Paul Bedard gets an early look at “The Persecution of Sarah Palin,” the second book by young Weekly Standard writer Matthew Continetti, which draws lessons about the media, feminism, and elitism from the former Alaska governor’s rapid rise and fall. In this excerpt, Continetti analyzes the meaning of Tina Fey’s iconic impersonation of Palin.
It was telling that Fey should be the actress who impersonated Palin. The two women may look like each other, but they could not be more dissimilar. Each exemplifies a different category of feminism. Palin comes from the I-can-do-it-all school. She is professionally successful, has been married for more than 20 years, and has a large and (from all outward appearances) happy family.
The “outward appearances” bit gives me pause, as I know that Continetti has made trips to Alaska to research the book. And the Palin family has been the target of lots of tabloid rumors — some of those rumors pushed by Levi Johnston, the father of Palin’s grandson. Is the book going to tackle any of this? Moving on.
[W]hile Fey is also pretty, married, and has a daughter, the characters she portrays in films like Mean Girls and Baby Mama, and in television shows like 30 Rock, are hard-pressed eggheads who give up personal fulfillment—e.g., marriage and motherhood—in the pursuit of professional success. On* 30 Rock,* Fey, who is also the show’s chief writer and executive producer, plays Liz Lemon, a television comedy writer modeled on herself. Liz Lemon is smart, funny, and at the top of her field. But she fails elsewhere. None of her relationships with men works out. She wants desperately to raise a child but can find neither the time nor the means to marry or adopt. Lemon makes you laugh, for sure. But you also would be hard pressed to name a more unhappy person on American TV.
This is all subjective, but I’d say even the fictional Liz Lemon has fewer problems than the real-life former governor of Alaska, who quit her job under the pressure of frivolous ethics complaints and who seems to get into monthly feuds with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend.