David Hirsanyi tells the Denver Post's readers some extraordinary things yesterday with respect to the Sarah Palin Phenomenon, that have nevertheless become nauseatingly common themes. So let's break them down.
Hirsanyi's version starts with a far overdone point about stereotpyes:
These days, where you fall on the crucial issue of Sarah Palin tells the rest of us all we need to know about your character. You're either a:
A) Scum-sucking, terror-loving elitist, or a
B) Radical, tea-bag-loving simpleton.
Yes, you are. To some of the simpletons in the media, perhaps, who have to find false equivalency in, and over simplify, almost everything; or to those on the extremes of both parties (which in the case of the Right would probably be a majority of that party today). But to anybody else, this is an asinine assesment.
Plenty of people simply believe, correctly, that Palin is phenomenally gifted when it comes to spin and rhetoric (hence perhaps why some of her appeal to much of this same far right), but extemely lacking when it comes to substantive understanding, knowledge, or objective insight.
Many others, perhaps more versed in the facts than one should be today in order be able to avoid reading columns such as those by Hirsanyi without wanting to vomit, are also aware that almost everthing that Palin stated in the first half year since she burst on the scene publicy in August of 2008 (and much of what she has stated since) has been flat out erroneous, misleading, or highly manipulative.
None of this has anything to do with scum sucking, or radical tea bagging.
The media is often accused of being unfair to Palin. And it is true that the media does not give Palin a pass on virtually everthing, as it does many others on the far right -- afraid of being branded as "liberal." (It does so for two reasons. One -- the profound level of ignorance that Palin exhibited, and two, the disdan and contempt for a media simply doing its job -- albeit marginally at that -- that Palin routinely exhibited, as if in her world a media exists solely to provide the information that one wants, in the manner that one wants it provided. Exactly the opposite of what a media's job in a free society is, and exactly what the media's job in an authoritarian society is.)
But if the media really focused on the many misleading statements by Palin, and the facts, as it should, and should have, back in 2008, there would be far less ignorance when it came to Palin than there is.
For example, Hirsanyi is correct to insinuate that Palin critics are far overplaying the significance of the fact that a little over half of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of her, and even more don't see her as qualified for the presidency. But many of those who do have a favorable opinion of Palin base this upon her rhetoric that they have heard, rather than the actual facts underlying that rhetoric, which have not been so revealed. Facts which more accurately paint her as the highly authoritarian, intensely hypocritical, extremely, if not purposefully manipulative, and deeply misinformed figure, rather than some rugged individual populist thinker that she and her supporters like to portray her as.
Hirsanyi clearly must feel like Palin's personal protector, because here is what he has to say about Levi Jonhston, the father to Palin's grandchild, after calling him "doltish":
[He is] a man whose only discernible talent is the possession of operational sperm and the ability to humiliate the former vice presidential nominee.
Johnston is not writing columns in the Denver Post, holding himself out as some sort of informed voice. So why is Hirsanyi attacking him? Because people love to attack people that we perceive as "dumber" than us.
It is a disgusting trait when those being attacked are not holding themselves out as experts or as an authority, or telling other people what to think, or, such as in Hirsayni's case, writing ignorant, and manipulative columns in one of the nation's largest newspapers.
Johnston is still largely a kid. He didn't ask to be thrust into the national limelight, but he was. Johnston does not have to be a fan of Palin, and perhaps he is not. But yet Hirsanyi feels compelled to gratuitously rag on the guy.
Hirsanyi then next, sarcastically asks:
And how could a major magazine like Newsweek be expected to use a cover photo of Palin campaigning or spending time with her Down syndrome child when editors could simply borrow a shot of the 45-year-old mother of five decked out in her exercise tights — nudge nudge, wink wink — from a Runners World piece and slap the headline "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sarah?" onto it?
Here is the answer Hirsanyi: Because Newweek is not Palin's propaganda tool of the fundamental wing of the Republican Party. Bad as it is, it is a news magazine, and it still fits that purpose. If it was the former (much like Fox is today, teaching people like Hirsanyi what media that "says what they want to hear, how they want to hear it" sounds like, and convincing them it is news), then perhaps a nice cover phot of Palin spending time with her Down syndrome child might have been a better shot.
Was Palin decked out in "exercise tights" a proper picture for the front page? I don't know. I do know that Palin has used her looks to her advantage. This is not necessarily wrong. But then it should not necessarily make it wrong for Newsweek to run this otherwise clearly public picture.
As for the somewhat slanted Newsweek title, that is another story. But for those do see Palin as a problem, whether for the Republican Party, or for Democrats (sadly, Democrats are not yet hip to that possibility), or for America, it is solved by covering the facts. Palin is not a cause of rampant ignorance; along with Glenn Beck, she is a profound reflection of it
Hirsanyi also contends:
Who knows what is to become of Palin? Today, though, there is little doubt the left is using her to create ugly stereotypes and attack limited-government types across the country.
Hmmm. This blogger is somewhat of a limited government type. And could easily make the point (and back it up with more facts than could be fit into 50,000 of the latest misleading sound bite headlines or "populist" figure spins) that Sarah Palin is the poster child for ignorance. So is she being used here in this blog to attack limited goverment types across the country?
The fact of the matter is that many other "Limited government" types support increased authoritarianism, and in many ways increased government power -- in almost all respects but the one or two where it makes the most sense for a government to exercise some role. That is, those areas which we must share collectively, like the environment. Or where by handling something collectively this creates more freedom than it impinges upon. Such as in food safety and accuracy of representation. (It doesn't pay on on invidivual basis to go out and test all the food one buys, nor does it years after the fact to sue after one has lost a family member to excess carcinogen induced cancer, and years after billions have been made,and reorganized under other corporate entities, for example.)
Figures like Palin, and Glenn Beck, only further promote and feed into this ignorance. And the less the media does its job helping to objecitvely inform the public,and illuminate wildly misleading rhetoric such as Palin and Beck's, the more this ignorance will be fed, rather than checked.
As an example of just how sad the state of affairs today has become, consider that Beck himself is actually a "part of" that very same "media." Of course, consider the fact that it is the part of the "media" that operates the way Palin, and it appears Hirsanyi, want it to operate, as noted above. That is, telling them exactly what they want to hear, and how they want to hear it; again exactly the opposite of its function in a free democracy.
As another example of the sad state of affairs, consider that such an ignorant, misinformed piece by Hirsanyi in the Denver Post is what passes for "balance" today.
And it is part of exactly what some on the Right (usually the far right) did in 2004: Create a shield of insulation from the need to actually look at the facts. Thus anything substantive said against Bush in 2004 was simply because "one hated Bush." (Sadly, this was also played into by some on the left proudly proclaiming their hatred of Bush, instead of merely focusing on effectively communicating, rather than taking for granted, why). And now anything which makes an effective case against Palin, also ludicrously, can be dismissed by Hirsanyi and his clones, as a means simply to create ugly stereotypes and attack limited government types across the country, when it is nothing of the sort.
The real uglines is ignorance. And Palin, as non ugly as she may otherwise be, as earnest as she may be, and as admirable as she may be --as Hirsanyi also points out -- for her undoubted "charisma and her roots," has uttered a profoundly high number of ignorant and often highly manipulative statements passed off as populist "straight talk."
Palin has a right to speak her mind, however misinformed that mind may be. But there is a certain ugliness in accomodating this in clear contravention of the facts, in not pointing it out, in accepting it as okay merely because of that "charisma and roots" and her popularity -- popularity fueled by that very same ignorance.
Hirsanyi, essentially, concludes his piece with this:
Palin claims that a presidential run is "not on my radar screen right now." She may have gone rogue on John McCain — joining the rest of America — but Palin will have to work to articulate her positions, show more intellectual curiosity and fuse her magnetism with more substantive thinking.
But due to the stupendously nasty campaign waged against her, she might not get the chance.
In Hirsanyi's world, Palin joined the rest of America, by "going rogue" on the McCain campaign. Except for one thing. Palin went rogue by going to the right of McCain. McCain garnered the Republican nomination, and campaigned for President, by going radically to the right of his former self. So this was "joining" the rest of America? Or is this just more ignorance on the part of Hirsanyi, in the Denver Post.
Palin -- who has had her book mentioned more than almost any figure in recent modern history, who is on the cover of magazines, who is repeatedly asked to be on talk and news shows, all unlike countless other Americans who may be far more profoundly competent at actual governing as well as insightful idea generation, than Palin -- may not get a chance, according to Hirsanyi, to "show more intellectual curiosity," and more "substantive" thinking, because of the "stupendously nasty" campaign against her.
Hirsanyi is living in a dream world. Unfortunately, that dream world is slowly starting to ruin America.
The "nastiness" leveled at Sarah Palin does not come close to the nastiness leveled against Hillary Clinton for several years, or even President Barack Obama today. And much of that nastiness (which as actual nastiness is in no way here condoned), is in fact simply pointing out the facts of the matter. Facts which Americans should know. And which most still don't.