The Sarah Palin Cult of Personality


Michael Joseph Gross's profile of Sarah Palin, published in the October 2010 issue of Vanity Fair, is a jaw-dropper. From the machinations of her network of supporters to the way she has effectively muzzled nearly everyone around her, Gross's comprehensive analysis of Palin is impressive.

Gross told the MSNBC "Morning Joe" hosts: "I started this story with a prejudice in her favor...But everybody close to her tells the same story."

After visiting Alaska and following "Palin’s road show through four Midwestern states, speaking with whomever [he] could induce to talk under whatever conditions of anonymity they imposed," Gross tells that story in the Vanity Fair profile.

Some of his revelations aren't that surprising. For example, Sarah Palin's got a wicked temper. She doesn't hunt or fish. She's getting paid big bucks for her appearances across the lower 48, where she essentially recycles speeches -- interchanging city names and substituting the word "Bible" for "Constitution" depending on her audience.

But my curiosity was piqued by a few of Gross's points. First, there's a complicated web of links between her staffers, pro-Palin blogs, and the organizations and political action committees surrounding her. One woman quoted by Gross commented, “We would literally walk across hot broken glass for this woman…She’s our family, and you protect your family; it’s like the mafia." Based on Gross's descriptions of her followers' devotion to her, the control exerted by Palin over them, and the apparent "promotions" they receive -- from proving themselves as loyalists at pro-Palin blogs not officially connected with Palin, to working for Palin as staffers -- the hierarchy is certainly reminiscent of La Cosa Nostra.

Likewise, Palin exerts control over everyone around her. I was struck by the fear expressed by those quoted anonymously in the profile and those who refused to speak: "They don’t want her to find out they have talked with a reporter, because of a suspicion that bad things will happen to them if she does." Such as sleeping with the fishes?

But unlike the Mafia, Palin labors under the belief that she is leading a holy war. She laces her speeches "with code phrases expressing solidarity with fundamentalist Christians." She has adopted the North Star as a symbol of herself, also known to Alaskans "as a reference to God." During the presidential campaign, when she was supposed to be boning up on her knowledge of history and current events, Palin was reading email from "prayer warriors" who were "calling on angels to shield her from demonic attacks."

Much as I'd like to see both Sarah Palin and the Mafia go away, I think it's the same sort of personality cult that drives our collective fascination with both of them. We wonder how they can get away with what they do, and as much light as we try to shine on them, they still remain shrouded in dark secrecy.

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feminism, in the news, media, sarah palin, politics, tea party


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Bliss... Blissfulchica

Creepy and just plain disturbing...

29again 29again

"They don’t want her to find out they have talked with a reporter, because of a suspicion that bad things will happen to them if she does." Such as sleeping with the fishes?

Was this YOUR contribution??  If so, you need to think back to how the media of ALL kinds have treated this woman.  I really don't blame her for not wanting her staff to be talking to reporters, after having seen how they spin things until they are unrecognizable......... but I seriously doubt that she would do more than fire them.  Really, it is a S-T-R-E-T-C-H to find a comparison between Palin and the Mafia. 

Sunse... SunsetMom64

Palin makes my skin crawl and this article pretty  much sums up why.

RanaA... RanaAurora

29again, her connection to the mafia was in a quote from someone else who knows her, and lovingly referred to the devotion to her as being "like the mafia." No stretch at all.

RanaA... RanaAurora

Er, comparison to the mafia, LOL.

tallo... tallone59

Sunsetmom, thanks for your comment. She is creepy. You know what's creepier? All the really, really creepy people who follow her and see her as the second coming. She scares me to death and so do all her followers. Can you say Hitler reincarnated as a woman?  I see it.

gertie41 gertie41

I too am scared that so many have been fooled by Palin. They actually believe she is sincere.And they think it is cute when she talks "Mama Grizzly" .....but if you read from different sources, you see that she is coming from self-interest and is really not intelligent or concerned for the well being of our country..

dabab... dababimama

call me crazy but i just happen to believe that it doesn't take "prayer warriors" warding evil spirits away from an idiot to save this country. i think God can bless with worthy leader...just sayin'

Jennifer Robinson

Comparing Sarah Palin to the mafia? Julie Marsh, are you really that stupid, ignorance or are you simply blinded yourself so that you made such an enormous error in judgment?
Let's look at the fact: Most of the mainstream media, talk show hosts and the women who call themselves "the feminists" band together to trash Sarah Palin. There are many ways to look at one's views and expressions. Those people, including you, intentionally refuse to look at her views in all angles, but insistently force your own ideas, thoughts and conclusions on her. And to call her the mafia? Who is the mafia in this scenario? I wonder what other words that you define wrongly in your own dictionary?
Being a woman, I have tremendous amount of support for Sarah Palin. She has been fending the sharks and the mobsters like you,who gang up on her. Her positions never change or sway. Yes, she might have said or quoted things wrong from time to time. But who doesn't? Don't tell me you are so perfect that you never do or say anything wrong in your life. what a hypocritical individual you are for finding faults with somebody else while covering up your own mess. You should feel shame for calling yourself a "writer". Fictional and emotional-skewed writer, YES. Honorable writer, NO.

jagam... jagamama0710

Jennifer Robinson - Read the article and the other comments before you pipe in please. Like RanaAurora said, Julie didn't compare her to the Mafia. One of Palin's followers did.


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