Andrew Sullivan is worried about Sarah Palin, perhaps most especially because:
She can electrify a crowd. She has the kind of charisma that appeals to the sub-rational. and she has crafted a Peronist identity - utterly fraudulent, of course - that is political dynamite in a recession with populism roiling everyone and everything.
and yet the payload of that charismatically delivered speech:
was and is pure sophistry - a string of crowd-pleasing slogans with no content whatever, except for an endorsement of a global war on Islam, tax-cuts, populist attacks on Wall Street, a subtle but scary attempt to politicize the military as belonging to one party, cooptation of one religion in America, and, with the exception of nuclear power […] a desire for more carbon energy, not less (as long as it’s developed in the US).
Michael Wolff comes to a similar overall conclusion, but notes:
Now partly what this means is that all the things that make her so compelling are the things that will keep her marginal.
The problem with that is that she is not in any way marginal. The mainstream media reports on her comings and goings to a far greater degree than they do those of, say, Joe Biden or even their beloved St. John McCain. There were 200 credentialed media at this idiotic event, which boasted a total paid conference attendance of ~600. Does Obama pull 200 media credentials when he visits Elyria, OH or some other purely political stump?
And that gets us back to the key problem. The media will simply report her speech. It happened. Here’s what she said. Without context, it’s difficult for the low-information voter to grasp any useful information beyond “they’re reporting it, so they must think it’s important.” Likewise, when Palin appears on MSM shows, they refuse, categorically refuse to ask potentially illuminating questions. Witness this exchange:
WALLACE: Would you say that you’re more knowledgeable about domestic and foreign affairs now than you were two years ago? PALIN: Well, I would hope so. Yes, I am.
which was followed by this incisive, hard-hitting prober:
WALLACE: I know that three years is an eternity in politics. But how hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?
Keep in mind, Chris Wallace is FOXnews’ investigative arm. Howsabout asking what the Bush Doctrine is/was? Who were the primary “combatants” in the Cold War? Where is China located? Asking “are you improved at…” simply begs the follow-on of “then prove it.” But, of course, this never happens. She will never be stopped until it starts happening. And Chris Wallace, being home court as he is, would be precisely the person to do it. But he clearly doesn’t care to. And neither does anyone else. So much better to report whatever maunderings have turned up on Palin’s Facebook than to, you know, actually do some work and break what would be a cataclysmic, career-making story in the process. Dog-bites-man, to be sure, but Palin: as dangerously ignorant as ever would sell truckloads of paper.
Even more depressing, though, is Bob Somerby’s entirely accurate summation:
To defeat Palin and Palinism, we’ll actually have to do a hard thing: We’ll actually have to build and promote a winning progressive politics. […] In the place of developing actual politics, [Olberman and these other] well-trained ad salesmen invent inane claims—shriek, clatter, mislead and howl.