With time running out for Sarah Palin to decide whether to enter the fray for the Republican presidential nomination, much has been made of her hold over a fanatical if diminishing fan base while very little has been made of her hold over a supplicant and unquestioning press. That, of course, is because the press isn't about to put on a hair shirt and flail itself with birch bessoms over any of its manifold failings.
The former vice presidential candidate and half-term governor is, of course, a masterful if primitive manipulator, as well as the kind of bully you would run into in a girls locker room in high school. I cannot recall a politician with a national reach as adapt at obfuscating and conning in the modern era -- or perhaps any era, but make no mistake about it: Palin already would be the answer to a trivia question had she not played the press so adeptly, which is to say allow itself to be played.
Then again, the press has missed or had to play catch-up on virtually every big story of the new millennium: The Bush imperial presidency and torture regime, the 9/11 cover-up, the historic blunder and waste of the Iraq War, the rise of social media, and the emergence of the Vampire Elite -- the Wall Street tycoons and banksters -- who are a de facto shadow government and have driven the U.S. into insolvency and many a Main Street denizen into bankruptcy.
The difference with Palin is that she is not a complex or interlocking web of people, places and issues that is difficult to recognize, let alone penetrate. She is but a single megalomaniac, as Joe McGinniss correctly labels her in The Rogue, his new and deeply unflattering biography.
The typical response of editors and reporters when asked about their serial uncuriosity about a women who might have become president had circumstances been a bit different and John McCain was elected and then had one martini too many is that her public record is of negligible interest, so why should the press be interested? Talk about disingenuous.
But it is with my favorite Palin story -- and one that drives many otherwise sane blog commenters to distraction -- that the press has completely fallen down. That is the fact that three and a half years after the birth of her son Trig there is no proof that she is his biological mother.
Rumors, innuendo and inconclusive photographs do not a true story make although the mountain of circumstantial evidence of a birth hoax is Himalayan and still growing, which is why it has behooved the press -- even one damned curious reporter, please -- to try to get to the bottom of the story. The only one who has, a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, got her ears pinned back for trying.
Television cable news networks have been especially complicitous because Palin is good for their ratings no matter that she's a one-woman entertainment company.
If Palin seeks the nomination, she will be eaten alive while being deprived of the big bucks from her Fox News gig. If she doesn't run, she will have ceded her halo as the great conservative hope as well as the only reason for being taken seriously.
But no matter what Palin decides to do the press will continue bowing and scraping.