Sunday, May 29, 2011


I think one reason we're confused about Sarah Palin's intentions (or lack thereof) regarding the presidential race is that we expect a presidential candidate to make, y'know, actual political positions a prominent part of any campaign rollout. And while Palin has expressed plenty of real (if simplistic) political opinions in her time, everything she's doing right now seems utterly devoid of political content, and full of rural "traditionalist"-pleasing empty imagery and symbols instead. That's certainly all we're getting here:

Sarah Palin made a grand entrance at the Rolling Thunder biker rally on Sunday, wearing a black Harley-Davidson helmet and visibly enjoying herself as a crush of reporters and bikers swarmed her motorcycle.

Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, was joined by her husband, Todd, who was wearing a matching helmet, and her daughters, Bristol and Piper. Their arrival at the Pentagon North parking lot turned the lazy Sunday morning into a celebrity affair.

Ms. Palin climbed aboard a chopper, assisted by a member of the Rolling Thunder staff, but was unable to move because there were so many members of the press snapping photos....

That's certainly all we got in her last video:

In the last decade, Republicans were pioneers in identifying potential voters and doing pinpoint outreach to them via "microtargeting":

Republican firms, including TargetPoint Consultants and National Media Inc., delved into commercial databases that pinpointed consumer buying patterns and television-watching habits to unearth such information as Coors beer and bourbon drinkers skewing Republican, brandy and cognac drinkers tilting Democratic; college football TV viewers were more Republican than those who watch professional football; viewers of Fox News were overwhelmingly committed to vote for Bush; homes with telephone caller ID tended to be Republican; people interested in gambling, fashion and theater tended to be Democratic.

But, see, microtargeting is supposed to be a campaign tactic. Palin is making it a political platform. What does she stand for? What principles would guide her as president? What does she really believe in? Answer: Hogs! Sweaty people who ride hogs! Jesus! Patriotic bunting! The emotions sweaty people who ride hogs feel when they hear catchphrases from our founding documents!

These aren't just accountrements -- they're her whole platform. (Well, that and "whatever liberals are for, I'm against." So I suppose there's at least some political content.)

Look, it's quite possible that there's so little substance here because she's not actually running. But it's also quite possible that there's no substance even though she is running, because she doesn't think she needs substance -- she just needs feel-good imagery.

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