Campus Life

Sarah Palin = Dolores Umbridge

A Very Potter Election

This will be the first year in over a decade to not have a new Harry Potter book or movie released. If you’re suffering from Harry withdrawal, this election season has the perfect fix for you. You thought the magical world was the only one with a young hero who must save the world from an evil Dark Lord; a failed lame duck Minister of Magic; an old, grizzled Auror promising to make a clean break from said Minister; a pretty blonde reporter with a penchant for stretching the truth; and a Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) professor with a “personality like poisoned honey”? We muggles are not to be so easily outdone. Enter Sarah Palin who quite nicely completes this Harry Potter Election cycle.

Remember when you were reading Goblet of Fire and you thought there couldn’t be anyone more infuriating than Rita Skeeter? And then how Dolores Jane Umbridge became DADA professor in Order of the Phoenix and redefined infuriating? Well no longer do Harry Potter fans have to decide who they’d like to strangle more, for in Palin we have a brunette Skeeter (seriously, compare their hair-dos and glasses) with all the “lovable” personality quirks of an Umbridge. Not convinced? Let’s compare.

“The evidence that the Dark Lord has returned is incontrovertible,” Professor Albus Dumbledore tells a disbelieving Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. The Minister reacts by instating Umbridge as the DADA professor, who, by the way, won’t be teaching any practical magic in DADA. After all, “who would you imagine would want to attack children like yourself?” says Umbridge. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe Lord Voldemort?” counters Harry. No, no, Umbridge won’t have any of that: “You have been told that a certain Dark Wizard is at large once again. This is a lie.”

Back in the muggle world, Professor Al Gore tells us an inconvenient truth: “We are facing a global climate crisis.” But there’s good news: “We have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming.” Huh, perhaps we should do something about it? No, no, says Palin: “I’m not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity.” Translation: “You have been told that a certain climate phenomena known as global warming is man-made. This is a lie.” Since joining John McCain’s ticket, she has apparently changed tack as she responded to Charlie Gibson’s suggestion in their interview that she didn’t believe global warming was man-made with flat denials (read: lies) that she’d ever made such statements.

Seriously, we should have drawn the line when she went after the polar bears in a New York Times op-ed: “The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has argued that global warming and the reduction of polar ice severely threatens the bears’ habitat and their existence. In fact, there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future.” If the polar bears are anything like the centaurs in the Forbidden Forest, she may want to reconsider getting on their bad side.

Palin may not like Gibson (or most journalists for that matter) after their interview exposed many of her weaknesses, but she’d probably warm up to Skeeter. Quick-quotes quill in hand, Skeeter regaled Witch Weekly and The Daily Prophet readers with concoctions about a juicy Harry-Hermione-Krum love triangle, how Hagrid being a half-giant makes him extremely dangerous, and how Harry’s lightning-bolt scar has left him emotionally disturbed.

Hockey-stick in hand (not too much to imagine is it?), Palin told voters she said “thanks, but no thanks” to that Bridge to Nowhere. But as the Associated Press reported, “Palin was for the infamous bridge before she was against it.” Far from being a heroic symbol of her committed battle against “Congressional earmarks” (the name of McCain’s pet hamster), the bridge was just one of the $750 million worth of earmarks she aggressively fought for as Governor of Alaska, earning her state the dubious distinction of requesting the most federal tax dollars per person of any state, according to the AP.

Worried about getting detention from Umbridge where she’ll make you write lines in your own blood for disagreeing with her? After all, even Professor Snape got a probation for being “unhelpful”, i.e. not having enough Veritaserum for her to force feed students while illegally interrogating them. Try not firing Palin’s ex-brother-in-law and you might just find yourself wishing your punishment was just writing lines.

Instead, as Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan found out, you can expect to be fired and then discredited. At first, Palin said “never was there any pressure put on Commissioner Monegan to hire or fire anybody.” Later she backtracked as it was revealed there were over “two dozen contacts with Monegan about Wooten” according to Time.

Before becoming McCain’s running mate, Palin said she would cooperate fully with any investigation. Now her lawyer wants it to be discontinued or at the very least postponed. Of course the jury is still out and Palin denies any involvement in “Troopergate,” but then again so did Nixon when asked about Watergate. I guess, we’ll just have to wait and see.

But if Palin gets her way and has the investigation delayed past November, it might not even matter anymore. Palin, who throughout her political career, reports The New York Times, “has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance” may actually make Umbridge look like a saint.

But this election was a Harry Potter remake long before Palin entered the scene. Minister Fudge is a failed Wizarding leader; President Bush is a failed Muggle leader. Rufus Scrimgeour is a grizzy, old Auror who put away some Death Eaters in his day and takes over from a failed Minister; McCain is a greying, old war-hero who fought some really bad guys in his time and wants to take over from his failed President. Professor McGonagall is a stern, but kind member of the old guard who never lets her hair down and who didn’t always agree with Dumbledore’s trust in Harry’s ability; Hillary Clinton is a sometimes dour member of the old Democratic guard who wears pantsuits and didn’t always agree with American’s trust in Barry’s experience. Professor Snape is a hook-nosed git with greasy hair and you can never tell if he’s in the Order or with the Death Eaters; Joe Lieberman is a balding git and you can never tell if he’s a Democrat or a Republican.

Harry is just a boy with the fate of the magical world on his shoulders; Barry (O’Bomber) is just a second-term United States senator with the fate of health care, the economy, and other such Muggle concerns on his shoulders. Palin just gave the Harry Potter Election Sundae a cherry on top. The downside is that she could be just an Avada Kedavra away from the White House if the fate of poor Rufus is any indication, a thought that might just be more chilling than a Dementor’s Kiss. In any case, we may not get to see the Half-Blood Prince this year, but at least we still have Harry Potter and the Hockey Mom. I just hope you’ve been practicing your Patronus.

P.S. Did you know the root of Umbridge’s first name Dolores, in Spanish, means pain, kind of like what you get when you try to say Palin very fast and drop the ‘l’?