Jessica Sieff : Britney, meet Sarah – Mama Bear, meet mayhem

Published 3:10 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

As Sarah Palin stood against a lush Alaskan backdrop in Fairbanks, ready to give her last official speech as her beloved state’s governor, I braced myself for a rambling utterance of senselessness as most of hers have been since she ended her tour as vice presidential candidate last year. The role obviously came with the perks of a designer speechwriter as well as a designer wardrobe.

But as she aimed her eyeware at the cameras that love devouring her any chance they get, lips curling over her teeth like an angry mama bear as she asked the media to leave the new Alaska governor’s family alone and “quit makin’ stuff up” in the name of the American soldier – I felt more pity for Palin than anything else.

Not unlike the same feeling I had for her pop culture soul sister, Britney Spears as she melted into a puddle of tears during an interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer not long enough ago. A far cry from crumbling under the pressure of hard hitting journalism, it didn’t seem to take much to reveal Spears’ obvious inability to handle the amount of exposure she was getting from the outside world.

It’s not that I think public figures necessarily deserve the onslaught of relentless criticism, paparazzi and even blunt mockery, but when the pressure builds, sometimes it is better to retreat, to re-evaluate and re-emerge should the time ever be right.

The speculation likely won’t change. So these celebutantes, must take heed and protect themselves.

Sometimes sanity is more important than fame.

Bursting onto the teeny bop music scene as a visceral sensation -the next Madonna, some speculated – Spears was at first viewed for her talent. But what came to be apparent was that when she took over MTV with the declaration of ‘hit me baby, one more time’ – Spears was completely unprepared for how many punches would actually come her way. And she had no idea how to roll with them.

So the pop queen crumbled. We pitied her when she fell apart in front of Lauer unable to handle the pressure of the simplest of questions. A victim of this new, brutal culture coupled with bad decisions.  Though she seemed to grow up from a child star to superstar, she was still impressionable to the negatives that come from taking such a manic public stage. In her case, the pity was a positive because before that was the disgust aimed at her poor parenting skills and the impression she had but one emotion: self-indulgence.

When she hit rock bottom, Spears shaved her head and attacked a sport utility vehicle with an umbrella.

So I’m waiting for Palin to sport a mohawk and wrestle an blissfully unaware mountain lion to the ground.

And the thing is, I want to like this mavericky maverick. But I can’t. Because what’s frightening is her inexperience is now for all to see. Palin would have been better off stepping down from the governor’s office to retreat from the spotlight, do some heavy reading, push for some very important Alaskan policy and all but disappear. She could have emerged later, a lioness.

Rather, she’s been speaking in cryptics, clad in waders. She seems unable to keep from speaking out against a process of media scrutiny that is not in any way going to be changed by the likes of a newbie politician that has captured, for good or bad, the nation’s attention.

Like the pop star, it has not taken much for us to get a peek into just how unprepared Palin is for the political arena. When guided by advisors and savvy speeches capitalizing on her culture and gravitas (lipstick), Palin’s potential shown even, bright. She could be the picture of conservative politics, disarming her adversaries with a flirty wink and a plan to install a natural gas pipeline on sacred land.

But without them, she’s simply irritated, overwhelmed and quite inarticulate.

A political pro would have handled David Letterman jokes with adverse disaffection. She got overtly angry, overshadowing her valid point of expecting respect for children who do not choose to be subjected to the world of criticism and subjectivism – by simply looking like a politician with no composure.

If she believes she is meant to run for the office of the President, Palin isn’t convincing anyone of any right mind of that.

Politician’s rarely fall from grace with outside help. They do a pretty good job of that on their own. See Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon or pick a Kennedy for details. Their poor judgement lies in forgetting that the whole world is watching, writing, texting and tweeting. Palin has yet to be immersed in some big scandal – but her party can not afford to take her seriously.

That is the danger of Sarah Palin. Not that she is not useful to her party – but that she is becoming, almost, a distraction. They want to turn her into a superstar. And, to use a Palinesque metaphor, this is one horse you just can’t break – and not in a good way.
If they have any hopes of reclaiming the White House, Republicans need a bona fide superstar, the likes of which have yet to be seen, that can handle the pressure.

They need a Beyonce – not a Britney.

Palin spokespeople say she should make her intentions for the future known very soon. Book deals and reality television shows and White House bids are all up for grabs for this so-called trailblazer. But if she knows what’s good for her, the former Alaskan governor would take some time in her native state to sit quietly and blaze the road less traveled by so many politician’s before her – the one that averts disaster.

Jessica Sieff is a reporter for the Niles Daily Star. Reach her at