On Thursday night, several dozen of Sarah Palin’s best friends gathered in Kennesaw to watch their heroine on the big screen.
It was an invitation-only preview of “The Undefeated,” a two-hour Stephen Bannon documentary on the rise of Palin, from Alaskan mayoral candidate to governor to GOP vice presidential nominee to — well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
The movie won’t open in metro Atlanta until July 15. “I hope that you will be evangelists for the film,” Rob Cunningham, a member of the Georgia chapter of Organize4Palin, told the crowd before the room went dark.
Cunningham outlined a modest economic plan: The Palin movie will have a seven-day run at the AMC Barrett Commons theater complex off Barrett Parkway in Cobb County. Over 35 showings, the movie must draw $10,000 — about 1,200 tickets — to be judged a success.
Cunningham said he would count on the assembled Palin fans to put out the word — and perhaps organize a few watch parties.
With that, the lights went out.
The next hour and 55 minutes can be described in six words: “And then they were upon her.”
Palin the housewife and mayoral candidate is attacked by the good ol’ boys of Wasilla. Governor Palin is attacked by the cigar-smoking good ol’ boys of Juneau. In the 2008 presidential contest, Palin the running mate is attacked by the good ol’ boys (and girls) of the media.
Look, if you adore Palin, you will adore the movie. You will not mind that, at the 65-minute mark, you have only reached the second year of her governorship — a determined and overly detailed effort by the director to counter the caricature of Palin-as-airhead.
You won’t object to learning more than you’ll ever need to know about oil, natural gas and Alaska’s approach to mineral rights.
For instance, in Texas, if you own the land, you own everything under it. In Alaska, everybody owns everything under the land. But this is not socialism. It is “the concept of the owner state.” Negotiating those mineral rights is how Palin made her mark, the movie emphasizes.
Nor will you mind the film’s own caricatures — oil company executives hobnobbing with armed African guerrillas, a flashing image of two smiling businessmen with a knife and revolver behind their backs, and whiskey-swilling legislators whose nicknames give the movie a PG-13 rating.
If you do not adore Sarah Palin, then this is not your date movie. Save your money and try the one with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
But whether or not you are a Palin admirer, if you are a Republican, find a way to see at least the final 15 minutes of “The Undefeated.” It will tell you much about what’s happening now within the GOP.
As you might expect, the movie is packed with accounts of liberal and media hatred of Palin — conflated as being from one and the same source. This is not news and barely worth a mention.
But the last quarter hour is primarily a diatribe against the “Republican establishment.” Images of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky jump onto the screen as conservative broadcaster Mark Levin speaks of Republicans “putting up symbolic votes that don’t have any meaning.”
At the screening, the first line to draw applause was a clip of Palin suggesting national Republican leaders need to take a cue from the local female hockey team and “learn to fight like girls.”
Near the close of the film, Andrew Breitbart — the Internet provocateur who usually reserves his shots for Democrats — gives a brief soliloquy on cookie-cutter conservatism in Washington and the GOP establishment’s exclusion of Palin.
“I respect these men on their policies,” Breitbart says. “But I don’t respect them as they sit there on their hands and watch this woman be attacked, mercilessly, time and again, on illegitimate grounds. Men no longer have a sense of chivalry.”
Yes, Palin is a threat to the left, Breitbart says. “She’s also an existential threat to these eunuchs. That’s how I feel when I go into Washington. I see eunuchs. The people who are running for presidency of the United States watch as a woman is attacked mercilessly and they do nothing. I see eunuchs.”
Again, when Breitbart speaks of castration, he is speaking of Republicans.
It is hard to say which thoughts in the movie belong to Bannon, the director, and which ones belong to Palin. The voice of the former Alaskan governor is heard throughout, but it is drawn from the audio version of Palin’s book, “Going Rogue,” to which Bannon purchased the rights.
So there is a layer of deniability available to Palin, if she wants it.
But if the movie’s thesis in fact represents Palin’s thinking, then “The Undefeated” helps explain the strange bus tour that coincided with Mitt Romney’s formal entry last month into the presidential contest.
And Palin’s appearance on Tuesday in Iowa — one day after Michele Bachmann’s appearance in the same state — for a showing of “The Undefeated.”
If Palin indeed feels snubbed by the movers and shakers within the Republican Party, then her recent behavior looks less like toe-dipping associated with a 2012 presidential bid and more like a longer-term, guerrilla campaign for the heart and soul of the GOP.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider