Rich managed to miss all the anti-Palin commentary from his paper and the rest of the press when he declared the governor had actually gotten good press as candidate for vice president.
Nowhere is the power of resentment to trump reason more flagrantly illustrated than in the incessant complaint by Palin and her troops that she is victimized by a double standard in the "mainstream media." In truth, the commentators at ABC, NBC and CNN - often the same ones who judged Michelle Obama a drag on her husband - all tried to outdo each other in praise for Palin when she emerged at the Republican convention 10 months ago. Even now, the so-called mainstream media can grade Palin on a curve: at MSNBC's "Morning Joe" last week, Palin's self-proclaimed representation of the "real America" was accepted as a given, as if white rural America actually still was the nation's baseline.
Does anyone but Rich seriously believe Palin got better press than Michelle Obama during the campaign? The Times reliably shieldedthe future first ladyfrom what it considered unfair attention to her remark in Milwaukee that "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback."
Rich smeared Palin as a race-baiter, suggesting her boilerplate praise of Alaska as a "microcosm of America" was somehow sinister, and then really stretched to make her dismissal of Obama's "community organizer" past into a racial slur:
The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter's flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she's riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that's larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.
That resentment is in part about race, of course. WhenPalin referred to Alaskaas "a microcosm of America" during the 2008 campaign, it was in defiance of the statistical reality that her state's tiny black and Hispanic populations are unrepresentative of her nation. She stood for the "real America,"she insisted, and the identity of the unreal America didn't have to be stated explicitly for audiences to catch her drift. Herconvention speech's signature linewas a deftly coded putdown of her presumably shiftless big-city opponent: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." (Funny how this wisdom has been forgotten by her supporters now that she has abandoned her own actual responsibilities in public office.)
Well, Palin's racism was apparently "deftly coded" that only Rich could discern it. And it is the supposedly un-racist Rich whoinjected the word "shiftless" into the conversation, not Gov. Palin.
Following that smear was more blather about the supposedly angry Palinistas, sopped up from the comments section of the web site of conservative radio host and "Obama hater" Mark Levin:
Its voice can be found in the postings at a Web site maintained by the fans of Mark Levin, the Obama hater who is, at this writing, theNo.2 best-selling hardcover nonfiction writer in America. (Glenn Beck isNo.1 in paperback nonfiction.)Politico surveyed them last week. "Bottomline, do you know of any way we can remove these idiots before this country goes down the crapper?" wrote one Levin fan. "I WILL HELP!!! Should I buy a gun?" Another called for a new American revolution, promising "there will be blood."
Somehow the Times never manages to find angry left-wing comments at the Daily Kos or Huffington Post.
These are the cries of a constituency that feels disenfranchised - by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House. Palin is their born avatar. She puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions, and she can solidify her followers' hold on a G.O.P. that has no leaders with the guts or alternative vision to stand up to them or to her.