I could not help but note a criticism of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner by former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last week. Palin denounced the dinner as “pathetic” and a case of “DC assclowns” were throwing “themselves a #nerdprom” while “the rest of America is out there working our assess off.” This was a remarkable statement from a person who resigned from her governorship early to create a reality show and make millions being Sarah Palin. I am not sure that many Americans would see Palin as one of those “working out asses off.”
Others like Tom Brokaw who recently denounced the dinner as bad for journalism are a bit more credible on this subject. I have gone to various White House Correspondents dinners until I got tired of the event (and frankly most of the Washington social scene). I do find the close friendship and social ties between media elite and the ruling elite to be discomforting. The increasingly low opinion of the White House press corp (which is viewed as often soft and shallow in its questioning of the White House) is part of this problem.
Nevertheless, Palin is legitimately viewed as the personification of the dumbing down of American politics and turning our political discourse into little more than an extension of her reality show. Palin trademarked herself and has made millions feeding the public a slurpee of anti-intellectual and reactionary soundbites. It is particularly ironic given the criticism from McCain staffers that, once selected as their candidate for Vice President, Palin seemed more interested in shopping on the campaign credit card than actually working. The White House Correspondents could not have picked a better foil. Just as people were listening to the criticism of Brokaw, Palin stepped in to return the public discourse to the lowest common denominator.