The latest Newsweek cover story thesis is a broad, if not altogether unprovable one, but if we’ve learned anything from the Political Playbook of Sarah Palin, it’s that the image is what’s important. “To white evangelical women, Sarah Palin is a modern-day prophet, preaching God, flag, and family–while remaking the religious right in her own image,” writes Lisa Miller in the cover story. Yeah, yeah, but what does she look like? Let’s see that cover. And are are those breasts real? This thing is about women, isn’t it? Meet Saint Sarah.
Women, according to the piece, are susceptible to the Palin Effect on Polite Ladies with Pissy Political Sides, and they’re just about ready to strike and/or empower the right wing. And the F-word is in play: “With her new faith-based message, Palin gathers up the Christian women that traditional feminism has left behind,” we learn. “The Christian right is now poised to become a women’s movement–and Sarah Palin is its earthy Jerry Falwell.” But with better legs.
Palin is a Newsweek favorite, likely because she’s a big seller on newsstands, both pleasing to the eye and polarizing when it comes to hearts and minds. When it comes to substance, though, new info or ideas are largely absent this time around. (Palin, predictably, declined to be interviewed.) And so all we’re left with is pretty pictures, or at least obvious semiotic signifiers. Vanity Fair, meanwhile, has some
hilarious alternative covers for this time around.
When it comes to the look of this thing, it’s the ol’ religious iconography racket. We’ve seen this before (and before and before):
Palin, as noted, is no stranger to the Newsweek cover, whether she likes it or not, thanks to her leggy star turn last last year. At the time, Newsweek editor Jon “Big Meach” Meacham deflected claims of sexism:
“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do. We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”