COMMENTARY | It is an amazing thing, this vast amount of media coverage given a losing vice presidential candidate and state governor resignee. But sometimes it borders on the farcical, almost as if Tina Fey was writing nonstop to put out headlines and teasers to get readers and viewers to pick particular stories. But CNN.com outdid themselves on Wednesday when the entire top half of its “Politics” website page was filled with Sarah Palin articles — except for one lone Michele Bachmann story — that seemed to suggest that Palin’s looming run might be a harbinger of doom.
That Palin has garnered so much attention is not uncommon, but having those articles follow the ominous heading “Top 5 Signs 2012 Is Nearing” is priceless wordplay (or seems to be). Taken as a double entendre, it could simply connote that an election year is nigh. But given the heavy cultural symbolism given to the year 2012 as a time of great cataclysm or the end of the world, it becomes more threatening. The heading also alludes to “signs” and a “nearing,” almost as if there is a dark time impending.
What makes it farcical is the fact the next seven or eight stories (including the feature) are about Sarah Palin, the possible 2012 Republican presidential contender. Under the “Top 5 Signs” heading are three stories about Palin’s “One Nation” bus tour, which got under way on Sunday in Washington, after she rode with Rolling Thunder, the MIA/POW awareness organization. The fourth story is one from “Anderson Cooper 360” questioning whether or not the ex-governor will actually enter the race. The fifth story questions Bachmann’s possible entrance into the presidential race, a nice touch considering the fair amount of media coverage the Minnesota legislator has received, with much of it dedicated to her as a “lesser” Palin or “Palin Lite” candidate.
The featured article is a Gloria Borger piece on the “rebranding” of Palin, which notes Palin’s bus tour is not about visiting historic sites, but a pre-campaign ramp-up with free press coverage where the Mama Grizzly of Fox News hopes to be able to somehow erase the last two-and-a-half years of gaffes, controversies, bad press and a reputation for being an ill-informed extremist.
Two more articles follow — one on Palin’s unconventional campaign strategy and another on her stopover pizza date with Donald Trump — and, if one hadn’t gotten the joke by then, there was simply no getting it. That the half-term governor, who may or may not run for president, stopped for pizza with billionaire media provocateur Trump, who might have run for the Republican nomination but found he liked business and reality shows better, on her noncampaign swing through the Northeast states is comedic gold. What historic site was she visiting? Trump’s hair?
The CNN heading may have been unintentionally doom-and-gloomy, given the political nature of the articles that immediately followed. But it reads like fair warning end times satire.
So is Palin running or not? Who knows? But if she does, is she bringing the apocalypse with her? Probably not, although many in both the Republican and Democratic camps seem to think she might. Regardless of whether or not Palin actually decides to jump into the 2012 presidential race, there is little doubt that anyone — in the media or otherwise — believes that her “One Nation” bus tour is just a family outing to see the Liberty Bell and the National Archives (and Trump’s hair). And given Palin’s political instincts, even she knows a rebranding — a reimaging — must take place for her to have a chance of winning the presidency. If she can manage that formidable task in the next 17 months, a few prayers just might become necessary.