It is fascinating how the U.S. TV pundits turn on a dime — yesterday, she’s a disaster; today she’s the greatest person ever in the history of the world — but this isn’t new; George W. Bush received similar coverage and inspired the same kind of breathless cult following. Her speech last night reminded me a bit of Bush too, in that it was a collection of fairly standard conservative talking points, including a line lifted from National Review, and it had the tone familiar from a lot of Bush’s speeches, the snide, condescending tone (apparently being a “community organizer” is now something to be mocked, because apparently conservatives don’t believe in working outside of government) and the certain knowledge that TV pundits will call you “likable” even as you’re saying nasty things.
G.W. Bush was, in essence, the first post-Limbaugh president, the first conservative Republican president to have most his political career after the explosion of conservative media in the ’80s. What we saw last night, and what we’re going to see for the next two months, is a Limbaugh type of campaign, with Limbaugh’s weird but effective combination of anger and victimology. Bush and Palin are essentially more telegenic Rush Limbaughs, able to make their fans feel that they’re taking their side against the unnamed elites who are keeping them down. They are made for TV, and TV is where elections are won and lost.
It certainly worked in 2004, and McCain has concluded that a 2004 campaign is the best way to win. He’s probably right, and I’ve felt for a while that he’s going to win (not happy about it, I admit). But that would get me into political prognostication, and that is out of my focus (this post is about media/TV coverage, so it counts), so instead I’ll work on my post about the season premiere of Entourage, and listen to a song from a simpler time in politics.