I’d much rather hear talk of DeMint than of Palin

A friend, obviously seeking to appall me, sent an e-mail saying, “Oh, you’ll enjoy this…” and linking to this blog post, which I quote in part:

And speaking of factions, and again I’m not a reporter, just a consumer of news, it sure seems to me that Jim DeMint is the current leader of the hard-core conservative faction of the Republican Party.  He’s far more consistent with his endorsements than any other conservative leader, and unlike Palin he can claim that he’s actually been doing something effective for the cause.  For the conservative/Tea Party faction, presumably the trick is to be as far to the right as possible without actually sounding crazy to those outside the faction (and thus perhaps drawing vetoes from more pragmatic conservatives, and possibly some GOP-aligned interest groups).  At least as I read the reporting, DeMint seems to be pretty good at keeping to that line, and he certainly must be more reliable both for that crowd and for more pragmatic types than Palin.

To know more, we need more solid reporting.  Hey, reporters!  We know activists hate TARP; is it a make or break issue for them?  What about other important groups within the GOP?  And, while of course Tea Partiers and conservatives generally are fond of the Sage of Wasilla, do leaders of those groups seem more likely to turn to her or to DeMint (or perhaps to another candidate) for leadership?  How much good will did DeMint buy with his endorsements and support in primary season 2010?

And yeah, I groaned, but was not shocked or surprised. After all, a guy makes a naked power play like the one DeMint’s made, and one should expect such talk.

And I’ll say this for him: Better DeMint than Palin.

Don’t get me wrong: I would think it horrible to contemplate either of them becoming POTUS. But at least my intelligence, my sense of propriety, is not nearly as offended by talk of DeMint as of Palin. Or for that matter, the absurd idea of Nikki Haley presuming to become governor of South Carolina when she has done nothing in public or private life to indicate any sort of suitability or qualifications for the job.

The thing is, Jim DeMint is a uomo di rispetto, a man of respect, in the Godfather sense. Sure, he might be doing some things that I

Al Lettieri as Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo.

consider to be infamnia, and he might be trying to start a war among the Two Families that rule inside the Beltway, but he is a man to be taken seriously, a United States Senator who has demonstrated considerable political leadership skill. I respect him the way Don Corleone respected Sollozzo when he agreed to meet with him even though he wasn’t interested in his proposal, because drugs is a dirty business, as we all know — but I digress.

Contrast that to the utter lack of accomplishment that Sarah Palin embodies — she’s sort of to politics what Paris Hilton is to fame, or Reality TV is as a testament to a highly evolved species — and you can see why, though I don’t want either of them to become Leader of the Free World, I am less offended by loose talk about him than I am about her.

Talk about Sarah Palin as a presidential contender has become so routine that many have probably become inured to it, and now think nothing of it. But it is bizarre in the extreme. Like Alvin Greene — or Christine O’Donnell — being a major party nominee for the Senate.  Or like Nikki Haley.

Does no one but me notice this? Has Reality TV dumbed down American expectations to the point that we think it’s OK for anybody who’s shown up on the Boob Tube enough to presume to be presidential material?

Apparently so.

13 thoughts on “I’d much rather hear talk of DeMint than of Palin

  1. Doug Ross

    This is why we need Jim DeMint in the Senate:


    “The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to limit the volume of commercials and keep them at the level of the programs they interrupt.”

    This is the government we have now. They have the time to vote on a bill that gives the FCC one year (!) to implement regulations on how loud commercials can be. Seriously? If Jim DeMint stops just one waste of time and resources like this bill, he’s a hero in my book.

    Two Democrats (Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.) are the fearless patriots leading saving America’s eardrums and relieving overburdened citizens from pressing the mute button. How would we survive without the government to save us?

  2. Brad

    Now, ya see, that sounds like pretty good legislation to me. Maybe you’ve never tried to watch TV after others in the house have gone to bed, only to hear shouts of “Turn that down!” every time a commercial comes on, when you had it turned down so far you couldn’t make out the dialogue on your show.

    It’s not vital. It’s not earth-shaking. But I care more about this than I do about the Bush tax cuts, either way.

    I figure, if they’re not going to pass REAL health care reform — i.e., single-payer — then they might as well do stuff like this. At least it’s mildly useful.

  3. Doug Ross

    Yeah, imagine all the government jobs that will come about as a result of this legislation. We’ll need studies done to determine what the maximum decibel level will be for commercials. We’ll need a team of workers monitoring every channel, 24 hours a day to identify offenders. We’ll need education task forces, enforcement agencies, mediators, lawyers, etc.

    Jim DeMint is looking smarter every day.

  4. Brad

    In fact, as it happens… I recently wrote about that legislation.

    I was thinking it was here, but actually it was on the ADCO blog, which is one of a number of things I do around here.

    And my concluding words were, “And you thought Congress never did anything relevant to your life…”

  5. bud

    I’m not sure I understand the slam to reality TV. I actually find it far more gratifying than something as horrid as the Sapranos or Sex and the City or other such drivel. Watching the Biggest Loser is both informative and inspiring. I’ve learned a great deal about health and nutrition. The Amazing Race is a wonderful way to tour the world without leaving your couch. The shows in India and other developing nations illustrate just how well off we are.

    Sure there are examples of bad reality TV, but at it’s best it’s the best TV has to offer. And now thanks to congress we won’t have to worry about the loud commercials.

  6. Brad

    Bud, it sounds like, with the “Biggest Loser,” you’ve found a show with a socially redeeming characteristic. So that’s a good thing.

    But on the whole what Reality TV means to me is something I run across while searching the channels seeking something worthwhile — like a latter-day Diogenes with his lamp — and instead finding these aggregations of appallingly stupid, self-absorbed people with plastic (or silicone) bodies and tacky clothing blathering on and on about something of astoundingly little significance, some ridiculous manufactured crisis or challenge, such as trying to avoid being “voted off the island” or some such. I find that stuff deeply offensive as a human being. I really, really hope intelligent beings from other planets aren’t seeing this stuff.

    But I’m willing to exempt “Biggest Loser” from this analysis. Lord knows we need SOMETHING to inspire people to get in shape.

  7. Brad

    And, to explain above…

    One of the ideas behind Reality TV is the democratization of fame. These are supposedly “real people,” as opposed to people who have done something to earn fame.

    It’s like… I’ve written in the past about how much I like reading the obits in The Economist. They’re always telling me about fascinating people who have accomplished remarkable things in their just-ended lives. And often they are people I’ve never heard of, and that bothers me. I think, “Why didn’t I know about this person?,” because it was someone worth knowing about.

    And the reason is that we have a mass-media culture that celebrates celebrity for its own sake, and does not seek to expose us to substance. And Reality TV has exacerbated that trend, by opening the floodgates wide to make celebrities of people who’ve done nothing but show up to be contestants.

    And that, in my mind, sort of describes Sarah Palin. And to some extent Nikki as well.

  8. Brad

    To elaborate even further: After she helped drag the McCain ticket to defeat, we should never have heard of Sarah Palin again. In past times, she would quickly have become a footnote, an embarrassment seldom mentioned in polite company, remembered only as John McCain’s greatest misstep since he failed to take evasive action with that SAM locked onto his aircraft over Hanoi.

    Think of how in the past, far more substantial, accomplished people than she just faded away after their candidacies were unsuccessful. Thomas Eagleton, for instance.

    But now, because TV cameras just seem incapable of looking away from her, we have actual serious talk about making her the most powerful person in the world. And that phenomenon seems to exhibit the same dynamics as the process that gives us Reality TV celebrities.

  9. bud

    It is remarkable that Sarah Palin is still the sensation that she is. But I’m not too worried about her becoming POTUS. Her negatives are off the charts. She resonates well with her base of crazies but beyond that I doubt she could ever make the transition to a serious contender.

  10. Doug Ross

    Not only is Palin getting a reality show:


    But her daughter, Bristol, the unwed mother with the GED, gets a slot on Dancing With The Stars while ex-future-son-in-law, Levi Johnston is getting HIS own reality show where he will be running for mayor of Wasilla.

    This reality is more outrageous than any fantasy someone could dream up.

    Me, I spend a lot of time in hotels so I do watch reality TV: Intervention, Hoarders, Big Brother… started watching a new show on TLC this week: Sister Wives about a polygamist family in Utah.

  11. Nick Nielsen

    @Doug, I spend a few nights in hotel rooms myself. Every once in a while, I’ll turn on the TV. And usually within a half-hour, I turn it off and either go on line or out drinking.

    I was once told, by a self-described “TOTAL fan of reality TV” (“I have never missed an episode of any reality show!”), that I don’t need reality TV because I have a real life. I don’t think she will ever understand why I thanked her. 😉

  12. Kathryn Fenner

    I admit I’m big on HGTV—they take somebody with a messy, badly decorated house, or a poorly DIY-ed house, or no house, and in a half an hour, and maybe a couple of grand, they fix it. Very satisfying. I watch it while I work out at the gym.


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