"I Just Think I'm Gonna Barf."

[ Posted Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 – 14:49 UTC ]

"Oh, I just think I'm gonna barf...."
-- Marge Gunderson (Francis McDormand), from Fargo


I open today with that Fargo quote for many reasons. The first of which, it's funny. As a matter of fact, it's so funny I think I'll make it the title of this piece, as well. The second of which, I think Fargo DVDs are going to be selling like hotcakes after Sarah Palin's speech tonight. Because, thirdly, this would be the perfect quote for Palin to use. Sarah Palin (I really hope Republican speechwriters aren't reading this) has a very similar accent to Margie in Fargo, and references are inevitably going to be made... so she could get out in front of it, and indeed turn such references to her advantage.

Of course, if Sarah Palin did use this quote, it would be to illustrate her feelings towards the media. And there isn't a doubt in my mind that the Republican crowd would eat it up like Minnesota pasties.

But the main reason I'd like to remind everyone of this quote is because of why Margie had a rising gorge in the first place -- she was pregnant. It was morning sickness. And -- most importantly -- she was still doing her job. That's an image that Republicans seem to be trying to reinforce, as evidenced by the fact that Bristol Palin's fiancé is going to be present tonight. And it's a tough image to counteract. Put into thematic words: "Pregnancy is just a part of life, real women tough their way through it." Which, as I said, is going to be part of the Palin story one way or another anyway.

However, I believe the McCain campaign is walking a fine line. Not with such imagery, but with the way they've been treating the media. And I'm not talking about gratuitous media-bashing at the Republican convention (which is so traditional an exercise I'm actually surprised they don't devote an entire night to it). What I'm talking about is access.

Access is the coin of the realm in media types who cover campaigns. "Journalists" are careful not to write stories too nastily, because they fear losing access to the candidate as a result. And access is their bread and butter.

But McCain, ever since his campaign was taken over by the Karl Rove gnomes, has been shutting the media out with more and more ferocity. First, they kicked the media off the bus. No more hours-long chatty sessions with McCain on the "Straight Talk Express." Then, they limited McCain interviews. Now, they are keeping Sarah Palin under lock and key, so she gets a chance to learn some world geography before she has to answer questions.

Unfortunately, nature abhors a vacuum -- and while there's nothing at all "natural" about the campaign press corps, they also abhor an information vacuum. Which they've been filling since the Palin announcement with glee.

Now, in one of those Machiavellian moves you would expect from Karl Rove neophytes, the McCain campaign is now playing the "victim" card, and saying the press is just being mean to Sarah. But they still are keeping her away from the cameras, at least until after her speech.

Well, when you are a journalist and you've got no access to lose, then there is nothing to stop you from reporting whatever you wish. And since these "journalists" are actually pack animals (think wolves or sharks), when everyone is in a feeding frenzy, then the campaign is backed into a corner because they can't cut off all access to everyone.

This is where we may see the rare double-reverse-twist Machiavellian move from the media. Today's talking point from the McCain campaign is "you're being unfair, why don't you talk about Palin's record and the issues?" This could backfire on them, as it may prod the media into moving beyond the pregnant-daughter salaciousness, and actually do their jobs and inspect Sarah Palin's record for the rest of America to see. "OK -- you want to talk record and issues, let's talk record and issues...."

As I've written already this week (in an article that is already out-of-date), there is a lot of gold to mine in Palin's Alaskan experience. Solid issues and decisions that Sarah Palin has or has made which are far outside what the mainstream would find acceptible.

This already started last night. So far, the media has picked up on the "Bridge To Nowhere" story being a complete fabrication (Palin was for it before she was against it, and SHE TOOK THE MONEY ANYWAY!), and on the fact that Palin actually loved earmarks (when she was the one cashing the checks instead of worrying about who was writing them). To be fair to her, this is par for the course in Alaskan politics -- but doesn't really fit the "reformer/maverick" box the McCain people are trying to fit her in. The Troopergate story is just waiting to explode as well. Anyway, I've already listed the things which I consider valid issues for the media to explore. I'm just happy they're picking up on a few of them already.

But McCain's campaign has thrown the gauntlet down to the media, challenging them to report on "her record and the issues," so let's see if they pick it up and run with it or not. Of course, Palin could give such a warmly-received speech tonight that the mainstream media swoons over her, and starts reporting nothing but glowing Palin stories. It has happened before, and it is a real danger -- if Palin charms the media so much that they back off her, then the road to the election is going to be a lot harder for Barack Obama.

So, in contemplating the media's response to tonight's Palin speech, I leave you with Margie's next line from the movie Fargo -- which you can interpret however you wish:

"Well, that passed. Now I'm hungry again."


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


10 Comments on “"I Just Think I'm Gonna Barf."”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "You got that right." "Oh, yeah?...Yeah."

    I just have one question fer ya on that wonderful do you get this kind of stuff past the powers that be at Huffington know what...try adding 'blogosphere' whenever you mention something dissing the media and you might get up to as many deletions as me!

    Great per usual.

  2. [2] 
    fstanley wrote:

    What I want to see from the press is some real investigative journalism. Find out what the facts are before jumping to conclusions.


  3. [3] 
    Yeah right wrote:

    First, I can't get the Huffington post here in China. Second, the mainstream media is in some point purely for entertainment. They can be a pact of wolves but only when the vultures are already circling and right now I see no vulture. I only see a story about a young couple making the hard decisions to keep their baby and get married. Even the bridge to no where is not a story.. who will fight for place that doesn't exsist. Chris I hate to tell you but Palin isn't mainstream and in that way McCain has become a Maverick.

    In a time where the country is so desperate for change they wanted the best of both worlds. The wanted Obama and they also wanted Hillary. And if McCain can color Palin in enough of Hillary's light he has a fighting chance. Of course the Republicans hated Hillary but often times people fear what they really love.

    So here is my idea it is time for Barack to start talking about his cabinet in which Hillary's name is mention. I think the Job of Secretary of State will suit her just fine.I know you think that this might rally the right but the right is already ralling.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    I think that, to win, Obama needs to keep Hillary away from ANYTHING to do with his presidency.

    Look at things objectively. Obama has energized his base. Despite stumbles with FISA, (a stance I happen to agree with) and a few other positions, Obama's base IS energized.

    And, after kissing Hillary's ass so completely at the convention, any Hillary supporter who DOESN'T support Obama now, won't EVER support Obama.

    So, Obama doesn't need to pander to Hillary supporters any longer. He's done all he could and THEN some.


    Obama can energize the opposition AGAINST him by further pandering and putting Hillary in any position within his administration.

    In short, putting Hillary in his administration does Obama absolutely NO good and could do him a lot of harm.


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    In all deference to Elizabeth, I can honestly say that I can't wait for the VP debate..

    I picture Biden sitting at his desk with his debate plan and a big fat red marker..

    "Nope, can't use that {scratch}... Nope, shouldn't use that {scratch}... Oh god, I wish I could use THAT, but.... no {scratch}... I could PROBABLY get away with that but... nope, better not chance it {scratch}...."

    Palin has REALLY changed the dynamics of the race. I am betting that the Obama team has thrown their ENTIRE gameplan out the window and starting anew.

    I HOPE that the Obama campaign is not thinking of resurrecting it's Primary plan to use against Palin. That will be the biggest failure in general election history.


  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:
  7. [7] 
    BLaws wrote:

    @Yeah right

    Uh... Hillary as SoS? Yeah right. Sorry, having tea with the wives of world leaders doesn't make you qualified to take on the husbands in negotiations. And she won't be in the cabinet anyway. I'm sure Obama has already promised her to be on point for the health care bill along with Ted Kennedy. Richardson will be Sec of State. He's already negotiated with many of the main players and is well respected around the world.


    I think Joe should start the debate with an opening comment of:

    "I respect Gov. Palin for the position she's earned in Alaska, the dedication she's shown for both her constituants and her wonderful family. She has also shown us early on that she can stand on the stage as an equal, and I will show her that respect. I intend to treat her no differently than I would if it were a man standing here against me."

    Then let her have it. All he needs to do is avoid words that are attributed to woman only, like "shrill". But he shouldn't have to hold back on policy fights at all. He's debated plenty of woman senators over the decades, as well as woman that have come before his committees, he should be fine.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:


    All he needs to do is avoid words that are attributed to woman only

    This IS Joe Biden we are talking about, remember?? :D

    The same Joe Biden who said, when asked about Palin's qualifications said, "Well, she's better looking than I am.."

    Granted, it's true..... But still...



  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    As an aside, for those of you on the fence about GOOGLE's new browser, CHROME....

    I highly recommend it.. It's faster than IEX and as fast as Firefox.


  10. [10] 
    Moderate wrote:

    I'll second Michale's quote from the Sun as to how Palin's viewed by Brits. Most of us adore her. She's the best thing since sliced bread. Sorry, I love the woman (and no, it's not based on attraction, she's just so awesome for conservatives).

    Anyway, I feel it's worth injecting (albeit late) on Troopergate. The guy that she actually fired held an appointive position and Palin was well within her rights to fire him just because he looked at her wrong. It doesn't constitute an abuse of power to use your discretionary powers for personal motives.

    Ironically, however, if he'd fired the trooper she wanted fired, he'd have abused his power, and chances are the trooper would've sued for wrongful termination too. Weird how that works out. Palin's decision was no more abuse of power than Ford's decision to pardon Nixon, which, whilst it may be criticised in some circles (it's worth bearing in mind that Ford was given the John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for the pardon, and even Ted Kennedy admitted that history proved Ford to have made the right call), it was never an impeachable offence, as it wasn't an abuse of power.

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