One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

I don’t respond to filters

I’m glad that E.J. Dionne began his column with what I agree is the most revealing indicator of Sarah Palin’s VP debate performance:

Early in last night’s vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin said that she might not answer the questions as moderator Gwen Ifill posed them. This was the Alaska governor’s way of saying she was going to stick to the talking points she had stuffed into her head, no matter what the subject.

Dionne’s point is the prose version of this hilarious flowchart, diagramming Palin’s mental contortions as she ducked, weaved, and winked her way out of practically every “question” asked — and not followed up on — by the all-too-compliant moderator.  Not only does this capture Palin’s style of “debating” — or, in her words, avoiding “the filter of the mainstream media” — but it epitomizes the McCain team’s entire communications strategy.  Don’t like a question?  It’s biased!  Facing criticism about your qualifications?  It’s the hypocrisy of east coast elites!  Feel pressure to abide by facts?  That’s just what the “media” wants to hear!

The simple alternative is to craft answers that “the American people” want to hear.  Never mind that these answers are consistently the same clichés and talking points, worn so threadbare that even conservatives can begin to perceive their shoddy, mass-marketed quality.  The benefit of “being able…to just speak to the American people” — as Palin contrasted the debate format with her disastrous one-on-one interview performances — is, of course, that the speaker gets to essentially create this abstract entity, “the American people.”  If she is speaking to everyone, then she is, in effect, speaking to no one.  No rules therefore apply, and her answers can echo within the tightly sealed bunker of the McCain spin team.  Anything “filtered” out would just be what elites like Democrats, the media, and the moderator of the debate (not to mention we Americans living outside the cave) “want” to hear.

Another possibility?  The filter, apparently, is just too damn effective; in the case of Katie Couric’s gentle softballs, for example, it seems to have filtered out every magazine and newspaper — “all of them” — leaving poor Governor Palin with none left to cite.

October 4, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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