If you'd like a brief encapsulation of just how fucked the Republic is thanks to the degeneration of our adversarial press corps into a coterie of court-scribes and bootlickers, you need look little further than this piece by longtime respected Washington Post columnist and conventional wisdom Pez dispenser David Broder. It's all about Sarah Palin, and how good a retail politician she is. And indeed, give her a script and she can deliver the fire and brimstone, no small trick given the gratingness of her voice (and her ideas, such as they are, really more like feelings, or something like that, something altogether squishier and lacking in the sort of precision and clarity that you might expect from something usually symbolized as a light bulb appearing above someone's head).
The piece is all about how we all have to take Sarah Palin seriously, because she gave a speech at Tea Bag Nation (for $100k, to people that paid like $500 a pop for the privilege) and then answered some softball questions on the Sunday Morning Blabfest Circuit on Fox News, where I'm pretty sure they give her a backrub during commercial breaks and all the hard candy she wants, which "showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm."
And that right there, that sentence, tells you everything you need to know. We're supposed to take her seriously because she's good at running for office, even though she quit the one really important job she's ever had (apologies to the people of Wasilla, but, well...) seventeen months before her term was up so as to become rich and famous so she could afford her own trips to Macy's and not charge it to the RNC this time. Even though she's so dumb that she has to remind herself, via scribbled notes on her hand, to talk about tax cuts and energy, her two signature issues and the cornerstones of Republican governing philosophy (such as it is); even though should she ever ascend to the Presidency we will look back on the Bush years with longing in our hearts and many a sigh of nostalgia; yet still she is a Force to Be Reckoned With, at least to the DC elite, because she "knows who she is and how to sell herself," that is, she gives them something easy to write about.
Never mind that it would not, perhaps, be such a great idea to have a person who can't remember her two biggest, most important ideas without writing them down on her hand occupying any public office. Never mind that Sarah Palin has shown herself to not only be ignorant of much of the world and much of the boring but important detail surrounding just about any policy argument or apparatus but also almost wholly uninterested as well. No, we're supposed to take her seriously because she gives good speech and plays easily into Beltway narratives about populist discontent with the current Administration.
It's funny, and revealing, that Broder would validate Sarah Palin like that. Normally, he's a one-note band playing the muzak of moderate bipartisanship. Being that Sarah Palin is neither moderate nor interested in bipartisanship, one can't help but wonder whether Broder might be flashing a little true-colors ankle here. After all, it's the radical left he's usually concerned about.
But the main thing here is that Palin will make for good process stories, good horse-race election stuff. And the Beltway media loves that shit, just eats it up, because it's easy and they don't have to think. The vast majority of them wouldn't be able to evaluate a policy argument if you held a gun to their head, but reading polls and telling you who's winning and then playing the speculative 'I'm-going-to-tell-you-what-Americans-really-think-which-is-actually-really-just-what-I-think-but-I'm-going-to-pretend-it's-something-more-substantial-than-that-because-otherwise-noone-would-listen-to-me' game is easier and more fun. And Sarah Palin, with her easily digested thoughts (see note above), plays right into that. That she is and probably always will be completely unprepared and unqualified for higher office doesn't even enter the equation with these people, who want you to take her seriously because they take her seriously, for reasons that have little to do with the Republic's actual problems and issues and finding the ways forward to solving them, and more to do with how well and easily she fits into the storylines they've spent the last couple of decades promulgating.
For what it's worth, I hope Sarah Palin does run for the Republican nomination. Or, even better, I hope she mounts a third-party candidacy. I think the more exposure she gets, the more obvious it becomes to everybody not already committed to her just exactly how unintelligent and self-serving she really is, and how absolutely catastrophically disastrous giving her the reins to anything would be for everyone involved.
The worst thing is that I'm probably wrong about that. And that's the problem.