Jared Olar: How do you cure PDS?
The folks at the New York Times, the Washington Post and Mother Jones magazine must be feeling pretty dumb now, or at least they should be.
Last Friday they started rooting through a heap of more than 24,000 emails from Sarah Palin’s time as governor of Alaska, even “crowdsourcing” the excavation by enlisting public assistance in reading the emails and flagging all the really juicy ones.
And after all that work, here is what they dug up: “.”
Yes, with the release of these emails, we now know that Sarah Palin was the governor of Alaska and did governor-type stuff, was the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate and did VP candidate-type stuff, is a politician and did politician-type stuff, is a wife and did wife-type stuff, is a mother and did mom-type stuff — but didn’t say anything about those things in her emails that is worth mentioning.
I doubt the Old Gray Lady, the WaPo and MJ will win any Pulitzers for their Sarah Palin email coverage. Woodward and Bernstein stuff this sure ain’t.
Why did they go to so much trouble? Palin is no longer an elected official, and hasn’t sought public office since 2008.
Part of the explanation — but only a very small part — is that the leftist journal Mother Jones initially sought these emails during the 2008 presidential campaign, naturally seeking the inside scoop on Sen. John McCain’s choice of runningmate.
It took so long to obtain these emails that there isn’t as much relevance in investigating Palin today than there was three years ago. Still, once they got them, it only made sense to see if they held anything of interest.
But probably the primary cause of the Palin email non-event is psychological rather than professional.
Clearly they had hoped that by casting their net so wide and so deep, they would catch something slimy and smelly. But you have to ask why.
The news media generally have not devoted anywhere near the amount of resources to investigating other public figures or candidates, and have shown far less interest in the character, qualifications and lack of paper trail of President Barack Obama.
Yes, Palin has established herself as a permanent fixture and a power broker on the Republican scene who knows how to generate publicity (giving the lie to the belief that she’s stupid), and she might possibly run for president (though I doubt she will and don’t think she should).
But that can hardly warrant the intensity of interest the media have shown in her — nor the depth of the fear and loathing of Palin that many on the left regularly display.
The email anticlimax followed close on the heels of the preceding week’s caravan of journalists trailing her “One Nation” bus tour. Both are just the latest signs of an unhealthy interest in, even an obsession with, the former Alaska governor turned political celebrity — maybe even a full-blown case of PDS, “Palin Derangement Syndrome.”
I really can’t say why Palin elicits such a strong reaction from so many people on the political left. It can’t just be her political stances, which do not meaningfully differ from any other American conservative, nor her occasional verbal gaffes and fact errors, which are as interesting and as newsworthy as the content of her gubernatorial emails.
It’s probably futile to seek reasons for the unusual interest that journalists and leftists have in Palin. Maybe it’s something about her personality that pushes their buttons (and I suspect she knows how to push their buttons and enjoys doing it).
Or maybe it has to do with how unhealthy our political culture has become, that we are prone to demonize and dehumanize political leaders.
Perhaps it’s that we are ruled by our passions rather than our reason, that leads so many of us to be duped by paranoid and incredibly foolish conspiracy theories — Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster’s suicide, George W. Bush and 9/11 Truthism, Obama and Birtherism, Palin and Triggerism (the claim that her son Trig is really her grandson, despite all available evidence including the word of the doctor who delivered him).
Whatever the origins of PDS, we’d be closer to a cure if we stopped obsessing on her in the news.
Jared Olar may be reached at email@example.com.