When You Can Make Sarah Palin Look Mature and Classy…

Back when the Tea Party looked like a constitutionalist movement, rather than a bunch of frightened apron-string clingers at Uncle Donnie’s heels, one of their great hopes for wresting control of the Republican Party from the Rove-McConnell establishment was to challenge GOP senators and congressmen in state primaries. One marquee target of such a challenge was John McCain. Sarah Palin thwarted them.

Palin, the fastest-fading light in the history of conservative stars, was many people’s darling in 2008, when McCain, during his pro forma turn as the GOP’s official loser (to Barack Obama), made a desperate but partially successful attempt to win the talk radio crowd over to his candidacy by choosing the little-known Alaska governor as his running mate. She knew how to shoot a gun, she bragged about her husband and family, she talked like “regular folk,” and gosh darn it if she didn’t stand up on that big old stage at the nominating convention and read her pitch-perfect crowd-pleasing speech very well. Even I, a genuine Palin skeptic from the get-go, and a severe critic from then on, can still remember the emotional satisfaction of hearing her delivery of the roof-raising line of that night, the bit about candidates who routinely claim they will “fight for you,” which Palin concluded by noting, after a nice pause, “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.”

McCain was a poor candidate, and a non-conservative. In many ways, Palin’s association with his campaign was her political undoing, as she was thrust into the national spotlight prematurely, and in a losing endeavor, becoming a laughingstock of the left (“I can see Russia from my house!”) and a scapegoat for the GOP establishment (“See what happens when you put one of those loose-talking constitutionalist types on the ticket?”). She had myriad other problems, however, most of them of her own making, which have caused her to deteriorate from “the face of the Tea Party” to a genuine source of embarrassment to all who supported her.

But in 2010, when McCain was facing a fairly serious Tea Party challenge in the Arizona primary from J.D. Hayworth, there was Sarah Palin refusing to join the assault, directly expressing gratitude for what McCain had done for her, and vowing to stand up for him as he had stood up for her. In other words, there was Palin the goofball, Palin the blusterer, Palin the publicity hound, risking her fan base and her prospects by acting like a classy adult. “This person,” she was effectively saying, “helped to boost my career and gave me national legitimacy within the Republican Party when no one else would, so I will not speak out against him now, even though I know the movement that sees me as a prominent spokesman is begging me to do so.”

Jeff Sessions has just lost his Alabama primary run in his effort to regain the U.S. Senate seat he gave up to join the Trump administration. Back in early 2016, not one GOP senator dared to put his name behind Trump’s campaign. It was clear that just one such person would eventually be needed to send the message to fence-sitters that Trump was an acceptable candidate, that he could be a palatable alternative to the establishment’s other possibilities, primarily (at that stage) John Kasich and Marco Rubio. The old boy leadership of the establishment wanted Trump, but most of them were not elected members of Congress, and Mitch McConnell is too much of a worm to openly back any primary candidate, even one he has used as his puppet for years. 

Sessions alone stood up and gave Trump the credibility he craved, and that he so richly did not deserve. 

But then Jeff Sessions committed the one unpardonable sin in Trump World: He decided that being the attorney general of the United States did not involve being the personal thug and protector for Vladimir Putin’s shoeshine boy. That was it. Case closed, Sessions was an idiot, a loser, a weakling, and any other pejoratives simple enough for Trump to spell. Sessions’ fate, right up to this latest loss in the Alabama primary, is a marvelous example of poetic justice. He sold his reputation and respectability to Trump in what was surely a calculated career move. What he got in return blew up in his face.

As for Trump, his willingness to chase Sessions to Alabama with taunts and insults, like a twelve-year-old mean girl as usual, shows what a petty and classless quasi-human thing he is. You would think being President of the United States would somehow make even a very tiny person feel big enough to act just slightly more like an actual man — but you would be wrong. His eagerness to destroy Sessions’ political career — firing him for showing a bit of professional integrity wasn’t enough — is quintessential Trump, and just goes to show how far down the booby hatch the Trump cult has led America.

Trump just did what only a true establishment puppet and two-bit reality television profiteer could do. He made Sarah Palin look like a classy and morally mature adult.

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