08 September 2008
Does the hunt for hot photos of Sarah Palin obscure the real issues?
You tapped Sarah Palin hot photos into the Google search engine: you and millions of others that is. During the week that ended on the 30th August, Sarah searches outran hunts for Obama information by four to one. She was eight times more popular than McCain and ten times more so than Joe Biden in the Google search stakes. Make no mistake about it, the overwhelming majority of these searches relate to Sarah and sleaze. Sarah Palin hot photos is at the top of the search food chain, closely followed by Sarah Palin upskirt, and Sarah Palin nipslip. If you are interested in Sarah Palin voting record then you are in rather a small minority.
Does all this obscure the real issues? People who argue that are essentially saying that what they regard as the important issues for debate trump what other people find important. In other words the argument is exactly the kind of elitist tosh that turns ordinary people off from politics.
What is actually happening is that people are debating, in their own way, the issues that are real and important to them. When John McCain chose Sarah Palin, he chose a woman who would appeal to the religiously motivated people who were disconnected from the election because of McCain's secular image. Those values' voters are not particularly interested in issues per se, or rather they want to choose a candidate to vote for based on that person's perceived set of values. If they find one that matches their values, then, the argument goes, the candidate will probably by and large put forward the policies that they believe in. If we think about it for a moment, that is what political parties exist to do. They allow people to participate in the political process without being policy anoraks - or wonks, as the Americans call them.
Thus the hunt for Sarah sleaze is very important, as the Democrats realised. That is probably why the Daily Kos ran it's smear campaign against Sarah Palin by alleging that her daughter was actually the mother of Sarah's new born baby. It is also the reason why the latest debate about her alleged extra-marital affair is so important. If it can be proven that she had one then it will almost certainly cut into her image as the Christian wife and mother: and it is that image, and the policies that are associated with it, that her type of voters are expected to turn out for on election day.
If the sleaze allegations did not exist then there is no evidence to suggest that voters would suddenly start talking about Alaskan Measure Two, a proposal that came before that state to ban the hunting of wolves from aeroplanes. Sarah opposed this measure with $400,000 of state money and thanks to her efforts, people in Alaska can still climb aboard small aircraft, drive wild wolves before them until they are exhausted, and then land to blast the wretched creatures with a high powered rifle from close range. This story was broken by Exiled Online and then taken up by the Independent, who also reported on Sarah's support for oil drilling in the state, and will no doubt be used to rally the Green vote to Obama, but the notion that the bulk of the God fearing people in small town America are even interested in these issues is about nil.
It isn't that Sarah sleaze is a distraction from the real issues. It is that those issues are not real, in the sense of not being important, to the people that Sarah was brought on-board to motivate. On the other hand, if the sleaze allegations that are flying around her head at the moment turn out to be true then the Democrats will have scored an important hit that may discourage her voters from turning out to support McCain-Palin in November.
It is for this reason that the Democrats will be assiduously cultivating every source that they can find to try and discover something damaging about Sarah. It is also the reason why Republican supporters in Sarah's home town of Wasilla are leaving comments at The Exile trying to rubbish the allegations. Both sides realise how important this is the the values based electorate who live in small town America.
Now why can't the commentariat realise it as well?