The only idea in the Palin speech was her attack on mainstream media. What she is trying to do -- in good libertarian Web 2.0 fashion -- is become the media herself so that she can distort reality. Don't trust the experts, she is rabble-rousing her ignorant followers. It's angry amateur hour. Palin -- and the reactionary cultural forces that both created the woman and have been created by her -- is the reason why I wrote Cult of the Amateur . It's a new plot against America (read Roth's original version for many self-evident comparisons between the fictionalized Lindbergh and the all-too-factual Palin).
What this should prove to the liberal blogosphere is that mainstream media -- the Post, the Times, even the Journal -- is more of an ally than a foe. Arianna Huffington should cease her pathetic vendetta against the harmless Sulzbergers. Smart, well informed left wing bloggers like Josh Marshall should unambiguously remind their readers of the instrinsic value of our leading newspapers, magazines and cable news channels. Just as the left in the Thirties mistook the liberal establishment as their enemy while underestimating the real threat to civilization, so the same is true today amongst blinkered mainstream-media bashing leftists.
Peggy Noonan is right -- it is indeed over. For now, at least. But Palin is planting the seeds of a virus that, I fear, will eventually come to power in an America hobbled by economic decline and political gridlock. John McCain's myopic decision to invite her onto his ticket makes him the Franz von Papen of his fissiparious party -- the old Center Party aristocrat who mistakenly imagined that he could manipulate the mob for his own political advantage. Von Papen's myopia lead directly, of course, to the Nazi seizure of power in Germany. That won't happen in 2008. But the oblivious McCain -- who seems to be in a different universe from the rest of the world -- is playing with the same amateur fire.
Meanwhile, Joe Klein is right. Mainstream media must be strong in the face of all the lies and distortion:
There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.
So far, so good on this front, I think. Even the powers-that-be at CNN -- nobody's ideal of a heroic media organization -- have refused to back down over Campbell Brown's Tucker Bounds interview. I just hope that mainstream media will stick to its professional principles and continue to expose all the lies and distortion of this new plot against America.