Sarah Palin survives as a prominent political and media figure because she is controversial. Half of the Right loves her, the other half is scared of her, and the Left finds her hilarious and reprehensible at the same time. Her brazen ignorance rallies the like minded, and her handlers have made an industry out of it. And until recently, that industry seemed an unstoppable force.
Palin’s misjudgment of a national tragedy revealed what most serious commentators knew already – that she is not a serious political figure. Palin tried to make the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords about her, and it backfired horrendously.
A debate then ensued about her relevency as a political force in America, leading to some conservatives claiming she was done. The MSM began to question itself and its obsession with Sarah Palin, and several commentators declared a moratorium on covering her.
However, American television audiences are notoriously fickle, and despite Palin losing popularity, there’s nothing to say she won’t ‘reload’ and come back stronger in the future. And while covering her might feel distasteful, the more audiences are aware of her intrinsic narcissism, petty xenophobia and mind boggling ignorance, the better. Andrew Sullivan defends those who continue to follow the never ending drama:
My view is that the reason Palin gets so much attention from readers is not that they are shallow or petty or deluded. It is because they, unlike the MSM, actually see the radical danger of a Palin presidency, and the corrupt state of our politics that such a person could have ever gotten so close to power and even now is the one to beat in the primaries. They are concerned in a climate of polarization, recession and war that a far right cult-figure could easily go further than would normally be the case. Now, as Palin’s star has faded somewhat – entirely because of her own missteps, not media scrutiny – these pundits want to move on because they think of this story as fluff. They want to pretend this never really happened. Or that it is still happening. All I can say is: There is as total a Beltway consensus on Palin’s prospect’s for the GOP nomination today as there was on Obama’s as late as December 2007. They dismissed Obama then just as surely as they dismiss Palin today.
It is hard to argue with Sullivan on this. Palin plays on the supposed ‘liberalness’ of the MSM, and her supporters love to hate on the latte sipping elites who dismiss her out of hand. The more you ignore Sarah Palin, the more powerful she becomes. And while her serious miscalculation over the Giffords shooting has undoubtedly hurt her, it would be foolhardy to write her off.
The American media loves a comeback, and they will pile on if Palin manages to reverse her declining poll numbers. If there is a narrative to be built and money to be made, Sarah Palin could very well end up on another Presidential ticket in 2012 – the consequences of which would be too terrifying to think about.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.