Jesse Jarnow

it’s so cold in alaska

“Stephanie Says” – The Velvet Underground (download) (buy)

In the last New Yorker, George Saunders’ merciless Sarah Palin parody, “My Gal,” and Philip Gourevitch’s remarkable dispatch on Alaskan politics, “The State of Sarah Palin,” are fine companions. Under an Obama administration, perhaps they could even marry.

On one hand, Saunders’ insane language games are probably a perfect embodiment of the cabalistic eastern elite that Palin and company often rail against. On the other hand, reading Gourevitch’s piece–for which Palin was interviewed before her VP candidacy–one can’t help but get the impression that Sarah Palin is a Coen brothers character placed on the public stage for the purposes of setting up some cruel, violent prank. Certainly, when she speaks, she sounds like she could be from Fargo. Even more, though, it’s the rhythms, the constant self-interruptions. via Gourevitch:

Palin continued, “Our security detail, when I first got elected, met with us and said, ‘Do you guys got any issues with any threats?’ ” To which Palin replied, “ ‘Yeah, well, by the way, there happens to be—the only threat that I knew of was one of your own troopers.’ And they’re, like, ‘Geez, this doesn’t sound good, you need to go tell your commissioner that.’ So I did. I shared that with the commissioner. So did Todd, and then Todd followed up to say”—at this point, Palin seemed to be quoting her husband: “ ‘We were interviewed back in ’05 before Sarah was even a candidate—what ever happened to that investigation, that interview? We know that the trooper’ ”—Wooten—“ ‘got to see the interview notes; well, we never have, and that’s kind of a scary position for us to be in. We complied with your request to bring you information on this trooper forward, and did we put our family in jeopardy by letting him see the interview notes about the illegal activities?’ ”
Palin insisted that Wooten “did have illegal activities. We witnessed them, and people have come to us with complaints. He Tasered his eleven-year-old stepson. This trooper, he was pulled over for drinking and driving and a witnessed open container in his car, and he did threaten to kill my dad—I heard him—and illegally shot a moose, which is a big darned deal here in Alaska.”

If that doesn’t sound like Jerry Lundegaard reincarnated as an Alaskan governor, then–well–geeze, I just don’t know what to say, Bob. via Saunders:

I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t.


Now, let us discuss the Élites. There are two kinds of folks: Élites and Regulars. Why people love Sarah Palin is, she is a Regular. That is also why they love me. She did not go to some Élite Ivy League college, which I also did not. Her and me, actually, did not go to the very same Ivy League school. Although she is younger than me, so therefore she didn’t go there slightly earlier than I didn’t go there. But, had I been younger, we possibly could have not graduated in the exact same class. That would have been fun.

I imagine if Sarah Palin read this–and, especially, Saunders’ glorious conclusion about a moose, which I shan’t give away here–she’d be all WTF? And that’s not a comment on her intelligence, so much as her sensibility. We’re dealing with a language barrier here, I think.


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