I think it’s reasonable to say that Dave Weigel has landed on his feet following his much talked about departure from the Washington Post. Weigel is guest-blogging (from Alaska!) this week for Andrew Sullivan — an prime guest post if there is one. In one of his posts today he addresses an issue that has come to be synonymous with Sullivan: Trig Palin.
It is a measure, I think, of Sullivan’s greater credibility as a blogger — which Weigel rightly points out has taken a hit as a result of his Trig obsession — that he is so willing to hand over his (enormously trafficked) space to a person who will then use it to take him to task. And do it well. Or perhaps the latter begets the former. Either way, Weigel presents one of the sharper, clear-eyed arguments I’ve read against Sullivan’s Trig compulsion, and the damage it has both done to Sullivan, and on the flip-side how it might have ended up helping Palin. As Sullivan would say, money quote below. Full post here.
From my e-mail I gather Sullivan critics are angry about the other Palin stories he’s posted. I don’t see a huge difference between how he’s covered the odder Palin rumors this and how the rest of the media has covered them. I do see a difference on Trig, and I do think that he’s made a huge mistake by indulging this. Politicians suffer when they’re called out on things they’ve done. They thrive when they’re called out for things they haven’t done, for stories they can call “conspiracy theories,” and for stories they can file under “politics of personal destruction.” Obsessing over Trig, as much as it annoys the Palins — and I see why it does — is one of the best ways of propping her up. It gives her fan base proof that its hero is constantly battling unfair personal attacks that the media won’t debunk. It convinces them that critics focus on this nonsense because they’ve got nothing else to criticize Palin about. She has taken advantage of this impression.
The Trig obsession has also, I’m sad to say, damaged Andrew Sullivan’s reputation. I’m stunned by the anger he’s generating not just among random Tweeters but among people who’ve been online for years, part of the rough-and-tumble of blogging. They know that 99% of what Sullivan writes is challenging, smart, and addictive, and that he’s very capable of honing in on bigger political and philosophical debates. People want him to take a deep breath and stop obsessing over this conspiracy theory. Count me among those people.
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