Conor, you're right that you haven't been recognized or had the level traffic for a lot of your other better work as you had for your Palin piece. It would make sense that you are associate editor at The Atlantic because of your abilities and talent as a writer. I appreciate success. As an aspiring writer, I look to people like you who are doing well in the field and have no problem giving them their just due and respect for their accomplishments just as much as I would ask people to do the same for someone who has accomplished what Sarah Palin has. With that said, let me give you my take on what happened to you.
You were just blown to smithereens by the Palin army. They have spent three years fighting heartless, spineless and libelous attacks against her from the Left, the establishment and the mainstream media. You may think you have innocently broken a window, but the house has been robbed repeatedly since September 2008. They shoot first and ask questions later.
You wrote an article in a publication that many consider to be left wing at worst, apologists for the worst aspects of the libertarian movement at best. Read through these and these and tell me how many hit pieces are in there. While you may be more libertarian than liberal, those in the mainstream media who picked up your article and used it to further their attacks on Sarah Palin are not the limited government types traditional libertarians would embrace.
You reference all the more substantive pieces you've written which have gotten less attention. You write "the highest traffic thing I've written, the most liked and the most hated, the most quoted, linked, commented on, praised, excoriated, and widely controversial, is a lighthearted item about going to 'The Undefeated' last Friday to interview Sarah Palin supporters, and finding none of them there." Welcome to Sarah's world. I can respect where you're coming from because I know of a lady in Alaska whose record, policy positions and accomplishments get way less hits than articles about the clothes she's wearing or whether or not her hair is falling out.
In a fair world, you would be recognized for the talented and accomplished writer you are. In a fair world, Sarah Palin would be recognized for the talented and accomplished leader she is. The two of you have more in common than you think. In fact, many of your complaints about unfair treatment in the pro-Palin media are extremely similar to those that Palin has raised herself about the anti-Palin press.
I don't want you feel resentful. This is war, man; and for your readers that hate Sarah Palin the war wound you just got gives you street cred. If you understand the reason for the attack and the nature of the animal that attacked you, you'll understand why your article raised such a ruckus Let me help you understand what makes Palinistas so quick to the draw.
Three years ago, when Sarah Palin was introduced to the nation, many people from across the political spectrum were electrified by her. The exception to that were those on the left and in the media establishment who were scared blind by the positive reaction the nation had to her. It was an emergency for them. They couldn't beat her on her record or her political positions so they had to go after her and her family personally.
The progressive movement has spent nearly a century infiltrating our country's politics, academia and culture. They were willing to go with Hillary Clinton but Obama was just too attractive and so dazzling to them that they dropped her like a bad habit and shot the works on him. They went all in. The "Shadow Party" felt it could come out now and fundamentally transform this thing with him at the top.
Then she happened.
As the revelations about the Journolist listserv show, the mainstream media was complicit in their efforts to try to destroy her. Remember, they were all in. They were ideologically committed to Obama after decades of Nixon, Reagan and Bush bashing. Why do you think people who don't follow this stuff as closely as we do think Palin said she can see Russia from her house? It's because they are more like Jay Leno's "man on the street" than they are their own thinkers and researchers. They believe what they read at face value. The mainstream media has been playing to these rubes for years by advancing agenda over intellect. Smitty at The Other McCain writes "The Progressive project is predicated upon the notion that the American people are sheep."
James Lewis at American thinker writes:
The Undefeated is a stunning documentary about Governor Sarah Palin against the lynch mobs of the left. These are not overly polite Adlai Stevenson liberals. They are radical throwbacks to Saul Alinsky and Jozef Stalin. They follow Alinsky and the ACORN rulesMore importantly, this is about a lot more than Sarah Palin. It's about money and power. Sarah Palin is the target because she and the Tea Party stand in the way of the progressive agenda. There were billions of dollars in green money (think cap and trade, alternative fuels, funny looking light bulbs, etc.) and investments in the coming of socialized medicine at stake in 2008 when the liberal media opened fire on her with all barrels. These people were about to take a bath if Sarah Palin succeeded in helping John McCain become president. The same can be said for the progressives who want to fundamentally transform America into a European socialist style democracy.
The fact that she hasn't gone away and still stands between them and their progressive agenda is just eating at them. Add to this the fact that negativity is a communicable disease. I don't have a problem with people who disagree with Sarah Palin, I have a problem with people who foam at the mouth and who go berserk at the mere mention of her name. I'm not trying to be religious here, but back in the day, we used to call that being possessed by the Devil. Negativity is bad. It is also reflective. It comes back at you. So when you see Palinistas being a little less than civil, understand that the devil is a very crafty demon indeed.
Palin is the antithesis to liberalism and progressivism. Her record in Alaska shows she's capable of busting up our hybrid socialist-quasi crony capitalist system. She is a threat to a lot of people who rely on the status quo that benefits them when wealth is redistributed through the tax code, 50% of the people pay no federal income tax and only those in the know with the right lobbyists and inside connections can get around the government made barriers to being successful. They will stop at nothing to destroy her.
When Palin returned to Alaska, that's when the election should have ended. She should have been able to go back to being governor just as easily as John McCain went back to being Senator. But it didn't stop there.
During the campaign, a documentary group called The Wasilla Project ginned up several malcontents to say negative things about Sarah Palin, one of which was that she made rape victims pay for their rape kits when she was Mayor of Wasilla. Their website was later scrubbed but not until after the "Thank You" page following Obama's win warned its readers to continue going after Sarah Palin because she would be back in 2012. I regret not keeping a screen shot.
After her return to Alaska, Palin was hit with the frivolous ethics complaints, which were filed by malcontents, fueled by the agenda driven Alaska Bloggers and picked up on way too easily by the mainstream media. This was all part of an overall smear campaign designed to destroy this woman., which she short circuited by resigning her governorship and sticking it to the media and the ankle biters by becoming a Fox News contributor, best selling author and sought after public speaker.
This only fueled the growth of the pro Palin movement. Supporters started blogs and websites when they saw Palin under attack. The Left and the media have basically created their own monster and now they struggle to contain it as it pulls the spitting high tension wires down on its way to the city of cronyism and socialism that she is about to destroy. There are hundreds of pro Palin blogs and websites across the internet. See if Gary Johnson has that many, or even Ron Paul (no offense to your candidate or to libertarians, but I want to make the point that Palin supporters are the most intense for a reason).
Ask yourself, why all the Palin sites? Why all the Palin bloggers and tweeters? The mainstream media attacks on Palin have been like a medicine ball and now her army's rhetorical stomachs are hard. They have become a well toned legion of well practiced writers, researchers and on the ground activists. Because they worked hard at battling with the mainstream media, they have become good at their craft. They strike with lightning speed and laser like precision.
So, when you wrote that article about the empty theater, you lit a match in a foxhole at night and the Palin army nailed you. The Atlantic is a battleship that has been shooting missiles at her for the last three years and you just happen to put out your observation about the empty theater while standing on the deck of that battleship. Of course you're going to get hit!
Palinistas are conditioned to be this way after how the mainstream media has treated her. They're committed to the mantra that there will be no free shots. This also applies to those on the right. Those who attack Sarah Palin will feel the wrath of the Palin army not because her supporters are mean spirited like liberals or establishment types, but because her supporters know you can't win a street fight by being nice.
I don't like personal attacks, either; but sometimes it happens because that's how the game is played. Politics isn't bean bag. If it's any consolation, I hope she does win and the grown ups get back in charge again. Maybe then, things will be a little more civil. I, too, would prefer to debate ideas and records. I would prefer to say, hey Conor, you're a good guy but we happen to disagree. But until then, we have to take the good with the bad.
In dodge ball, you have to nail your opponent with the ball because he will have no problem doing it to you. This is not to say that two wrongs make a right. I understand the complaints about the discourse. But I do believe that if someone is coming at you with a weapon, you have to come back at them with one as well.
What you are seeing from Breitbart, Riehl and Collier is their use of a liberal tactic. We conservatives have read the Rules for Radicals and some of us choose to use those for our purposes. The liberals own the board and we have to beat them at their own game or else surrender our country. Do you think Bill Maher wants to play nice? It's part of the dance. Yes it gets personal sometimes, but you can't take it personally. It's a tactic. It's in the playbook.
What you wrote about resenting the attacks on you from the Palin army shows you are capable of empathy in some small way for what Sarah Palin deals with regarding the attacks on her even if you say you would never vote for her. Yeah, you think Breitbart and Collier are bad guys for attacking you. It doesn't feel good to be smeared does it? But there's no need in feeling resentful if you understand what's happening. Don't hate the players, hate the game. There are many in the mainstream media, the establishment and pop culture who have stoked an environment of hatred toward Sarah Palin which has in turn motivated her supporters to fight even harder (and yes, dirtier).
Andrew Breitbart's approach is to beat the mainstream media at their own game and to fight fire with fire. Bill Collier believes there's a conspiracy because, in general, there is - even if it is not specific to this case. They and others came after you because this fight has been going on for three years. You just happened to step out of an empty theater into the lobby to mention that there's no one in the theater during the middle of an ongoing firefight between Palinistas and the media and you got hit.
Conor, I appreciate that it bothers you that you got more attention for your article on Palin than all the other stuff you wrote. It's frustrating when people don't know or recognize your record. I would hope you will eventually get the respect you are due for your record in the same way that I hope Sarah Palin will get hers as well.
I hope you find the reasoning behind the Palinista tactics informative. I hope it gives you a better understanding as a journalist what's at stake here. It's great you don't want Obama to be president. It's great you have a candidate you believe in. I tell people all the time if you got a horse, ride it first and foremost before trying to win by beating down the other candidates.
I admit I can be an attack dog at times (although I prefer the positive approach, I understand the nature of the game). I consider myself an ordinary barbarian who takes on elitists, the media and smear merchants both inside the arena of ideas and, when their rules call for it, outside the arena of ideas. Someday, I hope everyone in America is free to live the way they want and be productive as long as they don't get in each others' way. Until then, I must fight.
Hopefully, someday when this is all over you can have a beer with those who have attacked you. But for now, suit up and clean your weapons. The war is on. Now get back to your people at The Atlantic and I'll do the same and get back to mine. Despite our differences, Conor, I leave you with this: may the best man or woman win in 2012. Oh, and keep your head down; we Palinistas are a good rhetorical shot.