Page Two: To Whine Is to Love Again

Navigating the maze of Palin punditry

Page Two
An old friend called yesterday. I was late for something (I'm almost always late for something), so I had to go. I promised to call her back later that day. Of course, I forgot. Memory, never one of my strong suits, has evolved from spotty at best to a completely unreliable mist. Short-term, long-term – any and all kinds of memories are now shrunken and free-floating, with precious few connections among them.

I have no extensive comments on the economic crises or any insight into the campaign for the presidency except to step back in awe at the imposing, multistoried, ornately detailed Babylonian facade that pundits have created almost entirely by weaving together different strands of fictions untainted by any facts. Compared to their historic and ambitious, empire-emulating, architectural achievements, all I do is whine.

The power and the glory, the magnificent ambition, and the all-too-pedestrian disgraces: It isn't that there aren't many things of substance to say, but that the sound of my feet walking drowns out the sound of my voice talking. It's not just my elephant-heavy footsteps that make it hard to hear, but that the expansive sound of the events roaring over us each day is as loud as if we were standing next to Niagara Falls. The effort to be heard over such a swift and mighty roar is almost certainly futile and not worth the effort. It is hard to think when you are shouting, while sometimes the white-water-rapids run of current events becomes so intense you can't make out the sky for the rain, the day for the night, the thunder for the braying.

When so much is happening so quickly, trying to keep track of the media onslaught can find one slipping into a self-reflexive, multilayered narrative wherein the media itself is too much of the story. This provides little clarity, usually obscuring the map's already almost worn-away images.

Instead, I'll just whine.

Without embarrassment, the significant right-wing American media have been taking their favorite bogeyman – mainstream, liberal (far-left) media – to task for distorted reporting on the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Lou Dobbs actually wondered out loud, as he denounced the darkest mono-shade of liberal coverage of Sarah Palin, as to whether this reaction from liberals was (and he dared not say the word but did strongly imply it) "sexist!" As truly and wickedly funny as Tina Fey has been on Saturday Night Live, her parody doesn't come close to the stunning audacity of Dobbs' completely inauthentic indignation.

The horrid, scarring, sexist, bigoted, unprecedented slander being heaped upon her is all the consequence of bias and bigotry, these fair and balanced pundits of the far right insist.

I would say "Grow up" if I didn't figure they know exactly what they are doing as they try to manipulate, massage, and excite their listeners. Palin is getting the same amount of coverage as almost any vice-presidential candidate – if not less, due to the fact that she has been so unavailable for interviews. The "attacks" on her are for the most part relatively mild reporting of her often truly stunning gaffes.

Two points here. As I wrote last week, right-wing commentators all use almost the exact same words. As part of their reporting on the imaginary, fantastical tale of this assault on Palin, "unprecedented" is a key word and concept.

The blatant hypocrisy here is so overwhelming as to create new schools of dark comedic humor. At their best, right-wing coverage of and comments on Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi ooze out of the molten, dead center in hell, while almost none of the comments on Palin get close to even the farthest outer circles. Recently, right-wing sources have been kinder to Clinton, but only because they are happily using her as a weapon with which to beat on Obama. If the mainstream media's most extreme negative comments about Palin had been compared to the daily barrage against Clinton or Pelosi from the right, they would have sounded practically radical-feminist.

The best defense is a strong offense; whether or not there is a widespread media assault on Palin, by indignantly reporting the story over and over (and over and over), right-wing pundits are positioning her as a real earth mother whom the elite establishment is attacking because her common decency and pronounced moral position are anathema to them: the witch hunts of Salem, directed at this one poor hockey-mom target.

Homer's epic tales of the Trojan War had their roots in oral traditions; they were tales told over and over. Compared to the bogus, immoral moralizing of right-wing pundits, Homer seems as simplistic as Horatio Alger.

I realize the belief that Eskimos have 50 different words for snow has been disputed, but just entertain the concept. The pundit community has hundreds of words for villain/traitor, which they fling around wildly and recklessly. Then, in actions that simply can't be satirized, they puff up their chests to denounce the liberal far-left media for doing the same thing. Only that wing of the media is mostly innocent; it is not spewing nor dealing in the same innuendo and two-dimensional, black-and-white, hero-and-villain categorizing as the right.

I'm guessing the memo went out toward the end of last week, but maybe even later than that, as it was only at the beginning of this week that the right-wing talking heads got lined up in a row. Then, one after another, they noted that Joe Biden was making a lot more gaffes than Palin, but the evil, liberal, Wicked Witch of the West media was ignoring his and just reporting on hers.

Biden has a long and honorable record as an elected representative. His gaffes are just that: mistakes. Palin has not only offered a truncated history but is being shielded from reporters as though she were Princess Diana returned from the dead. Biden's verbal mistakes do not amount to any kind of noticeable percentage of what we know about him. In Palin's case, her mistakes represent an over-large slice from her biographical pie chart.

The right-wing press denies its own power as it creates fictions about what kind of coverage is going on in other "media." These guys have entered the woods in Jorge Luis Borges country – except where he carved out gentle, rolling natural paths of metafictions and complex bibliographic mysteries, they've brought in enormous, powerful earth-moving equipment.

Every day, right-wing talking heads fire shotgun blast after shotgun blast of self-composed and ludicrous assertions against other media, shattering the ceiling of even distantly reasoned coverage. When it starts raining, we all know who complains the loudest about being wet.

The stunning innovations that these pundits have brought to dark comedic stand-up would pale against their performances of magic if they only were just a bit more blatant about them. Talk about misdirection!  

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

2008 elections, Republican narrative, Republican spin, John McCain, Karl Rove

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