Sarah Palin, Christmas Warrior
Before the release date of Sarah Palin's new Christmas book, Good Tidings and Great Joy, she was already driving her critics quite insane.
In June, Palin appeared on "Fox & Friends" after a long absence as a commentator on the cable network. The former Alaska governor and Republican VP nominee told the morning crew she was hard at work on "a very festive and jolly book about tradition and recipes and fun things about Christmas."
Now, I can guess what you're thinking. How could that have possibly set Palin's critics on edge?
Hang on. There's more to this story.
Palin also said that part of her book was concerned with "pushing back on the politically correct who would try to take Christ out of Christmas." She promised the book would have, "kind of a legalese. How to push back and protect the heart of Christmas."
Satirists for the British site The Daily Currant had some fun with her Christmas warring. They imagined a later "Fox & Friends" appearance that went disastrously for Palin. They reported on that fake news segment under the title "Sarah Palin Claims Jesus Celebrated Easter."
The fake story had Palin complaining that the "liberal left in this country" had "targeted Christian holidays" and was attempting to "secularize them right out of existence."
Fake Palin explained, "When Jesus celebrated Easter with his disciples there were no Easter bunnies or egg hunts. There were no Easter sales at department stores or parades in the street."
Rather, "Easter was a special time of prayer and Christian activism" when Jesus "would gather all the townspeople around and would listen to their stories about the meaning of Easter in their lives. Then he would teach them how to love one another, how to protest Roman abortion clinics and how to properly convert homosexuals."
Again, these are fake quotes. Palin. Did. Not. Say. Any. Of. These. Things.
The fake new story proved too good to check for Palin's legion of critics. CNN host and gun control crusader Piers Morgan passed the story on, uncritically, to his millions of followers. Only later did he try to pass it off as a joke.
Myth-debunking website Snopes set up a page, titled "Easter Weak," explaining that by the end of the day of the Currant piece's posting, "links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered it mistaking it for a genuine news item."
They should all take a deep breath, Snopes seemed to suggest, and appreciate that this was "just a bit of political humor."
To which one can only say: Good luck with that. Whatever they are like otherwise, critics of Palin become rather humorless.
For its review of Good Tidings and Great Joy, the Guardian ran a piece in Fake Palin's voice, claiming to summarize the book and thereby mock it.
Fake Palin goes out on Christmas Eve with husband Todd in their helicopter and shoots "five grizzlies with a machine gun." She uses a disappointing dictionary Christmas present "as a club to finish off road kill." She warns that "If we want the civilized society that God and his only son, George W. Bush, have promised us, we've got to be prepared to gun down anyone in our way."
Some may laugh at that. Most readers would be right to think it simply silly and smug.
"Screw those treacly holiday offerings aiming to melt your heart or lift your spirits. Dickens? Bah, humbug. It's a Wonderful Life? Sentimental swill. That tear-jerking 'Christmas Shoes' song so nakedly exploitative that it makes you want to take a blowtorch to your ears? 'Nuff said. Good Tidings and Great Joy gives the finger to all that, offering instead Palin at her toxic best: snippy, snarky, snide, and thoroughly pissed off," wrote Michelle Cottle in the Daily Beast.
It's odd that Cottle left out A Charlie Brown Christmas in her list of Christmas classics, at least until you consider that it creates a serious problem for her take on Palin's book.
Palin writes about a recent event in Little Rock, Arkansas, where a church was going to perform a play, which I have seen, based on the 1965 television special. Kids from an elementary school were invited to attend and the district solicited the permission of their parents.
No parents complained. But the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers raised a huge ruckus. The performance was cancelled.
This example of Christmas-warring stood out to Palin because "A Charlie Brown Christmas," she writes, "is one of my favorite things to watch at Christmas. I love the when where the Peanuts gang sings 'Hark, the Herald Angels sing.' I love it when Linus so lovingly wraps his blue blanket around Charlie Brown's scraggly tree.
"Mostly I love the scene in which Linus recites the scripture from the book of Luke, explaining to Charlie 'what Christmas is all about.' This two-minute segment of simple animation packs a punch more meaningful than all of the recent Christmas movies combined. The best part is when Linus gets to the words 'Fear not,' and then, as if realizing where his true security comes from, he drops his blanket."
With Good Tidings and Great Joy, Palin has firmly cemented her reputation as the Lucy Van Pelt of punditry. Critics keep thinking they can kick that football. They, and Charlie Brown, ought to know better.