Flailing on Palin
Yes, Sarah Palin stepped on Mitt Romney’s big presidential run announcement yesterday, but so what? While it is true (going back to 2008) that other Republican politicians seem to take special pleasure in tweaking Romney whenever possible, the idea that they should have steered clear of New Hampshire yesterday so that he could have his moment in the sun is a ridiculous one. Besides, these presidential campaign kickoff events generally don’t provide the same kind of political boost they once did, in part because saturation coverage of the invisible primary has wiped out any clear demarcation between candidates exploring and launching a presidential bid. If anything, candidates typically make their intentions known by releasing a prepackaged web video that provides the rationale for their candidacy.
So, Palin Steps on Romney didn’t need to be the big media story yesterday. Stories on both visits could have comfortably coexisted. But it was the big story, well, because the media made it so. I know the presidential primary’s silly season has begun when media start making the driving narrative of the race one about the media covering the race. Put another way, I spent a good portion of yesterday evening reading and watching stories about how the media frenzy in New Hampshire engulfed Palin instead of Romney on his big day, stories which were of course written by the media. Just google the phrase “Palin steps on Romney,” and you’ll get a good taste of what I mean. This is a venerable meme in presidential primary coverage which tells us more about the media’s interest than about voter preference. I’m always amused to see the first stories emerge each cycle, so mark the date June 2, 2011, as this year’s official kickoff.

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