What Sarah Palin had in common with that TV show 'The Prisoner'
A presidential campaign can be a disorienting thing, especially for a novice like Sarah Palin, who was plucked from the Alaska governor’s mansion and tossed onto the national stage with very little seasoning and preparation. The pressures on her were immense, as she recounts in "Going Rogue: An American Life.”
In fact, it occurred to us as we were reading the book today that in some ways, her version of the campaign can be likened to the great 1960s British TV show “The Prisoner” (which has just been remade for American TV).
In “The Prisoner,” a man called No. 6, played by Patrick Mcgoohan (photo above), is trapped in “The Village” and has no idea why he is there or where he is. Under constant surveillance, each time he tries to escape, he is subsumed by a giant white ball and returned to his cottage.
Palin recounts in her book that she didn’t understand the rules of the campaign but was expected to follow them. She was constantly told by high-level campaign staffers that someplace called “headquarters” was overruling her or issuing commands about what she could and could not do.
Headquarters’ wishes were relayed to her by McCain chief strategist Steve Schmidt and campaign spokeswoman Nicole Wallace.
“The Schmidt-Wallace tag team,” she writes, “would continually invoke the all-powerful ‘headquarters,’ a mysterious, faraway entity whose exact identity and location were never fully explained.
By the end of the campaign, my VP teammates and I would look at each other and say, ‘Who is headquarters?’” Toward the end of the campaign, Palin and her staff used air quotes when they uttered the h-word.
“I had visited the physical headquarters once in Washington, D.C., and met amazing volunteers working round the clock for the GOP ticket,” she writes. “But somehow I must never have met the tight inner circle of shot callers."
At one point, during preparation for her debate with Democratic VP nominee, Joe Biden, Schmidt and McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis sat her down. “Suddenly, I felt I like I was on thin ice.”
“Schmidt leveled his eyes at me. ‘We don’t have the money Obama does and the numbers don’t look good. We’ve got to change things up….So headquarters is flying in a nutritionist.”
Palin writes that she thought that was a splendid idea for Schmidt and his fellow staffers, whose “chain-smoking, junk-food-packing, recirculated-air-breathing habits were probably catching up to them.”
“No, it’s for you,” Schmidt told her. “You’ve got to get off the Atkins diet.”
Only one problem: She wasn't on the Atkins diet, she writes.
“I’m a forty-four-year-old, healthy, athletic woman raising five kids and governing a large state, I thought as his words faded into a background buzz. Sir, I don’t really know you yet. But you’ve told me how to dress, what to say, who to talk to, a lot of people NOT to talk to, who my heroes are supposed to be, and we’re STILL losing. Now you’re going to tell me what to eat?
“I suppose if headquarters had flown in a nutritionist, I would’ve listened to what he or she had to say. But as with much of what headquarters said, it never happened.”
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