My Fair Veep
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 9, 2008
The Sarah Palin nomination has opened new horizons for Maureen Dowd and her weekly Movies With Maureen® column. Last week the Alaskan Gov was Miss Congeniality (and isn’t that movie just Pygmalion with Benjamin Bratt and beauty pageants?); this week it’s the Rex Harrison/Audrey Hepburn classic My Fair Lady.
I hope John McCain doesn’t throw his slippers at Sarah Palin’s head or get as acerbic as Henry Higgins did with Eliza Doolittle when she did not learn quickly enough. McCain’s Pygmalion has to be careful, because his Galatea might be armed with more than a sharp tongue.And just to be a little highbrow and show off her way around Bullfinch’s, she throws out the Greek mythological inspirations. I’m not sure why Geraldine Ferraro doesn’t count (not as inexperienced or young perhaps), but Dowd sees this nomination and the subsequent crash candidacy class as historic.
For the first time in American history, we have a “My Fair Lady” moment, as teams of experts bustle around the most famous woman in politics, intensely coaching her for her big moment at the ball — her first unscripted interview here this week with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.Then Dowd delightfully mixes up a barnyard metaphor.
She’s already shown that she can shoot the pig, put lipstick on it, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.This one sentence works on three levels. Palin compared herself to a hunting hockey mom that's a pit bull with lipstick. The popular phrase “put some lipstick on that pig” means to try to hide something ugly with a little window dressing. And finally, the "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan" is from the proto-feminist anthem (and Enjoli commercial) “I’m A Woman.” Maureen managed to use every part of that metaphor except the squeal.
Dowd, like the Mean Girls with “Fetch”, keeps trying to make “Palinistas” happen, this time alliterating it with "posse".
McCain vetters, who are belatedly doing their job checking to see if Palin is a qualified White House contender and doing their best to shut down Troopergate and assembling a “truth squad” posse of Palinistas to rebut any criticism and push back any prying reporters; and journalists — from Sydney to Washington — who are here to draw back the curtain on the shiny reformer image that the McCain camp has conjured for their political ingénue and see what’s behind it.And just in case My Fair Lady isn’t enough, she throws in a Wizard of Oz call out.
The rest of the column is a suggested list of topics for Chuckie G to grill Palin on in an interview and covers the range of PalinIssues such as her creative expense accounting, her free spending administrations, the reversal of her position on “the bridge to nowhere”, her fundamentalist evolution-doubting beliefs, and of course, Troopergate and the related abuse of power. Maureen does sometimes get just a little too obscure. For example:
Does she want a federal ban on trans fat in restaurants and a ban on abortion and Harry Potter? And which books exactly would have landed on the literature bonfire if she had had her way with that Wasilla librarian?While the abortion and Harry Potter bit combines her extreme pro-life position and her clumsy attempt to censor the local library, I have no idea where the trans-fat call-out comes from. There must have been some obscure quote I missed, or it could just be a metaphor taken too far. And the book burning is a good piece of witchy Alliteration Alert®.
Dowd's penultimate rhetorical question combines in just ten words the image of Palin as a snake-handling religious nut with an environment-be-damned hunting machine by Dowdverting on the word “tongues.”
Does she talk in tongues or just eat caribou tongues?But back to the Eliza Doolittle metaphor, the tale of an older cynical man taking a young lady under his wing always backfires because once the woman is on her own, she eclipses her mentor in the public eye. Or, to look at it another way, in the film version, Audrey Hepburns singing was dubbed in by another actress. Who is pulling the strings on this made for the media manufactured maverick? Let the show begin.