Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's carefully crafted image as a regular hockey mom has taken a few hits since her unsuccessful vice presidential bid. Starting with her bizarre decision to quit the governorship in the middle of her term, which New York's Gabriel Sherman later compellingly argued was a move to freely cash in on her celebrity, there's also been the ruckus caused by her massive speaking fees at events such as the Tea Party convention in Nashville and at nonprofit institutions such as universities. Perhaps most damaging was the revelation that her speaking contract comes with a list of requirements worthy of Spinal Tap.
But all those who wonder whether revelations of her personal prima donna qualities will damage her image are proceeding from an assumption that she does, in fact, disguise her self-centered side well in managed environments. I've long disagreed with that assessment, because her famous Facebook postings often have the tone of a nasty, snotty, slightly dense but popular high-school girl. Sample recent line: "Okay, Mr. President, you tell us we have to keep looking backward (as we’re steered toward the cliff)."
Well, Palin's dark side came out in full effect this weekend, and this time the victim was not President Obama but a schoolteacher in small-town Alaska. Palin was there to film a segment of a nature program on TLC, and she confronted Kathleen Gustafson who was holding up a sign reading "WORST GOVERNOR EVER." Palin clearly intended to disarm Gustafson with her charm, but instead got defensive.
Gustafson, said, "You swore on your precious Bible that you would uphold the interests of this state, and then when cash was waved in front of your face, you quit." To which Palin responded, her tone dripping with unamusing sarcasm, "Oh, you wanted me to be your governor! I’m honored! Thank you!" Palin went on to use the same tone of nasal condescension when saying she was "honored" that Gustafson considers her a celebrity (h/t The Atlantic Wire). Then, as New York's Dan Amira notes, "When Palin asks Gustafson what she does for a living, and Gustafson tells Palin she's a teacher, Palin and her daughter groan and exchange eye rolls as if to say, 'Of course, only a teacher would be such a liberal nut.' "
And it's true, schoolteachers are definitely not a Republican constituency, but anyone, even a Republican, running for president needs to make nice with them on a personal level, just asDemocrats do with the military or police officers. This latest incident won't help Palin's negative favorability ratings.