the things people say on the internet
“Since his departure from the Washington Times, Stacy McCain has become perhaps the most skilled attention whore in all the blogosphere. Yeah, I just wrote that. And put it on the Internet.” ~ James Joyner
Now James, being the gentleman that he is, goes easy on McCain:
In seeking to explain why Ken Layne and Andrew Sullivan seem to loathe Sarah Palin and, in particular, make sport of her Down Syndrome suffering infant son, Trig, Stacy puts forth a pop psychology theory in four part harmony involving gay psychology, the fear of spinsterdom, and tips for hunting hillbillies.
Taking Ockham’s Razor (or, in the case of certain residents of West Virginia, Ockham’s Toothbrush) to the problem, however, a simpler explanation arises: They do it for the same reason Stacy writes posts like this one.
Here’s the frustrating thing to me about McCain. He can be a funny guy, with a good sense of humor. He’s obviously a talented writer. It’s just that he says such damn stupid things sometimes, and does it mainly because he’s, as James so eloquently puts it, an attention whore. His dissection of gay culture (and its apparently misogynistic nature) is absurd. I don’t know, but pretty much every gay guy I’ve met has had a veritable harem of girl friends. A lot of girls I know really like hanging out with gay men because it avoids that Harry Met Sally rule that all male/female relationships are inevitably about sex. And I have yet to meet one single gay man who is as misogynistic as many of the straight men I’ve known.
Then again, I’d give people overall the benefit of the doubt here – most men, gay or straight, that I know are not women haters. It is certainly not a defining feature. In fact, none of the gross generalizations Stacy evokes in his post are definitive in any way. That’s the funny thing about people – gay or straight, they’re each unique with a plethora of personal issues that compose their psychology. That’s the problem with psychology in general, but especially this hackish voodoo psychology that Stacy’s pushing.
But I digress. I’m dubious McCain believes half of what he wrote. I think he’s too smart for that. But it did get him lots of links…
So now to the “why” – or rather, the “why do people harp on Palin so much” question. James thinks it’s because of clickthroughs, which makes a lot more sense than the mumbo-jumbo Stacy’s peddling:
First, regardless of intelligence and education, people have prejudices based on their own experience and tend to judge people who don’t conform to their expectations rather harshly. Sarah Palin does not dress, talk, or act like a governor — much less a vice presidential candidate — is supposed to.
Second, saying outrageous things that cultured people aren’t supposed to say out loud is an excellent way of attracting and sustaining attention. Holding forth the view that Sarah Palin chose to carry Trig to term after learning that he had Down Syndrome, just like everyone assumed all along, is not going to get you many clickthroughs.
Then again, for me Palin was more like a wake-up call. I was appalled at the thought of her as Number Two – even more than I’m appalled at the thought of Joe Biden as Number Two. At least old Silvertongue has a few years experience under his belt. At least he can put a few sentences together before he says something stupid. Palin, to me, simply represented (and still represents) everything wrong with the conservative movement – it’s faux-anti-elitism, its disdain for intellectualism and culture, its inability to grapple with new ideas. And saying that isn’t so much to say something outrageous but just to state what I see as the obvious: we need better people than Sarah Palin to spearhead the conservative movement – plain and simple.
There are many smart conservatives out there and they’re going to play an important role, I hope, in restoring fiscal sanity and sober foreign policy to our nation. I hope smart guys like Stacy McCain can realize this and put their efforts behind building a better conservative movement rather than just a louder one. Palin is the “loud” choice, but she’s not the smart choice.
Whether Andrew stuck with the story too long is one thing – this is Andrew’s modus operandi if you haven’t noticed yet. He sticks with a story. He runs with it. Just look at the Iranian coverage at the Dish lately. That does not make him a misogynist anymore than saying so makes Stacy the representative of the Joe the Plumbers of the world. Even as a critic of Palin I thought Andrew was over the top at times, but I can see that it was primarily because that’s simply how Andrew blogs, a bit frenetic, a bit obsessive compulsive.