Coming to terms with dodging a bullet

COMING TO TERMS WITH DODGING A BULLET…. Yesterday afternoon, Atrios noted, “Sarah Palin is still getting more press attention than Joe the Biden, and he’s going to be Vice President and she’s not.” Soon after, CNN’s Jack Cafferty added, “When’s the last time a losing vice presidential candidate was still in the news a week after the election? Nobody seems interested in interviewing Joe Biden, or for that matter, John McCain. But we just don’t seem to be able to get enough of Sarah Palin.”

They’re both right, of course. Palin was a ridiculous candidate on a failed ticket. Her candidacy was a national embarrassment, and insult to our political system. And yet, like a car crash, it’s hard to turn away.

At first blush, it’s hard to put one’s finger on why, exactly. Maybe we haven’t quite gotten out of “campaign mode.” Or perhaps some are thinking ahead, keeping an eye on Palin with an expectation that she’ll seek national office again fairly soon.

But I think it’s more than that. Kevin noted this afternoon, “We’ve simply never seen someone so completely unmoored from the normal requirements of national office before.” I not only think that’s right, I also think we’re still coming to terms with just how serious this fiasco really was.

Given this, Andrew Sullivan had a very compelling item explaining why Palin may be history, but “she is history that matters.”

Let’s be real in a way the national media seems incapable of: this person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy. She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months — and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish — is a sign of their total loss of nerve. That the Palin absurdity should follow the two-term presidency of another individual utterly out of his depth in national government is particularly troubling. 46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural “identity”. Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring. […]

This deluded and delusional woman still doesn’t understand what happened to her; still has no self-awareness; and has never been forced to accept her obvious limitations. She cannot keep even the most trivial story straight; she repeats untruths with a ferocity and calm that is reserved only to the clinically unhinged; she has the educational level of a high school drop-out; and regards ignorance as some kind of achievement. It is excruciating to watch her — but more excruciating to watch those who feel obliged to defend her.

It’s not quite that we “don’t seem to be able to get enough of Sarah Palin”; it’s that we were the victim of a painful and consequential practical joke. We haven’t quite come to terms with what’s transpired.