Monday, November 15, 2010


The right-wing blogosphere is all a-flutter in response to back-to-back news stories about Sarah Palin -- her TV show broke ratings records for the channel that broadcast it, TLC, while her inadvertent neologism "refudiate" was named Word of the Year by the New Oxford Anerican Dictionary.

Wingers are gushing ("Palin is not only a phenomenon in politics, but TV and the English language as well"), and they're assuming we lefties are freaking out ("Lefty Head Assplosion Alert") -- but a little perspective, folks: Palin's "whopping" viewership of 5 million is impressive for cable; compare it to TV as a whole and, well, the show pulled in fewer viewers than a typical episode of Judge Judy or a Family Guy rerun in syndication; about as many Americans watch a typical episode of the Univision soap opera Soy Tu Duena, which is in an language most Americans don't even speak.

Oh, and that Word of the Year thing? Well, last year's New Oxford word was "unfriend," but the year before that it was, um, "hypermiling." Yeah, I had to look it up, too.

We're getting agitated about this, and making political prognostications based on it? Why? Remember, it's only been a few days since Gallup reported that Palin has a 52% unfavorable rating, while AP-GfK puts her unfavorable rating at 49%? Um, Public Policy Polling just polled Alaska and finds that Palin wouldn;t even win her own state's GOP presidential primary. Oh, and Palin's forthcoming book still isn't in Amazon's top 100, even though it'll be available in eight days; by contrast, George W. Bush's book was in the top 100 for two months before it went on sale.

Palin is a goddess to a certain number of people, endlessly fascinating to others -- and relatively few Americans' idea of a real leader, much less a potential president. That might change, but nothing that's happened in the past few days is any evidence that it has changed.

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