Columns 2009

As Wasilla turns… Alaska’s own soap opera

So there I was the other night, TV turned to some news channel, chopping up veggies and getting food ready for my flock’s evening meal, when an entertainment news show came on. It’s difficult to differentiate between hard news and fluff anymore because they are both often covered by the same news program. But since the name of this offering had the word “showbiz” in it, I was pretty sure I’d no longer be hearing about the aftermath of the Obama administration’s recent overture to Cuba.

Fine, I thought. What’s the harm in a little light news about my favorite size zero actresses and their latest boy toys? I’m willing to admit it. I get a vicarious pleasure out of figuring out if the octomom’s reality show is a go or whether Mel Gibson’s divorce will be the largest in show biz history.  I’m not ashamed of that.  Well, not totally. So I settled in to a rhythm of chopping and smirking as the silliness of most of the entertainment world was brought into my home. Then, somewhere between the news of Madonna appealing the devastating ruling that will not allow her to adopt another child from Malawi and the breaking news of who is now giving Rihanna advice on how to stay away from Chris Brown, I got to hear about (breathless gasp then shocked tone), “Sarah Palin’s latest public battle with the father of her grandson and why she is saying, ‘No way, not ever’ to him.”

I was horrified as the realization dawned that our governor has become daily fodder for every TV show that revels in overemotional, undereducated idiots who have nothing better to do than humiliate themselves on national television by using that medium to find out that their husbands are sleeping with their sister’s daughter’s friend and she’s carrying his baby. To be followed, after a short commercial break, by the latest feuding in Wasilla.

Where once Alaska was known, when it was thought about at all by people in the lower 48, as a cold, dark state with stunningly beautiful vistas, the Northern Lights and Eskimos, we now are famous (infamous?) for our very own version of the Hatfield and McCoys, except that our feud involves our governor sparring with an 18 year old unwed father. Charming.

While the economy collapses, the Legislature plays tit for tat with the administration over everything from open Senate seats to AG appointments, and some of our stimulus dollars face the real possibility of paying for California’s schools because suddenly we don’t want federal money, our governor is on television trading barbs with Levi Johnston over whether or not he spent the night at her house sleeping with her daughter. This topic is taken up by almost every entertainment show on TV and debated with a gravitas usually associated with bailing out our failing banks. Alaska has become a national soap opera.

I’m horrified that any politician would bring their family’s private life so far into the public spotlight and then keep it there by responding to the juvenile idiocy of an immature 18 year old who is clearly attempting to milk his 15 minutes of fame for all they are worth. Imagine a male politician carrying on like this about his unwed teenage daughter’s single parenthood.

At what point does some advisor not lean over and whisper in Palin’s ear, “Just say you have no comment and move on to actual state business.” Is there really no one in this administration capable of convincing Palin that she refocuses the spotlight on her family every time she dignifies a remark by Levi with a response?

Alaska is facing a lot of challenges right now, from resource development to a sagging world economy’s effect on oil prices, to global warming’s effect on the Arctic, to whether or not we should be supporting village heating needs with state dollars. I would really, really appreciate it if we could end the sideshow that has us rivaling Lindsay Lohan in national gossip rags and have our governor return to the business of governing.

Someone has to be the adult in this situation. Levi is 18. Sarah is…well, older. I would suggest that she take the adult role.