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Sarah Palin’s Heaven

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On the side of Wasilla's Target, Alaska's state flag.  

Amid the sobriety, it was easy to forget Kroon was talking about the early chapters of the Book of Acts, the passages in which Jesus’s disciples are in a room in Jerusalem when “the blowing of a violent wind came from the Heaven … and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Since this is probably the most important passage in the Pentecostal reading of the Bible—scriptural justification for the inflowing of the Holy Spirit, for speaking in glossolalia, all of that—it is often discussed, albeit with much more bombast, in Ed Kalnins’s Assembly of God. Kroon’s measured sermon did not change the meaning—for here, one might argue, is the underpinning for the anti-intellectualism of the church and religious people in general: Faced with the onrush of Spirit, that “violent wind from Heaven,” the rational thoughts of man will always be suspect. The eye of the believer is always fixed on the end of days, the loom of God’s terrible judgment of this world. Pastor Kroon made that much very clear, without once raising his voice.

It was time again to wonder about Sarah Palin and her journey. Did she leave the Assembly of God simply because the Wasilla Bible Church is bigger and has more voters, as some said. Or was it, as many said, because she no longer wanted to be associated with “those Holy Rollers”? Was Sarah already looking at the so-called Big Picture, far beyond the marvelously desolate, hopelessly Podunk boundaries of the 49th state?

After Katie Couric (Alaskans were amazed that the Exxon Valdez lawsuit, worth hundreds of millions to state fishermen, including First Dude Todd, was among the Supreme Court cases Palin, the “energy governor,” couldn’t remember), it seemed as if the Palin-mania alert had passed. The woman was not ready for even subprime time. But then came “Can I call you Joe,” the gee-golly coquettish wink, and the hockey momster was back in play, ringing the bell at the Mug-Shot Saloon again.

Answer questions? You must be kidding. She tried that and look what happened. This was another sort of performance. Despite all her talk of McCain, it seemed as if she’d half-left the old man, his sagging melanomas and losing campaign, well behind. She was going for herself now. It was all Sarah all the time.

“Didn’t blink!” exclaimed one local. “That was it right there. Palin’s Macbeth moment.”

The Palin TV movie had turned to something out of Sophocles, purple carpets writ large, Alaskan style. Before, she was simply this low-rent Reese Witherspoon–in– Election type, working her way up. Mayor. Governor. Then: Because the times are strange and McCain plays a desperate hunch, fate beckons. “Sarah Palin, come on down.” It isn’t just chance. No. What did Bishop Muthee say when he prayed to keep her free from witchcraft? That she was chosen. Anointed. Like King David. Anointed. How can you say no when God says yes?

For many it came down to a single crucial line, something Palin said in her interview with Charlie Gibson. Gibson queried Palin if she had to think it over when McCain offered her the nomination. She “didn’t blink,” Palin said.

“Didn’t blink!” exclaimed one local commentator. “That was it right there. Palin’s Macbeth moment! That’s when I knew that her shitty high-school ambition had taken over, completely subsumed her. Because this was a bad idea. Bad for her, bad for her family, bad for the State of Alaska, bad for the country. A really bad idea.”

Almost everyone I talked to mentioned the “didn’t blink” moment sooner or later. How can you “not blink” when your daughter is 17 and having a kid with Levi Johnston, whose MySpace page said he doesn’t want to have kids, when you’ve just given birth to a Down-syndrome child? How do you not blink when you’re governor, when you’ve been screaming about building this natural-gas pipeline and how God is really behind the project? Who’s going to build that now? How can you not blink when you’re an Alaskan?

For many, Palin’s will-to-power non-blink amounted to a personal betrayal, because a lot of these people had actually voted for Sarah Palin when she beat the roundly loathed Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary and again when she trounced the tired two-time governor Tony Knowles in the general election. They believed her when she said she wanted to throw out the old boys. Who cared if Palin believed dinosaurs and men walked the 6,000-year-old earth concurrently (which brings up the question, where exactly the creationists think the oil comes from)? All that mattered was she made those fuckers from ConocoPhillips pay. Maybe the extra money she wangled out of them wasn’t great, but it was something. After decades of corrupt indifference, something.


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