The Conquest of Uncool | Bleader

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Conquest of Uncool

Posted By on 11.24.09 at 12:57 PM

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Sarah Palin skipped liberal enclaves like "cities" and headed for friendlier climes like Grand Rapids and Noblesville, Indiana ("unless your conversation is regularly peppered with 'holler' and 'shucks,' each used as both a noun and a verb, the only reason you'd ever go to Noblesville is that you were arrested in one of the few areas left which the strip mall towns haven't annexed"). It didn't help. Hustlers will always let you down - that's what a hustle is, no matter what Rick Ross tells you.

The whole thing is kind of depressing. Here's Ben Dueholm:

"Her followers are understandably tired of being treated like morons who will do whatever they're told, and Sarah Palin has somehow come to symbolize that disgruntlement, despite being exactly the kind of establishment product the teabaggers are supposedly disgruntled with."

And Matt Taibbi:

"You had these people [the national political media; pundits] eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny."

Both posts have interesting things to say about Palin vis a vis the Obama campaign; do read them both.

(Just to dispatch quickly with the local angle: note that Mark Kirk and his colleagues in the state GOP seem to be running about six months behind various national narratives. That's going to be a problem going forward.)

Perhaps I have economic collapse on the brain, but I think a partial answer to Taibbi's question is that Big Journo operates like a market, and horse-race narratives operate on the principle of pump-and-dump. In both arenas there's money to be made on both slopes. Taibbi blames the management whom the pundits are theoretically sucking up to, but that seems overcomplicated and conspiratorial. There are outliers like Ashleigh Banfield and Phil Donahue, and arguably Lou Dobbs, but ultimately I think it's an instinctive response to market conditions: buy low, sell high.

As to what to do about it: I don't know. It's a generalized problem that's not limited to politics (cf. the title reference, which I suspect will be a muse of the next season of Mad Men). All I can advise is to keep your watch on any hand between your thighs, and to read and support people who don't seem to be trying to hustle you.

My very abbreviated list: Glenn Greenwald, Daniel Larison, Who Is IOZ?, Bill Moyers, Jonathan Schwarz, Rick Perlstein, Steve Chapman, Marcy Wheeler, Spencer Ackerman, Radley Balko, Bob Herbert, Elizabeth Warren.

I don't always agree with everything they write, but after reading them I don't feel like I have to check my pants for my wallet. Why they're not as popular as David Brooks, or Jonah Goldberg, or Thomas Friedman, I'll never know - aside from an innate human desire to want to be hustled - but they're worth the effort.

Speaking of things to read, now that President Obama has chosen in for a dime, in for a quarter with regards to Afghanistan, I recommend Bill Moyers on the echoes of Vietnam, and the great Gary Wills on the optics.

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