Someone I met on a train told me that Sarah Palin was up to something: the Katie Couric interview and all her other flubs were just a way to lower expectations for her debate against Joe Biden. When the time came, my conspiracy theorist proposed, Palin would spout Hillaryesque wonkery the likes of which we had never seen. Palin didn't quite manage to catch up to Hillary Clinton last night, but she showed herself to be a bit of a con artist: will the real Sarah Palin please stand up?
Despite her terminally cute act with Couric and her "aw, shucks" approach last night, Palin is not "average."
The Palins had a 2007 household income of $166,000, which put them in the top earning 10 % of all households. This year she is expected to make very close to $200,000 and we don't know what her husband will bring in.
She was a beauty queen, meaning that she was willing to exhibit her physical wares in exchange for money; but she is also a moralist, meaning that she has very definite opinions about what you and I should do behind closed doors. This puts her in a self-contradictory category best described in Slate as "sexy puritan."
But most of all, like George Bush, she is a dissembler. Like, Bush, a man born with a silver spoon and a keen mind who likes to pretend he is a hick, Palin likes to pretend to be a simpleminded "hockey mom" as part of her demagoguery.
In sum, Palin salvaged her political career by not behaving like a total idiot on national television in a controlled format that allowed her considerable latitude. However, the achievement is pyrrhic, as we now know that she is smarter, and probably a lot meaner, than she lets on.