Tuesday, September 30, 2008


From Rolling Stone via AlterNet, Matt Taibbi goes for Sarah Palin's jugular:

Mad Dog Palin

But watching Palin's speech, I had no doubt that I was witnessing a historic, iconic performance. The candidate sauntered to the lectern with the assurance of a sleepwalker - and immediately launched into a symphony of snorting and sneering remarks, taking time out in between the superior invective to present herself as just a humble gal with a beefcake husband and a brood of healthy, combat-ready spawn who just happened to be the innocent targets of a communist and probably also homosexual media conspiracy. It was a virtuoso performance. She appeared to be completely without shame and utterly full of shit, awing a room full of hardened reporters with her sickly sweet line about the high-school-flame-turned-hubby who, "five children later" is "still my guy." It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag.

Within minutes, Palin had given TV audiences a character infinitely recognizable to virtually every American: the small-town girl with just enough looks and a defiantly incurious mind who thinks the PTA minutes are Holy Writ, and injustice means the woman next door owning a slightly nicer set of drapes or flatware. Or the governorship, as it were.


The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance.

Much more here.

It took me awhile to warm to this guy, but I'm really starting to like him. He has advanced the sociopolitical insult to levels never even imagined by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, but the Generation X writer takes his work into areas his gonzo predecessor would not. That is, Matt Taibbi moves fluently back and forth between dry evisceration and poignant observation. I mean, it's fairly easy to lampoon GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as Tina Fey and numerous others have deftly shown, but going from "It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag" to the assertion that American politics have been reduced by television to nothing more than the grandest of reality shows is nothing short of sublime.

Go check out his essay. It's the definitive Sarah Palin piece. And look for more Matt Taibbi--I'm starting to think that he may be one of the key essayists of our time.