Did You “Melt Down” Over Bristol Palin’s Pregnancy? I Didn’t.

Every political writer occasionally gets lazy and fails to identify specific examples of a phenomenon she or he is noting, praising, excoriating, or distinguishing from some other phenomena. But sometimes the omission seems to be deliberate, so that the phenomenon in question can be attributed a bit loosely, and perhaps even maliciously. That could be the case with a piece today at National Review by David French that makes this rather sweeping claim:

[W]hile it hasn’t been much noted in conservative press, it should surprise no one that the liberal side of the Internet has virtually melted down over the news that Bristol Palin is pregnant. Crowing over the unwed pregnancy of an “abstinence advocate,” many on the left aren’t letting the facts — or their alleged principles — get in the way of a good mocking.

Since I didn’t even much, much less “melt down” over Palin’s announcement of her pregnancy, which I stumbled over on Twitter because someone retweeted it, I kept reading French’s piece to see how he was defining “the liberal side of the Internet” or as he put it at other junctures “the left.” There were references to earlier Palin family episodes (for the most part heavily publicized by the Palin family) and the mixed bag of people–not exactly the center of anybody’s commentariat (Dan Savage, Carrol Costello, Bill Maher)–who had sport with them, and then a quick martyrological look back at the original persecution of you-know-who herself. And there, finally, was the evidence of “the left” and its “meltdown” over Bristol:

[F]ew things top Gawker’s latest – a piece declaring that Bristol “made a great argument for abortion” when she announced her second pregnancy. That announcement, which expressed the pain of letting down family and friends, also declared her resolve and her trust in God, ending with “Tripp, this new baby, and I will all be fine, because God is merciful.”

So that’s it: the celebrity gossip site Gawker is “the Left.” I’m not sure I can even come up with an analogy for how absurd this would be if we were talking about, say, Chelsea Clinton. I don’t believe I would ever, say, attribute some crazy screed about Chelsea from The Blaze or World Net Daily to “the conservative side of the internet” or “the Right.” And those sources are actually a lot more political than Gawker.

But French doesn’t seem interested in any major or minor premises in his argument: he wants to get to the conclusion:

As we ponder this level of hate, it’s worth remembering the Original Sin that put Sarah, Bristol, and the entire family in the Left’s crosshairs — in 2008, Sarah Palin stood in the way of The One. For a very brief time, after McCain selected Palin as his running mate and after Palin’s convention speech, McCain actually pulled ahead of Obama.

Yeah, right, us Leftists are terrified of Sarah Palin’s vast popularity, which is why anytime she makes a feint towards a return to electoral politics from her increasingly remote perch somewhere between Facebook and reality TV, we all feel guilty for egging her on. It would suit me fine if the whole clan would find some way to keep their business to themselves.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.