15 April 2012

Unchanged Game

Tax season is here, and various groups have had to disclose their spending.  Obama has released his tax return and Romney has pledged to release his... someday, anyway.  SarahPAC, Sarah Palin's political action committee, has likewise had to release information about their expenditures.  And it's an ugly thing to see.
Sarah Palin’s political action committee raised $388,000 in the first three months of the year, but it spent $418,000 and didn’t give a dime to any candidates — which is the purported purpose of the PAC.
Instead, Sarah PAC spent $255,000 on fundraising and a small team of political consultants that Palin has continued to support even as she receded from the political spotlight during the heat of the GOP presidential primary. It also appears to have spent $19,000 on a video rebutting the HBO film “Game Change.”
If you're a SarahPAC donor, then you must be feeling pretty swindled right now. You donated to Sarah Palin, conservative fire-brand and vocal defender of the little guy, and she spent every dime - and then some! - on personal glorification.

Most of this makes sense: Sarah Palin is a grifter, after all, so it's not surprising when she hustles some chumps. But her $19,000 video does not make sense.

HBO's Game Change, a movie about the 2008 campaign that focuses almost exclusively on Palin's role in the race, was pretty good.  I also think it showed a fairly balanced portrayal of the former governor, who is shown sympathetically and humanized in a way that is extremely valuable to her personal image.  Her miserable reality show and her regular media appearances have been so carefully constructed that they have the verisimilitude of a cardboard cutout: Palin should have been happy to see her fictional self given such three-dimensional heft.

Naturally, though, I'm not a conservative and I don't think very highly of Palin, so my take on Game Change isn't going to be as important as that of the conservative base, her core audience.  But I don't see how she could have anything to fear on that score, either.  This is a "Hollywood movie" of a "mainstream media" book, so her fans are going to be primed to reject anything that seems unfavorable.  Lash out once or twice in a condescending press release, and spin control would be complete.

But Palin, bizarrely, chose to pay someone to make a rebuttal video.  Even worse, she paid them $19,000 for two minutes and thirty-eight seconds of rebuttal video that doesn't even contradict the movie!




How does the video push back against Game Change?  Well, it starts off by quoting major media figures in their praise of Palin, as they gushed about the surprise choice after the convention, and figures from the campaign, as they lauded her accomplishments as governor.  As the real Steve Schmidt says in the video, "She gave a great convention speech... we came out of that speech ahead of the polls."

But Game Change not only acknowledges all of the excitement caused by her selection, it's a major part of the plot.  So too is the next part of the video, clips of campaign personnel talking about her work ethic (Schmidt again: "Her focus was extraordinary, working fifteen or sixteen hours a day.")  And again, this was a major part of Game Change!  Remember Julianne Moore and her intense study of her stacks of index cards?

As the video progresses, it talks about the huge reception she got at rallies, the overflow crowds, her decent debate performance, and the comparisons to Ronald Reagan.  All of these elements are not just a part of Game Change, but they are direct and fundamental parts of the movie.  Its story was about how all of the excitement and pressure transformed a good governor into a huge star, allowing her to overcome obvious deficiencies in knowledge by using her charisma and her ability to draw a crowd.  Not only does Palin's video not rebut Game Change, it actually reinforces it!

It seems strange to pay $19,000 for a 2:38 parody video to rebut Game Change using archival footage and a few simple text effects - was it $1,000 to change "HBO Films" to "HBO Fiction"? - but it seems beyond insane to pay that sum for a video that doesn't even contradict the movie.

But hey, grifter's gonna grift.

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