I have a confession to make about Sarah Palin. It's not an easy thing to admit, especially from this side of the liberal-elite media establishment. Every fiber of my journalistic being urges me to ignore her, to block out the gleaming, lip-glossed mug staring out from my coffee table.
She was on the cover of Newsweek last week, the glint of her glasses giving off a wholesome, Mama Bear glow. Today, she's on the cover of the Palm Beach Post, because she's scheduled to be in West Palm Beach hobnobbing with her buddies at Newsmax.com.
Here's the problem: When I look at her face, I can't look away.
I get a twisted, revolted feeling in my stomach, as if spying on a squirrel mangled in the road. My forehead starts to perspire with anger. Yet she remains calm, grinning beneath those perfectly highlighted bangs.
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She reminds me of the homecoming queen in high school: the golden ponytail, the freckled apple cheeks, the ruffled skirt that swung when she walked. She could laugh and tilt her head in a way that anchored boys to her side. No one could avert his or her eyes when she was in the room.
Rumors of cruelty never marred the queen's reputation. Small snubs in the hallway, the haughty sense of superiority... her minions ate it up. The fact that she was unremarkable in every measurable way -- neither smarter nor kinder nor more accomplished than the rest of us -- never troubled her followers. She was an object to idolize, unadulterated by reality.
Palin, of course, is far more sinister. She's managed to influence elections and undermine notions of female power -- Forget the glass ceiling; let's stay home and shoot grizzlies! -- with alarming speed.
But to the conservative faithful, she's still the all-American homecoming queen. She can't spell libertarianism and failed the geography quiz, but no one cares. She stands in the spotlight with her bouquet of roses, mocking us all with her perfumed smile.