Sarah Palin took dead aim at American politics and has become its biggest celebrity, turning foibles into big funds, half truths into T-bills, and she knows how to field dress her children. Lucille Ball might have been proud. An intelligent woman who owned a studio and production company, Lucy was the Queen of slapstick and irreverence. Her humor was so outrageous it was actually reassuring.
Along comes Sarah Palin, television savvy with a school girl’s voice, with none of Lucy’s earthy grit, but her media presence has much of the deftness of Lucy’s comedic delivery.
But Sarah’s added a modern dose of the dozens, a game from the African-American community that belittles opponents with a duplicitous tone that heightens by its false innocence the biting vicious putdown it delivers.
Sarah comes to save civilization and restore the natural order. But never in her speeches are echoes of Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, the Grimke sisters, Sojourner Truth, Mother Jones, Marian Wright Edelman, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thacker, Benazir Bhutto.
She’s entered a parallel universe connected by punch lines and seems to say, “My record matters less than my lip.”
Lucy would have loved Sarah’s applause. But Lucy would have cringed at Sarah’s meaning, the easy way that humor is no longer fantasy but political throwaway, a cover for jettisoning the serious political tasks for which humor was once relief.