The Horror, The Horror

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.


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24 comments on “The Horror, The Horror

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  1. CK, I’m not sure that “TrigTruth” and “Birtherism” should be lumped together. For starters, “TrigTruth” was something that was written about by a number of people who are considered respectable by the “mainstream” left (like Andrew Sullivan). I personally have little regard for Sullivan, but that’s irrelevant here. More over, it was a pretty ridiculous claim and topic.

    “Birtherism” is something that at least carries some weight regarding our republic – whether or not our President is legally allowed to be our President. But putting that aside, I’m not aware of many “mainstream” conservatives giving much credence to the claim. To me, conservatives essentially consider the “Birthers” a fringe group and don’t pay much heed to the them. Kind of like the “Birchers” (pretty close, huh?) were regarded after Buckley shoved them aside.

    Personally, I assume Obama was born in Hawaii and is not illegitimately in the WH. I do however wonder why he has never made public his actual birth certificate. One would think there is *some* reason for that – something that would be embarrassing if the actual paper birth certificate was made public. I’m curious what that would be. But I don’t assume it’s because it would prove that he was born elsewhere.

    Maybe I’m wrong here and that there were more mainstream conservatives on board with “Birtherism” and I just missed it. I’m sure I’ll be corrected if that’s so.

  2. @ Ritchie Emmons:
    Sullivan is Sullivan, Ritchie – he stands as a typical exception, and not as “mainstream left.” Can you think of one other serious or semi-serious journalist, or blogger who ran with the story? That’s a serious or semi-serious question. It was a “thing” on Daily Kos, and the thing was covered by the kind of people who track the Daily Kos, but that’s different from out and out Trig Trutherism. If there was a “dark, demented conspiracy” it was carried out by a few bloggers and nutjobs. Palin indicts the entire mainstream media without exception.

    As for Birtherism – I gave it as a relatively minor example of a somewhat parallel phenomenon. It’s not as personally demeaning and bizarre as Trig Trutherism, but on the other hand I think it’s much more widespread for various reasons including the obvious one that BHO actually did get elected. But we’re not comparing mainstreams to mainstreams: We’re comparing theoretically private (Journolist e-mails) to mainly private or low level (what conservatives were discussing) communications. My point was that the Journolisters on this topic were just more or less normal partisan political junkies talking “among friends.” I’ve seen stuff about BHO & Co in some ways much more lurid and demeaning than Trig Truth.

  3. “My point was that the Journolisters on this topic were just more or less normal partisan political junkies talking “among friends.” I’ve seen stuff about BHO & Co in some ways much more lurid and demeaning than Trig Truth.”

    CK, Yes, perhaps this is true. But some of that stuff could be perceived not merely “talking among friends” and something more like a plan. Whoever it was who said she wanted to see Rush’s eyes bug out – I consider that “talking among friends” (as distasteful as it was). But Ackerman’s email suggesting that the left should label as racist Barnes or some other conservative looked to me like something the Journolisters should put in the playbook (yet again). Since conservatives have been unfairly labeled in the past as racists (a despicable act of demagoguery), to see Ackerman blithely and specifically recommend they do it again suggests to me that he wasn’t just “talking” – as it’s been a tried and true tactic of the left for years. I can’t recall if a conservative was wontonly accused of being a racist in the aftermath of the Wright bombshell though.

    Zoltan, Who is “they?” I’d be happy to answer your question if I knew to whom you were referring.

  4. Forget it, Ritchie, It was her fault in Ck’s view, thatthey speculated without a trace of facts, on something that was obvious to anyone with a brain, their point was to destroy her before she was even aware it was happening to her, Seth Michaels, on the Journolist seems to have infiltrated the Chinatown reference into a SNL sketch that same week. It was only in the aftermath of that idiocy that she pointed her daughter’s pregnancy

  5. narciso wrote:

    It was her fault in Ck’s view, thatthey speculated without a trace of facts,

    It’s her fault, and yours, if you think people can or should be prevented from speculating til the cows come home from Mars.

    @ Ritchie Emmons:
    People like Ackerman believe that all conservatives are always vulnerable to charges of “racism,” because conservative policies and attitudes are objectively racist – racially divisive, disproportionate in their effect, etc. – and that it’s only a tactical question when to point out the fact. So, when Rove accused Ackerman of suggesting they “lie” about him, that wasn’t accurate. It wouldn’t have been a Kantian “lie” – a knowingly communicated untruth – thought it might have been an American-political “lie”: a statement presumed true in one discourse, false in the other. Personally, I find that second definition of lie, which gets thrown around like crazy during a presidential election, extremely annoying, but, by the time such campaigns have heated up, everyone’s talking Morse code, and words like “lie” and “racist” and “socialist” become more and more like sticks and stones, and less and less like human speech (discussion turns into concussion).

    narciso just can’t get used to the idea that a bunch of lefties do the same thing with a threat to their political body that he enthusiastically throws himself into when his rightwing corpus is infected: hurl themselves like a swarm of T-cells seeking the alien intruder’s vulnerabilities, or like a swarm of spermatazoa seeking to make contact with the ovum, or salmon flinging themselves upstream. The vast majority die off, and, if you focus on the losers, it’s a pretty pathetic spectacle.

    Ackerman thought that his hero/love object Barack Most Wonderful Obama was being unfairly tarnished by rightwing troglodytes incapable of getting what the deal with a guy like Jeremiah Wright is about, or fully understanding what the deal was but wanting to go ahead and exploit it anyway. Ackerman was genuinely afraid for his darling. So if the rightwing troglodytes were going to go all troglodytical on Barack Most Wonderful via Wright, Ackerman was in favor of calling them troglodyte^2 (so there), and not feeling a bit guilty about it.

  6. No CK, my argument is that they were partisans, as we are here, but
    we don’t pretend to be objective, although I dare say we collectively
    have been able to suss out the truth. And there as little pushback
    in fact, Frum, Buckley, Brooks and Noonan went along. Add young master Friedersdorf to that same crew. More often then not, you were
    more likely to be wrong on a whole host of subjects. Ackerman in particular, was one of those who spread the ‘civil war’ meme about
    Iraq, that had it been taken seriously, would have handed AQ a huge
    prize

  7. narciso wrote:

    although I dare say we collectively
    have been able to suss out the truth

    Dare all you like – it would be more meaningful if you explained what you were referring to.

    Everyone always pretends to be objective, and part of a civil discourse is presuming the other person’s good faith – continuing to talk “as if” everyone intends a reasonable and fair conclusion. No one appears to give an argument and first says, “By the way, everyone who doesn’t already support my position, please ignore what I have to say because it’s just ideological blather with no factual or logical content independent of pre-existing affinities and ulterior motives.”

  8. narciso wrote:

    Ackerman in particular, was one of those who spread the ‘civil war’ meme about
    Iraq, that had it been taken seriously, would have handed AQ a huge
    prize

    you know, narc, that seems to be about entirely untrue, IIRC.

    my first comments on the internet were sent to Spencer Ackerman and were in rebuttal to his claim that the greatest threat to Iraqi re-integration was posed by Mookie al-Sadr.

    could you explain a bit?

  9. Regardless, Michigan J, the point was not to notice the Anbar awakening, which arose in reaction to the foreign infusion of Salafi,
    which was just what Zawahiri was counting on

  10. CK/ No one appears to give an argument and first says, “By the way, everyone who doesn’t already support my position, please ignore what I have to say because it’s just ideological blather with no factual or logical content independent of pre-existing affinities and ulterior motives.”

    The Irony is that whoever wins power this turn in the “BLATHER” wars will soon cede power next turn. (One year Rome had 365 Emperors.) However,Whoever is the “Winner” can’t fix the economy because the causes of our crisis are actual/factual,and to fix it requires actual expertise in Economic Crises. AND THE FACTS ARE AN EMBARRASSMENT TO ALL PARTIES IN THE BLATHER WARS. For example,the true/factual unemployment rate,22%,is a blackeye to everyone. Obama doesn’t want the #,and neither do the Republicans because they can’t fix it,even the Teabaggers don’t talk about it. Most Economists/Economic Journalists avoid it like the plague. Soon those who talk about it will be labeled TRUTHERS to marginalize them. (Just kidding,that term is altready taken). The Truth will set us free from the Tyranny of False #s,that’s the good news,the Bad news is,of course,that the True #s don’t serve anyone’s Blather Agenda. Besides Unemployment,other bad #s involve Inflation&Deflation,GDP,Government Deficits,and The Price/Value of just about everything.

  11. truther is used to legitimate arguments that really have no foundatio, he was born in Hawaii, she did give birth to her 5th child, and 19 Wahhabi terrorist did commit 9/11; Now I concur with your point on the Fed, Greenspan, the apostate from Objectivism convinced me. I don’t know how introducing a new currency would work, exchanging
    at a 6/1 ration for current dollars in the system

  12. I don’t know how introducing a new currency would work, exchanging
    at a 6/1 ration for current dollars in the system’

    It reintroduces a “factual” structure for our economy,one that can be quantified and can be managed. Currency is only one component in the reintroduction of verifiable fact based structure into our economy,but without it,none of the other pieces can fall into place. Please believe,the last thing either our government or our financial Sector wants to do is give up their monopoly on paper currency.

  13. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Yes, we are all destined, who survive, for the tough-loving arms of the world-enveloping administration that alone can offer meaning and belonging – brute fact wrapped in velvet higher purposes – to the vast useless masses, those who know they’re useless because they’re unemployed, those who know they’re useless because they know that what they’re employed in is meaningless, and even those who know that they what they do is useful and essential but are aware as well that it’s most useful for the wrong people.

  14. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Yes, we are all destined, who survive, for the tough-loving arms of the world-enveloping administration that alone can offer meaning and belonging – brute fact wrapped in velvet higher purposes – to the vast useless masses, those who know they’re useless because they’re unemployed, those who know they’re useless because they know that what they’re employed in is meaningless, and even those who know that they what they do is useful and essential but are aware as well that it’s most useful for the wrong people.

    We’ve already achieved that,where we’re going is as different compared to us now,as Rome was in 500 AD compared to 100 AD. It has been only 40 Short years we have already traveled from the reality of Exceptional America to an ugly parody of that past Reality.

  15. @ narciso:

    “regardless” is the explanation?

    ————–

    not to notice the Anbar awakening

    ?

    From the Columbia Journalism Review…..

    It was the proto-blogger Spencer Ackerman who, yesterday evening, first identified McCain’s error. The Colonel MacFarland to whom McCain referred in the Couric interview “is now a one-star general, and his name is Sean MacFarland,” Ackerman writes. “He was commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based in Ramadi in 2006 and early 2007 and is a key figure in embracing the Anbar Awakening before it even had that name.”

    Ackerman goes on to quote MacFarland’s explanation of the surge, which he gave in a press conference to Pam Hess, then of UPI, on September 29, 2006—which was, Ackerman notes, “at least two months before Bush decided upon the surge, and about three before he announced it to the public”:

  16. Y’all should read the Perry book – just to get his take on Iraq for your own musings about what really happened in Anbar.

  17. Yes he cited it in June, a full year in, and they used this tidbit as an argument against McCain, as if he didn’t know what he was talking about. as a matter of fact, when he visited a shop in Sadr City it was dismissed entirely and Kevin Drum was fundamentally wrong
    as it just didn’t happen in Dulaimi/Anbar, but Salahuddin and other provinces. The early work in Ramadi began with Major Mirabile of the 124th NG, and there were other instances with McMaster at Tall a Far

  18. Past is prologue, Colin, down to this supposed moral relativism between religions. that seems to be the fashion nowadays

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