The sheer daring of Sarah Palin in undertaking the birth hoax is breathtaking. In March of 2008, she made a political calculation about a series of events that could make her president of the United States, the most powerful person on earth. With "end days" coming, which she was certain would happen in her lifetime, she could as president enable untold millions on earth to reach salvation, just as Queen Esther of the Bible had saved her people.
This was her manifest destiny. Surely God would not have provided a path to the presidency if taking that path was not His intention. And that path involved claiming Trig as her own.
I believe Sarah faced a choice in early March of 2008. She could have convinced Bristol to allow Trig to be adopted or fostered by others until McCain made his VP pick; I imagine that was the original plan. (I'm assuming Bristol gave birth to Trig quite prematurely around January.) But once Sarah learned Trig had Down syndrome, God's mind became clear to her. As Trig's mother – a mother who chose life over abortion – she knew her appeal as a potential VP pick would increase tremendously by making her a star among the right-to-life wing of the Republican Party.
So on March 5, she started a staggeringly ambitious hoax. As a sitting governor who already had to endure press scrutiny comparable to a that of a rock star, she had little privacy. How could she possibly hope to convincingly stage a birth? The enormity of the prospect did not daunt her. God had opened the door; he would show her the way.
A normal person, by which I mean someone not hounded by the demons of narcissistic personality disorder, can barely comprehend the thinking that would lead someone to undertake such a hoax. And that has been Palin's best weapon in keeping the truth at bay: most Americans find unbelievable the idea that Palin could be so disturbed as to try something that outrageous.
The fact that she did commit the hoax is a measure of her mental illness, of how disordered her personality is. The key to understanding someone with NPD is to realize that their inner image of themselves is grandiose, magnificent, perhaps of world-historical importance. That grandiose projection is a defense against profound feelings of worthlessness. Most NPDs suffer a tremendous disconnect between the grandiose way they see themselves internally and the mundane circumstances of their lives and the pedestrian nature of their accomplishments.
But occasionally some combination of hard work, talent, serendipity, and sheer will can allow an NPD to achieve a measure of greatness that matches the inner ideal. But doing so does not bring a cessation of the inner demons saying still more is needed. Lyndon B. Johnson probably was an NPD. He in fact achieved greatness as president of the United States and was responsible for the landmark civil rights legislation of the mid-60s. But despite his accomplishments, his press secretary Bill Moyers wrote of "the exquisite emptiness" at the center of his being.
Sarah Palin is no LBJ. He was a master politician and clearly had a fine mind. But Palin has a shrewdness that I think borders on genius. She knows what her gifts are and how to use them. She knows how to befriend and beguile and use people – the "friendship" she seems to offer being a hook to ensnare the gullible, whom she then exploits and ultimately disposes of when their usefulness is gone. She knows she is pretty and sexy, and she has used that to great advantage with men. She knows how to promote herself ceaselessly.
And she knows how to spot the gold ring and go for it. It was her remarkable shrewdness that allowed Palin, a woman of ordinary (and largely underdeveloped) intellectual abilities, to rise from unemployed housewife to VP candidate of the United States in two decades. Time and again in her rapid rise, she saw how to use her current position as a stepping stone to the next. And she used the gifts her biblical God gave her, her physical attractiveness and personal charm, to help her travel the world-changing road He had laid out before her.
On March 5, 2008, the inner demons told Sarah to roll the dice, and that even if she needed "snake eyes" to win, God would make sure she got them. And despite astonishing odds, the hoax is still, for the most part, working. I'm in awe of her daring, and of her amazing insight that no matter how poorly disguised the birth hoax was, virtually nobody – especially not the press – would call her on it.