We are rarely, these days, surprised by much. Especially the behavior of the national political press. We devoted a couple paragraphs yesterday to predicting their reaction to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's speech before the Republican National Convention last night, but this morning we are having a genuine crazy pills moment. Are we trapped in Peggy Noonan's bubble? Seriously, people? The speech blew you away? It was a generic stump speech with a couple killer lines, delivered competently. It was the Republican equivalent of John Kerry's speech at the DNC, just given by someone America doesn't hate (yet) while the national networks were listening. We honestly can't believe the same media that knew full well that they were playing into the expectations game became so convinced that Governor Palin would massively fuck up that the fact that she was perky and pleasant and funny—the fucking reasons she was selected—was some revelation, or the birth of a new political superstar. We can't believe everyone gave her a pass on the 'bridge to nowhere' bullshit. We can't believe people keep calling her a "reformer" and "maverick" even though as a politician, completely outside her self-constructed narrative, she introduced focus-grouped wedge politics to small-town Alaska and lobbied for the most corrupt politicians in America. Is it really this easy? We know this miserable woman. We are from the great white north, the land of Ms. Palin's congressional doppelganger. We still can't help but feel that the "just folks" everyone images they understand better than everyone else will find Ms. Palin to be, well, as Ken Layne put it:
America, we've met Sarah Palin before. It was in junior high. She was that snarling evil god-obsessed nut who punished you constantly and enjoyed nothing more than torture - seeing you tortured, that is. And your parents would never quite believe it because she "seemed like a nice lady," from a distance, with her squeaky voice.
So yes we will grant that the "red meat" portion of the proceedings (where the fuck did that term come from? Chris Matthews got hungry and invented a political meme!) seemed effective and cutting. The small town bullshit still plays. We'll grant that the "people keep calling her a hick" story (while not true outside of conservative persecution fantasies) works in her favor, even though it's equivalent to complaining about how everyone keeps calling Barack Obama an elitist (the difference being that people actually do). But those were one-liners no more substantial or amusing than the crass and vile bullshit Rudy Giuliani delivered a few minutes before, and no one has ever, ever doubted Palin's ability to talk before cameras. She was a pageant contestant and a local news sports person. We know those are the only real qualifications for national political office, we merely wish everyone else who knew it would acknowledge it, instead of acting shocked that this woman can read.