In a Facebook post entitled “Journey into the Media’s Heart of Darkness,” Sarah Palin writes of a “dark and demented conspiracy,” but no evidence of such a conspiracy appears in the material she references – 15 pages of e-mail exchanges from August 30 to September 1, 2008, when writers, activists, and academics in the leftwing Journolist discussion group, along with most of the rest of the country, were undergoing the first eruptions of a contagious condition since classified as “Palinmania.”
The topic under discussion was, of course, the claim that the newly named VP candidate may not have been the real mother of her infant son Trig. Yet even Palin’s ideological allies, like law professor William Jacobson at his blog Legal Insurrection, have noted that, contrary to Palin’s description, the e-mails reveal consistent ethical, intellectual, and political reluctance to “run” with the story. Trying to “[t]o be fair,” Jacobson further characterizes “some of the comments” as “benign and even protective.” The e-mails also reveal bad brainstorming, reflexive anti-conservative hostility, elementary game-planning about the presidential race, and some voyeuristic or prurient speculation, but no one, not even the notoriously excitable Spencer Ackerman, suggests putting on a journalistic bomb vest and blowing one’s journo-self up for the sake of dramatizing a supposed Trig Maternity Cover-Up. Indeed, the grand spectacle of hesitation has led the greatest “Trig Truther” of them all, Andrew Sullivan, to indict the Journolisters’ for unethical Trig avoidance. Real journalists, in Sullivan’s view, would have been as publicly fascinated as he has been.
For the rest of us, the worst you can say about the Journolisters in relation to Trig Truth is that some indulged in wishful thinking about a scandal extinguishing the McCain-Palin threat to Obama-Biden. The revelation of such political daydreams has occasioned some derisive commentary on the right – from commenters at places like Jacobsen’s blog, HotAir, or Palin’s Facebook pages – but the tsk-tsking is comically hypocritical: I doubt there have been many committed anti-Obamaniacs who never wondered about and discussed, sometimes intensively, any of the various well-known maybe-somethings that might in theory have destroyed Obama. “Birtherism” – a subject about which, incidentally, Palin herself expressed a blasé attitude when questioned last year – hardly scratches the surface of the anti-Obama scuttlebutt, fantasy, and friend-of-friend-swears-this-is-truth that has been avidly passed around and thrashed to death by conservatives – high and low, privately and sometimes rather publicly – continually since late 2007.
In short, it all adds up to more more-is-less from the Great Empty Journolist Treasure Tomb, and yet there’s Palin on Facebook going on about “sickness and darkness,” “light…shining to expose the problem,” what’s “always darkest before the dawn.” On a stylistic level it’s odd, as on a moral level it’s unfortunate, that she runs out of clichés prematurely, and thus forgets to light one candle, and misses the end of the tunnel. Instead, after finishing her four-paragraph un-leavened non-differentiating diatribe against all Journolisters and whatever “mediums” they rode in on, she calls, primly, for a “new, more respectful discourse among members of the media who at least aspire to be fair and objective.”
As a member of the media herself, she, too, could stand to do a bit of aspiring. In the meantime, the most charitable interpretation of her performance is that she’s let her emotions about her son Trig get the better of her, though, two years into this matter, it’s late for such an excuse. The alternative most likely explanation is by now well-known, if not yet fully elaborated by political-medical science: That she’s the kind of politician who expects her followers to see the world as she tells them to see it, and trusts them not to look too hard on their own.