SARAH LOUISE PALIN
“I can see Russia from my house!”
This statement should resonate with you as synonymous with the shooting star candidacy of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, running with John McCain. While the ticket lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and while McCain’s campaign was reasonably traditional, normal, and straightforward, the 2 1/2 months during which the nation was exposed to the former Alaska Governor (2006-2009) Sarah Palin witnessed a somewhat embarrassing political novice.
Born in Idaho in 1964, Palin was clearly over her head as the campaign progressed, struggling throughout to navigate the demands of national politics. When asked by news anchor Katie Couric what magazines she read, Palin replied, “I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media….” When pressed to be specific, she said, “Um, all of ’em, any of ’em that, um, have, have been in front of me over all these years….” Couric continued, “Can you name a few?” Palin replied, “I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where, it’s kind of suggested and it seems like, ‘Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”
While outings such as this were widely seen as disasters, Palin had her supporters, especially among GOP women, who found her refreshingly outspoken. In fact, McCain later divulged that he picked her because she was not well known, and he wanted to inject some spark into the race. One of Palin’s oft-repeated phrases, which became a favorite of many, was, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
Palin’s demeanor and bon mots became so famous–and ridiculed–that comedian Tina Fey created her character on Saturday Night Live (SNL) establishing the candidate as national humor, partly due to their uncanny physical resemblance. They even appeared together once on the show. In 2008, the Associated Press gave Fey the AP Entertainer of the Year award for her SNL Sarah Palin impression.
Palin’s family life attracted attention as well, including her daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy at 17.
So what has become of Sarah Palin in the last 12 years?
A fierce Tea Party supporter, Palin did commentary for Fox News, hosted television series on Alaska, launched an online news network that lasted a year, and wrote a book, Going Rogue, which sold over 2 million copies. She remained active in conservative politics for a number of years following the 2008 campaign, making endorsements amid speculation that she might run for president. She has since said that she has no intention of doing so, endorsing Donald Trump in 2016.
Palin and husband Todd had five children and seven grandchildren. Todd filed for divorced in 2019 after 32 years of marriage, citing “incompatibility of temperament” and saying that they “find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.”
Former Republican consultant Steve Schmidt, now a prominent never Trumper, then campaign manager for John McCain’s failed presidential campaign who worked closely with Palin, blasted her in a recent brutal attack after she had accused him of sabotaging her 2008 candidacy. Schmidt criticized her “profound ignorance, brittleness and insanity.” It was actually Schmidt who chose Palin, because he felt the need to stir up the race since Barack Obama was such a star; he also thought that a woman on the ticket as VP would jump start McCain’s campaign. Schmidt’s regret without remorse concluded the selection of Palin was a “profound political misjudgment.” And speaking of President Obama, in his new book, he says this about Palin: She had “no idea what the hell she was talking about.”
Palin’s candidacy and subsequent career appear not to have damaged the subsequent candidacies of other women. Clearly, her time in the limelight did not crack the glass ceiling.