armchair cultural observation since 1995

Elsewhere: The Palin poll

When John McCain came back from the dead to run away with the Republican primary and Barack Obama outlasted the slash-and-burn tactics of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, I was hopeful that the 2008 presidential election might rise above the polarizing red-state/blue-state “culture war” campaign we had to live through four years ago.

Surely, I thought, a war hero who was subject to Rovian whisper campaigns in a primary against George W. Bush in 2000 and someone who had considered crossing the aisle and running with John Kerry in 2004 would put aside petty mud-slinging and character assassination techniques. And surely, I also calculated, Barack Obama’s new kind of politics message would mean he wouldn’t be towing the party line at every turn.

Boy, was I wrong. It’s more or less been downhill since the conventions. The more heated the campaigns have gotten with their misleading ads and truth-stretching character attacks, the crazier it seems their blindly partisan supporters have become.

No single character’s presence seems to embody the rapid descent of decorum this election cycle more than the big game-changer herself, Gov. Sarah Palin. Since her entry onto the national stage, she has sparked such extreme love from the right and bitter hate from the left that even something as seemingly harmless as a PBS poll about whether she is qualified to be the country’s number two can become a meet-me-at-the-playground-after-school-style pissing match.

Apparently, folks on opposite sides of the Sarah Palin love/hate coin were rallying the troops to vote in the poll to the point where PBS had to intervene. You can read all about the gory details HERE.

Andrew Sullivan is right. This is a crazy story about a crazy time.

-Matt Ralph

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