The audio of the telephone call from “Nicolas Sarkozy” to U.S. VP candidate Sarah Palin, actually a pair of comedians from Canada (Montreal comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel, known as the Masked Avengers) impersonating President Nikolas Sarkozy of France, has been spreading virally over the internet. It’s actually very funny and over-the-top but a bit scary too, as it reveals the loopy side of Palin everyone has been warning us about, naive bordering on nuttiness. In the conversation, she agrees that going hunting with the fake Sarkozy would be “fun” and by doing so they could “kill two birds with one stone“, meaning tackle matters of state while killing animals. It casts into sharper focus her rawness and inexperience for high office. That the pranksters were able to string her along for so long, and that she never actually caught on until the faux Sarkozy owned up to the joke, speaks volumes about the quality of leadership the U.S. can expect from her, if ever.
But this could work to her advantage too. The poor woman actually comes across as well-meaning and vulnerable, if you listen to the conversation a second or third time. You begin to feel sorry for her. Until you come to the chilling slip that reveals the extent of her ambition. Asked if she intends to be president someday, she immediately says yes, “maybe in eight years“, thus confirming suspicions that she is not ready to step off the stage whatever the outcome of the presidential race will be. Even now, she is already planning a post-McCain political future, in the likely event that the Republicans lose.
I suspect that those who sneer at her now for being so gullible are already pro-Obama and had previously written her off and that she actually gained some sympathy votes among the undecided.
And incidents like this could keep her in the public consciousness longer, no matter that she looks dumb now. Recall that Erap Estrada actually played up his supposed cluelessness by spreading his “Erap-tions” , which endeared him to the public. They actually found him more human and accessible, which could also work for Palin.
And she has a bedrock constituency which will be around long after candidate McCain, or even a President Obama, fades from the limelight , namely white, working-class Americans. She’s still relatively young. Eight years is not too long to wait. As Newsweek observed:
For all her problems now, Palin has the biography, the ideological sympathies and the charisma to be what the Republican Party lacks: a populist, far-right politician with intense celebrity appeal.
Sarah Palin could still have the last laugh.
Updates: Gov. Palin returns to Alaska to chants of “2012“. She now has national stature, despite sniping from the McCain camp about how she ultimately proved to be a liability.
Open animosity between Palin and the McCain camp, in part because of built-up anger among some McCain aides who say Palin had become more interested in her own future than in McCain’s election.