Sure, Palin can get Adam Bellow to drop the last fig leaf from his commercial privates and turn Jonathan Burnham into an openly gay publisher of a vicious homophobe, but what courage does that take? Sure, Palin can bamboozle the press corps with fantastic lies, and a press strategy currently being used by Tiger Woods, but in the face of all this, a 19-year-old was prepared to one-up her with Vanity Fair and Playgirl and act as if he had not a care in the world.
And what a story he has told.
It is as follows: Palin is a total fraud. She is not what she says she is. According to someone who lived with her for years, who fathered her grandson and fell in love with her daughter, the last thing she is is what her followers blindly believe: authentic.
She's a phony, according to Johnston, a negligent mother, a devious plotter, an alienated wife. Far from a "real American", she is layer upon layer of political artifice, designed cynically to appeal to pro-lifers and feminists, evangelicals and populists, independents and rock-ribbed Republicans, all laid on top of a fanatically narcissistic sociopathy. Here's a taste of what Johnston has asserted:
The Palin house was much different from what many people expect of a normal family, even before she was nominated for vice president. There wasn’t much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cookthe kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school. Most of the time Bristol would help her youngest sister with her homework, and I’d barbecue chicken or steak on the grill.
Remember that Johnston is the only family member who actually knew and lived with Palin and has broken ranks. He could be lying, of course, or seeking revenge, or bargaining for more access to his son, or something else we don;t know about. But given Palin's record of dissimulation, it seems to me he deserves at least as fair a hearing as she has had, even if nothing like the millions she has raked in. His story deserves to be taken more seriously as a real account of what Palin really is. Until Wallace and Schmidt screw their courage to the sticking place, he's the best we've got.