Monday, April 26, 2010

Andrew Sullivan Warns & Asks for Help on Getting the Truth Out on Palin

Andrew Sullivan, who is perhaps the most dogged nationally prominent Palin critic, has predictably responded to the recent, richly detailed article, written by Gabriel Sherman, and published in the May 3rd edition of New York Magazine. Sherman takes the best in-depth look at Palin's post 2008 rise that I've yet read. Sullivan seems to partially agree, but isn't critical so much of Sherman's article as he is of those walking away from the piece with an underestimation of Palin. Sullivan feels his colleague at the Atlantic, Joshua Green, has.

Sherman's article is, as Green observes, "chock full of Palin porn." It also relies on interviews with a surprising array of informants, Just in time for Palin to include them in the growing list of people she will have to scathe in her upcoming 2nd book, I suppose. Sullivan chooses one paragraph in Green's post that Sullivan finds troubling:

Palin's prospects in the Republican Party are a good deal dimmer than her star wattage suggests. She's tallied middling performances in early straw polls and shows no inclination to embark on the grassroots work required of a presidential candidate. More to the point, this article makes clear that, were there any doubt, her preoccupying concern is "building her brand"--less in a political sense than a financial one. Palin may yet make a bid for the White House. But all evidence suggests that when the time comes to choose between earning money and running for president, Palin will choose money.

Sullivan, who can be almost deft in looking at issues from outside the CW box, hits back:

This is the conventional view in Washington. I think it's completely wrong, dangerously complacent, and out of touch with profound shifts in media, fundraising and politics. The political parties are weaker than they once were. The elites cannot control grass-roots Internet-driven phenomena. Look at Obama. He seems a natural president now, but Washington dismissed his chances - as they are now dismissing Palin's - right up to the Iowa caucuses. And because Palin is such a terrifying - truly terrifying - prospect for the US and the world, I think such complacency, rooted in cynicism about Palin's mercenary nature, is far too reckless.

I disagree somewhat with Andrew Sullivan on this point. Partially from having watched Obama emerge in his early Iowa appearances in the spring and summer of 2007, and partially from having watch Palin emerge since the winter of 1991.

Sullivan's description of the emergence of Fox-type news coverage is fairly prescient:

Look: what we have seen this past year is the collapse of the RNC as it once was and the emergence of a highly lucrative media-ideological-industrial complex. This complex has no interest in traditional journalistic vetting, skepticism, scrutiny of those in power, or asking the tough questions. It has no interest in governing a country. It has an interest in promoting personalities and ideologies and false images of a past America that both flatter and engage its audience. For most in this business, this is about money. Roger Ailes, who runs a news business, has been frank about what his fundamental criterion is for broadcasting: ratings not truth. Obviously all media has an eye on the bottom line - but in most news organizations, there is also an ethical editorial concern to get things right. I see no such inclination in Fox News or the hugely popular talkshow demagogues (Limbaugh, Levin, Beck et al.), which now effectively control the GOP. And when huge media organizations have no interest in any facts that cannot be deployed for a specific message, they are a political party in themselves.

Add Palin to the mix and you have a whole new machine in American politics - one with the capacity, as much as Obama's, to upend the established order. Beltway types roll their eyes. But she's not Obama, they say. She doesn't know anything, polarizes too many people, has lied constantly and still may have dozens of skeletons in her unvetted closets.

To which the answer must be: where the fuck have you been this past year?

Andrew goes on to very tightly describe the different kind of environment Palin has managed to project herself into, compared to any potential presidential candidate in the past:

It doesn't matter whether she's uneducated, unprincipled, unaware and unscrupulous. The more she's proven incapable of the presidency, the more her supporters believe she is destined for it. It's a brilliant little gig she's devised. She may be ignorant, but she is not stupid. She has the smarts of all accomplished pathological liars and phonies. And this time, she will not even bother to go on any television outlets other than Fox News. She will be the first presidential nominee never to have had a press conference. She will give statements by Facebook. She will speak directly to the cocoon that is, at least, twenty percent of Americans. The press, already a rank failure in exposing her fraudulence, will be so starstruck by the chance to make money that we will never have a Couric-style interview again. it will be Oprah all the time. Because Palin lives in an imaginary world, the entire media world will be required to echo it or be shut out.

Sullivan goes on to quote from Sherman's New York Magazine article:

It was Fox’s Roger Ailes who had the insight that the American right was an underserved market, one with a powerful kind of brand loyalty. Fox News has turned a disaffected segment of the populace into a market, with the fervor and idiosyncratic truth standards of a cult. Wingnut-ism has been monetized, is one admittedly partisan way of looking at it. Palin stokes the disaffection of her constituents and then, with the help of Fox, offers to heal them, for a price.

And Sullivan concludes with a warning:

And with that power and that potential funding, how can someone who said she wanted to be president as long ago as 1996 resist? Josh can dream all he wants. She is the biggest political power after Obama in this country. And, unless the full truth emerges with such force it cracks even the FNC/RNC sealed universe, she will run against him in 2012.

I'm sure Andrew Sullivan will be revisiting this theme often. He already has once today.

What Andrew Sullivan is saying appears to be that unless the media actually does a lot of serious research on the "dozens of skeletons in her unvetted closets," Palin just might sneak on in there to the top of the heap.

Gabriel Sherman observes about Palin's interactions with others and how that might be a limiter:

While careful not to say anything that might make her rear her head, some in the GOP Establishment whisper that they hope Palin stays in Wasilla. She may be useful in raising funds and drawing crowds, but Palin’s unseriousness and carnival antics damage the brand. “There’s a big piece of the Republican Party that doesn’t want her to run,” said one national Republican strategist.

Even among her base, some see her rogue operation as a form of selfishness and her cashing in as unseemly. And Palin’s close relationship with John McCain is a liability for her right-wing audience. In March, Palin made several campaign stops in Arizona with McCain and tried to convince the crowd of his tea-party bona fides. “People in the tea-party movement despise John McCain,” Judson Phillips says. “When was the last time John McCain drove his own car?”

The synergies that have driven Palin Inc. thus far may evaporate if she pursues a presidential run in earnest. There will be, eventually, interviews to do, with networks other than Fox. Why Palin would trade the presidency—and the salary—for a candidacy that faces possibly insurmountable political hurdles is a question to ponder.

Sherman's article's depth of detail is worth a complete read. I can understand why some, like Joshua Green will walk away from Sherman thinking that Palin will veer toward the money whenever she might have to gamble to instead seek power. And I'm totally in agreement with Sullivan that the main reasons we're still being inflicted daily doses of Palin are that 1), the media has not fairly described the package for what it is - the most disgusting pathological political liar of the 21st century, and 2), she's too fun to watch.

Eric Boehlert, in his 2009 book, Bloggers on the Bus, fairly described how our small band of Alaska bloggers proved to be very helpful to some in the national media when it came to getting the true story of Palin's local rise to power out there. And an addendum might be worth adding to that story about how, as we kept after Palin when she reluctantly returned to Alaska after the presidential campaign, her governorship imploded.

Since she left the Alaska scene - by and large - in the fall of 2009, there haven't been enough other reporters and commentators out there like Sullivan and Sherman, to take up where Alaskans like Jeanne Devon, Shannyn Moore, Jesse Griffin, Mel Green, Linda Kellen and myself, and out-of-state blogs like Palingates and God's Own Party left off.

The skeletons to which Sullivan refers might end up being exposed. But that shouldn't matter. As Sullivan's own long list of Palin lies clearly shows, she gets away with a hell of a lot, even for a politician. She quite likely perjured herself in her testimony in the Knoxville hacking trial last week. And as several bloggers in Alaska and elsewhere observed over the weekend, Palin herself rose to statewide prominence by - get this - hacking into a colleague's computer.

Palin's mean girl side came out last Friday, in an interview with Greta van Susterin. Greta gives Palin three chances to show empathy for fellow hacker, David Kernell.

I think the mean girl thing might be what finally brings Palin down.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan could use some help.

image by Felix Sockwell


mocha said...

I think the bloggers need to send everything they have on her to Romney's and Pawlenty's people. Like now not in 2012. If she starts to move up in the polls, I have no doubt they would use it. By the way, Olbermann is doing a story on "Did Palin Perjure herself" tonght.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Dear Phil,
I want to be the first to thank you for mentioning Palingates in your Sarah blogs....
You blog was the second one I found the first being Mudflats in the search for info on grifter Palin...
I didn't know Leah's blog was of of state? I thought she lives in AK?
Anyway thanks for all you do and yes everyone needs to support each other when it comes to the grifter/liar it will take all of us to scream out her lies!

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

oops should be "out of state"

snowbilly said...

Sullivan wrote, "Look at Obama. He seems a natural president now, but Washington dismissed his chances - as they are now dismissing Palin's - right up to the Iowa caucuses."

I don't agree that Paln's chances are being dismissed like Obama's chances may have been dismissed. Obama was not considered to be an inarticulate money-grubber. Obama demonstrated an interest in government; Palin has not.

Philip Munger said...


Leah lives in Bellingham, WA. She lived in Alaska for a long time, though, and you can alost see Alaska from B'Ham.

Forever Anonymous said...

I worry that Sarah will be paid to run with the caveat to get paid more to be a puppet if she wins the presidency.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Oh ok, I thought she still lived in Ak.
Well I can't wait for her new book and I have her last one.
Love all you AK bloggers...and everyone needs to stick together whether AK blogger or not. Ko just mentioned Palingates :D
WE will all get to rest easier when she is in JAIL!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you and with Andrew Sullivan. The only way Sarah Palin would run for president is if she could do it on her own terms and find a way to slide in through the side door. The media has shown an unprecedented willingness to let her do just that. Sex sells and so does nastiness.

freeper said...

Palin isn't anything but the new Ann Coulter, only even cruder and ditzier than Coulter.

And Palin hasn't a tinker's chance of becoming a candidate of any consequence, the world knows she's damaged goods.

As a celebrity, or as a spectacle and an illusion, she's dragging her way to obscurity as all celebrities eventually do.

Palin will fade from the headlines, and then what will the 'bloggers' find to occupy their obsession with celebrity gas?

Who will they promote next to garner the page hits they all expect Palin to bring them?

Upon whom will they bestow their outrage du jour ?

Don't worry, the opposite of Celebrity Worship Syndrome, which could be called Celebrity Obsession Syndrome, will live on, and adherents and sufferers of both derangements will have a new fictionalized spectacle to embrace be infatuated with.

And the media, 'bloggers included' will be there to tell you what you're supposed to direct your attention towards.

You are all sheep, ....pliable and unwitting, able to be manipulated into a hive-like mindset by the handlers that shape your attention and your consciousness for you, minute by minute, hour by hour, and on a regular daily basis.

The Palin spectacle has become nothing but a form of bilious, macabre, and mordant entertainment for the oblivious and the insensible.

Just another 'reality show' to escape into and avoid, for however long it takes, confronting the real world.


alaskapi said...

Sullivan's concern about underestimating whatzername is relevant and important.
Whatever her 'brand' gets stamped on deserves attention , whether she ever (foolishly) makes a run at office again or not.
There's little logic and reasoning going on for those who are besotted by her. I watched the pilgrims who came to Juneau in hopes of seeing her, hanging outside the mansion, touching the shrubs over the fence, etc. for her last almost-year in the gov's office. The spiritual experience described by those pilgrims who did see or talk to her is outside the bounds of anything related to thought...
Dismissing those folks by dismissing SP is the real danger.
Getting lost in tirades about her voice and hairdos is useless, staying on her lies and the-company-she-keeps hopefully has some value in exposing her so-called message as the sham it is...

freeper said...

So you saw a few deranged lost souls obsessed with Palin, little more than signature seekers and memento scavengers who think the magic of their celebrity icon might be transferred to them if they can only get a piece of some scrap of something their idol has touched.

Sullivan is working the spectacle for his own desire for his own aspirations of celebrity. He knows full well a public standoff played out on his blog space will gain him the page hits he needs to establish himself as a marketable presence.

Danger ? What is dangerous is ignoring reality while sitting back and being entertained by manufactured spectacle and illusion.

It's dangerous to watch a 'reality show' produced to replace actual reality, and start to believe the reality show actually should replace reality.


alaskapi said...

Don't have TV... don't watch reality shows...
Don't listen to talk radio...
Read some... talk some... watch people a lot...

Not "real " enough for you freeper ... I don't much care.
Wish you would stick to the often very clear and insightful overview remarks you make and get away from the insulting everyone-else-is-stupid-sheepy-moronic-deluded-- whatever thingy...

freeper said...

The 'reality show' I refer to is Palin's act.

You don't have to watch TV or listen to talk radio to catch Palin's act.

You've seen it. You even agree it's a sham.

That 'reality show' of Palin's is on this blog site and on every news outlet daily or weekly.

As far as 'those people', dismissing the fringe is not something I have any problem with.

When you see crazy people doing crazy things, do you think you should go engage with them ?

Nope, those folks are the crazies, ....they have no political weight, they have no logic to their obsessive clamor for gossip and their desire for the images of celebrity.

Good Gawd, it's the Sarah Palin fan club, consisting of approximately 3 or 4 % of the population.

It's dangerous to ignore them ?

Get real.


Anonymous said...

Fabulous post, Phil. Your integrative and analytical style of writing is your forte.

Keep relentlessly exposing the lies of Palin until her blind fans finally see the folly they have constructed in their minds about this ignorant, mendacious politician.

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