Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 10, 2011 1:24AM

Sarah Palin's Alaska - The Series Finale

Rate: 28 Flag

This week’s episode served as the final episode in the 8-part marketing presentation that brilliantly defined Sarah Palin as a political brand while simultaneously putting the nail in the coffin of her presidential ambitions.  It seemed like a good idea I suppose – using the ruse of an Alaskan documentary to produce a long-form political ad - but even her most hardcore fans had a hard time buying the Mama Grizzly crap that she was selling.  And she never stopped selling it to the bitter end.

In this installment we visited a reindeer farm, traveled to Nome and Valdez to mine for gold, took a quick detour to Anchorage for an airshow and ended up at the family compound to celebrate Sarah’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  11 year old daughter Piper played the role of student to Sarah’s teacher for this hour, and delivered perhaps the most unintentionally astute line of the entire series as they flew into their first destination.

“Down below is the 800 miles of trans-Alaskan pipeline,” Sarah explained to Piper as they descended into Valdez, “it travels over three different mountain ranges – and guess where it ends up?”

“In the water?” Piper quips.

Their first adventure was a kayak trip on Valdez Glacier Lake.  Apparently the glacier has thinned over 300 feet in the last century, and seemed to be deteriorating at a rapid rate during their journey as pieces of ice and debris rained down around them – not that anybody mentioned it.  The main purpose of the trip was to recreate part of the journey that prospectors took during the Klondike gold rush of the late 1800s, and to pan for gold on the beach shore.  When Piper didn’t find enough bling in Valdez, they jetted to Nome where they panned for more gold on a post-apocalyptic beach lined with people who looked like they were engaged in Alaska’s equivalent of playing the slots.  As Palins dug and shook sand and ran around, Sarah went on and on about how life was all about competition and hard work and Alaska - like she was that kid in elementary school who wouldn’t stop tapping you on the shoulder saying “guess what?” - and everyone sighed and said “we know, WE KNOW,” hoping somebody – anybody - would come along and ask for her autograph so she would leave them alone.

From Nome, they met Todd at the Anchorage Air Show where Sarah talked about crying at the sight of Blue Angels (we’re assuming she was referring to the planes) before traveling back home for her parents’ 50th anniversary.  In the final scene of the series, Sarah and family presented her parents with pieces made from the gold that they had harvested - and everyone talked about love and family and being true Alaskans and I barfed and it was OVER.

For people like me, and probably for the majority of those of us who have witnessed Sarah Palin’s rise to prominence, her allure as a personality is as mysterious as it is depressingly obvious.  In an age where solid branding is the only way public figures can attract a dedicated following, Sarah developed her talking points and stuck to them religiously – especially during the course of this program.  Throughout the 8 episodes, we were sold the image of a hard working, blue collar everywoman who values family above all else and who will protect that family, and her country, by any means necessary – and preferably with a firearm.  She’s become an iconic character – a modern day Annie getting her gun – embodying a bad ass, maternal and ‘naughty librarian’ appeal in one package.  Not an easy feat.

Unfortunately this past Saturday we realized a nasty consequence of the anger that Sarah Palin has come to symbolize – anger made all the more insidious by the pretty package it was sold in.  By almost all accounts, Congresswoman Giffords and the victims of Saturday’s shootings were gunned down by a troubled, mentally unbalanced young man – and that was not Sarah Palin’s fault.  But as has been pointed out by former President Bill Clinton (among others), the vitriol and anti-government sentiment perpetuated by Sarah and her ilk can be heard by everyone – mentally stable or not – and using graphics like the infamous tea party target map from November’s elections (with rifle crosshairs over target districts, including Congresswoman Gifford’s) can only serve to potentially further incite the passions of those who may not be able to control them.  And, like it or not, as a society we all have to take responsibility for those people.

Sarah doesn’t quite understand this perspective - not that we expected her to.  Nor does she seem to even acknowledge that her imagery was what it appeared to be.  A spokesperson for Sarah’s PAC explained that the crosshairs were never intended to be interpreted as rifle sites – a ridiculous explanation given that her rhetoric has always been defined by Clint Eastwood bravado (perhaps she’ll next be trying to convince us that her “Don’t retreat, RELOAD” reference evolved from Willow’s unwillingness to do laundry.)  I would have had more respect for her if she made the argument that crosshairs on a map doesn't lead people to commit murder - a point certainly worth debating.

As her show comes to an end, those of us terrified by the prospect of a Palin presidency can breathe more easily.  Sarah has proven that she can harness the energy of an angry minority and even transform that anger into political change, but Americans don’t respond to anger for long.  “You gotta give ‘em hope,” Harvey Milk famously said - a trick Sarah Palin has yet to master.

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Thank you for this and your coverage of the Palin tragedy.
Hate-speech has been linked to hate-crime (and that is what this is, not only murder and assassination) by legal precedent. We cannot ignore that, because to do so is moral cowardice.

Has anyone looked through a rifle scope lately? Sarah's "hate mad" featured scopes.

Elijah Rising

stop the advance of the 451s
" And, like it or not, as a society we all have to take responsibility for those people."

This was, in all ways, great insight into a modern American tragedy.
Jesus Christ you're brave. If I was asked to watch the Palin Show I'd end up kicking the TV into a pile of scrap. That or vomiting over it.
"The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons -- your Big Guns -- to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win." -- Sarah Palin
Of course cross-hairs on a map don't cause people to commit murder. You know that as well as I do. Bill Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh for the Oklahoma City bombing and now blaming the right for this?! Talk about inciting violence! Now if anybody shoots Sarah P. we can blame Bill Clinton. The 22 year old was a left-wing pot head according to classmates. Trying to pin this on the right is already backfiring.
This was superbly written. I'm going to miss you and your writing. Please find another series (or get back to your other stuff) soon.
Deborah, do left-wing potheads read Mein Kampf?
Thank you for the sacrifice you made so that we could get your excellent perspective and know what the show was doing without having to watch it.
rated with love
Who sponsors her show? I'd like to know so I can write to the CEO and board of directors of said companies and tell them I will boycott their products until they pull their sponsorship.
I suspect she was more of a cheerleader bully than a know it all. Her kids are not far behind in that category. THOSE people are all about competition, all the time, even when it isn't needed. Sad stuff.
you misunderstand the message here. It is not to pin the tragedy on the right. First of all, it is not by all means clear that the shooter was left wing. By most accounts he was a mentally disturbed individual with wide reading interests, including Mein Kampf, which is not a reading preference of the left. The idea here is the right has been particularly using violent, igniting and fear mongering imagery ever since Obama was elected. Even if that imagery did not inspire this particular shooting, it is dangerous to continue. And pinning imaginary Palin assassination on Clinton is just stupid.
Rated for "I barfed and it was OVER."
Nicely done
I never watched the show and after this weekend I would never watch it. Your recap hits the nail on the head and you can be sure just like deborah Sara already is making excuses why she isn't responsible for encouraging the attack. Instead they will claim "them liberals" and continue on with their hate speech.
Thanks, Deborah, for being an example of that which you claim to hate. I'm seeing that a lot these last few days.

knighwriter, your recaps have been brilliant. This one is especially good.
It's one thing to be black listed by your own constituents and quite another to be black listed by most of your country. She is cooked. Exit stage left.
Thanks for this. I could not watch her show the one time I stumbled upon it. It was like watching a cat pee.
Now this over-hyped, thinly veiled tribute to this woman will live on in ceaseless re-runs. Too bad Capt. Phil died. It would've been fun to watch her out on "Cornelia Marie" doing some real Alaska work.
ditto what Jeanette deMain said. word for word.
So well written and a really fair and analytical look at the situation. I've never seen the show. I never will. In my opinion, her post-election rise to fame is exactly what happens when we substitute PR and social-media notoriety for actual intelligence and the right qualifications or education. In a past century or decade, S.P. would have been your average, or under-average, bimbo. She'd be that girl in school who was pretty, sly and sorta sporty, just about hanging in there in the "C-minus" crowd. But these are hardly qualifications for running a country. However, in this 21st century media-driven madness, there are some who believe it is. And she's apparently qualified to have a TV show -- and (gulp!) to govern an entire U.S. state. So I'm afraid that the joke's on us for giving the C-minus bimbo as much national air time as we have.
thanks for watching - id rather be waterboarded
While not an American, I admit to being horrified by the thought of a Sarah Palin president. I have no plans on watching any of the re-runs of her show, but got to watch her kill that elk when it was put on the news up here. Yes, we hunt up here, but we don't broadcast it on television.
Most Canadians are baffled by American politics and I admit to being one of them. Yes, we're boring and proud of it! Someone please keep Palin off the air!
This was an excellently written blog.
Thank you, KW.

You know what is the major difference between people like this d. young and people like me?
When I troll, I bring home walleye for dinner.
"crying at the sight of Blue Angels (we’re assuming she was referring to the planes)" HA!!!! How your stomach survived watching this twit is unbelievable. I had to take a swig of Pepto, just from reading your account.
Please sign Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall's petition to indict Sarah Palin for inciting violence in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Dr Bramhall started the petition over the weekend and it is directed to the US Dept of Justice. Words that are not only meant to incit violence, but which have already caused murder, should have consequences, and those consequences should be legal. You can find the petition here:

So far there are more than 3500 signatures. Thank you. And Knightwriter, you're wrong, Palin IS responsible and she must be held accountable. And Lougner is a rightwing terrorist.
Great post! Rated. I also liked how it was described this morning on the UK-based site HecklerSpray:
i think her post-election rise to fame is exactly what happens when we substitute PR and social-media notoriety
acid reflux diet
It is obvious that the Right is responsible for the largest portion of hate towards politicians, even by the media. A person sent me this link, though, that shows Dems have used similar maps--bullseyes rather than gun sights. Just to be fair. http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647
Hope yes I like that. That is the most important thing Palin takes away from us and replaces with FEAR.
...and look what happened to poor Harvey.

Your opening salvo said it all. A one-two punch packed into one sentence. Thank heavens this long national saga is over. Please put your shoulder to a more worthy wheel, like Paula Abdul's new show (hehe), but I'd really love some of your personal work here too, K. Best to you in 2011.
The Right is ENTIRELY responsible.
Hate Merchants like Palin and Beck -- and their mentor William Kristol -- have blood on their hands.

And all the perfumes of Arabia won't make them smell sweet again, Deborah.

By the way YOU STINK!!!!
Banning hate speech? Start with our president.

In 2008: That’s exactly what Barack Obama said he would do to counter Republican attacks “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

Have enjoyed immensely your public service work in breaking down the essentials of each of Palin's shows. You've certainly got her number.