The Sarah Palin Disaster Movie


Late last night, Scott Conroy, a crack reporter for RealClearPolitics and co-author of a book about Sarah Palin, went public with a fascinating scoop: Palin has commissioned a feature-length film from director Stephen K. Bannon about her governorship in Alaska that will debut in Iowa next month and then be released nationwide. The film seeks to recast Palin in a more favorable light, and its existence--a secret until now--suggests strongly that Palin is planning to run for president.

Conroy, who was shown a rough cut of the film, says that it attempts to explain and justify the biggest stain on Palin's record: the fact that she abruptly quit her governorship two years ago. But what's particularly intriguing to me is that it sounds like the film also dwells at length on her accomplishments in Alaska:

The movie focuses on Palin's triumphs on fiscal and energy matters, while ignoring hot-button topics like abortion. Indeed, although she was always identified as a staunch social conservative, Palin often worked more closely with Democrats than Republicans in Juneau and largely avoided ideological fights during her first two years in office.

As Atlantic readers know, this is a subject about which I wrote at some length for the current issue ("The Tragedy of Sarah Palin," June 2011). As a strategic gambit for Palin, it's especially interesting because, as I argued in my piece, she actually accomplished a great deal in Alaska--much more than most people realize or give her credit for. In fact, I questioned why Palin didn't do a better job of touting her own record. The answer seems to be that she has outsourced the job to a movie director. So I'm eager to see how her take (his, actually) compares with my own.

The responsible thing to do in this situation is probably to withhold judgement until I've seen the film myself. But I can't help thinking that for all the real potential the topic has, the end product could well disappoint. Oh hell, why beat around the bush? It could be a complete disaster. For all her accomplishments in Alaska, Palin seems most concerned with nursing her grievances, complaining about her various and sundry enemies, and practicing a brand of right-wing identity politics that's a far cry from what she did in Alaska. This snippet from Conroy's piece doesn't suggest that she'll return anytime soon to themes of bipartisanship and cooperation:

Bannon dramatizes the theme of Palin's persecution at the hands of her enemies in the media and both political parties, a notion the former governor has long embraced. Images of lions killing a zebra and a dead medieval soldier with an arrow sticking in his back dramatize the ethics complaints filed by obscure Alaskan citizens, which Palin has cited as the primary reason for her sudden resignation in July of 2009.

In any event, I look forward to seeing the movie, which, incidentally, is titled "The Undefeated" [sic]. And I also look forward to a much more interesting presidential race.

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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