I'm sure that many of us had the same reaction to the prospect of Sarah Palin's reentering the national scene that the child in "Poltergeist" had when she saw the vengeful spirits of the dead on her family's television screen. ("She's baaaaack!") There she was beside a clearly uncomfortable Donald J. Trump, who looked like he welcomed the half-term Alaska governor's disjointed endorsement the way commuters regard multi-car pile-ups on the freeway.
The speech was rendered in quintessential Palinese: "He is from the private sector, not a politician. Can I get a hallelujah? Where in the private sector you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing." It drew an enthusiastic response from the audience, who probably had been instructed to react to anything she said as if Kim Kardashian had just suffered a wardrobe malfunction. The rest of the nation could only marvel at he fact that this exercise in Dr. Seussian logic was actually written down before it was delivered.
The pair of them looked a bit like the reincarnated political equivalent of George Burns and Gracie Allen, although Trump, to his credit, resisted what must have been a powerful urge to whisper, "For God's sake, say goodnight, Gracie."
Palin first came to national attention when Sen. John McCain, for reasons known only to him, chose the fledgling governor as his running mate in 2008. Now she was doing her patented soccer mom schtick to benefit a man who publicly denigrated Mr. McCain's military service. From the perspective of a perilous stint in a military school, Trump said he didn't have much admiration for people who got caught.
For most people, Palin's disregard for a grossly insensitive remark, aimed at the man who played Henry Higgins to her tattered flower girl, would qualify as a betrayal. For this woman, however, it is just another example of a calculated move to resuscitate her own lost cause. Palin's moral compass is always pointing towards a picture of her, so you can hardly blame her for going with Trump, who attracts the same kind of noisy, brainless adulation that she once enjoyed. There is some speculation that she is angling for a post as Secretary of Energy, so she can free up all the oil and natural gas resources "that God gave" us for her friends who worship at the altar of big business.
A skit on "Saturday Night Live" picked up on Trump's uneasiness at the event with Darrell Hammond's Trump incarnation offering asides to the audience ("I hope there's nobody here with a nut allergy.") while Tina Fey did her now-legendary Palin imitation. As good as Ms. Fey is, I still think that a comedienne doing a Sarah Palin imitation is strictly an example of coals to Newcastle.
Perhaps Mr. Trump, whose ability to enunciate the nuances of complex issues seems to be a casualty of the frenzy his presence evokes amongst fans of reality television, simply didn't understand what she was rattling on about. Who could blame him? Mr. Trump tends to limit his own speeches to clichéd catch phrases that resonate with people who think that no problem is insoluble as long as the unspecified "best people" are on the job. Palin operates on the assumption that there is no need to bother with things like sentence structure once the unbridled enthusiasm reaches a certain level.
It took another jolt from Ms. Palin's chaotic personal life to really remind the country of her wizard-like ability to mold any incident into a shape that dovetails with her constituents' certainty that the government is at fault for everything. After her 25-year-old son, Track, was charged with domestic abuse, she had the almighty gall to shift the blame for her own historically lousy record at parenting onto Barack Obama, implying that the president's callous indifference to veteran's returning from George W. Bush's war with post traumatic stress disorder was the root cause of his assault on his girlfriend. It was a low maneuver even for this master of self-centered distortion.
For those of us who don't really understand Palinese, it might be helpful if there were interpreters at her speaking events like the people who sign for the hearing impaired. I remember, when I finally conceded that I needed hearing aids, the audiologist told me that I would be surprised at how much I had missed. That has been true up to a point, but one has only to listen to Trump's vacant rants or to Palin's nonsensical jabber to realize that there is also a kind of backhanded blessing in not being able to hear very well.