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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Aftershocks

On Monday afternoon, I found myself banging my head against the wall of my living room after hearing that Sarah Palin's daughter was, in fact, pregnant. I read the "smears" during the weekend, including the "faked" pregnancy where Sarah Palin supposedly shoved a pillow in her blouse to cover up for her daughter. And while unexpected, the Monday story put the lie to the conspiracy theory in a pretty definitive way.

This was the peak of the political earthquake. While some of the hard core conservatives bring up 2004's Wellstone Memorial as the tipping point for regular voters leaving crazy democrats behind, I see this week as a replay of the National Guard Memo story.

60 Minutes, headed by Dan Rather, tried to pass off a fake memo about Bush's national guard experience as true. Even after compelling evidence came out, Rather stood by the story. When the letter was definitively proven as manufactured, 60 Minutes went back on the air claiming that while there was no letter in their hands, the content was real. This led to an unofficial slogan for the story: Fake but accurate.

And so, the pregnancy story is fake, but accurate. While trying to make Sarah Palin out to be a liar by concocting a conspiracy theory out of whole cloth and manufactured photos, they stumbled onto another story which was private and pretty ordinary. Having a pregnant teenage daughter as a Republican politician is problematic, but much less so when the lie was so much bigger.

As the smear and slander (or libel, as the case may be) continue, the impact becomes weaker and weaker. Sarah Palin was a Buchananite, she cut sex education funding, she belongs to a radical church, (does that sound familiar?) she wanted to secede from the US, she had a secret affair. Really? How can I believe you when you were wrong before?

While the aftershocks lessen, they reinforce the base of the Republican Party. Karl Rove learned in 2004 that if you keep your base, it doesn't matter what the other side tries to do. How's the Democratic base doing lately? Look out for those PUMAs.

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