OFF THE GRID

Sarah Palin Should Get Rid of Todd   

Aug 3, 09 | 8:47 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Do you think Sarah and Todd Palin are breaking up? You have an opinion. Even if you somehow missed the rumor, now that I’ve brought it up, you’re weighing it. Does that explain the abrupt resignation? What effect would this have on the career? Does she need him anyway? Who might be a better match for her?

Unable to be—and clearly uninterested in being—a wonky type pronouncing on various policy themes and launching not-for-profit foundations to save America and support her multi-year candidacy, Sarah Palin is pioneering a new sort of political career plan. It’s politics as personal drama.

It’s a riveting, novelistic spectacle of exactly what happens to someone picked from political obscurity and given sudden, vast, ill-advised worldwide media attention. It’s a reality TV variation. It’s borderline satirical, while at the same time relentlessly literal. That’s part of the dramatic tension: Is it real? Or is it being played for the camera? The train wreck of her life is not, according to the rules of this genre, something you can hold against her, because that’s the precise reason you’re paying attention to her.

After all, it’s an incredible story. If anyone were still trying to write the great American novel, this would be something to envy.

She is being sustained by story alone. And why not? In many ways, she seems realer and more credible as a character (however flawed) than most politicians. It’s her life she’s selling, rather than phony baloney political proscriptions. Of course, it’s a ridiculous life, or a staggering mess of a life, but that’s the kind of novel it is. And you can’t put it down.

Her denial about the end of her marriage—and I believe it’s breaking up; from the beginning I thought he was a loser—came on Facebook. I think this might be an important moment for social networking, and for the entire reality genre. Social networks will start to get mass media characters. Instead of the ever-fracturing nature of social media, there will be stories—social networking celebrities—that we can unite around.

You go onto Facebook and check your own page and your friend’s page and then you go to the various Facebook stars that you choose to follow. That’s media.

After losing his campaign for vice president, John Edwards (remember him?) started a foundation to fight poverty in America as a way to keep promoting himself as a political contender—a not very successful way, as it turned out. Sarah Palin is looking to do the same thing, but in an instinctively savvier way. She’s creating a channel or a platform to keep telling her own story.

I, for one, want to know how it’s going to turn out. 

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com.

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