Showing posts with label sarah palin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sarah palin. Show all posts

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sarah Palin has been corrupted by wealth and fame

The Guardian
We've been reading this week about the folie de grandeur that has taken hold of Sarah Palin since she resigned as governor of Alaska to embark on a new and lucrative career as an all-purpose celebrity. She now reportedly gets paid up to $100,000 for a single speech – nearly as much as she used to earn as governor in a year – and is greeted everywhere with the fawning adulation of Republican activists. When John McCain made her his running mate in 2008, she was almost unknown, but made herself an instant hit with the party faithful by posing as a straight-talking, no-nonsense "hockey mom" and a fearless crusader on behalf of ordinary, hardworking Americans. This image was slightly dented during the campaign when it was revealed that she had spent $150,000 of Republican party funds on European designer clothes and a Louis Vuitton handbag. But that was nothing by comparison with the lavish treatment she now demands as a condition for accepting a speaking engagement.

Part of a contract rescued from a dustbin by students at the California State University, where Palin is due to give a speech in June, showed she had insisted on being flown there from her home in Alaska either first-class or on a private plane ("must be a Lear 60 or larger"), on being given a suite and two single rooms in a "deluxe hotel", on being provided with "all meals and incidentals", including a "laptop computer and printer (fully stocked with paper) and high-speed internet", and – no detail being too small for her consideration – unopened water bottles with bendy straws beside them. These are not normal demands. They are the demands of a person with a huge sense of her own entitlement, of someone who fears that she may not be treated with the deference she deserves. Palin would see no contradiction between her public posture as a salt-of-the-earth "pit bull with lipstick" and her aspirations to the lifestyle of a rock star. Fame, wealth and power have corrupted her.

From Kitty Kelley's new biography, Oprah Winfrey would appear to suffer from a similarly demented sense of entitlement on an even grander scale. Kelley claims that, flying twice- weekly on her private plane between Santa Barbara and Chicago, Winfrey requires that if she falls asleep en route, no one is to disturb her until she has slept at least eight hours, however long a wait on the ground that means for the crew. According to Kelley, she once even used to insist that the fuelling of planes in an airport hangar be suspended prior to her arrival so that she wouldn't have to endure any nasty smells during the 30ft walk from her plane to a security van. One never knows how much of Kelley to believe, but Palin and Winfrey could both be examples of people who think that their rise from obscurity – and in Winfrey's case, poverty – to riches and celebrity bestows on them a right to lord it over others in a way the people of more privileged backgrounds would never dare.

But it's not always so. JK Rowling is as rich and famous as can be, and she, too, was once poor – a single mother living mainly on benefits in a rented Edinburgh flat – but gives herself no airs at all. It would be impossible to imagine her demanding a private plane, let alone bendy straws. Instead, in a newspaper article this week she attacked David Cameron's plans to subsidise marriage as showing how ignorant he was of social realities. More than half of single mothers live below the breadline, and as formerly one herself, she remembered how indebted she had been to the British welfare state which, when her life had "hit rock bottom", had been "there to break the fall". So she has refused to be like Lord Ashcroft and go into tax exile because "it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first whiff of a seven-figure royalty cheque". Wealth and celebrity does not have to corrupt.
Children = happy old age

Yesterday's newspapers reported that, according to research carried out by Greenwich University, the possession of children or grandchildren had no bearing on the happiness of people over 60. This is such obvious nonsense that I am surprised any newspaper could bring itself to publish it. Everybody knows that to almost all old people, children and grandchildren are a source of great delight.

The research purported to show that having interests and a good circle of friends, not children, was the secret to a happy retirement. There is a valid point there. Relations between parents and children can be strained if children feel that their parents depend too much on them and have nothing else to keep them interested. The more parents show self-sufficiency and independence, the warmer their children feel towards them. I remember my mother, aged 95 and on her deathbed, telling my older brother: "Darling, you must go on neglecting your children. They love you so much."

There was more wisdom in that remark than in the conclusion of the university researchers that hobbies and a busy social life make old people happier than associating with their children. The point the researchers missed is that cheerful independence is a pre-condition for the greater happiness that children can bring.