the way. You should have gotten to Scott Brown before he endorsed Romney. But maybe that’s okay with you, since you’ve been collecting research AGAINST me.” She said as she tapped the folder. Jason didn’t even know how to tackle this one. She really was completely crazy, just as everyone had said. “Listen, Sarah” he began slowly, “I know you’re upset. But you have to understand it’s part of my job to study what people say, and look at how people are responding to you. And Scott Brown—well, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.” He looked at Sarah, perched in her high heeled shoes and zipped tightly into her short skirt. A strong need to break free of this ridiculous, crushing relationship washed over him like a tidal wave. He added, “As far as that goes, everyone knows that you are not a viable candidate. You refuse to read anything or learn how to say anything past the same twelve sentences you have been repeating for six months. And we all know what’s coming down the pike. It’s going to rock your entire world, and it’s just not wise to ignore reality. You’ll be lucky if you get to play a role as kingmaker. It’s that simple. And stop talking to me like I’m twelve years old. I was an aide to President Bush, for Christ sakes.” Jason felt better by the second. He had taken so much crap from this woman, and it felt good to vent. “I made up that whole story to throw everyone off the scent when Bush didn’t even know who you were. I created that Beijing Olympics- Alaskan-stopover story, where he supposedly greeted you as “Madam Vice President,” out of whole cloth. And did I get a thank you? No, I did not. You take everyone for granted. Well I, for one, am through with this. I quit.” And with that, Jason Recher straightened his overfed, lumpy frame and left the suite of Mrs. Todd Palin. “Jason!” she called after him. “Jason, get back here right now.” She screeched. But she was too late. He was enjoying a newly found respect for himself, and already scrolling through his blackberry to see if he had a number for Mitt Romney’s office.

Stunned, Sarah stood alone. She tried to think clearly. Oh well, she thought, big dill. It’s not like I haven’t had staff quit on me before. “I will not be the kingmaker. I am going to be the President.” She said aloud. She thought of all the times that she had hoped to be picked for sports, for attention at home, for beauty pageant awards, for that job with ESPN. I want to be chosen, she thought to herself. Resolute, she quickly dialed her blackberry. “Hello, John McCain’s office? Is this his assistant? Yes, hi, it’s Sarah Palin. I’d like to offer you a job as my top aide after the midterm elections. I know you’ll be free then. Interested?”

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