OK. I’ll admit it. I like Sarah Palin. Why? Well mostly because right now she lets you know where she stands on issues and isn’t always driving squarely down the middle of the road like most other politicians.
She was wrong last week in her commentary about the massacre in Tucson and in the use of the phrase “blood libel” to highlight the criticisms that have been dumped on her, with pundits, bloggers and TV Talking Heads arguing that her rhetoric helped create an environment that empowered that sick fuck to start killing people with a weapon of mass destruction. C’mon folks, think about it.
And Sarah, c’mon, what happened in Tucson really isn’t all about you. Move on.
Is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? Not sure — in part because I don’t know what makes a good — great? — president these days. Obama is a great campaigner, but until his speech at the memorial service last week, he has been an ineffective leader. Just sayin’. And, hey, I voted for him.
Can Sarah get the nomination — assuming she decides at some point to run — and then be elected president? Sure, why not. The country is just about evenly divided liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat. So short of a third-party candidate, that means our national elections these days typically swing to the person who can gain the most votes with so-called independent voters. With unemployment likely to remain around 9 percent — that’s millions or people in this country either without jobs, working part time or in temporary positions, or very much underemployed — who knows?
In the meantime, what’s the fascination with Sarah Palin? Go ahead. Put down your cup of coffee and think for a minute — then write down the names of three other potential Republican candidates for president.
Okay. Pretty impressive list, huh?
Anyway, here’s an interesting perspective from Ross Douthat in his NYT Op-Ed “Scenes From a Marriage“:
Given how little connection Loughner seems to have to any kind of right-wing politics, this conversation looked increasingly ridiculous by midweek, and even a little bit obscene. But instead of letting the frenzy die away, Palin decided that what the country really needed was for her to use the day set aside for mourning Loughner’s victims to make a speech complaining about her own victimization. (Or as she put it, rather more pungently, the “blood libel” being leveled by her critics.) Which, needless to say, gave the press exactly the excuse it needed to continue its wall-to-wall Palin coverage for another 48 hours — and beyond, perhaps, given that she’s slated to appear on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night.
The whole business 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.
It’s a grim spectacle on both sides, and last week’s pointless controversy was a particularly low point. So let me play the relationship counselor. To the media: Cover Sarah Palin if you want, but stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America. Stop pretending that she has a plausible path to the presidency in 2012. (She doesn’t.) Stop suggesting that she’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination. (She isn’t.) And every time you’re tempted to parse her tweets for some secret code or crucial dog whistle, stop and think, this woman has fewer Twitter followers than Ben Stiller, and then go write about something else instead.
To Palin: You were an actual politician once (remember that?), but you’re becoming the kind of caricature that your enemies have always tried to make of you. So maybe it’s time to turn off your iPad for a while, and take a break from Facebook and Fox News. The world won’t end if you don’t respond to every criticism, and you might even win a few more admirers if you cultivated a lighter touch and a more above-the-fray persona. Oh, and when that reality-TV producer sends you a pitch for “Sarah Plus Five Plus Kate Plus Eight,” just say no.
“Sarah Plus Five Plus Kate Plus Eight.”
OK. I’ll admit to having some reservations about that.
But how about Dancing With the Stars?
C’mon. Admit it. Bristol was hot.