Sarah Palin's Bizarre, Rambling Speech Was the Perfect Donald Trump Endorsement

The former Alaska governor captured the incoherence that's driving Trump's campaign.


Sarah Palin's bizarre, rambling speech last night endorsing Donald Trump didn't make much sense (it's already been described as "post-apocalyptic poetry," which may not be entirely fair to either poetry or the apocalypse). Here, for example, is a representative passage:

A good, heated, and very competitive primary is where we are. And now though, to be lectured that, "Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry," is what we're hearing from the establishment. Doggone right we're angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, "Just chill, okay just relax." Well, look, we are mad, and we've been had. They need to get used to it.

The speech name-checks a variety of conservative issues, from immigration to national defense to the build-up of debt, but not in any coherent context. They are not political issues in the traditional sense but free-associative decorations loosely affixed to Palin's freewheeling resentment. At times the speech, with its whiplash-rhythms and word juxtapositions, became downright hypnotic. Just play this on repeat for a while and let it wash over you:

In part this is because making sense isn't really Palin's style. But it's also because there is no coherent defense of Donald Trump's candidacy. His own argument is little more than a simple boast that he will make the country great, like it used to be, followed by a series of insults and a discussion of his poll numbers.

To the extent that he proposes anything resembling actual policies, they tend to be implausible fantasies, designed more as insults and power plays than ideas for governance. His speeches go long on personal boasting, and he dismisses most questions of governance by appealing to his own innate ability to overcome obstaces. You cannot make a reasoned case for Trump, because there is no such case to be made. 

Palin's support was incoherent, then, in part because that's how she is, and part because it could be no other way. Support for Trump is not based on reason or argument or logic or even a sense of what Trump would actually do as president, but on his personal appeal as a businessman and political entertainer, and a related sense of how and what the country would be. It is not really a political campaign at all, so much as an extended act of fantasy and wish-fulfillment for both him and his supporters. Donald Trump's presidential campaign is Donald Trump fanfic, with Donald Trump as the Mary Sue.

In a way, then, Palin's speech was the perfect endorsement for Donald Trump's campaign: an incoherent mess of angry, resentful sentiment, delivered in a way designed to provide the maximum in media spectacle. Palin effectively—and, okay, somewhat poetically—captured and amplified the identity-politics-driven nonsense that feeds both the candidate and his supporters.