Southern Politics

If we learned anything from Edgar Allan Poe’s famed detective C. Auguste Dupin, the best place to hide something is in plain sight.  That applies in politics too, especially in the case of the summer’s biggest flop: the Sarah Palin email scandal.

It reminds me of the story of another French detective, called in to investigate because a known Belgian smuggler kept routinely driving over the border.  Customs officials always stripped the car bare in their attempts to find what he was smuggling, to no avail.  Two policemen dressed as robbers and proceeded to try and “rob” the Belgian to see if what he was smuggling was in his possession, but found nothing.  In desperation, the detective was called in to review the case.  So how did he crack the case?  The answer is at the end of the column.

(Photo by baratunde / Creative Commons)

But I should return to the Palin “scandal.”  Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Sarah Palin’s emails as governor for 3.5 years were opened to the media.  There were hundreds of pounds of documents to sift through.  Conservatives were outraged, claiming a double-standard existed, according to the International Business Times.  They wondered why every email sent by Barack Obama wasn’t subjected to the same level of scrutiny?  Of course, most conservatives were probably scared because their candidate has a track record of making mistakes.

The media hyped it like Hollywood psyched us up for the film “Green Lantern.”  And like that film, it bombed with the public.  Columnists like Cal Thomas were positively giddy with glee that the emails failed to disclose anything that was politically fatal to Palin’s political prospects.

Why did the Palin email scandal fail to show anything interesting?  A lot of it was because the media didn’t really know what to look for.  They expected some Watergate-like political scandal.  Or they expected some juicy sexy details, as though the rumors of her being the real mom of Bristol’s kid would finally be exposed.  Perhaps they expected her to make another dumb history gaffe, like claiming we beat the French at the Battle of Yorktown or the Italians at Pearl Harbor.
The British publication The Guardian pointed out that many of the emails were painstakingly redacted to almost absurd levels, so maybe that’s one reason why there was nothing found.  But there’s another scandal right out in the open for all to see.

As The Guardian and Mother Jones have revealed, ex-Governor Palin isn’t so ideological when she’s not in front of the cameras or in front of a large political audience.  She’s worried about global warming.  She doesn’t think Barack Obama is so bad.  She hated being Alaska Governor.  Who knows what other surprisingly moderate beliefs and ideas we could find in that stash of 25,000 emails.

No wonder the mainstream media missed it….that’s no big deal, right.  But it is a big deal if you’re one of the core Sarah Palin supporters.  They aren’t drawn to her for her judicious approach to the issues.  No, they would take a bullet for her because of her uncompromising conservative passion.  They don’t just ignore all of her scandals and gaffes….each event only seems to embolden them in their beliefs that Palin is a modern-day Joan of Arc, a fighter persecuted falsely for speaking the truth.  But what happens when Palin the emailer and Palin the speaker are two different people?  Which one do you believe, Palin supporter?

As for that French case, the inspector observed that the Belgian was smuggling something: cars!

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John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.