Recreation in the scenic wilds of Alaska took center stage Sunday on “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
As the Palins trekked away from their Wasilla home for white-water rafting, back-country four-wheeling and Iditarod-style dog-sledding, viewers got to meet some colorful Alaskans. These included a mullet-haired rafting guide named Mudflap and a wizened gold prospector named Bones.
We also got to hear Sarah’s views on a number of issues, including child-rearing, abortion, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to rein in childhood obesity.
Michelle Obama’s name came up as Sarah looked inside a cupboard in her family’s bus-sized RV in search of ingredients to make s’mores. “This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert,” Sarah said. Look, we all know Sarah Palin differs politically with President Obama. But you wonder at moments like these why Palin chooses to mount an attack such as this, on a first lady who is speaking out in favor of juvenile health. Aren’t we all in favor of that?
Sarah raised the abortion issue in a comment about her young son, Trig. “People are jerks about Trig being born with Down syndrome,” she said. “Eighty-five to 90 percent of babies are aborted with Down syndrome. They can have their opinion, but we have ours.” She never explained who these “jerks” were who bad-mouthed her son, or what they said about him.
She later took a shot at unnamed “idiots and bloggers” who apparently bedevil the Palins with their on-line commentary. “It’s nice to get the heck away from idiots and bloggers who do not like our family,” Sarah said, before she mounted an ATV for some wet-and-wild careening down muddy dirt roads toward the mining camp where Bones lived (sadly, he died since the making of Sunday’s episode). “Four-wheeling is freedom,” Sarah declared.
After six weeks, it’s become apparent that “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” can be viewed, at least in part, as a kind of “authorized biography” of Sarah Palin in which she controls the narrative. Each week, she reveals aspects of her personal history, such as this past Sunday’s recounting of how she met her husband Todd in the gym at Wasilla High School when they were teens. She also told how she worked her way through college by waitressing – a story of self-reliance and independence that plays into the image she wishes to project in her political life.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – indeed, Palin is shrewdly getting everything she can out of this free weekly hour of prime-time television in which she gets to showcase herself and her family.
This past Sunday, she was just like any other mother of a 16-year-old when she wrestled with daughter Willow over whether her boyfriend could join the family on an overnight camping trip. Sarah eventually said yes, but only if the boy pitched in with chores.
“We give our kids a lot of freedom because we trust our kids,” Sarah said at one point, instantly causing a viewer to think of the freedom she granted to daughter Bristol and boyfriend Levi Johnston a few years back when Bristol was 16 and she became pregnant. “We’ve all made mistakes,” said Sarah (who never mentioned Bristol by name). “I feel sorry for my kids because some of their mistakes are played out on the front page of the National Enquirer, which really sucks for them.”
Unfortunately, that kind of exposure is the price one pays for choosing to live a public life, as Sarah Palin has done in agreeing to star, along with her family, in her own TV show.
Speaking of which, there are now only two episodes left to go for “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” What do you think of this show at the six-week point in its remarkable run? Has this show been negative or positive for Sarah Palin as she works to define her image with an eye toward a possible White House run?