Sunday, 8 May 2011

Sarah Palin's downfall will bring relief to some victims, pain and shame to others

Sarah Palin's ethical challenges are legendary and Geoffrey Dunn's book, coming out on Tuesday, promises to bring a few fresh skeletons out of Sarah's closet.

We would be naive to believe that Sarah Palin is unique in her behaviour. We could compile a long list of politicians, business people, religious leaders and other prominent characters in public life who employ the very same tactics. There are opportunistic liars everywhere.

They lie about their credentials, embellish their resumes; they form useful alliances, building their personal empires on the shoulders of others, later discarding them (when they don't resort to destroying them); they claim to offer solutions and use all the available self-promotion tools at their disposal. They are very tenacious in their efforts.

These people may be famous and powerful or they may be small time opportunists. We read about the famous and sometimes we suffer the small time ones on a personal level. Ironically, victims of small time crooks suffer the most, as there's no public exposure, no vindication. It's painful to see oneself as a complete fool in silence, trying to deal with uneasy feelings all alone.

Why do some people behave like this? The short answer is that they enjoy power and money. Of course, there are ethical, honest people who enjoy these two addictive motivating factors as well. The difference lies in how their goals are achieved.

The honest high achiever will not use other people as stepping stones, he will share his accomplishments with those who help them along the way. The honest person will sense a good opportunity, but won't resort to empty flattery to get people on board just to threaten or discard them when no longer useful in the process of reaching his goals. The honest achiever doesn't believe the ends justify the means.

Sarah Palin's supporters sincerely believe she's a benign, misunderstood character in the soap opera politics has become these days. There are people, like Geoffrey Dunn, Joe McGinniss and others, who have worked to expose the tactics she employed and the casualties that litter the way of her ascent to power, money and fame.

It could well be that her fame will be her undoing. She may fall from grace very spectacularly and the people she left in her path will have the satisfaction of witnessing her fall. Her supporters will suffer with her, but there are many opportunists who will continue to behave badly, taking advantage of others with impunity. Sarah Palin is not very good at covering her tracks, but some people are. They can perform their dirty deeds, undetected, for a long, long time. Their victims may never become aware that they've been used. Con artists after power and money count on the support of people who believe they act in earnest.

It's an age old game.

Of course, those in the political arena are the ones capable of causing damage to the greatest number of people.

Palingates watches Sarah Palin. I hope there's somebody out there watching the others...