There’s a story making the rounds that Todd Palin was cheating on his wife. I don’t believe it. I don’t care. It might be true. It may turn out to be true. It might impact his wife’s political cache, which makes it a story given she’s often touted as a presidential candidate in 2012, and idea that she’s teased publicly.
The story is almost an exercise in human nature. The fact that people would rush to read it (it’s already on track to be one of the Examiner site’s most popular) and comment on it so hastily and in such a brash manner says a lot about us. It says a lot about the Palin defenders and the Palin haters, each of whom would act in precisely the opposite manner if the focus were based on similar dicey rumors about someone on the opposite side of the political aisle, say Al Gore.
Let’s look at the “defender” comments:
Does Pelosi really ride a broom to work?
What kind of a sick putrid person who sees himself as above it all starts parroting this story? I bet this sick ignorant puke will go after the young girls soon too. Does Maiman want to move in next door and he too can then become a voyeur of the Palins?
Someone else took the irony route:
These people need to be taken out! The Palins are nothing but crap. After reading all these stories by this and other Examiners I am convinced they want to hurt our country and keep us from progressing. I hope someone misses on their next moose hunt. I hope their plane crashes. They need to go and these stories keep coming out and these Examiners are telling us to take them out. Thanks for the support.
Of course, he doesn’t really mean that. This is a Palin supporter using –or attempting to use– reverse psychology.
And then there’s the figure who laments the lack of focus on important matters:
Independent? With all the possible topics to write about this is an important question? You have to ask yourself if you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Lame.
Another reader commented along a similar vein, even providing a list of topics:
–California Declares Fiscal Emergency
–Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens
–Where are the jobs that were promised?
–Is GITMO closed?
–Have the wire taps without court order been stopped?
–Are we out of 2 wars yet?
–This administration promised millions of jobs. Where are they?
But we see such trash in the food store isle [he continues] and now we see it on this rag for all 21 people to see. It is a shame some have so much time on their hands.
Of course, these people either haven’t checked or are conveniently ignoring the fact that so many other stories have been written precisly along the lines of what they claim are lacking. Some examples:
• Immigration reform should include national ID cards
• White House targets companies hiring illegal immigrants
• WSJ Poll: President’s ratings climb
• Are China’s human rights violations really America’s business?
• Abortion doctor charged with murder (Warning: Graphic details)
• Palin unfavorability rating hits all-time high
• Alabama Governor: Only Christians are my ‘brothers and sisters’
• Joe Lieberman to join the cast of retiring senators
• Video: Gingrich to Palin: ‘Be a lot more careful’
• Obama launches review of ‘excessive’ regulation
• Supreme Court rejects appeal to overturn D-C gay marriage law
• Report: Half of Americans have preexisting conditions
• Does Steve Jobs owe stockholders a better explanation about his health?
• Poll: Obama lauded on response to Tucson; Palin, not so much
• Martin Luther King and the inequality of income
• Congress uses constitutional clause to hinder investigations of its members
• Virtual border fence scrapped
• Obama strives to comfort mourners and unite a nation
• Should we start involuntarily committing people?
• Details continue to surface in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting
• What if the attack on Gabrielle Giffords politically motivated?
• Paul Krugman messes with Texas
• Americans split on health care repeal
• Afghanistan withdrawal to be pushed to 2014
• Obama: we’re “on track” in Afghanistan
• Mission creep: Afghanistan combat mission to end by 2014
• One quarter of Army applicants can’t pass entrance exam
• Intelligence Reports: Afghan war depends on Pakistan’s help
• Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed
• What to do about North Korea AND China
• Obama faces off against GOP over nuclear treaty
• Are we serious enough about spending cuts to cut military spending?
• Traumatic brain injury: The legacy of long wars
And of course, the Al Gore story.
Those are just some, but hardly all, of the stories in the last three months, many of which got far fewer comments in days than this story did in less than 12 hours. Was this reader there to comment? Probably not.
Would these readers even be commenting if the story were about Al Gore? Given the clear lean of his conservative politics, yes, he’d probably rub his hands together with glee and trash the former vice president. What exactly were people saying about Al Gore when some masseuse made claims of a rendezvous? Let’s see:
Maybe if Al didn’t have all the charm and personality of a dish rag he might have had a chance to do a little horizontal rumba. Instead of using his imagination and getting in touch with the unemployed via self love good ole Al has made a complete fool out of himself AGAIN for the umpteenth time.
This should be the final nail in the coffin for Mr. Internet at least it should be…
Well, Gore DID mentor under the rapist in chief, Slick Willie Clinton
Another Gore failure to deal with!
What are the odds that a President AND his VP BOTH leave DNA on a woman’s clothing and are considered sexual predators?
And when someone mentioned that the story couldn’t be taken seriously since the source was the National Enquirer, a conservative reader protested: “the same rag that you people dismissed with their story of the cheating slimey President wanna-be John Edwards?”
Indeed, a conservative reading the Todd Palin story made precisely that reference when he commented: “How’s Bat Boy doing?” Translation: Hey, it’s just a supermarket rag. Well, as a conservativer reader pointed out in the Al Gore story, “the same rag that you people dismissed with their story of the cheating slimey President wanna-be John Edwards?” We want the goose, but not the gander, is that it?
And one cannot overlook the number of hits a story like this gets (and the Todd Palin story is getting them). When a reader says, “You have to ask yourself if you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution,” how much of the problem involves the consumer of such stories?
If someone indignantly demands to know “what kind of a sick putrid person who sees himself as above it all starts parroting this story?” shouldn’t we ask what kind of person reads this story, and what kind of person comments on it –those Palin acolytes who were there to trash Al Gore and those defending Al Gore showing up to trash the Palins.
If it’s a lame story –and it almost certainly is– why do so many people care enough about it to read it? And comment on it? Schadenfreude? We like kicking people when they’re down? We love it when it’s about someone we hate but protest when it’s about someone we support?
If a well-known national talk show host were to be caught in some kind of scandal, would the reaction really be any different, any less visceral if the host were Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann? No, the comments would be nearly identical. The only difference would be in the people writing them. The people on the right would trash Olbermann and defend Limbaugh; the people on the left would trash Rush and defend Olbermann. That’s all that would be different. The comments would be the same, which pretty much means the people making them have a lot more in common with each other than they would ever dare admit. And maybe that’s part of the problem.
In fact, that may be an even bigger problem than all this lamenting over the nasty tone of our political rhetoric: It’s the fact that, regardless of political stripe, the purveyors of vitriol both left and right, are exactly alike: Low-hanging fruit grabbers who love to live in the gutter. They may dislike or even hate the politics of their neighbor, but they share each other’s most pronounced character flaws.
So where does that leave us? Is the Todd Palin story true? Probably not. Is a story of this kind generally the business of the public? Probably not. Is the story a reflection on character when someone trumpets on about faith, virtue and and family values? Can be. What if that person is a former vice presidential candidate and a potential candidate for president? Does any possible philandering or infidelity make it more newsworthy? Ask Bill Clinton. And John Edwards after he was no longer a potential candidate.
Somehow, I get the feeling that the people who say this story isn’t news (and it isn’t) are generally the first ones in line to read it, and often comment on it. Depending on their politics, which is far more important to them than news.