The selling of Sarah Palin

How to show support for a hot-button vice-presidential candidate? Why, with "hot" buttons, of course!

Published September 4, 2008 5:45PM (EDT)

In less than a week, Sarah Palin has energized her political base in a staggering way. She has also energized those of us who proudly stand outside that camp. As reported in Broadsheet Wednesday, "the number of U.S. Internet searches for 'Sarah Palin' reached a peak greater than any other political personality in the past three years." I know what you're thinking: Yes, even greater than Gary Coleman.

Many things struck me about Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention last night. I noticed that, as Joan Walsh writes this morning, she came out "teeth bared like a Rudy Giuliani in heels." I noticed that, as Walter Shapiro writes this morning, she was presented as a "martyr unfairly derided by the national press corps." I noticed that the crowd in Minnesota adored her, could not get enough of her, and showed that in many ways: cheering, fist-pumping, holding signs that read "Hockey Moms 4 Palin" and -- in that great American capitalist tradition -- wearing buttons.

Yes, it's hard to love something or someone in this country before some huckster sells you flair to support your addiction, and the buttons made on behalf of Sarah Palin do not disappoint. There is, of course, the issue of her good looks: "Coldest State, Hottest Governor" reads one, with a photo of Palin that looks like she's auditioning for the part of the sexy D.A. on "Law & Order." The good people of Indiana, not to be outdone, introduced their "Hoosiers for the Hot Chick" button. Sexist? Naaaah. As one woman explained it to MSNBC, "being a hot chick, strong, fun and capable all go together."

But annnnyway. Sarah Palin is more than a pretty face. She's also a woman! I'm not sure if you noticed. And so there's plenty of femme-friendly buttons for the ladies in the audience, especially those of you who think to yourselves, "Hmm, these Susan G. Komen-sponsored products are a little bit masculine." There is the "Women for Sarah Palin" button, and if that is just not enough like a Hallmark card, well then, I give you this baby. (Speaking of babies, why Palin's baby does not have his own button is a riddle to make any Republican entrepreneur weep.)

Of course, the great thing about Sarah Palin, from a salesman's point of view, is that she serves both sides of the Hillary divide. Mad that Hillary wasn't V.P.? Well, thank God for Sarah Palin. Hate Hillary with a passion? Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. And thus we have "If I Can't Have Hillary, I'll Take Sarah" (that sound you just heard was 18 million cracks in my heart) and then, of course, "Hillary who?"

But mostly, you guys, Sarah Palin is hot. And this crowd LOVES a hot chick. You won't see any Democrats sporting the "Our V.P. Is Hotter Than Yours" button (though, to be fair, Joe Biden? He's aging well). Or, the utterly unpronounceable and yet instantly memorable VPILF. High-five, America. Always be closing.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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