We’ve been flooded with publicity for Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, with large book signings and subsidiary press events (like the nude photos of Palin’s former son-in-law-presumptive, now nemesis Levi Johnston). The memoir is on track for a fabulous sale.
Rightbloggers, as you might imagine, have plenty to say about it. Not about the book’s contents, so much — not many of them seem to have read it yet (though Governor Palin for President approved of an alleged similarity between the covers of a Reagan book and Palin’s; “Coincidence? Surely not. Make no mistake, our lady from the north is laying the groundwork and doing the homework necessary to pick up the mantle of Reagan in 2012”).
It’s the publicity that has excited them — and not the favorable publicity, either. As usual with rightbloggers and Palin, even in her moment of glory (and great personal enrichment) the big story is that Palin is being mistreated.
“Sarah Palin Demonized while Obama Walks on Water,” said our obama nation. “She continues to call forth a deep and almost primal rage in her opponents,” said neo-neocon. “Because Sarah Palin is an individual not made in Washington D.C. and not approved by the D.C. power players,” said Bonzai: A Libertarian Blog, “she must be destroyed.”
Lead and Gold noted that “the anti-Palin reaction is not the first time we’ve seen journalists fall victim to rage fueled by impotence” — they’d done the same with thing with the Power Line blog. And look where they are today!
Jay Tea penned a long essay at Wizbang in which he described a “trend emerging in American politics” toward “amazing hostility to the common people.” The common people he mentioned were the celebrities Joe the Plumber (“For Joe’s impertinence of helping Mr. Big Shot make himself look like a fool, he must be punished. No, he must be destroyed”), Carrie Prejean (“She, too, must be denounced and exposed and shamed and degraded” by “a flamingly-homosexual, plagiarizing, crass beyond belief online gossip columnist” and others on “the political left”), and Palin — referred to as one who “like Joe, started from very humble beginnings” and “like Carrie, at one point tried to use her appearance to advance herself.” She, too, has run afoul of “the enemies of the current ruling elite” and “must be pounded down.”
At Pajamas Media James V. DeLong asserted that Palin’s “qualifications to be president are objectively better than those of almost anyone who has been on the national ticket over the past decade,” the sole exception being Dick Cheney. But she had been “sandbagged at the outset” by “the biases of the political class,” and “called inexperienced because she had never gone on a five-photo-ops-with-foreign-leaders-in-four-days tour.”
Thus she was justified in resigning the governorship: “Why let herself be tied down defending perjured ethics charges from people with infinite money, whose only desire is to shut her up or bankrupt her?” But her day will come: “The disillusionment with government among the tea-partying middle class is so great that every attack on her builds her stature on Main Street.” Till then, there’s always the best-seller list.
The Palin publicity campaign combines major media appearances (Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters) with a tour of friendly jurisdictions such as Dallas, Texas, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Reno, Nevada. Rightbloggers focused on the tour as a sign that she was circumventing the liberal media channels. American Thinker’s J. Robert Smith saw evidence of her heartland appeal in her “Walmart Strategy” of marketing the book. “She’s not going to L.A. or New York, Boston or San Francisco,” he said (except for the TV appearances). “She’s going smack dab to the middle of the country. Fly-over country, liberals call it.” This Smith found “a strategy right out of the late Sam Walton’s playbook: go where there’s demand and the competition ain’t.”
Thus, “Palin may just prove that a heartland strategy does more than sell blenders and books,” said Smith. “It’s the foundation for winning a national election.” Public Secrets agreed: “Ignoring the big cities and staking your claim in ‘flyover country’ is a strategy that would have made Sam Walton smile.” (A different kind of Walmart strategy, of course, was effectively practiced by the Clintons, who sought support in that company’s boardrooms rather than among its customers, though this was admittedly less mediagenic.)
There were as usual many references to the perfidy of the media that persecuted Palin, most spectacularly in the mini-controversy of Newsweek‘s cover photo of Palin in shorts. These were not the only persecutors rightbloggers found. “I find it abhorrent,” said Gateway Patriot, “that so called conservatives like David Brookes can call Palin a ‘joke’ when she is the only member of the GOP that has made a bigger impact against the President.”
Victor Davis Hanson attacked feminists, who “are enraged that her can-do, have a Down’s Syndrome child in her 40s, shoot-moose persona will be used as a paradigm of a liberated women. She is quite attractive, fertile, and married to a Jack-Armstrong 19th-century man,” whereas “doctrinaire feminism” is “often whiny, and increasingly dominated by single, childless shrill elites.” And let’s not forget Martha Stewart.
In all of this, the rightblogger consensus was that Palin is an authentic American rather than a member of “elites,” her former status as a governor and Vice Presidential candidate, and newly enhanced earning power, notwithstanding. This authenticity was seen as a source of strength for Palin, and presumed to be (more than any political disagreement) the inspiration of her opponents.
This was most spectacularly expressed by The Anchoress, who became enraged when a rather straightforward AP account of a Palin appearance included quotes from Palin with dropped g’s (“Alaska and Michigan have so much in common, with the huntin’ and the fishin’ and the hockey moms”). Though Palin’s folksy speech patterns are thought to be part of her appeal, The Anchoress said this transcription betrayed the media’s “hate, their spitefulness and their perpetual adolescence… no other politician, except Bill Clinton (all the time), Hillary Clinton (when she was pandering) and Barack Obama (when he was pandering or playing) has ever dropped their g’s while talkin’ to the crowd… To our rather well-paid press-folk, dropped g’s are indicators of low intellects, lower incomes and the lowest social strata. Dropped g’s are so uncool. Except when they’re savvy and slick. In the screwed up world of the press, fake dropped g’s are clever, and authentic dropped g’s are campy.” This diabolical phonetic representation, The Anchoress maintained, was “backfiring on them, and to [Palin’s] advantage.”
Palin currently holds a position similar to that of Al Gore: a celebrity ex-politician who has rebounded profitably from defeat. What she’s going to do with her celebrity after this remains an open question. Her general political appeal outside of her fan base is at present limited, and it may be that she will play out her string as Gore has: as a beautiful loser exploiting the devotion of fans to sell media products. She has the added advantage of coming of age in the internet era, and thus acquiring thousands of unpaid publicists on both sides of the political divide.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 23, 2009