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Sarah Palin: A Drunkard’s Dream

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of being interviewed on Indie Talk’s’ “The Blog Bunker” on Sirius radio — a nifty show that whets & feeds the appetites of political bloggers, junkies and newbies alike. (p.s. Kudos and thanks to Alexandra and Joe!) Anyway, it struck me as odd that I could experience stage fright in the absence of a stage. I was also surprised to discover I have something in common with Sarah Palin, besides my ability to mangle the English language in front of a world audience. I now know, first-hand, how Sarah Palin must feel after an interview. Oh, the things I would do differently, if I had it to do all over again.  

I wish the interview had been a dress rehearsal, and I could do it again today, because (aside from wishing I could edit out the 100 or so times I said, “you know”) there are a few things I wish I had said. Mostly, I wish I’d brought up the oh-so-boring topic of voter fraud and disenfranchisement, which makes moot the quaint idea that our votes have anything whatsoever to do with electing the president. I wish that — while I had a captive audience — I’d mentioned the vile tactics and trickery being used, as we speak, by the McCain campaign and the Republican Party to commit voter fraud — a campaign that is even more dishonest, reckless and reprehensible than their presidential campaign, if such a thing is possible. 

But I also wish I’d been more clear in my criticism of Sarah Palin during our discussion of the poll numbers. More to the point: I wish I’d been more succinct in my criticism of the national stupidity that could embrace a candidate like Sarah Palin. Because — make no mistake — Sarah Palin is not the problem. The polls make this clear. The problem is that 40-something percent of Americans say they would actually vote for a candidate like Sarah Palin.  

Presidential Politics: Dancing with the Stars meets American Idol (p.s. How do I phone in my vote?)

We touched on this in the interview, when I griped about the media’s paparazzi-style coverage of this campaign (pure fluff and controversy — which, before the Wall Street crisis, was 24-7 Sarah Palin) with a dearth of substantive coverage on the actual issues of this campaign. The network ratings mirror the polls, which make clear that this is exactly what the American public wants. Interestingly, these same numbers are reflected within the tiny realm of this very blog. People read about Sarah Palin, almost to the exclusion of anything else.

 

As evidence, my own posts on Sarah Palin have been read 1300% more than ALL of the following topics COMBINED: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, George Bush, John McCain, Aafia Siddiqui, Bruce Ivins/anthrax, patriotism, the truth about the Bush Administration on illegal torture, detainment, secret prisoners, the desecration of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, propaganda, wiretapping and spying on U.S. citizens, 9-11, the Iraq War and Afghanistan wars, Georgia-Ossetia, plus all the covert U.S. wars throughout the world. Granted, many of the readers are people like me: incredulous, horror-striken, praying for some god-out-of-the-machine turn of events that will put an end to the nightmare-specter of a McCain-Palin presidency.     

 

If I were a business, I’d be out of business, without Sarah Palin.

So it only makes sense that the media would cover Sarah Palin to the near-exclusion of everything else. This is why we don’t see substantive, in-depth coverage of the actual issues. This is why we don’t see longer clips of speeches, or more in-depth discussions with the candidates. This is why the media has not played a real role in forging a national dialogue on the issues. This is why most Americans — if asked — would be hard-pressed to actually explain the platform issues of their chosen candidate. Such topics make people’s teeth hurt.

In yesterday’s interview, I said that most Americans actually know very little about their candidate of choice. John McCain, for example. Most Americans — if asked to tell everything they know about John McCain — would be hard-pressed to offer more than, “He was a POW and he’s a maverick.” If asked for specifics on his platform and his legislative record, they’d draw a blank. The same is true for Obama, except for the lies, which the media have abrogated their duty to correct. Too, I’d hazard to guess that most Americans know more about Sarah Palin’s ex-brother-in-law than they do about Joe Biden.

A newer, “betterer” America: diplomacy is wimpy and real people don’t use big words.

This is a direct result of the “dummying-down” of our national dialogue over the past 8 years. It’s gotten so bad that the candidate who brings actual presidential qualities to his candidacy is jeered as being elitist. The candidate who has consistently shown a level-headed, nuanced, intelligent and unwaveringly deliberate and methodical approach to addressing the serious problems we face as a nation, is seen as being weak. He’s called ‘professorial,’ as if this were somehow a bad thing. Meanwhile, the candidate with the erratic, kamikaze approach to problem-solving, who consistently lies, distorts the facts, fearmongers, bullies, blusters, and shows a flagrant ignorance of the facts, and can’t even debate the issues with a leader of his own country without losing his temper and saying “horseshit” (or worse) is seen as being strong. The candidate who brought us Sarah Palin is seen as being the better-known quantity…. Hmm.

Our country is suffering from a fatal disease. While the pathology is as invasive and malignant as any cancer, I would liken it more to alcoholism: we are determined to self-destruct by our own hand. Maybe this is a good thing. As any former gutter drunk could tell you, you have to hit utter rock bottom before you get desperate enough to change. Lucky for us, I suppose, we’ve almost arrived.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Related reading:

Huffington Post: Why the Debates Won’t Matter (Hint: It’s a Felony)

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Sleeping Overtime: The Media’s Sultry Love Affair with McCain, Rove, Palin & Co.

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On a related note: Canarypapers hits the big time! We are linked, in passing, on the National Journal’s The Hotline/Blogometer page, via the word “here.” Our “here” was the first in a series of 3 illuminated “here” links contained within an excerpt from the conservative blog, Townhall, as they cited examples of the “lefty blogosphere.” We now understand how Navin must have felt, seeing his name in the phone book — in print for the first time! We have arrived. Our bleeding hearts runneth over. 

 

Our bleeding hearts are also beginning to wonder: Now that the media are back in bed with McCain — having elected to prostitute their integrity and show Sarah Palin the proper “deference” by quietly broadcasting her lies without question — how can McCain, Palin, Rove & Co. go about silencing the “lefty blogosphere”? Because, damn it all, we’re still telling the truth. Calling us the “lefty blogosphere” isn’t nearly strong enough to goad us into silence, and we don’t have corporate sponsors to blackmail us into playing step-and-fetch for the Republicans. Clearly, something needs to be done.

I have a suggestion, one that worked well for Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. Discredit us. Cast us into the minions of the conspiracy theorists. It’s a clever tactic, one that managed to silence a myriad of uncomfortable truths — which the media have abrogated their duty to report over the past 8 years — with many of these uncomfortable truths spawned from the so-called war on terror: torture, illegal detainment, the Military Commissions Act, the Iraq War, 9-11, martial law, unitary executive branch, impeachment hearings, and so on and on and on. (It’d take me the rest of the day, just to list them all). This will work, trust me: Make “lefty blogosphere” synonymous with “conspiracy theorists” and you will  have silenced one of the largest voices of truth in this country. After all, who wants to be accused of wearing a tin foil hat? Could I see a show of hands?

The press loves McCain. We’re his base.Chris Matthews

Let me be the first to commend the McCain team for seducing the media back into bed, proving that sleaze always trumps integrity. I listened with interest to the media’s post-RNC Convention umbrage, as they found themselves branded with the dreaded ‘elitist liberal media’ label, and being accused of ‘biased, sexist and generally unfair coverage’ of Sarah Palin. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, McCain’s superindendent of smear, Steve Schmidt, went and accused journalists of being ‘on a mission to destroy” Sarah with “a new level of viciousness” — the double whammy arriving when campaign manager Rick Davis announced that, until the media showed a willingness to treat Palin “with some level of respect and deference,” she would not be meeting with reporters. 

This had to smart, especially considering that — just four years ago to the day — the darling’s media (Brokaw, Jennings, Schieffer, Dowd, & Russert) were raising glasses with John & Cindy in a double-celebration over McCain’s birthday and George W. Bush’s second coming at the RNC convention. This had to smart, being in the doghouse after such a long romance with McCain, a relationship plainly explained just last week by Bloomberg News’ Albert R. Hunt: “Probably no one in American politics over the last 20 years has had a closer relationship with the national press than John McCain.” This had to smart, knowing that — even as the McCain camp’s accusations against them were lies — the media were faced with a tough choice: keep doing what they’ve been doing for the past 8 years, or grow a spine.  

There was some evidence, at first, that this vertebral vestige of spine was going to reappear, in Cheshire Cat fashion, filling out the empty spaces around the mad grin. The talking heads began talking in earnest, in unison — their outrage palpable. The media almost apologized and almost acknowledged their culpability for complying overlong with Bush-Cheney’s post-9-11 gag order, and for marching lockstep in complicity with Bush-Cheney’s saber-rattling and lies during the lead-up to the Iraq war, and for every other journalistic integrity they’ve abrogated since. “Not again!” the media railed. “Not this time around!” they promised us. We almost believed them, when they promised to treat Sarah Palin the same way they’d treat any political candidate. (Truthfully — and I can now say this out loud — I didn’t believe them. Not one bit. But, still, I chided myself for being so cynical, for thinking, in so many words, “Spare me the phony outrage. Spare me the phony talk about change.”)

Turns out, my cynicism wasn’t wasted. I could cite myriad examples, but I’ll settle on just one. Mid-last week, the McCain, Palin & Rove team concocted a particularly reprehensible lie, rolling it out in a campaign ad, that claimed Obama’s “one accomplishment” was a bill to teach sex ed to kindergartners. The stinger headline read: “Learning about sex before learning to read?”

A responsible media would have reported: “New McCain ad is a blatant lie.” Instead, the media flashed such cloying headlines as “Sex ed for tots?” while giving barely a cursory nod to the truth — the truth being that sex-ed legislation for grades K-12 already existed in Illinois law. The truth being that the bill Obama supported (but didn’t author) gave, first and foremost, parents the right to refuse any and all sex education for their own children. The truth being that the focus of the bill was toward “age-appropriate” sex education, focused on STD and pregnancy prevention for older students, and information to teach all ages, including kindergartners, how to recognize inappropriate behaviors — the goal being to protect children from sexual predators. Few could argue that pedophilia is a sick and increasing presence in our society, and that too many children are falling prey to it.  

One would think that — knowing all too well how many children are falling into the clever traps laid by pedophiles, with some children being lured to their deaths — a responsible media might have taken up the gauntlet and actually discussed the issue of sexual predators of children, and of the measures being taken to protect these children. At the very least, the media could have made lemonade from lemons, using McCain’s lies to open a sorely-needed dialogue about the increase of pedophilia into mainstream sexual appetites of more and more Americans: “What is it about our culture that has caused a sick increase in child predators?” One would think.

Or perhaps not. The media — after subjecting the American public to an 8-year, 24/7 three-ring paparazzi popfest, predominately peopled with the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton — seems to have lost sight of the forest, for the trees. Their transition from pop-star sleazefest into the 2008 election coverage was seamless, marked by a dearth of substantive coverage of the issues, and a proponderance of pablum. This brand of coverage has so blurred the distinctions between statured leaders and pop icons, that Americans seem at a loss to tell the difference between the two — and, worse, to even care that there should be a difference.

It vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.  — Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I could explain the difference to them in 10 words or less (leaders lead; pop icons entertain), but — coming from the blogosphere — my words carry little weight, if any. The banner of credibility is carried by the corporate media, which handsomely pays people called ‘journalists,’ whose job is, by definition, to gather and analyze information and report it to the public. They carry this banner, despite that they have become little more than a mouthpiece for the Republican agenda (if you doubt me, simply turn on the news, any time, any day, except during MSNBC’s evening line-up, and you will see nothing but paparazzi-Palin at her best, peppered here and there with a dash McCain). Why is this? Because the media is a business, not a public service. Their raison d’etre is profit.

Here, the lefty blogosphere has filled a huge gap — in Cheshire cat fashion — as more and more, bloggers are doing the actual work of journalists, gathering and analyzing information, citing sources, and reporting it to the public. All for free. All in the interest of 12-stepping the credulous public away from their dysfunctional relationship with a national media that long ago abrogated its duty to be the voice of integrity and truth. In the old days, this brand of national media broadcasting might have been called by its proper name: libel. In these new, enlightened times, it goes by the name of truth. People believe the media, even as they’ve witnessed the media betray this trust over and over and over during the past 8 years.

Watch and see: In the coming weeks, we’re going to see an awful lot of deference shown to Sarah Palin and team McCain. We’re already seeing it, as the media have begun flapping their hands like trained seals, like anxious parents at a school play, over Sarah’s ability to memorize talking points. They won’t dare question her ability to actually comprehend those talking points. Nor will they question or verify the sources of the lies and disinformation given to them by McCain, Palin, Rove & Co.  The media will simply keep repeating them, without question. In bedding down with McCain, Palin, Rove & Co, the the media may very well be complicitious in installing into the White House the most profoundly unqualified and quite potentially dangerous candidate that’s ever run for high office. The good news is, no one that matters cares.

Written by canarypapers

September 16, 2008 at 10:22 am