Alex Massie Alex Massie

Sarah Palin: Troll

Being a top-class troll takes time and effort. Not everyone has the patience to do it, far less derive quite so much pleasure from infuriating other people. Not for any great principle either but for the sheer devilment of it. As horses are entered for the 2012 GOP Disappointment Derby it’s not a surprise to see Sarah Palin, the grandest, most effective political troll of our time, back in the news.

Nor, obviously, is it surprising to discover that she’s not actually done anything to merit this fresh burst of attention. Not unless you include a splendid photo op at Rolling Thunder in Virginia and DC and now some kind of patriotic bus tour designed to, well, god knows actually but perhaps test some of the waters for a presidential campaign or something. Whatever.

Memo to the press: she’s messing with you. Sure, you know this and you love it too even as she refuses to tell you where she’s going, forcing reporters on the Palin beat to spend half their time stalking her and the other half filing blog posts and articles about being co-opted into appearing in the latest episode of Sarah Palin’s political and celebrity game show.

And let’s be honest: she’s exceedingly good at it. She knows just what to say and what to do to provoke maximum irritation. Her role is, I think, now to be defender of American Values and Chief Tweaker of Liberals and the Lamestream Media. This is not altogether unworthy: parts of the American media landscape demand to be tweaked. Nevertheless it’s further evidence to support my long-held view that Palin’s celebrity, while still catnip to editors, will eventually damage her political prospects.

Sure, Andrew Sullivan worries that she might even be so in love with her celebrity that she’ll launch a third-party bid for the Presidency but, come on, eve by Palin’s improbable standards this seems improbable.

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