At Talking Points Memo, progressive Josh Marshall engages in some serious navel-gazing on the question of whether all the negative attacks on Sarah Palin by leftist blogs are giving her attention and inadvertently increasing her influence and inflating her importance.
Frequently a reader will write in to say, “Why are you giving her so much attention? You’re just pumping her up. If you and the other places would stop giving her so much oxygen, she and her whole circus would just wither away.”
I don’t know which circle of the hell of myopia you need to be residing in to think like this. But it’s very deep in there, I assure you. Much as I love this thing our team has created, I assure you that Palin’s popularity, notoriety, footprint on the public stage is quite independent of TPM. Indeed, TPM and a dozen other similar or not so similar publications you can find on the web. Palin is such a big deal because she’s got a chunk of the political nation that is very, very into her. She resonates deeply with her core supporters. She’s one of those people who cuts an electric figure on the public stage because she slices right through the society and generates one intense response from one side and a completely opposite but equally intense response from the other. And she says, let’s be honest, a lot of really crazy stuff.
This is actually a real blind spot for liberals in general—the idea that things that are crazy or tawdry or just outrageous are really best ignored. Don’t give them more attention. You’re just giving them what they want. Or maybe it’s not so practical and utilitarian. Maybe, they say, it’s just beneath us. Focus on the important stuff.
On so many levels this represents an alienation from the popular political culture which is not only troubling in itself but actually damages progressive and center-left politics in general no end. It’s almost the fatal flaw. Democrats often console themselves that even when they don’t win elections, usually their individual policies are more popular than those of Republicans. Too bad you can’t elect a policy. It’s true for instance that Health Care Reform—which still has more opponents than supporters—is pretty popular when you ask people about its individual components. But why is that? It’s not random, because that pattern crops up again and again. It’s another one of the examples where liberals—or a certain strain of liberalism—focuses way too much on the libretto of our political life and far too little on the score. It’s like you’re at a Wagner opera reading the libretto with your ear plugs in and think you’ve got the whole thing covered.
It is a lot of fun to see the progressive rats furiously spinning the wheels in their cages over Sarah Palin.
Palin’s ability to cause progressives generally to behave like roaches that have had 100% pure methedrine dropped on their carapaces is really, in my view, her most delightful talent.
Hat tip to Rodger Kamenetz.