I found the following exchange to be representative of the Sarah Palin model of politics. Its been covered ad naseum elsewhere over the week, as all things Palin are, but it just struck me as the perfect example of how her political machine operates.
Act 1: A Wall Street Journal blogger discusses a speech by Palin, in which she states that anyone who has been going to grocery store lately knows that prices have been rising.
[Palin] says, “everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so. Pump priming would push them even higher.”
Grocery prices haven’t risen all that significantly, in fact. The consumer price index’s measure of food and beverages for the first nine months of this year showed average annual inflation of less than 0.6%, the slowest pace on record…
This is widely accepted. But not really that big a deal, Palin’s a politician and this pretty standard political rhetoric. Not a big deal, just pointing out that she’s wrong.
Act 2: Palin responds by citing a recent WSJ article that completely agrees with the WSJ blogger, but she completely mischaracterizes the article and selectively quotes parts that seem to agree with her. I think the whole response is worth reading.
Ever since 2008, people seem inordinately interested in my reading habits. Among various newspapers, magazines, and local Alaskan papers, I read the Wall Street Journal.
So, imagine my dismay when I read an article by Sudeep Reddy in today’s Wall Street Journal criticizing the fact that I mentioned inflation in my comments about QE2 in a speech this morning before a trade-association. Here’s what I said: “everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so. Pump priming would push them even higher.”
Mr. Reddy takes aim at this. He writes: “Grocery prices haven’t risen all that significantly, in fact.” Really? That’s odd, because just last Thursday, November 4, I read an article in Mr. Reddy’s own Wall Street Journal titled “Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices: Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies.”
The article noted that “an inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America’s supermarkets and restaurants…Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months.”
Now I realize I’m just a former governor and current housewife from Alaska, but even humble folks like me can read the newspaper. I’m surprised a prestigious reporter for the Wall Street Journal doesn’t.
Palin, of course, stated that food prices that consumers are paying have been rising in the past year. And her selective quote, pulled from the first sentence of the article, certainly seems to support that. But if you actually read beyond the first sentence, you realize that the article completely contradicts Palin’s statement. The article is primarily about rising food prices and their effect on retailers. So far, the retailers have been eating the inflation, cutting into their own margin in order to maintain prices out of concern for losing customers. But as food prices rise, they are planning to pass on the costs in the future. Actual inflation has been stable over the past year, and in fact, lower than almost any time recorded.
But none of this information actually matters in Palin’s political world. Her readers likely won’t bother to track down the article that she references. And if they do, maybe they’ll stop at the first sentence as well and ignore the actual statistics. And so in her little political bubble, distrust of the media grows. I continue to fear cynical attempts by the right to push her as a legitimate political candidate for president.