Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tell-All Book Reveals Mother of Five May Have Used Own Vagina

Nothing about sudden Sarah Palin-related schadenfreude erupting on Facebook or Twitter surprises me. I know where it comes from, and I know the feelings it satisfies. What surprised me this time, though, was how little I sympathized with it. It felt tiring, if not unnecessary.

You probably know the tasty details by now: Joe McGinniss, author of the seminal The Selling of the President, has been lurking under the watchful gaze of Vladimir Putin in Wasilla, Alaska, engaging in what Palin calls "peeping tom" behavior by writing a book about her. Parts of the book leaked yesterday, including this revelation from her "LOTS OF DOGS" days as a sports anchor:
Sarah hooked up with [former NBA player Glen] Rice, a 6-foot-8 junior at the University of Michigan, while he was in town for the 1987 Thanksgiving weekend "Great Alaska Shootout" basketball tournament, according to the book.

McGinniss quotes a friend as saying Sarah had "hauled his [Rice's] ass down." While the pal coyly states: "I can't say I know they had sex," the friend is also quoted as saying: "I remember Sarah feeling pretty good that she'd been with a black basketball star," according to the source.

Rice confirms the hookup... "but he's quoted as saying he didn't think Sarah harbored any bad feelings over being with him because he was black. And he remembers only nice things about Sarah, recalling her as 'gorgeous' and saying she was a big crush of his at the time."

According to the book, Rice and Sarah continued to chat on the phone right up until she married Todd just nine months later.
It's interesting. It's titillating, and I admit that I'm not immune to feeling non-angry non-grudgefuck lustful interest in Palin's whole white-trash death-librarian vibe. (If anything, she seems experienced and doesn't come off like the type who insists on using condoms.)

For the most part, though, it's tough to rejoice in this. I'm even sort of proud of her. Given her membership in a party committed to screwings millions of black people, it's refreshing to see a GOP figure try making love to one for a change. That is, I suppose, unless you want to count the southern antecedents of Palinite voters and ideological fellow-travelers, who not only brought the world the racial paranoia that created words like quadroon and octoroon but also created the people to whom they applied, through rigorous investment in human-capital/employment increase. In which case, Palin becomes a kind of hipster of combining political policies of racial contempt with interracial sex: she's taking something old, ugly and passé, and she's bringing it back at great expense.

More importantly, I can't feel legitimate outrage over Palin engaging in behavior I'd accept or celebrate from those who share my interests. American liberals should welcome Republicans openly having sex with black people, brown people and gays. Not only will this keep them away from underage boys or from ruining the lives of straight wives, but it might reduce racism and homophobia in this country if the last major party who relies on them as mobilizing electoral strategies abandons them for the sake of being reasonable (at best) or good times (at least).

One then has to wonder if being tolerant of Palin's family values hypocrisy in this instance represents a kind of hypocrisy about the subject of hypocrisy. If Larry Craig and Ted Haggard were such awful people for their hypocritical sexual lapses, then isn't it morally and politically consistent — and effective — to go on Twitter and Facebook and treat this like a savory delight? I'm not sure that's true.

The consistent Democratic defense since 1998 and the dark days of Clinton-Lewinsky is that an elected representative's peccadilloes should be immaterial to the concerns of good governance. But Palin and Rice's fling pre-dates Palin's political career, so it can hardly have interfered with her job. (This doesn't apply to her alleged affair with a friend of her husband's, but that case seems much thinner and more subject to payback motives than the night with Rice. Rice has really nothing to gain from lying about the affair, since he enjoyed a 14-year career with one NBA Championship, holds the Charlotte Hornets record for scoring average and earned about $66 million in salaries.)

From a political efficacy standpoint, liberals should shy away from devaluing Palin's political viability. With Michelle Bachmann's value plummeting and Rick Perry scaring old people shitless about Social Security and Medicare, that leaves boring, middle-leaning suits like Romney only looking more credible as contenders for the presidency. That should scare Democrats, since even they should have trouble distinguishing between two feckless centrist wads like Obama and Romney on any basis other than skin and political map color. Palin, meanwhile, still captures the febrile and dizzy imaginations of conservatives as a true hero and "real" Obamalternative. Obama can beat crazy that refuses to compromise, but the sucking sound that emerges from the void of Romney's chest where a human spirit should reside signifies a willingness to sell out the hard-right on any issue that will glom onto independent voters willing to entertain voting for "anybody but the guy in charge."

That leaves only the moral problems of hypocrisy, and they still feel unnecessary. The reason why mocking Larry Craig's "wide stance," Ted Haggard's doing "butt bumps" with a rentboy, George Rekers traveling with a rentboy, Bob Allen offering to perform oral sex on a "muscular" black undercover officer to stave off "robbery" and Mark Foley trying to diddle boys via AIM chat is that those facts are pretty much all any of us knows about them. None of those men entered the national consciousness on their own terms and were never voluntarily challenged on their records and character. They were never vetted, never publicly promoted to us all. We met them via their hypocritical folly, and because most of their cultural entrance was also their exit, we can exult and delight in the near totality of their lives' untruth.

Palin, on the other hand, has already been judged and found wanting. She's been picked apart thoroughly and deservingly, giving America a chokingly full plate of hypocrisy and a gross abundance of its leftovers — like a fridge filled with tupperware containers of Thanksgiving turkey. She's a red-baiting anti-socialist who kept her state fiscally solvent via its state-controlled energy resources and doled out redistributed state-controlled wealth to each citizen. She believes in a culture of life and can't stop advocating killing wolves and people. She's against press-1-for-English but can barely speak the language. She loves American history and expects people to get the most from their educations, but her familiarity with both is on par with a banana cream pie's grasp of astronomy once you set it on a laminated placemat showing a map of the solar system. She demands that Americans work harder, but she got someone to write her books for her, quit the most important job she ever had and no-shows publicity appearances. She hates the media, but she's a paid member of it and won't get off the television. She preaches self-improvement, family values and celibacy, but this book and Levi Johnston's tell-all show a woman indifferent to parenting even before her unwed high school-age daughter got knocked up by trailer trash.

All of these details illuminate her character, her record and their flaws far better than the perfectly normal desire, for someone of any sex or race, to want to have sex with black dudes. This revelation adds nothing that can't be better expressed or condemned with the existing record. All this offers is the chance to demonize her, amongst her base, by playing on the same loathsome "hulking negroes might even now be inside our beautiful white daughters!" racial paranoia that the GOP already proudly trades in. Don't give them the satisfaction of reinforcing it.

Celebrating this discovery presents the most effective and confounding response. Every support group for interracial couples or biracial children should add their names to letters of support. Hell, invite Sarah Palin to speak at Howard University. There's no shame in exploring sex with other people before marriage and certainly none in finding people of other races beautiful, desirable and worthy of friendship, long-distance calls and personal admiration. Those are all great. If you want to be really subversive, try rubbing every conservative's nose in something so estimable.


  1. It's sort of tangential to your great essay - but I can't agree enough with your point of the dangers of centrist Mitt being the republican nominee. He'll only look better to 'independents' by comparison to the Perrys of the world by virtue of the crazy primaries.

    That said...
    How weird was Glen Rice's night when John McCain announced Palin as his VP nominee? Remember that her selection came out of nowhere, so no one had heard of her before and he didn't have time to mull the idea over. He's probably just watching TV like the rest of us, then suddenly hears that a college fling from like 20 years prior that he met as a sports anchor is now the VP nominee for one of the two major parties in the entire freakin' country. That's a 'what the f&^k?!' moment if ever there was one. If it were me I wouldn't know whether or not to high five the guy next to me or check to see if my drink were spiked.

  2. There's a high probability Palin will either deny it or say Rice, powered by the black man's furious fetish for white wimminz, forced himself upon her when all she really wanted was to conduct a professional interview on the double bed in his room at the Anchorage Ramada.

  3. This is just a tremendous piece.

  4. Wait a minute, what the fuck was a black guy doing in Alaska anyway?

    I doubt the rightists will hold it against Sarah. She might have gone black but she also went back. LOL, rejected! Take that, negro humoungous penis fuck machines!

  5. I'm not checking, and I won't be surprised if, conservative pundits and citizen "journalists" are already citing the racist hypocrisy of liberals pointing out some racist hypocrisy on the part of Palin.

  6. I've been on vacation and then dealing with the vacation laundry and no groceries aftermath made worse by whyinthehell did we go on vacation the week before school started. So while I'd heard there was something about a book about Palin going on, I didn't know what. Or care.

    My knowledge of sports is so meager I had no mental picture of the basketball player the young single woman allegedly slept with. I figured he was tall but it seemed she was within a reasonable age range, no couguring. The whole thing seemed a non story: young career women has hook up with slightly younger college athlete in post-sexual revolution 1987. What exactly is the issue?

    Oh. Race. Well. Er. Um. Yeah. I guess that's a thing. More then than now, but really, if equivalent characters were discovered in that situation now it would be more celebrity news than shocking news.

    Too bad there are so many old farts like my dad and mom who will read into it all the fear you expect Fox news wants them to.

  7. I think there is a big difference here between Bristol having pre-marital sex (and a baby out of wedlock) and Sarah's supposed fling with Rice. The difference here is that Bristol had the sex (and the baby) with the man she was going with at the time, Sarah, while not married, cheated on her boyfriend (apparently her and Todd were never engaged, but rather eloped) with Glen. True, they weren't married, but really, unless your partner is ok with you getting together with other people while you're still dating, it's a complete breach of trust. At least Bristol didn't cheat.

  8. I don't know, D. Kendall, but it seems to me that the religious right only thinks marriage is consequential and everything else is secondary. From that perspective, all premarital sex is the same and any commitment short of marriage isn't THE commitment and therefore subject to be broken at any time.

    I'm sure there are thoughts here relating to contracts and the paper they're printed on but I'm too tired to follow them wherever they might lead.

  9. Geez, this is in may ways a very interesting, well-written piece. But why, in calling for racial tolerance, do you refer to the Johnstons as trailer trash? It's an ugly term, so totally dismissive of a class of people, and really undermines your message.

  10. John,

    Believe it or not, but I went back and forth on that term for the exact same reason you mentioned. I eventually settled on it for a couple of reasons: Levi's family's alleged ties to a trailer meth lab, his admission that all he wanted to do for a living was play hockey and drive his truck, his passing time by drinking cheap beer and hunting, his pre-scrubbed Myspace that said he had zero interest in college or marriage and just wanted to get drunk and fuck, and his personal marketing of himself as just that kind of person for wacky fish-out-of-water reality show purposes. Those all fit into a lot of negative images that are neatly summed up by that term.

    Now, is that negative imagery fair? Sometimes, yeah, and often no, like any stereotyping. I thought it has some validity being mentioned because Palin's schtick as a conservative leader relies partly on two conceits: family values and rational-actor theory. Obviously, the unprotected premarital sex doesn't fit with family values. Nor does the claim that Bristol apparently wanted to get pregnant because she resented the attention her mom got during her pregnancy with Trig, and Levi went along with that. Those two details also flout rational-actor theory, which is the conservative conceit that people will inherently do the smart thing that is in their best long-term interest (which is why government is unnecessary!). There's really no way that "getting pregnant in high school, out of spite, with someone with little future capacity to raise a baby and zero interest in doing so" counts as rational-actor behavior. On the other hand, that kind of jealous, self-defeating, dead-end drama can be neatly summarized by a couple of words. Basically, I was trying to unpack those notions as quickly as possible, because that term and the baggage it carries fit with how Levi was (at one time) happy to package himself and how Bristol was happy to behave. I really didn't mean it to be a classist statement; if anything, I'm painfully aware of how many people from different American subcultures now have the wonderful opportunity to live in trailer parks in this economy.

  11. Well, it's worth mentioning that she was supposedly a professional female sports reporter at the time she slept with Rice -- hardly an ethical choice on her part.

  12. "...taking something old, ugly and passé, and she's bringing it back at great expense."

    Best succinct definition of hipsterdom that I have ever heard. Bravo for summing up in a pithy manner that which has wasted so many inferior attempts at definition.

  13. @pat755, while you have a point, I guess I'm just not that worried about conflicts of interest of local news sports reporters, and I'm almost sure the political venom that Mobutu is talking about hasn't been focused on her professional ethical transgressions.

    Actually, talking about this issue a few days out, it seems like the media has taken the path recommended by Mobutu, thankfully.


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