I’m no fan of St. Sarah of Wasilla, but Joe McGinniss’ book isn’t going to provide any insight into Sarah Palin. If you hate her you’ll love the book, if you love her you’ll hate it. Does the book have any merit? Up until this point I honestly didn’t know. Then I saw that Mr. McGinniss called Andrew Sullivan “about the only responsible journalist to express any interest” in Trig Birtherism. (emphasis mine)
We all need to brace ourselves for what’s about to come. If you thought it was bad now when people only get to attack the things that Sarahpalin says, just wait until they have 24,000 emails to take wildly out of context and nitpick. This is going to be painful beyond reckoning.
If I were governor, I would communicate using only disappearing ink, on that self-destructing paper that Chief Quimby used to give instructions to Inspector Gadget, hand-delivered by Carthusian monks.
So stupid that even when she’s right, it’s only because she’s “lucky,” and we should presume the the way in which she was correct probably wasn’t “what Mrs. Palin was referring to.” Fortunately, we have the Massachusetts Democratic Party, which doesn’t let the fact that Sarahpalin was “correct” stop them from making fun of her. Because that’s what you do to stupid people, right? You make fun of them for being stupid whether they’re “right” or wrong, because in reality, they’re always wrong.
Added: See also, Althouse, who notes that excreable Dr. S. must constantly remind himself of what a farce Sarahpalin is. If one were to venture onto his page (I don’t recommend it – I just did it (3:04) to see if he had altered any of his notions of how stupid Sarahpalin is in response to the subtle fact that she’s right; needless to say, he’s using the fact that rightwingers are pointing out that Sarahpalin was right as evidence that rightwingers are a bunch of hyperdefensive types who ignore reality), one would need no other reminders that he is a hack, and no longer a terribly entertaining one at that.
I categorically refuse to believe negative things said about Sarahpalin in the media; they completely blew their credibility some years ago. But maybe her bus is running red lights and, horror of horrors, SPEEDING!!! I refuse to believe Politico, but I accept that it may well be true.
But theses journalists who are running red lights and engaging in erratic behavior just to follow her and report on gossipy stories – they are bad people. They are risking other people’s lives (I don’t care about them risking their own lives; that’s between them, their families, and their God) in order to … what? Be the first to report on what sort of motorcycle Sarapalin rides in the Rolling Thunder rally? They hate Sarahpalin, they cover her like she’s an idiot who has nothing worthwhile to say; yet they are willing to risk the lives of others just so they can keep up with her completely non-substantive bus tour. These are affirmatively bad people.
P.S. I like the whiny tidbit about the poor poor paparazzi who had to take a leak on the side of the road. Somewhere, the world’s smallest violin-maker is crafting the appropriate instrument to play the lead instrumental of the dirge that will be sung at this point when this man’s life is turned into an opera.
Mark Levin comes out on his Facebook page with a defense of Sarah Palin from recent attacks by conservatives. Its a well laid out defense that is, for Levin, very civil. It has only one flaw, and this is a flaw that is endemic of all Sarah Palin defenses:
Not once does Levin defend Palin by pointing out her virtues, he simply points out the flaws of her attackers.
Telling don’t you think?
The difference between attacks on Reagan and Palin as an intellectual lightweight is that Palin doesn’t have a speech like this to prove her intellectual heft:
I was in a coffee shop today where they had a muted TV tuned to MSNBC. I have no clue who was talking or what they said, but their conversation lasted a couple of minutes and, according to the text box at the bottom, the subject was “Does Sarah Palin Have a Secret Facebook Page?”
My ultimate problem with the Palin Haters is that they claim to base their hatred of her on things that may or may not be true about her, but are at least as true about others whom they do not hate. She’s held to a different standard, and I utterly do not understand it.
It certainly is interesting. I’m not surprised by her negatives, but I would have guessed her positives would be higher, considering how most movement conservatives can’t bring themselves to say a single word against her.*
My guess is that it’s a combination of a number of factors (see below), but the simplest response is that 1) there’s never been a woman as wildly successful, beautiful, and well-known in politics as Palin, 2) The things that anger one group are the ones that make her loved by others, and 3) That makes the lovers and the haters love her and hate her evenmore.
Timing: Palin entered the national stage at a Republican nadir: they were sick of defending George Bush, disappointed by McCain, and sensed they were about to get creamed by some guy nobody had even heard of five years before. In short, Republicans were desperate to fall in love at the moment when Palin showed up.
Beauty: People always feel strongly about attractive women and — by any rubric, but particularly by a political one — Palin is gorgeous.
The Lady Factor: Palin embodies a number of hot-button gender issues, but the most interesting to my mind is Work-Family. Palin’s had an enormously successful career (utterly independent of her husband’s) while also raising a large, adorable family.† My sense is that a lot of women either strongly identified her either as an aspirational figure who’d successfully had it all (“Hey, that’s awesome! You go, girl!”) or as an object of jealousy (That bitch! I went to a much better college than her, don’t sound like a total hick, and she gets to be the one…).
Trigg: Speaking of which, there’s no button hotter in American politics than abortion and Palin did the one thing an ambitious, over-worked, career woman with a large family cannot be expected to do: keep an unplanned pregnancy with serious birth defects. An entirely private decision had just set off a public firestorm.
Identity politics: Though Palin was originally pitched as an outside-the-system, good-ol’-boy-network-busting can-do-type, it’s the culture-warrior-anti-elitist persona that caught on, and what Palin has since become. What’s more, there’s a huge number of republican voters — blue-collar whites without a college degree — who’ve felt neglected. Palin not only knows exactly how to appeal to this demographic, but also how to infuriate those who hold them in contempt.
Even Bristol’s pregnancy played into this. Though I haven’t read it yet — it’s on my list! — I’ve heard two interviews with the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families. The thesis is that there are two family models in the United States and that these (roughly) correlate to political Red and Blue. Red families are characterized by early marriage, large size, higher divorce rates, put little stigma on illegitimacy, less formal education, and greater likelihood that grandparents or other close relations will play significant roles in child-rearing. Blue families, on the other hand, get started later, are small, have lower divorce rates, and put little stigma on abortion, higher levels of formal education, and are very nuclear . The Palins embody a (super-) successful Red family.
Media Savviness (of a kind): Speaking of Douthat columns on Sarah Palin, his metaphor in this one is brilliant:
The whole business [of the Tuscon murders and the subsequent blaming of Palin] felt less like an episode in American political history than a scene from a particularly toxic marriage — more “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” than “The Making of the President.” The press and Palin have been at war with each other almost from the first, but their mutual antipathy looks increasingly like co-dependency: they can’t get along, but they can’t live without each other either.
For their part, the media manage to be consistently unfair to the former Alaska governor — gossipy and hostile in their reportage, hysterical and condescending in their commentary — even as they follow her every move with a fascination bordering on obsession. (MSNBC, in particular, should just change its name to “Palin 24/7” and get it over with.) When commentators aren’t denouncing her, they’re busy building up her legend — exaggerating her political acumen, overpraising her communications strategy, covering her every tweet as if she were the Viceroy of Red America, and spinning out outlandish scenarios in which she captures the White House in 2012.
Palin, meanwhile, officially despises the “lamestream” media. But press coverage — good, bad, whatever — is clearly the oxygen she craves. She supposedly hates having her privacy invaded, yet her family keeps showing up on reality TV. She thinks the political class is clueless and out-of-touch, but she can’t resist responding to its every provocation. Her public rhetoric, from “death panels” to “blood libel,” is obviously crafted to maximize coverage and controversy, and generate more heat than light. And her Twitter account reads like a constant plea for the most superficial sort of media attention.
She Doesn’t Retreat; She Reloads: Palin never backs down from anything. Anything. When confronted her response is always — whether the attacks are fair or unjustified — to double-down when and, in the words of Nick Naylor, Attack, attack, attack! David Letterman make a totally inappropriate joke about one of your kids? Call him a pedophile.
Lack of Competition: Conservatives have been leaderless since 2008 and Palin’s the closest thing there is. It’s been an exciting few years, and she’s the only face — pretty or otherwise — that people identify with it.
I’m a couple of days late to this, but I think Ross Douthat here is excellent in pointing out what is, ultimately, so creepy about coverage of Sarahpalin:
. . . Palin’s “very positive” numbers, while high, are not staggeringly so: Using this (admittedly) crude metric, she inspires slightly less devotion than George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, and slightly more than Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. It’s her negative numbers that are off the charts: No politician, from Bush to Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, is hated so intensely by so many Americans.
And this is what’s so problematic, to my mind, about much of the Palin coverage: The media often acts as though they’re covering her because her conservative fan base is so large (hence the endless talk about her 2012 prospects), when they’re really covering her because so many liberals are eager to hear about, read about and then freak about whatever that awful, terrifying woman is up to now.
If Sarahpalin didn’t exist, it would be necessary for the left to invent her.
I’m not at all sure how I will react, how I want to react, or how I should react to this.
Since the day John McCain picked her, every single story written about Sarahpalin has been mostly about journalists specifically and the American left in general. Sarahpalin, in the media, is not a real person but is, in fact, a tool journalists use to write about themselves and their friends. Their hidden hatreds and prejudices, their cultural preferences masquerading as morality, and their intellectual insecurities that materialize as snobbery. After more than two years of daily news coverage of Sarapalin, I don’t know more about Sarahpalin, but I have a much better understanding of those who write about her.
In that sense, Milbank’s decision to write about boycotting Sarahpalin is exactly as informative as a real story written about Sarahpalin. We learn that Milbank doesn’t, and hasn’t for a while, regarded Sarahpalin as a legitimate story, but he has continued to write about her. We learn that Milbank would rather loudly trumpet his decision to do the right thing than to actually do the right thing. And we learn that Milbank, like me, seems to view Sarahpalin as a means of analyzing the souls of journalists (note how he labels people who will continue to write about Sarahpalin as “less scrupulous” than him), but he’s self-centered enough to only use Sarahpalin as a goodness test after he himself has loudly proclaimed his decision to give up Sarahpalin. He’s like a drunk who, before stumbling out of the bar and attempting to drunkenly drive home, loudly proclaims that anyone who doesn’t join him at tomorrow’s AA meeting is an unredeemable sot.
So since I’m writing about Sarahpalin now, I guess I should reveal something about myself. Here goes: I’ve been boycotting Dana Milbank for years. Well, not really boycotting. I no more “boycott” Milbank than I “boycott” newspapers written in languages I can’t read, or bridal magazines. I just don’t read him because I find him boring, but rather than loudly proclaim my decision to give up on the boring, I simply did it. There are any number of boring things I don’t do that I don’t tell others about.
The comparison here is worthwhile. I don’t think even Milbank would write a column detailing the legitimately unnewsworthy things he doesn’t cover. His rashes, his relationship with his mother, his ruminations over what brand of coffee to drink – there’s no need to loudly proclaim that he won’t be writing about these things for February. But he has to announce that he won’t write about Sarahpalin. And that tells us everything we need to know about Milbank.
After all, Sarah Palin’s Alaska shares the network’s schedule with shows like Ton of Love (“go inside the lives of three morbidly obese couples”) and The Man With Half a Body (“meet . . . Kenny whose body ends at his waist and who walks on his hands”). Would John Adams feel comfortable exhibiting his children next to Toddlers and Tiaras, which follows families on their quest for “sparkly crowns, big titles, and lots of cash”? Would Abe Lincoln look diminished if he shared a marquee with I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant?Would William Jefferson Clinton feel at home next to Sister Wives, which explores “the complex daily life of a polygamist family”?
Politicians love to present a narrative in which they and their band of outsiders battle an entrenched party establishment. In most cases, the stories are self-serving myths: party establishments are far less entrenched than they used to be, and the insurgents usually hold paid-up memberships in the party establishment themselves. See eg Howard Dean, career of.
But in Palin’s case, the myth rings true. There really is a GOP party establishment. That establishment took up Palin as a useful tool in 2008, deployed Palin as an edged anti-Obama weapon in 2009 – and is now horrified to see that they may have set in motion a force possibly too powerful to halt when its time has ended. The story of the behind-the-scenes struggle to squelch Palin – and her ferocious determination not to be squelched – will be the big GOP-side story of the coming year.
It reminds us of a line from Hilaire Belloc’s biography of Cardinal Richelieu: “Once [Gustavus Adolphus] took the field, Richelieu found that he had called up the devil, and that the devil was too much for him.”
I wouldn’t ask that question to AFP’s Andrew Gully, who, evidently, never took a math class that explained division:
Palin, who quit the Alaska governorship after serving less than half of one term . . .
The governor of Alaska is elected to a four year term. Palin was governor from December 4, 2006 until July 26, 2009. Since I’ve already advised you not to ask Gully about math issues, I trust you to determine for yourself whether Palin, in fact, made it half-way through her term before resigning.
When I saw that the first four words of the story were “Right-wing darling Sarah Palin,” I expected neither fair nor balanced reporting in what followed. But I didn’t anticipate that Sarahpalin-hatred altered the results of basic arithmetic.
Back in high school speech tournaments, I would sometimes write one or two words on my hand. They weren’t extended thoughts, just reminders to focus on particular thoughts that I might otherwise stray from. I’d like to think I was more discrete in reading from my hand than was Sarahpalin, but I didn’t think it was weak for me to write those notes, nor do I think it was weak of Sarahpalin to write hers. To illustrate, let’s jump in the wayback machine.
It’s July 22, last year. The president is still more popular than not, and he’s beginning the push for a health care reform package that will fulfill nearly 80 years of Democrat attempts to make government the primary player in the American health care system. The president goes off teleprompter to give a live, prime-time press conference meant to boost the effort.
At the very end of a fairly competent performance by the president, a journalist asks a question about a complete non-sequitur. There’d been an unusual arrest in Cambridge, Massachusetts, involving one of the president’s acquaintances. Not many facts of the case are known publicly, but it’s obvious that the issue has some racial elements.
Scenario 1: The president is so confident in his speaking abilities that he’s gone into the q&a part of the press conference without notes. He’s tired, and he’s got some feelings about the few facts he knows about the affair, and these feelings get the better of him. He spouts some ignorant crap, shows himself to be a guy who’ll form opinions before finding out the facts, and for a crucial week and a half before Congress’s August recess diverts the nation’s attention onto the minutiae of Skip Gates’s travel habits, the specific wording of a 911 call for a non-crime, and the racial sensitivity training of a low-level police officer in a Massachusetts college town. Due in no small part to president’s distracting answer, Congress does nothing before its August recess, during which, at tea parties and town halls across America, all hell breaks lose, spelling the beginning of the end of the president’s health care proposal.
Scenario 2: The president realizes that this press conference needs to be about three things: healthcare, healthcare, and healthcare. So he writes “1. Healthcare. 2. Healthcare. 3. Healthcare” on his hand, or on an index card. When asked a question about a nationally insignificant arrest in Massachusetts, the president wants to spout off some of his uninformed opinions on the matter, but he catches a glimpse of his notes and remembers what the press conference is supposed to be about. “I really don’t know much about that,” he says in response to the question. “Look at this moron, he can’t even remember his own agenda at his own press conference, and he doesn’t know about the events of the day,” some conservative bloggers furiously type.
I’m not saying that Obama would have had his health care program by now if only he’d written more on his hand. I’m merely pointing out that speakers need to be aware of their own weaknesses – such as being drawn off topic by questions – and compensate for them. Yes it’s inglorious to look at crib notes on your hand, but it’s disastrous to forget what a speech is about and make off-topic comments that undermine your aims. If Sarahpalin’s to be ridiculed, it’s the ridicule that the prudent always get for their caution.