Belfast Telegraph

It was fun while it lasted for this Barracuda Barbie

By Christina Patterson

Frankenstein couldn't have done any better. Or maybe it was Frankenstein and not Chuck and Sally Heath, who created the walking, talking, blinking, winking, grinning, snarling, hair-tossing Rocky Horror Show of a creature that was unleashed three years ago as a prospective leader of the Western world.

You could almost see the plastic wrapping. Here she was, this Executive Barbie, in her heels, and her glasses that weren't really glasses and her chic little suit.

She was so doggone cute, this Vice-President Barbie who spent $150,000 on hairstyles and clothes in her first month of campaigning, so darn flirty and folksy and foxy that at first no one really noticed what she was saying.

Americans did and a lot of them seemed to like it. For the rest of us, it was a bit like watching The Wire. You could see the eyes glint, and teeth gleam, and great mascaraed eyelashes, but you couldn't really make out the words.

It was, of course, a little bit alarming to hear that the woman who wanted to become the second most powerful person in the world, but who didn't have a passport until 2006, thought she could see Russia from Alaska, and that Afghanistan was next to the US, and that North Korea was an ally, and that America was fighting a war in Iran.

It was a little bit worrying that the only piece of Supreme Court legislation she could name was Roe vs Wade. And it was really quite worrying that a woman who wanted to shape policy that would affect the lives of millions said, when she was asked which newspapers she read, "all of 'em that have been in front of me", but couldn't name a single one.

It was definitely a little bit worrying that a woman who wanted to be second in command of the free world seemed to know as much about it as someone who'd spent her life in an Afghan cave.

Even the things she said she knew how to do - like hunt, and fish, and catch caribou - she didn't really know how to do, except, according to some of her neighbours, as a tourist.

But although it was quite worrying, and although it made you think that the people who wanted her to be second in command of the free world must also not know very much about geography, or history, or politics, or science, or current affairs, which was also quite worrying, since their votes would determine, among other things, which wars were fought where, it was also gripping. And it was also funny.

It was gripping because it couldn't not be gripping to see a woman so ambitious that even as a student she was called 'Sarah Barracuda' and so ruthless that she has fallen out with many of her friends, neighbours and colleagues, describing herself as a "hockey mom".

And it was funny because slapstick is nearly always funny, even though it's also embarrassing, and sometimes so embarrassing that it's painful.

It was also thrilling, because it's always thrilling, if you're in a nasty mood, to see people who seem to think quite highly of themselves make an utter idiot of themselves in public and also because it makes absolutely everyone in the world feel smarter, and better informed, than they did before.

We loved Sarah Palin because, like those mousy secretaries in the movies who beat the blonde and bag the boss, she makes us feel fantastic.

If Miss Mediocrity from Nowheresville can run for vice-president then maybe we, sitting on our sofa, stuffing down Doritos, can do great things, too. It's a fine line between politics as fun and politics as farce. Sarah Palin crossed it the first time she spoke, but at least if you're laughing, or scowling, or even if you're wincing, you're probably still awake.


From Belfast Telegraph