Looking at Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, we would not say that they were separated at birth. They share no physical resemblance, but under the surface, they may very well be clones. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump are so much alike in personality, someone should hire Maury Povich to find the matching DNA sequence on their political gene.
During the cringeworthy rollout of Sarah
Palin as a vice presidential candidate during the 2008 election, she
was interviewed by Katie Couric. Palin served up an incomprehensible word salad
in response to questions ranging from government regulation to Russia. Then
Couric asked the Alaska governor where she got her news. Out of context, it
would have been a condescending question, but after listening to Palin
repeatedly mask her ignorance with gibberish, Couric was obliged to find a nice
way to ask “What the fuck do you read?” The best answer Palin could come up
with for such an easy question was “um, all of ‘em, any of ‘em that um, have,
have been in front of me over all these years.”
Some twins are known to develop their own
special language. Comparing statements from Palin and Trump makes a strong case
that these two taught each other how to speak. While making comments about
Black History Month during a February photo op, Trump said “Frederick Douglass
is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized
more and more, I notice.”
It is as easy to imagine Trump giving the
answer to Couric’s newspaper question as it is to hear Palin make that confoundingly
vague remark on Frederick Douglass. Palin and Trump are walking blooper reels.
Just run a camera in front of either one of them and blooper magic will happen,
but there are no outtakes in politics. When you go on a riff about Paul Revere
“ringing those bells and making sure he was riding his horse through town to
send those warning shots and bells that were going to be secure and we were
going to be free,” it goes directly from your mouth to the Internet. Palin
and Trump blame the press for as little as just being present when the fault is
their’s for being willfully amateur. Palin regularly lashed out at the
“lamestream media” while Trump barks at the “dishonest press” and “fake media.”
Late night TV writers have harvested the bountiful
incompetence of the “Tralin” Twins to ratings success, helping to cement the
notion that these two were and are out of their league in upper levels
government work. The Tralin response to the lampooning is to become bitter,
not smarter. Palin harangued anyone who was critical of her shallow grasp of
the issues as an elite, not the best word choice considering what the real definition
of “elite” is. Her intention was to call liberals snobs, but what she ended up
doing was likening them to the Green Berets and the Navy SEALS. Trump as a
candidate railed against the Establishment while proclaiming his love for the
“poorly educated,” and not in a Jesus-Love sort of way. Trump was just showing
his appreciation for people he suspected he could easily con.
While Palin’s ticket went on to lose the 2008
election, she cashed in on her demographic appeal. Following the lead of her
long lost political twin, she parlayed her political fame into a showbiz gig,
getting her own reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” She also became a Fox
News personality. Trump followed the lead of his long lost political twin
sister parlaying his reality TV fame into a political jaunt by taking an
existing right-wing conspiracy theory and anointing himself as its media
conductor. Trump insisted he had people in Hawaii looking for Barack Obama’s
birth certificate who supposedly couldn’t believe what they were finding.
Spoiler Alert: there was never any follow up on that claim.
there was anticipation for a
Republican primary race for the ages. Speculation swirled around the Tralin
Twins making separate presidential runs. It would be a showdown over who would
win the hearts and minds of the non-elite, poorly educated. Would America get
its first female president or its second Warren G. Harding? We never got our
answer as neither decided to run that year.
In the meantime, the Twins embarked down
divergent paths. Even identical twins have subtle features that distinguish one
from the other like a crooked tooth or a third underdeveloped nipple. The trait
that distinguished one Tralin from the other was ambition. Sarah assumed her
relevance was now a given, seeing as how there was nowhere in Tea Party circles
where she was not wanted. But not being unwanted and being sought after were
two different things. She was still the folksy crowd pleaser, reading rage
points from the notes written on her hand, but she was no longer seen as any
sort of agent for victory because she really hadn’t really done anything. Now
she was less of a contender and more of a mascot. In 2015, she was dropped from
As an astute capitalist, Trump realized his
political options were to either compete with Twin Sarah for Most Favoritist
Tea Party Mascot, or to step it up. He would either have to go big or go back
to one of his totally tacky homes.
Trump’s election win was a legitimate upset
because the majority of voters were upset with the results, having cast their
votes for Hillary Clinton. It was upsetting that someone whose entire
campaign was spent in constant turmoil^,
could eke out a win in the electoral college. Because of his unpopularity, Donald
Trump took office with the lowest approval rating of any president in the era
of polling. He began his first hundred days with prebattered prestige. Due to a
combination of his lack of respect for procedure and his injured, items on his
agenda quickly bottlenecked which further eroded his effectiveness. Trump is in
the danger zone on a scale we will call DRP or Dornell’s Redemption Potential.
DRP (pronounced “derp”) measures the
likelihood that a public figure can regain the confidence of the People after
suffering a setback or setbacks. It is based on several factors including:
-Past and current controversies
-Ability to grow from mistakes
-Portrayal in pop culture (negative value for
-Current rank, status, or title as a public
-Engagement on issues
Among the DRP factors, Trump has one thing
going for him. As the current sitting president, he has the highest possible
title for a public official. This prevents him from the risk of sinking into
obscurity as he scrambles to reverse the death spiral of his presidency, if he
so chooses. The other edge of the sword is that Trump stays in full view if he
continues to fail. Given his prolific authorship of his own scandals, his
inability to grow, the relentless hammering of Trump in pop culture, his known
lack of engagement on issues, and now being the subject of an FBI
investigation, Trump is as close to irredeemable as any president has ever
been. And in under 100 days.
By comparison, his political twin actually
holds a higher DRP value. Most of her high-profile failures occurred while she
was a private citizen or a candidate. She has not really failed in office. The
status of former governor carries some heft, even if she quit in the middle of
her term. Otherwise, she has never demonstrated a potential for growth. She has
yet to show depth of knowledge on any particular issue besides wanting to
protect liberty and freedom. Palin is in the zone of perhaps being appointed to
a specially created symbolic post like Special Envoy to U.S. Armed Forces
Overseas or Ambassador for Republican Unity. She may even be able to pull off
running for a congressional seat in a super conservative rural district… hypothetically.
Although Twin Trump calls the press all kinds
of names, media personalities across the spectrum have shown a peculiar faith
in his ability to turn his presidency around. They have opined that IF he can
execute any of his most important election promises within his first 100 days,
it would change the trajectory of his troubled tenure. They do not take into
account the volume of issues still weighing on his Administration including his
prolific lying and the extended problems caused by that habit alone.
In a his first annual address to a joint
session of Congress, Trump pulled off a perfunctory performance in a ceremonial
speech that never has any lasting impact on the person giving it. Rarely does
anyone refer back to a president’s address to Congress (unless an attending
bigot screams out “you lie” in the middle of it). Yet commentators glowed after
Trump stood and read from a teleprompter for an hour. The praise was not for
any extraordinary use of rhetoric of which there was none,
nor was it for any groundbreaking insights of which there were none. The only
marked characteristic to this speech was that it was not a mess, considering
the orator. For the longest period since January 19, the news out of the
White House was not about ethics violations, incompetence, Yemen, suspected
Russian ties, or lies. Twenty–four
hours later, news broke that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have
lied to Congress about having met Russian officials during the 2016
presidential campaign. Since then, no one but Trump has mentioned that speech
The longer it takes Trump to move his DRP
rating in a positive direction, the bigger his accomplishments will have to be
in order to achieve anything close to full redemption. His performance as a
businessman and a politician have been marked by callous recklessness followed
up by attempts by his staff to put out perpetual fires. This won’t change. his
temperament won’t improve. He will never be presidential. He won’t stop lying.
Ever. As his approval ratings continue to drop, he is not on any path to
winning over any converts.
Everyone knows the fortune
cookie game where you add the words “in bed” to the end of each fortune. Most
people play a similar game, subconsciously or not, when we see a headline
heralding an event featuring Sarah Palin. Somewhere in our brain we add the
words “with embarrassing results” e.g. “Sarah Palin to Endorse Iowa
Congressional Candidate… with embarrassing results.” Donald Trump is very close
to that same point. He can always find acceptance by appealing solely to his
base, but even among that eternally supportive piece of pie they will
eventually stop having any expectations of him as president. At that point he
will be their mascot, a lame duck mascot.
Thanks to Peggy Levenstein
Thursday, March 23, 2017
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