In the 80's, of all the televangelists, nobody could top Tammy Faye Bakker. She was funny, bubbly, outspoken and her makeup was insane. At one point, the PTL Satellite Network pulled in 13 million viewers a day. The concept of a religious television network wasn't new but the Bakkers had the foresight to buy their own satellite, thus allowing their message to be broadcast to anyone with a cable box and a need for Jesus. While I'm sure the majority of PTL viewers were sincere believers, there were also folks like me - we tuned in to watch the "crazy lady train wreck show".
When I watched Sarah Palin's meandering goodbye on July 3, I did so with my salt at the ready. I wasn't alone. By now, we've all come to realize that Ms. Palin delivers her lines with plain-spoken affectation but that her statements are always veiled. Even her champion, Bill Kristol was scrambling to decipher the hidden reason behind her decision to quit.
For a moment, the kinder, gentler me surmised that the reality of raising a Downs Syndrome child had hit her. Trig is toddler age and while I don't know how mobile he is, I would imagine that at this point, he's one hell of a handful. The mother in me assumed that the mother in her finally bought a clue. But then, during her quit speech, she played the Trig card and the cynical me whispered in my ear:
"She's going Tammy Faye."
I can see it now: TSPN - The Sarah Palin Network! The rubes will flock to it. The critics will refer to it as T-SPIN. She and Todd will spend hours a day, hawking for donations in the name of Jesus and the flag. They'll bring on celebrity guests. They'll invite evangelist preachers. Bristol will teach young mothers how to diaper and feed infants, Live! from the TSPN Nursery. When Track comes back from Iraq, he'll become Excecutive Producer. Piper and Willow will film dramatic reports on the souls they saved from godlessness because they'll have been sent to those parts of the world where people are brown and starving. With the proceeds of her book, money pilfered from her PAC and some rich (secret) investors, Sarah Palin will launch the flashiest, loudest, crazy train wreck lady show the world has ever seen.
The Lady Palin floated the magic words, higher calling, in her resignation speech. Those words have always been code for, "I'm off to do the Godly thing". In the case of Sarah P., the world of TV evangelism is a natural fit. She needs people to blindly accept every word that comes from her mouth. The problem with the political realm is that most people realize that politicians are full of crap. Religous leaders, on the other hand, have no trouble drawing in and keeping loyal followers. Religious leaders can lie, cheat on their taxes, take bribes, screw around, even go to jail and they will still retain a hearty number of acolytes. And let's not forget the money. Everyone knows the big score isn't in the petty payouts of politics. The true cash comes from proselytizing for donations. It won't matter that 95% of the money raised goes to gold-plated plumbing, air-conditioned dog houses and a fleet of Roll Royces. As long as the televangelist promises eternal salvation, millions of suckers will watch, send money and wait for Jesus to make them happy.
Mark. My. Words. It may not happen immediately but it will happen. The ethics violations and other assorted legal troubles will catch up with her. The GOP is already sloughing her off like so much dead skin. She'll soon be deemed poisonous to the party. She'll make a tepid attempt to start a third party but she'll find the effort too difficult. Her desire to be treated like a princess will get the best of her. A religious entity will approach her with an offer she can't refuse.
The Sarah Palin Network. TSPN. Coming soon, to basic cable.
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