Every once in a while, Sarah Palin tries to escape the purgatory of irrelevancy by doing or saying something that the failed Congressional candidate is likely convinced will inject her back, however briefly, into the cultural zeitgeist.
It must be galling for the former Republican “it girl”– who was plucked from obscurity and thrust into the ego-swelling limelight as John McCain’s running mate in 2008 – to watch from afar as the diabolical duo of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert slowly and inevitably overtook her in the calcified hearts and conspiracy-consumed minds of the party’s looney tunes faithful.
And so, it was hardly surprising when, in late August, Palin attracted a fleeting burst of life-affirming attention while appearing on exiled Fox News personality Eric Bolling’s derivative chat show on the cable news network equivalent of purgatory, Newsmax.
Bolling began a follow-up “interview” with Palin with this remarkably astute introduction. “Joining me now to assess all of the Left’s craziness in America is former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin.”
Who better to “assess” and discuss what constitutes “craziness” than the still reigning avatar of “craziness” herself?
Despite her diminished profile, Palin has been busy reconfirming those credentials. She told Bolling a few days earlier in the same contrived setting that Donald Trump’s arraignment in Georgia – on a slew of felony charges in connection with a mob-type scheme to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state – was going to provoke a “civil war”.
“Those who are conducting this travesty and creating this two-tier system of justice, I want to ask them: What the heck. Do you want us to be in a civil war? Because that’s what’s going to happen. We’re not going to keep putting up with this,” Palin said. “We need to get angry. We do need to rise up and take our country back.”
Palin’s rather lame rallying cry was chock-a-block with the predictable bromides meant to “fire up” – she forgot that one – Bolling’s tiny pool of perpetually seething, star burst-gravitating viewers. It was Palin’s explicit suggestion – framed, conveniently, as a consequence-free “question” – that a “civil war” was in the offing that caused, in her self-absorbed gambit, an agreeable stir.
Bolling had Palin return to “clarify” her typically incendiary remarks. Palin was, I suspect, more than happy to oblige since it meant doing what she loves most to do, stare – with a frozen look of golly-gee amazement – into a camera.
Palin claimed, unconvincingly, that her “words” had been “twisted” and that she was forced to “hunker down” in light of the “threats, lies, and false accusations”. Happily, Palin was able to emerge from her warm, alternative-universe cocoon for five minutes or so to insist that she was just asking – golly gee whiz – a question of the “Left”. No foul. No harm.
“I asked a question,” Palin said. “And I will repeat exactly that question … what is it that you want, Left? Do you want a civil war because we don’t. I don’t.”
Now, I’m not sure which “left” Palin was addressing in her exculpatory screed since the “left” as an organised, political principle of any coherent persuasion is an inconsequential outlier in America.
But Palin and company need not fret. America is not going to devolve into a “civil war” – beyond the entrenched ideological and rhetorical divisions that have been a defining characteristic of the disfigured US body politic for generations.
Palin is not the first, nor will she be the last, cable news swamp-addicted grifter to urge millions of malleable, cable news swamp addicts to “rise up” and “take America back” in what would amount to the charge of the MAGA not-so-bright brigade from the familiar comfort of a New York television studio or, in the former vice-presidential nominee’s case, her Stars and Stripes-draped basement.
A trial run occurred on January 6, 2021, when the Capitol was attacked in order to prevent – through intimidation and violence – the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.
After ginning up Oath Keeper and Proud Boys-led insurrectionists into a wild froth, Trump took quick refuge in the White House to watch and applaud his sinister designs unfold from what he apparently considered a safe and protective distance.
Rest assured, Palin will follow Trump’s cowardly lead and avoid being anywhere near “on point” in any real or imagined reprise of the mad, cacophonous events of January 6. She, like Trump, would stay well in the rear.
The gullible minions are expendable, not Sarah Palin.
But Palin ought to be careful what she wishes for – or not. A gang of once cocky, strutting Oath Keeper and Proud Boy leaders has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to stiff prison sentences, including the polo shirt-wearing proudest Proud Boy of them all: Enrique Tarrio, who will be spending the next 22 years in federal prison – which may or may not damage his pride.
He joins scores of other cockeyed cosplay enthusiasts turned would-be “revolutionaries” jailed across the US for having stormed Congress. Trump, the insurrectionist-in-chief, has been indicted for his precipitating role in encouraging, fomenting and planning a failed coup d’état.
A wise jury willing, Trump could soon be sharing a cell block with Tarrio to reminisce about those exciting, not-so-distant better days when they attempted to thwart the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
Sure, Trump’s maniacal followers are content to fly MAGA flags on their porches and from the back of their blaring pick-up trucks, but I doubt they’re prepared, these days, to heed another self-aggrandising charlatan’s call to “civil war” and to risk an extended stay at the crowbar hotel.
They and Palin will take considerable solace, I’m sure, in knowing that, if he is re-elected, Trump – ever the rule of law-allergic authoritarian – would exact a swift and satisfying measure of revenge by promptly keeping his jarring vow to imprison his political opponents.
“I will be president in one and a half years, and we will pick the strongest, toughest, and most respected attorney general, and if guilty, we will put them all in jail where they belong,” the four-time indicted and probable Republican presidential nominee promised on Wednesday on Truth Social.
If that junta-inspired horror happens, Palin might get her civil war — or not.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.