THE PLANK NOVEMBER 19, 2009
Megan McArdle has a post today in which she takes the media to task for what she deems "Palinoia." She writes:
Y'all well know that I really don't like Sarah Palin. In fact, more than one of you has yelled at me about this. And I find the whole schtick about how the media is just a bunch of elitist hooligans who are out to get her really grating. That's why I really wish the media wouldn't act like, well, a bunch of elitist hooligans who are out to get her. I've coined a new phrase to cover the situation: Palinoia. It's when you think people are out to get you, and then they do their best to justify your erroneous belief.
As examples, McArdle instances the absurd Newsweek cover of Palin, and the fact that the Associated Press had a bunch of people fact-check her book. There are a few issues here. McArdle's point has a germ of truth, but I don't see why either is an example of elitism. The sexist cover was a sign of sexism, which tends to exist regardless of the political party in question. (Presumably Palin types would argue--at moments when it suited them--that an elitist outfit like Newsweek would be too politically correct to even flirt with sexism, but I digress). The AP fact check was not very good (i.e. the news service seemed to be checking a lot more than facts), but Michael Calderone explains why 11 people were involved, and the explanation makes sense. McArdle wants to know "how come Palin's book gets a team of fact checkers, when books by other politicians get the standard gloss?" which is indeed a good question, even if Palin has shown a particular allergy to the truth. My guess is that it has more to do with interest in this book, although McArdle is right that more politicians deserve the scrutiny. Finally, she adds:
And really, guys, if you'll just back off a little, she'll do the job for you. Have you seen that resignation speech? How about we all act like she's a former governor and vice presidential candidate, rather than Public Enemy #1?
Exactly. I do think the people who view her with the utmost seriousness should take a deep breath. The woman may once have been close to the vice presidency (and John McCain was getting old), but she will never be president now. She is nothing more than a symbol of the decline of the GOP and the "intellectual" organs of conservatism. By all means, I say, let's mock and laugh--especially when she reveals her contempt for urban, "elite" America--but it's not worth pretending that this is a matter of the utmost importance.
P.S. Damon Linker has some interesting thoughts here.