"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jun 13, 2011

Bachmann in Chains

I put on the stupid debates, tonight. Partly because I didn't want to watch the Bruins lose. Again.

Other than noting that Republicans bore me, and that it's sometimes very, very embarrassing to live in NH (as in, every election cycle), what hit my radar was...

...Michele Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann is not Sarah Palin. Palin does whatever the hell she wants to do, and she's obviously enjoying herself doing it. Certainly, she spends a lot of time interpreting her conduct and comments within a self-consciously conservative framework. In doing so, she's constantly rereading the text and the script to suit the needs of her immediate performance. Palin is a performer. A natural, at that.

Unlike Palin, who expands that framework and forces its adherents to adapt to her moves or condemn themselves to a contest with a chimaera, Bachmann has (at least in tonight's debate) taken a more genuinely conservative approach to the issues. Bachmann has bound herself to them, replete with sworn pledges.

Palin is a genius, in her own way. Palin mouths what her followers want to hear, and she talks in their idiom with practiced expertise - but she is not bound by their self-imposed moral restrictions, especially within the arena of contest she's chosen as her public domain. Palin uses her gender as wedge - as a motherhood position - in a constant struggle with a male dominated conservative hierarchy. Palin's womanhood is not bound to men. She is the prime mover, in her family. She is the breadwinner, and yet she's managed to avoid the pigeonholing of her conduct according to perceptions of her gender. Regardless of her stump speeches, her family values utterances and her lip service to the conservative social canon, Palin as an actual person is a remarkable deviation from that canon. She's not Schlafly's heir. She's an anti-Schlafly, doing all the public things which the back-to-the-household old guard have spent four decades railing against.

Bachmann is not Palin.

Bachmann is a woman in chains.

It's not in her approach to the issues which reveals her condition, or which held my attention. Her treatment of the issues was so much boiler plate. Without any indication of tone, posture, enunciation or inflection, it would be difficult to tell Palin and Bachmann apart on the issues.

Palin does not try to compete with her male counterparts on their terms. She's comfortable as a woman, and she's comfortable as a powerful woman. She commends her followers for their adherence to traditional gender roles, as she continuously violates them.

Palin doesn't compensate.

Michele Bachmann, by comparison, appears to believe those roles deeply. Which puts her in a noticeable bind, as was plainly evident during this evening's debates.

So there she was, on the stage.

Dwarfed by the man-troll and the two tall, smug man-boys vying for whitest, blandest mommy's dearest:


Looking tiny next to even the perpetually diminutized Ron Paul.

And Bachmann spent the whole night compensating. As each Republican man offered his prescription for completely savaging the commons, for privatizing everything from education to space to environmental protection, Bachmann took it further. She tried to out-man them. She pledged, and promised and took solemn oaths like a two dimensional cookie cutter king in some bad YA fantasy or fan fiction.

When asked by a local college administrator what ought to be done to return manufacturing jobs to the States, the candidates each talked about shrinking government, getting out of the way of business, trade imbalances and deregulation. Bachmann went for the inordinate, declaring,  

"Well, the United States federal government and the states have done numerous job training programs over the year with mixed results.  This is what we need to do to turn job creation around and bring manufacturing back to the United States . 

What we need to do is today the United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world.  I’m a former federal tax lawyer.  I’ve seen the devastation.  We’ve got to bring that tax rate down substantially so that we’re among the lowest in the industrialized world. 

Here’s the other thing.  Every time the liberals get into office, they pass an omnibus bill of big spending projects.  What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it’s the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations.  And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA.  It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America." 

As write this, literally as I type, Anderson Vanderbilt and his guests are gushing over Michele Bachmann, as a "surprise winner" of the debate, musing over how she spoke in clear, precise sentences. She had her points in order. She "peppered" her arguments with interesting facts and data and argued in a "rational" fashion.

In short, on how she argued like a traditional male candidate.

Those expectations are Bachmann's chains. Because to be taken seriously beyond this debate and from here on forward, she cannot give the impression that she lacks the solidity of the traditionally masculine role, and its associated traits of aggression and assertion. By assuming them tonight, she has set her own minimum standard. She was taken seriously on those terms, and a failure to meet them again and again will consign her to public failure.

As this campaign continues, these are the qualities which will isolate her against the background of her male competitors and within the environment in which they all share a less than congenial competition. The further she progresses as a serious competitor, the more likely she will fall into the trap which caught Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, assuming the mediated role of the harridan, the scold and the woman who forgot her place. As the woman-thing trying to be serious while the menfolk talk shop, and politics and the rough salvation of a womanly nation.

Unlike Palin.

Who is so much cagier than that.

Palin slipped her chains.

And tonight, watching Bachmann try to out assert*, out gun and out man the men, we got to watch her assume the weight of them voluntarily.

I felt bad for Michele Bachmann, tonight. Not because she was a victim.  She wasn't.  She held her own. I felt bad for her because, as she wrapped those chains around her own self, slipped the key into the lock and turned it closed, I knew that the press and her competitors would never let her take them off again...



* - I'm not suggesting that there are innate gender traits. I'm suggesting that Bachmann was attempting to compete with utterly traditional men by assuming traditionally masculine traits.

35 comments:

Cüneyt said...

So she's our Thatcher. Not Palin? Not Clinton?

Jack Crow said...

I didn't even consider looking at it that way, Cuneyt. Damn.

Well, if she wins, she might have a bigger voice in how she's perceived.

But, I don't see that happening. She's too convenient, now, as a foil.

As for her positions - yeah, they are in line with She Who Must Not Be Named.

fwoan said...

jack im drunk right mow but i wanted to stay that i think your spo onn!!! I looko at it like this, which i think is very close, if not exactly thr way you just wrot:

BAchmann is the woman candidate - she is that as a category just like herman cain is the black canidate. They have found these roles and seemmingly placed themselves in them because so many on the right want to say "see!? we totally would vote for XYZ candidate because look"

Then that candidate loses to a white man. BUt palionhas escaped that and isn't a "famle" candidate but just a candidate which is quite peculiar for her party and constituentcy.

Jack Crow said...

fwoan,

I think you're right. Read this:

http://my.firedoglake.com/teddysanfran/2011/06/13/debate-winner-bachmann/

It's similar to a half dozen other analyses.

And all of them pit Bachmann against Palin, in competition for the role of "Chica, In The Race."

Because, you know, there cannot be two of them...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Palin is a total hypocrite. She's not going to run, she's just pulling more money out of the star-making system.

Bachmann actually believes the b.s., and she means to run.
~

Jack Crow said...

I don't see how Palin is a hypocrite. It's not like she's pulling an Alan Keyes. If she declared, raised a lot of money, then used it to build abortion clinics - that would be hypocrisy.

But, she's not doing that. She's out there using the idiots in the press to her own advantage.

I'm not comparing Palin and Bachmann because one's honest and the other is not. They're both pretty straightforward and impressive women, for all that I think their ideas flirt with actual fascism. It's not that one "believes the b.s." and the other is a hypocrite. Bachmann certainly appears to believe the Teap Arty line, which means it's not in fact bull shit to her. And I don't think there's any case to be made that Palin is not a conservative. She just doesn't let the old boys define her.

I'm comparing them because Palin hasn't been lured into a trap, while I think Bachmann has.

Bachmann's being set up (by conditions, expectations, and culturally predominant attitudes) for a role.

And that role, while being a path to success in the short term, is going to trap her in a narrative over which she will likely have little control.

Jack Crow said...

In other words, Bachmann's forcefulness will work for her until it doesn't. Until she's used up and served her purpose as an uppity chick foil. And then she's going to to get McKinney'd. I'll bet pints, in BDR's apt phrasing, that this is how it rolls.

Jack Crow said...

And here's another example:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/06/14/debate-reaction/

Bachmann was able to "speak in complete sentences" which means some of the people who cast "MILF votes" will switch from vote fucking Palin to vote fucking Bachmann.

See, she didn't act like the woman they expected, so now she's viable. But, of course, it's also because she's a woman and therefore a potential fuck hole...

fish said...

I think this rings pretty true on Bachman although I think you give more credit to Palin than she probably deserves. I get more of a Chance the Gardener vibe going on with her. Much of her ability to deflect criticism is because of the magic powers conveyed to her by the media. Emperor has no clothes and all that.
The Hillary comparison is right on though. Clinton spent the entire campaign demonstrating she has a bigger thirst for blood than all the male war-mongers in the Democratic party. Still didn't get her the nomination though.

On the other hand, Bachman in Chains would be a truly unholy mashup of Bachman Turner Overdrive and Alice in Chains. Not sure the market is ready for

Jack Crow said...

fish,

Watching Bachmann last night, I kept thinking of Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is a formidable woman. Bill Clinton was never her equal, all things being equal. Bubba is the prototype for man-boy in the promised land. A jumped up Dixie mob lawyer who loved the bright lights but could never really figure out how to live with them. Hillary, by just being Hillary, always sort of made him look bad.

I don't think the gushers in the press ever forgave her for being more competent, more ruthless and more Presidential than her husband. I remember Stephanopolous commenting with unabashed glee over the Lewinsky thing, like Hillary had finally got what was coming to her.

And then she went and got the wrong message, entirely. As you wrote, she tried to outhawk the liberalist warhawks.

And lost out to the guy who staked a motherhood position. Because men get to do that, in politics. They get to switch roles. Women, on the other hand, get locked in.

Which is why I respect Palin as much as I do.

I don't think it's just luck. I think she knows how to use the press outlets. I don't believe she could give an impromptu lecture on the failures of Napoleon after Italy, but that in itself would be a liability, in the American political arena.

Randal Graves said...

Now that the Bruins won, I bet you feel pretty silly.

Jack Crow said...

Nah. They have to go back to Vancouver. Where they apparently don't know how to win.

Blowouts out home. As in - seriously, an 8-1 hockey victory?

But.

Single goal losses in Vancouver. Damn it.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

She's out there using the idiots in the press to her own advantage.

I believe this image of Palin and the press is overly romantic.

Do you really think the press is a victim here? Covering meaningless b.s. like Palin's tour is what they do for a living. File it along with other nonsense like the Weiner's wiener crisis.

They earn their keep doing things like this. What they don't want to do is report that most Americans think tax rates on corporations and the rentier class are too low, or that we've just performed a 30 year long experiment in tax cutting and deregulation that resulted in epic failure for all but the wealthiest.
~

Jack Crow said...

Heh. I'm not romanticizing Palin, Thunder.

I used to work political campaigns, which in NH gives one some measure of access to the national media and prominent politicians.

There is a political culture at work in media coverage of campaigns - and it centers on the concept of "viability."

"Viability" is like "indecency" in so much as it's difficult to define without a thousand corollaries and caveats, but easily recognizable.

Viable candidates get respect. I don't mean that they get free passes or favorable coverages. Hillary Clinton was viable, and the media narrative recognized that fact. They respected her viability, but they never gave her any respect.

Part of that follows from the fact that Hillary Clinton is genuinely wonkish, genuinely folksy in person and still often possessed of an impatient abrasiveness with what she judges to be bullshit. She's not good with the cameras. Her folksiness comes off as insincere because she's allowed herself to be imaged and imagined as an institutional authority. Hillary Clinton = institutions, power, authority. We Americans expect our rebels to speak in their local vernacular, and our institutionalists to speak with the Midwestern Flat of game show presenters.

Clinton was viable because she had a power base and money, but she handicapped herself with the trappings of authority and experience. The talking heads and the commentariat had their opening, and they went after her with abandon. And lusty gusto.

Palin does no such thing. It's not a matter of happenstance. She knows her audience. She knows that they are the "survivors" of a thousand petty dolchstoss moments. She cultivated "outsider." And she did it from within a national Presidential campaign that transformed a media created "Maverick" into the avatar of tradition and continuity.

That's not an accident. It's not luck. It's not a romantic view of Palin. This is what she did. She remade entirely - for herself - the idea of viability.

Without a demonstrable power base, she's gone from McCain's albatross to the queen of American discontent.

It's not because the press is built around distraction. It's because Sarah Palin knows the press is built around distraction, and turned that into her path to viability, influence and power.

She gives them scraps and they pay her in pearls.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

There is a political culture at work in media coverage of campaigns - and it centers on the concept of "viability."

She gives them scraps and they pay her in pearls.

One, she isn't viable. Most Americans do not like her. You underestimate the extent to which the national media is in the tank for Republicans and Republican ideas (primarily, cutting taxes, and cutting social spending to pay for those tax cuts).

Two, do you really think CNN and company are losing on this deal? That's naive, Jack.
~

Happy Jack said...

Mainstream journalists are the epitome of merit-class liberals. They abhor anyone who exists outside the constraints of the framework.

Look at the 2008 debates. People like Russert revel in attacking a Kucinich or a Paul, framing questions just to make them look like buffoons.

They would love to do that to the unserious Palin, but she leaves them in the dust. She's playing Calvinball, and they don't know how to react.

Jack Crow said...

That's perfect, Happy Jack. Calvinball. (Calvin and Hobbes references are also always welcome.)

All I can do is echo that, Thunder.

It's not "naive" to grant that Palin plays a mean Calvinball.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

One, she isn't viable. Most Americans do not like her. You underestimate the extent to which the national media is in the tank for Republicans and Republican ideas (primarily, cutting taxes, and cutting social spending to pay for those tax cuts).

What bullshit. You no more know what "most people" do or don't, like or hate, love or despise than I do.

What an ironic bit of arrogance.

Jack Crow said...

"Viability" doesn't really have anything to do with what "most people" would like, approve of or want.

In campaigns, "viability" is about the perception, among kingmakers, that one could be a king.

Traditionally, wealth and a power base help.

But, that's not always the case, because "viability" is also comparative. Ron Paul has a consistent power base (his seat, his regular organizers), and he's no pauper.

Compared to Romney, Paul is a pauper.

Romney has another advantage that Paul doesn't have. Romney can be bought for a lower price. That makes him more viable.

What keeps people hesitant about Romney isn't his flipfloppingness. Flipflops aren't a negative for a candidate who has been anointed with viability.

His problem is his lack of a reliable power base. It's less of a liability than normal this season because none of the male contenders have one (Santorum is an ex-Senator, Cain is really just the Cosby, Gingrich is a washed up has been, Paul's already been consigned to Official Non-viability, Huntsman is an ex-governor and Obama official, Romney is an ex-governor, Pawlenty is an ex-governor).

Bachmann is actually the only official candidate who has a base (the Teap Arty), a power base (her Congressional seat) and some fundraising chops to demonstrate viability. She raised close to $13 million in a run for a House seat.

Unfortunately, she has the above mentioned role which will likely hamper her viability.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

What an ironic bit of arrogance.

That's hysterical coming from you, Karl.

Happy Jack, and Jack, our corporate media is not liberal. They are wealthy people who work for very wealthy people.

Just look at what they've done the last two decades. How many people lost their jobs for helping sell the war on Iraq?
~

Jack Crow said...

A merit liberal is just fine with war, Thunder.

Hell, regular old liberal liberals routinely sign on for wars of revenge, salvation, "humanitarian" intervention and plain old naked aggression.

The litmus test for "liberal" is not "anti-war."

The litmus test for "liberal" is probably closer to "no longer tells nigger jokes aloud, has as many imaginary gay friends as imaginary black friends and buys 'green-friendly' urban assault vehicles."

Jim H. said...

@Jack Crow: Methinks you give Palin far too much credence. She is a media creation, a PR, ad-men, phantasm. Froth. Bubble. Soap. The thing about soap is if you package it pretty, there'll always be buyers. And yes, she's photo- & media-genic. Who, one wonders, pays for all the coverage she commands? Who calls Joe & Susie producer and says you better get your anchor's asses out to x 'coz Sarah's gonna' be there for 17 mins of camera time and your competitor's already loading up the location truck? To get the kind of access to the media she gets costs big. BIG. It's not random. It's not just good journalists doing their job. It's staging. And it costs. BIG. And, apparently, it pays to put her on, too—it doesn't matter whether it's positive or negative coverage. As long as her image is on the screen. As long as they don't misspell her name. Methinks the lady doth protest too much about how she's covered in the lamestream media. It's a self-fueling performance of ego & celebrity. And somebody's funding it. Fox & Ailes? Maybe. That supercilious neocon Wm Kristol? Also, too, maybe.

And the real question is why? What's the endgame w/ SP? I know it has to do with power, but I'm not sure quite how.

Your take on Bachmann seems about right.

Jack Crow said...

Jim,

People seem to continue to respond to me as if I've separated Palin from her habitat.

I'm not denying that she's useful to the corporate press, but we seem to be forgetting here that they originally set out to ridicule, minimize and ultimately destroy her.

It wasn't about making good press by covering her negatively. They went after her personally, and as a woman. It was about Obama. They were in the bag for Obama already. And they're in the bag for now, or at least until the Republicans can cough up a decent and viable alternative.

She's not a puppet who responded according to the whims of hidden puppeteers.

Her response was her own, and she came out of it on her terms.

She's not the product of the old boys. She's what happened after they plucked her from relative obscurity, miscalculated her self-determination and subsequently failed to clip her wings.

They aren't following her, as HJ notes, because she's unserious. They're dancing to her tune because they failed to cast her that way.

None of this is an endorsement of Palin. I just see no evidence for the rather sexist claim that she's the manipulated invention of old white men. Palin's their nemesis, now. She developed a base which is fiercely loyal - devoted even - and that makes her a potential kingmaker.

I'm sure they'd love to put her back in the bottle, but frankly, McCain broke it when he tried to get her to fill the traditional veep candidate's role as attack dog.

While McCain was scrambling to lose an election, Sarah Palin was developing cadre...

Jim H. said...

It's not sexist; it's a Palin-specific claim. Not making the same claim about HRC or MB or all other women in the public sphere.

Still begs the question: even if she's the genie out of the broken bottle, who's funding her now? Think about how many declared candidates can't get covered unless they get arrested. And then look at undeclared SP, who gets a family vacay wall-to-walled. Every freakin' Tweet broadcast. That's not accidental.

And I don't buy in that there's some monolithic media which is 'in the bag' for anybody. They cover what they are alerted to, and that's all about PR. And that's all about the semoleons.

Lookit, on any given Sunday, tune in to the three main network talking head shows. You'll find 2/3 to 3/4 of the guests and roundtablers are 'pubs, and the dems are often bluedogs MOR'ers. Rarely you get a Katrina vanden Heuvel or a Rachel Maddow (when they want to plug her show during ratings weeks).

I wish I knew more about how that whole coverage/message game worked. The R's seem to have their message machine well-oiled and on-point; even when they are sniping: controversy = coverage (that's why the HRC/BHO primary to the end was so effective: without a clear front-runner, there was more coverage, less ignorage. There was story).

Jack Crow said...

Jim,

Kids are home from school. Dad things to do, so more later.

But, I wasn't arguing that you made a sexist point. I was arguing that the broadly liberal treatment of Palin as a puppet is sexist.

Jim H. said...

We're cool. Be a good dad; it's something I strive to be.

Every year I get the "So what do you want for Father's Day?" question. My unwavering reply: "The love, admiration, and respect of my offspring." Then: "Well, will you settle for 1 out of 3?" Big laughs all around.

Soma said...

I'm actually disappointed that Johnson is getting so little outlet in the media, what with CNN completely keeping him out of the debate. After all, this is a person who has the potential to completely change the game, given his gubernatorial record in New Mexico, isn't bachman crazy, gingrich suicidal, or romney mormon (to take a cheap shot). He could poll nationally a lot better than he's doing in the primary, and is arguably the man to take Obama's job, but he just doesn't get along as well with social reactionaries.

What's up with that?

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

if the thunder don't have an argument, the thunder resorts to ad hominem.

you may be Jack's "friend," but you're full of shit, and your shit-fill is loaded so that you can hurl a shit-projectile at Evil Rethuglicans, and thereby feel superior.

what an asshole.

hoo-ray, you're not a Republican and therefore are superior human... just ask you!

meanwhile go ahead and project all your inanity. it's stunning!

Jack Crow said...

Soma,

While I'm not in the business of caring if a pol gets no love, I think it's probably easy to explain Johnson's exclusion.

He wants to legalize drugs.

Jim,

It is my personal experience (working campaigns in the "First in the Nation" primary state, that whole networks do in fact go into the bag for predetermined candidates, especially during the primary cycle.

Look at how MSNBC and CNN frame Romney and Bachmann, setting them up for a perceived competition between the Teap Arty and the Establishment. The decision has already been made.

Each player is replaceable, but the networks have decided on their narrative already.

It's not even collusive. It's about the money.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

You can always tell a GooGoo LibPwog's complete disconnect from reality in America when the GGLP starts in on attacking Sarah Palin and calling her "stupid" or whatever disparaging synonym, and extrapolating greater "stupidity" (again, or whatever) to those who would support her or vote for her or defend her.

The GGLP wishes America were made up of upper-middle-class poly-degreed Enlightened Beings Who Vote Democrat, and cannot bear to think of an America where it's otherwise. Thus, anyone who isn't an upper-middle-class poly-degreed Donkeybot is "stupid" (or whatever synonym) merely because that "stupid" person doesn't vote Democrat, didn't fellate Obama, doesn't have multiple post-12 degrees, and lacks the language of Political Correctness.

The harangues show what the GGLP thinks of him/herself, but in a terrific irony, they reveal the GGLP as an inflexible non-thinker.

Jack Crow said...

Karl,

I think the best approach to merit liberals is kind patience.

It's not easy to pop that bubble.

It took me the better part of a decade.

Happy Jack said...

What's up with that?

Unlike Ron Paul, he doesn't have a fanatical base to raise hell if he's excluded. The media would love to ignore Paul, but they don't have the stones.

She is a media creation, a PR, ad-men, phantasm.

Nah. Think of her as the Lady Gaga of politics. Or Madonna if you prefer. Someone who knows what the deal is all about. A media creation ends up like one of those Disney film girls. Or the New Kids on the Block.

If Palin had handlers, she would have dealt with that Paul Revere stuff like a typical politician. "I misspoke." "I was taken out of context." Etc. Instead, she tells the media to go fuck themselves. A loose cannon is a PR flack's nightmare

Jack Crow said...

That, Happy Jack. Exactly that.

I think it's hard for some people who buy into the lib/con dichotomy to understand how smartly Palin dodged the take down.

It wasn't a hit job. They sent an expeditionary force against her.

And she walked.

It's not that she's the wickedest genius ever. She understands the environment better the purported experts.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

Jack,

I give the Merit Class exactly what they give people like me. I don't expect to "convert" them because they have no interest in seeing reality.

I submit trying to convert them renders you much like OP trying to fix the economy with currency trading fractional changes.

The Merit Class is pretty much lost to their swooning near-lust for Technocracy and Fine Dining. They simply want to feel superior. I'd like them to feel superior too, as the most superior class of asshole on Earth -- and that's not ignoring Evil Rethuglicans either. It's suggesting Evil Rethuglicans can't hold a candle to the Merit Class when it comes to being an insufferable ASSHOLE toward anyone who doesn't believe in Merit as Godlike.

Jim H. said...

You're all still ignoring the central fact of Palin: she gets coverage whenever she farts. Doesn't matter if it smells good or stinks to high heaven. Her name and image and fingernail-on-the-blackboard voice are imprinted in your sensorium; think what you will of her. To get that kind of exposure—good, bad, or indifferent—costs. And it costs BIG! What I want to know is who's paying for it? Who's her sponsors? Who are her flacks? How does she (or whoever) pay them?

This is the obvious nose-on-your-face feature of contemporary 'news'. Coverage goes where coverage is sent (or beckoned). It's not merit or newsworthiness that causes every single news show to home in on Madonna (or Britney) Palin. It's money and access to producers and the clout to direct.

What I think about Palin is irrelevant. What you or pretty much anybody else thinks about her is irrelevant. What's relevant is that we're thinking about her and she's getting coverage & exposure.

Ignore her at your peril, too. That's how far that earworm has penetrated the culture.