The post I wrote about Bristol Palin doing well on Dancing With The Stars – despite getting consistently poor scores from real judges – perhaps because of cheating on behalf of fans of her mother received a lot more attention that I thought it would. The only regret I have is not explaining why I find this scandal so interesting.
What it says about a person who will cheat in any situation, and how the human psyche enables us to ignore built-in morals and whatnot, was the theme of that story. It wasn't about Bristol Palin, who arguably isn't a celebrity or star in any meaningful way and isn't responsible for the dishonest actions of fans of her mother regardless, or how reality shows rot your brain.
Any person desperate enough to achieve a desired outcome can sacrifice their principles – even instinctual ones – to get what they want.
Cheating in order to steal a national election is less insane than it sounds when you consider what the human brain is capable of doing in the midst of desperation. But cheating on irrelevant things whose outcome has no affect on you at all tells you a great deal more about the nature of that person and what kinds of monstrous things they are capable of if entrusted with real power.
The conclusion – with a lot of obvious crap left out for brevity – is that at least in this instance, a number of people who like and support Bristol Palin's mother are dishonest and unethical to the very core of who they are. It shouldn't be all that surprising then that they would like and support a shallow, ethically challenged misfit like Sarah Palin. They are essentially the same kind of people: selfish, amoral, and obsessively vain. The appearance of victory and success is important to them for that purpose alone. The responsibility that typically comes with success is shunned and the victory is unsatisfying because of what was sacrificed to attain it.
Call it pseudo-psychology if you want and even misguided. It may be both those things or worse, but it is still an interesting thought exercise that can tell us a lot about why people do and say the things they do.
George W. Bush was hit pretty hard by Dan Froomkin this week over a couple of claims that Bush made in his recently released book, Decision Points. One of those claims is that Bush was the reluctant voice in the White House when it came to Iraq after September 11th, which is factually and hilariously false and has been proven so for several years now via interviews with former Bush administration staffers and publicly released memos and other documents.
That Bush would lie about this in his book when there are no significant consequences either good or bad tells us a lot more about his pathology than we're ever likely to learn from the decisions themselves.
Far from being benign and overblown, the result of this kind of behavior manifested in George W. Bush was the ugly occupation of Iraq, one of the most infamous military blunders in American history. The ability to act without morals or ethics in truly benign situations, as Bush did in his book, is exactly the kind of behavior that's now clearly present in Sarah Palin and her legion of fans that are working to boost her daughter this week.
So a person willing to lie in a memoir when the stakes are little to none actually does more to explain why that person would also lie and deceive others in really important situations than anything else can.
It's annoying when the media and others dismiss low-key stories about rising stars as petty character assassination and mudslinging. Most of the time it is precisely that, but not always. A political candidate that lies and cheats for a living as a nobody in situations that no one could condone other than lifelong criminals and despots isn't going to magically realize after they attain high office that lying is wrong and harmful. Their supporters who don't see a problem with that behavior and don't understand what it means are just as likely to be as dishonest and unethical as the target of their admiration.
The liars and cheats of the world like what they see in Sarah Palin because they identify with that type of amoral behavior – it's who they both are. The same was true of George Bush whose sycophantic cult-like worshipers were second to none in their day, justifying every lie and distortion with near-fanatical enthusiasm.
The incident of cheating on Dancing With The Stars is interesting, then, because of what it says about supporters of Bristol's mother, and in turn what it says about Sarah Palin herself that she attracts those types of people to her cause – a sort of cult of personality full of frightening deficiencies ready to unleash unimaginable damage and suffering on the scale of Iraq (or worse) if ever exposed to meaningful, unchecked power.
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