As day five of the One Nation tour concludes, we find the meme of Sarah the stupid somehow shifting to one of Sarah the publicity hound. She’s “crazy brilliant” in her manipuplative use of the press to further her need for attention. Perhaps the press now realize how completely stupid they made themselves look with their inane tales of aggrievement? Perhaps not. Many papers have gone so far as to relegate their Palin coverage to the entertainment section. You see, she’s not a ‘real’ candidate, she knows frighteningly little about policy matters, however, she sure knows the tricks of celebrity. One paper goes so far as to cast Sarah and her daughter Piper as a pair of conniving grifters promoting Mommie Dearest at the expense of a childhood education.
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The Guardian, that bastion of all things conservative (sarc) pleads, “Don’t put your daughter on a road trip, Sarah Palin. Piper might be a useful human shield for now, but history tells us this jaunt is unlilkely to have a happy ending.”
The drought is over! We finally have a new celebrity, as a certain little someone is officially reclassified from the “emerging talents” file to full-blown stardom. Take your seats for Piper Moon, the tale of a young girl who develops such a talent for her parent’s nefarious occupation that the pair become a formidable operating team, before she quite eclipses said parent. And steals the movie off him and wins an Oscar – but we shall come to the malfunctions of the O’Neal family later. For now, our business is with the Palin clan, and its most deliciously mesmerising scion: 10-year-old Piper.
Lost in Showbiz will confess to having been obsessed with Sarah Palin‘s youngest daughter ever since she burst on to the stage at the 2008 Republican convention, wearing a tiara and a look that said: “I’ve arrived. Deal with it, America!” In Piper, we have found the early 21st-century starlet to make Will Smith’s kids look retiring – but if you find yourself embarrassingly unaware of her work, do not despair. There’s really never been a better time to begin making an emotional investment in it.
As you will no doubt be aware, Sarah Palin is currently engaged in an LSD- inspired take on a family holiday, which contrives to combine plain ol’ sightseeing with testing the waters for a presidential run in a bus emblazoned with the preamble to the US constitution. A sort of Tea Party biathlon, this is the stuff of which classic childhood memories are made: yes you can have an ice-cream, but only if you make Mommy look good in New Hampshire. (Where Ryan and Tatum O’Neal’s Paper Moon roadtrip traversed the midwest, the Palin family’s odyssey is all about the historical sites of America’s northeast.)
Inevitably, the lamestream media keep popping up on the trail, and this week Piper was filmed appearing to block a reporter trying to ask her famously media-shy mother a question. Four-foot-something of shades-wearing, gum-chewing, shoulder-blocking star quality – it is an image that instantly renders the fad for 20st bodyguards fantastically passé. There is nothing like watching a child’s first foray into running interference for its mother – though of course, this is nothing like Piper’s first foray into running interference for her mother. Indeed, it is hard to resist the conclusion that Piper has long been groomed as politics’s most adorable little lightning rod. As her vice-presidential campaign unspooled spectacularly, Palin was already deploying Piper as a human shield, notably when dropping the puck at an ice hockey game. “I’ve been warned that Flyers fans get so enthused that they boo everybody at the drop of the puck,” was Sarah’s excuse. “But what I thought I’d do is I’d put Piper in a Flyers jersey, bring her out with me. How dare they boo Piper!”
They booed Piper.
Still, to read Sarah’s nuanced opus Going Rogue is to watch Piper get far more pagetime than any of the other kids – even poor knocked-up Bristol, whose situation you might have assumed would have required rather more explaining. It is Piper who made her public debut as a baby in an anti-abortion poster, and the opening pages of Going Rogue finds mama admiring this image at the Alaska State Fair, while her daughter stands nonchalantly by. “Still the pro-life poster girl at the Alaska State Fair,” crows her mother indulgently, with the air of someone who regards “the pro-life poster girl at the Alaska State Fair” as an epithet easily as stellar as “the four-time Oscar winner” or “the Nobel laureate”. Holding Piper’s hand, Sarah has just prayed to God to deliver her from politics for a few minutes, when at that very second her BlackBerry rings. It’s John McCain, asking her to join his ticket!
Less authorised accounts of the Palin family’s adventures from here have Piper becoming quite the diva, eventually declining to sign autographs on the campaign trail unless she is provided with personalised pink-and-lilac pens. Naturally, she gets the pens. She doesn’t, unfortunately, get the White House – and post election defeat, Sarah takes to the road for her lucrative speaking tour, in which Piper appears to have a formalised role. According to Vanity Fair, there comes a point in every engagement when Piper spontaneously tugs aside the stage curtains behind her mother, marches to the podium, and swipes her speech. And the crowds just lap it up.
What next? Well, Lost in Showbiz would like to think Piper has an Ari Gold-style agent playing hardball with her mother’s people, because by the time we get to last year’s TV series Sarah Palin’s Alaska, she is quite the breakout star. One episode finds the family staging an appearance at a restaurant. “If there are tourists in there who want to meet you, Piper,” says Palin, “I want you to be gracious and patient.” “You have to bribe me,” Piper shoots back.
And so it goes on. This week, Piper was the Palin child selected to accompany her parents for a stretch-limo ride and Manhattan dinner with Donald Trump. Please don’t feel profoundly uneasy about any of this, or demean yourself with tedious questions about when she finds time for school. Mommy’s job is Piper’s school – she is soon to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Mama Grizzly, whose childhood-warping capabilities look more awesome than even the Disney factory’s.
How Piper Palin’s road trip will end is open to debate. Tatum O’Neal would of course grow up and pen a book excoriating her father, and there will inevitably be speculation that Piper is a future misery memoir author. For what it’s worth, Lost in Showbiz suspects she is rather bigger than that, and will leave the Mommie Dearest aspects of second generation Palinhood to Willow – who, on balance, is a Palin for another day.