Accidentally changed channels to MSNBC before 6AM PDST this morning (when "Morning Joe" is on)
I usually avoid it because Joe Scarborough's overbearing smarminess is waay too unpleasant to deal with anytime, but especially pre-dawn.
However he wasn't on. Instead three people I usually enjoy and even respect were on duty -- Mike Barnacle, Willie Geist, and Chris Jansing -- and talking with Michael Joseph Gross, the writer who'd written the current Vanity Fair article about Sarah Palin.
Mr Gross stated that he had wanted to write a positive article about the former governor, but the facts forced him to write what's being called a "hit job" and a "hatchet job." (Code words for "How dare you criticize me.")
There was actually a fair amount of substance and insight going on -- such issues and Governor Palin's immense current income and her possible run for the presidency ("Her possible run for the presidency is what keeps interest and income so high." "Will we wonder what happened to her 3 years from now?" "Depends on whether or not you people still report her various tweets and emails as news," etc)
Talk about her being a "kingmaker," ignoring the fact that other than the last, most recent primaries, almost none of her endorsements resulted in an election win. And then Chris Jansing asked why some (estimated) 2 million people follow her.
And no one had anything real to say.
And I immediately thought of two observations from other writers that were appropriately relevant.
The first, from Man for All Seasons, in the scene where King Henry visits Thomas More at his home, accompanied by his entourage. And Henry points to the courtiers and says to Thomas:" All those people follow me. Some want wealth. Some want influence. But most of them follow me because I'm moving and they'll follow anything that moves."
The other observation came from the legendary H.L. Mencken -- a journalist in the days when one needed to have an actual Liberal Arts education to be qualified to report on current history. His famous observation: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
And I realized those two observations were accurate descriptions of a lot more than Ms Palin's popularity -- in fact, the combination of the two seem to explain almost everything in contemporary politics and entertainment, from the public bribes so politely called "campaign contributions" to the popularity of TV's Madmen, Glenn Beck, and, in previous times, The Lucy Show.