I'm not going to read Joe McGinness' new book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin. His subject grew cartoonish enough for me during the 2008 campaign, and I for one have been baffled at the shelf-life of even the most passing interest in her. Nothing she has said or done since - and lord-help-me why the hell do I even know anything about what she has said or done since? - has altered or embellished any assessment of that silly woman an iota. Some claim that she is "dangerous" (or viable,) in that Godwin's law kind of way, so maybe that is what drives the incessant coverage. Maybe they're right, both left and right, but the attention lavished upon her smells of self-fulfilling prophesy.
Photo from Zimbio
However, I do have voyeuristic aspect, and I am driven to review a reviewer of Mcginniss' review of Ms. Palin, and that brings me to Janet Maslin of the New York Times.
"Liberals lack perception." This comment, posted by a forgettable conservative at some forgotten blog post, was provocative enough at the time that I was bothered enough to reply - a regrettable waste of time, I admit. But in scanning the pans of McGinniss' book (and laurels, which I find equally ludicrous,) I came across Janet Maslin's review, "Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House", and I found it so encapsulated the irony in that quote (if I may refer to 1120 words as "encapsulating"), that I was compelled to ask the question, who is this Janet Maslin, and why is she writing book and movie reviews for the New York Times?
Janet Maslin is pretty transparently conservative - the first paragraph of her "review" projects this - so I understand that she might take umbrage if Tea Party icon Sarah Palin's skirt is lifted too high. But then she goes into a feverish Can-can of her own. No need for excessive detail here, you may click through to see for yourself (as I have no fear that readers of this low-traffic blog are in danger of elevating her credibility with the paper.) The theme of her disapproval seemed to be that McGinniss was contradictory and inconsistent in his criticisms (in other words, "lacks perception"), and what prompted me to fire up the AbiWord this morning was this:
...her possible commitment to such extreme theological ideas as dominionism, although here too “The Rogue” is too busy being nasty to be lucid. Mr. McGinniss suggests both that Ms. Palin is committed to stealth religious control of government, and that she is not sufficiently devout.Pot meet kettle here. Modern pseudo-conservatism is a stubborn reaction to the fumblings of neoconservatism, a school of thought strongly influenced by Leo Strauss (by disenchanted liberals of the activist stripe, I am compelled to note.) Strauss has been credibly accused of advocating the use of religious mythology, or noble lies, to cynically placate and manipulate populations in the service of political power. So Ms. Maslin's charge that Mr. McGinniss is not being "lucid" in pointing out that Ms. Palin may not be "sufficiently devout," while at the same time advocating "stealth religious control of government" points to a transparent "lack of perception," or, more properly, lack of self-awareness on her own part.
Of course, there is a consistency here, and perhaps she is quite self-aware, for it is important for the modern conservative to affect an air of religiosity - the cynical bits are for giggles in the coat-closet. I think that would be giving her too much credit, though.
Ms. Maslin is a moral and political propagandist, and fatally transparent one at that. There are many examples of Ms. Maslin's knee-jerk, and facile, writing. Prone to "the vapors," she hits the fainting couch whenever a more expansive view of the human experience is explored. Is this the sort of "reviewer" that makes The Gray Lady proud? OK, that was stupid. This whole post was regrettably stupid, really.
(She was remarkably insightful with this important work, however.)