Four years ago, Arizona Senator Republican presidential nominee John McCain shocked the world when he chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
McCain and Palin lost their race against Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but Palin has since achieved celebrity status. Among other things, she became a Fox News contributor.
However, on Wednesday, Fox cancelled its scheduled interviews with the Alaskan governor.
Palin had planned to appear on Fox to comment on McCain’s speech at this year’s Republican National Convention. Actually, according to her Facebook post, she planned to lavish praise upon him for his “positive contributions to America” and lament “what a biased media unfairly put him through four years ago tonight.”
Palin said that she was “sorry” about the cancellation, but, “more than any of the other convention speeches,” she “look[ed] forward to hearing” McCain’s “words to his fellow Americans [.]”
Fox released a statement to account for the cancellation of Palin’s interviews.
“Our plans changed based on the fact that the RNC condensed the schedule of speeches from four nights to three. We look forward to having Governor Palin back as soon as we can.”
Palin continues to maintain a sizable and impassioned following, but it is hard not to wonder whether this latest episode may not be an indication that the lime light that she has enjoyed for the last few years is beginning to slip from her grasp.
It is also hard not to think that, if so, this might be a well deserved turn of events.
In spite of her reputation as a traditionalist or conservative, Palin has made some decisions that cast this reputation into doubt.
For one, she continues to praise John McCain. This is telling, for neither in 2008 nor at any time before or since then have self-avowed conservatives regarded McCain as anything other than a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only). Considering that, until he challenged Barack Obama for the presidency, the left-wing media lauded McCain as a “maverick,” the GOP faithful appeared to have had some reason for their judgment.
Secondly, McCain’s speech that Palin was anticipating more anxiously than any other was what those who know him have come to expect, a call for a foreign policy that is even more ambitious in scope than what currently exists. Ever quick to dispel audiences of any illusions they may have that foreign policy is secondary in importance to economic woes, McCain remarked:
“It is said that this election will turn on domestic and economic issues. But what Mitt Romney knows, and what we know, is that our success at home also depends on our leadership in the world.” He continued: “It is our willingness to shape world events for the better that has kept us safe, increased our prosperity, preserved our liberty and transformed human history.”
Yet as such “Old Right” conservatives as Patrick Buchanan and scholar Paul Gottfried have long observed, the sort of foreign policy favored by the likes of McCain and Palin is a species of liberal internationalism. It is the kind of foreign policy that Woodrow Wilson promoted in his quest to “make the world safe for democracy.”
That is, it is most definitely not conservative.
Thirdly, Palin has furthered the “reality” television craze by becoming a reality TV star herself. But the transformation of herself into a pop culture celebrity undoubtedly came at the cost of diminishing the number of people who take her seriously.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, Palin didn’t just become a reality TV star herself. She paved the way for her daughter, Bristol, to become one as well.
Bristol Palin, as everyone now knows, conceived a child at the age of 17. When her mother made her debut at the Republican National Convention in 2008, Bristol attended while visibly pregnant. She was accompanied by the child’s father, Levi Johnston, to whom Bristol was supposedly engaged. In December, Bristol gave birth.
She and Levi never married. In fact, they have long since broken up.
Since then, Bristol has been almost as visible a public personality as her mother has been. She has been on several television shows. Not including her own reality show, Bristol has also appeared in ABC Family’s, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Dancing with the Stars. She has authored her own memoir, co-starred in a music video, and become a teen pregnancy prevention spokesperson for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the Candie Foundation.
Reportedly, the Candie Foundation has paid Bristol more than $262, 000 for her work.
Although Bristol styles herself an advocate of teenage pregnancy prevention, critics have expressed concern that her good looks and plush lifestyle may contribute to the glamorization of unwed motherhood.
For example, Bonnie Fuller, former editor-in-chief of YM, alluding to the “picture-perfect” image of a People spread in which Bristol appeared, accused her of being “the poster girl for teen momhood.”
These criticisms are legitimate. Bristol Palin is barely old enough to drink and yet from the time that she was a teenager, she has enjoyed an endless supply of fame and fortune—all because she is an unwed, teenage mother and Sarah Palin is her mother.
The overwhelming majority of unwed teenage mothers who aren’t already celebrities forego opportunities that would have otherwise been available to them. Bristol has reaped opportunities because of her decision. Her mouth may say one thing, but her very public life conveys a strikingly different message.
This is the concern that many have had with Bristol reaping the material fruits of speaking out against teenage pregnancy.
However, that her mother Sarah paved the way for her to do so is what has provoked some conservatives of a more traditional bent to lambast her for being a fraud.
Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel, for instance, wrote in 2009 that whether Bristol marries her child’s father is indeed “our business because the mother and chief enabler and financier of all of this is Bristol Palin’s mother, a woman whom people are touting as a conservative family values person who…has demonstrated that she actually isn’t one.”
As the days of the 2008 presidential contest recede ever further beyond the historical horizon and the media turns its attention to new stars, Sarah Palin just might—and maybe deservedly—find herself fading off into the sunset.