The Confluence has the preliminaries on the DNC Memo/hit job on Sarah Palin, but I wanted to take a closer look for those who are interested in that kind of rhetorical analysis. Boston Boomer is right that what we are seeing is reaction-formation, and this explains the rising media chorus that has been Palin coverage for three solid days now. A couple of things in particular are worth pointing out, because the points destroy the mythology the left has built around the Democratic party and its current leadership. Dismantling that mythology is essential.
The first issue is this little list that heads up the memo:
Memoir is Palin’s payback to McCain campaign [New York Times]
‘Going Rogue’ reignites Palin divide, even in her hometown [CNN]
McCain official: Palin claim ‘one hundred percent untrue’ [CNN.com]
McCain campaign emails contradict Palin’s “Going Rogue”‘ [Huffington Post]
McCain adviser denies Palin’s claim that she granted Couric interview because she felt sorry for her [Washington Post.com]
In ‘Going Rogue,’ Sarah Palin goes for redemption — and revenge [LA Times]
Sarah Palin ‘bottled up’ no more: Lid off [The Swamp]
Sarah Palin, the GOP’s blessing and curse [LA Times]
McCain campaign staffers: Sarah Palin’s book “all fiction” [Seattle PI]
For Palin, Reality Goes Rogue [Boston Globe]
Coulter: Payback Time for Palin vs. McCain [CBSnews.com]
Sarah Palin Takes Aim at McCain Staffers in Upcoming Book [ABCnews.com]
Sarah Palin is an insider playing a rogue [CNN]
Palin in book: McCain aides kept me ‘bottled up’ [USA Today]
How do you solve a problem like Sarah? [Newsweek]
This is the chorus of (mostly) liberal news voices attacking Palin, and the DNC puts it up front as evidence of their claims against Palin, which are outlined in the introductory remarks. Coulter’s article is obviously thrown in there to suggest balance, which is ironic enough in and of itself. But the rest of those stories are the result of talking points disseminated by the DNC and Obama administration officials to the media, and now making their rounds via this memo to local media outlets in markets around her book tour, representing a concerted attack on her character. Half of those stories were probably generated after direct contact with administration officials. Where have we seen this tactic employed before?
We know this tactic: plant a story and then, using circular logic, point to the story as evidence of your assertions. These guys learned a lot from the Bush administration; that was always the danger–that others would. This is total poison of the political system. It is toxic. And it has to stop.
The DNC Memo is composed of the intro, that list of news stories, a list of enumerated talking points, which it labels “lies [ostensibly of Sarah Palin],” and a couple of paragraphs of targeted statistics. If it weren’t for the danger of this document, it would be spectacularly funny in its choice of arguments, order of arguments, and use of language. It violates just about every rule of writing while shredding its own ethos because of the voluminous presence of logical fallacy. It is pathetic and aggressive and because of the latter, it might work. Aggression sells these days.
But let’s be clear about these folks are peddling, because it is misogyny plain and simple. Don’t let them shy away from that. Remind them every chance you get. Know what you’re arguing against first and foremost. Here’s how:
In Lie # 1 the rhetoric of the document directly attacks the pettiest of claims involving her family. It claims she lied about whether her family voted for her to run for VP when she was asked. First of all: who the feck cares? Second of all: How could they possibly know? This is designed to hit her where they think they’ll offend her most, her family, trying to provoke that Mama Bear instinct.
Clothes are the agenda for the second “lie.” They claim she lied about the McCain campaign’s involvement. Again: How would they know? Second of all, WHO CARES about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe? If they do care, what does that suggest to you about their character? Could it possibly suggest they are petty, misogynistic asshats? Why yes it could, and you can say that to your liberal friends when they try to defend this–and they will.
Lie #3: She can’t take a joke. She lied about her SNL appearance. You see where this is going?
Most of the rest of the so-called lies are designed to make her look like a ditz, like she can’t get her facts straight, including a rather interesting inclusion of a rebuttal regarding Bill Ayers. Remember him? Someone should have edited this list. It is so obviously written by frat boys who aren’t five years away from college and who made no better than a C+ in Composition. This is why you need professionals. Anyway, # 11 was pretty fascinating too, claiming that Palin is not a frugal traveler. Because she stayed a five-star hotel once! Dizzying Porn-generation logic, I know.
My favorite, though, has to be #12, because it’s a classic case of neoconic projection, demonstrating so clearly that these folks have internalized neoconservatism, bastardizing it into some weird form of neoliberalism. I think I’ll just quote it:
Lie #12: Palin Was Elected Governor With Small Donations – The Majority From First Time Givers: “Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC. Of the rest, about $76,000 came from Republican Party committees. She accepted $1,000 each from a state senator and his wife and $30 from a state representative in the weeks after the two Republican lawmakers’ offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into a powerful Alaska oilfield services company. After AP reported those donations during the presidential campaign, she gave a comparative sum to charity.” [Associated Press, 11/13/09]
That’s Obama’s M.O. Claim that itty bitty donations got you the largest political war chest ever assembled. But hey, if we learned one thing from George W. Bush it’s that you can preempt or neutralize any accusation just by making it yourself about another party. It’s beginning to feel a bit like 2004.
The list goes on and on, including 22 of these “lies.” The memo winds up with a vomitous volume of media statistics that suggest Americans don’t like Palin and don’t think she is qualified to be president. The whole memo relied on rhetoric such as the “small minority” to diminish the power and authority she is accumulating, and to desperately attempt to contain her appeal to a portion of the Republican party. They are afraid that her appeal will grow, and this document and this media attack are designed to thwart that. As I said, the quality of this document is so terrible that if it were coming from anywhere else I wouldn’t worry. People who read it should see AMATEUR stamped all over it. Unfortunately it’s been put out by the people who have the most power and who are currently getting listened to. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how they say; it just matters what they say.