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Taking Ockham’s Razor to Sarah Palin Haters

Since his departure from the Washington Times, Stacy McCain has become perhaps the most skilled attention whore in all the blogosphere.

Yeah, I just wrote that. And put it on the Internet.

In seeking to explain why Ken Layne and Andrew Sullivan seem to loathe Sarah Palin and, in particular, make sport of her Down Syndrome suffering infant son, Trig, Stacy puts forth a pop psychology theory in four part harmony involving gay psychology, the fear of spinsterdom, and tips for hunting hillbillies.

Taking Ockham’s Razor (or, in the case of certain residents of West Virginia, Ockham’s Toothbrush) to the problem, however, a simpler explanation arises:  They do it for the same reason Stacy writes posts like this one.

First, regardless of intelligence and education, people have prejudices based on their own experience and tend to judge people who don’t conform to their expectations rather harshly.  Sarah Palin does not dress, talk, or act like a governor — much less a vice presidential candidate — is supposed to.

Second, saying outrageous things that cultured people aren’t supposed to say out loud is an excellent way of attracting and sustaining attention.  Holding forth the view that Sarah Palin chose to carry Trig to term after learning that he had Down Syndrome, just like everyone assumed all along, is not going to get you many clickthroughs.

Illustration: Chris Madden Cartoons

Correction:  An earlier version of the post had Sullivan, Layne, and Ana Marie Cox pushing the Trig Palin birth origin conspiracy story.  In fact, Layne merely reprinted a cartoon involving Trig Palin. I don’t think Cox had anything to do with this at all, aside from being the original Wonkette.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    My response to yesterday’s Wonkette piece* was “Mean Girls.”

    * – which I was directed to, and do not follow.

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  2. [...] JAMES JOYNER: Stacy McCain = Ken Layne = Andrew Sullivan. [...]

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  3. Stogie says:

    So James, you’re saying that if someone doesn’t adhere to someone else’s stereotype of what a governor should look like, then it’s okay to make ugly Photoshop slurs of their Down Syndrome infant?

    Since Barack Obama doesn’t “look like” a typical president (for one thing, he isn’t older than Moses), that must mean it’s okay to Photoshop the White House lawn filled with watermelons. Just applying your logic, James.

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  4. Joshua says:

    The HTML title of this page is “Why do people hate Sarah Palin so much they go after her infant daughter, Trig?”

    That should be “infant son.”

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  5. RebeccaH says:

    So, making that crack about toothbrushes and West Virginians doesn’t put you in the same category as those who make nasty photoshops of a Down Syndrome baby? I detect more than a whiff of academic snobbery here.

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  6. As long as the ad for SARAHPAC is at the bottom of the post I guess it is all ok.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    So James, you’re saying that if someone doesn’t adhere to someone else’s stereotype of what a governor should look like, then it’s okay to make ugly Photoshop slurs of their Down Syndrome infant?

    Nope. Just explaining why THEY think it’s okay.

    That should be “infant son.”

    So it should. Fixed! Thanks.

    So, making that crack about toothbrushes and West Virginians doesn’t put you in the same category as those who make nasty photoshops of a Down Syndrome baby?

    You have to read Stacy’s post to get that one, I’m afraid.

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  8. Tommy Shanks says:

    Uh, it’s spelled “Occam?”

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  9. Paul A'Barge says:

    Well I’d be darned … a professor who can’t spell occam … making comments about toothbrushes and West Virginia.

    Mirror Mirror, on the wall. Who’s the moron?

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  10. Trouble says:

    Hoo-boy – a blogger feud, a Down syndrome baby, and a MILFy governor, all leavened with a touch of teh ghey.

    Good times, good times.

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  11. Well, technically, William was from the village of Ockham in Surrey, so I would certainly support James’ spelling and suggest that either will work.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    Well, technically, William was from the village of Ockham in Surrey, so I would certainly support James’ spelling and suggest that either will work.

    You are correct, sir. “Occam’s Razor” is the more common spelling of the term but “Ockham’s Razor” is the more logical one.

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  13. Gustopher says:

    I thought people hated her because:

    she is a social conservative (really, really far to the right, far enough to actually be a little scary to the folks on the left)
    she is grossly inarticulate (which may or may not indicate genuine ignorance if not stupidity)
    she was unprepared for her first major interviews, and the VP debate (leaving the lasting impression that she is either ignorant, stupid, or overconfident, arrogant, ignorant and stupid)
    she calls Democrats socialists (indicating she is either uninformed about socialists, or is a rabid unyielding ideologue)

    I’d add that she is coming across as very thin skinned because of her reactions to the stupid Letterman joke and the photoshopping. But I don’t think this made anyone hate her who didn’t already hate her.

    When someone comes across as an arrogant, ignorant, stupid, right-wing ideologue, it’s pretty easy to hate them, especially when they have a little cheer leading section that loves her.

    That she is a pro-life woman gets under a few people’s skin as if she has betrayed her gender (why is abortion considered a woman’s issue).

    And her looks… I’m really curious to see whether she remains so prominent as her looks fade with age.

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  14. Arkie Hogg says:

    Wonkette, and the single-digit-IQ persons who comment thereupon, should just be ignored. Stacy unfortunately is just feeding the trolls.

    Speaking of which, hey Gustopher! It’s feeding time, asshole. Get back in your cage.

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  15. Charlotte says:

    I don’t think that Governor Palin comes off as thin skinned.

    I think she comes off as a LOVING mother who is protecting her children from some pretty disgusting stuff directed at them ONLY because of who Mrs. Palin is and what she represents.

    Try to think of it this way (yes, TRY to think): She got pregnant and then found out the child she was carrying had a chromosomal disorder that cannot be cured.

    She decided to have the baby (10% of mothers do this) and then she is constantly being accused of “using the baby” as a political prop.

    She wants to go out with her family in public to a public venue, but she isn’t allowed to do that without a stupid, pathetic has-been late night talk show host making remarks about her daughter being raped, in additon to remarks about her “slutty appearance”.

    This is a sitting governor of the largest state in the US we are talking about. Last time I checked, the first amendment is for everyone. Oh, I see…except for conservative women who espouse the values that made this land great. THOSE women will be vilified, lied about, photoshopped in disgusting ways, and joked about in horrific ways. The intent is to silence us.

    Gustopher: When a House & Senate controlled by Democrats and a Democrat President take over [or threaten to take over] many of the big companies in the US (hey, forget those bankruptcy laws and stuff) then in my opinion, the government is bcoming SOCIALIST. HELLO???? Exactly what definition of socialism are you using?

    When the government is touted as being able to take care of EVERYTHING, then that is also socialistic.

    Abortion is a women’s issue because the Femnists have made it one with their constant mantra of “men are irrelavent”.

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  16. Anderson says:

    I’m confused, sorry.

    Can you link to ANY post by Andrew Sullivan where he “makes sport of her Down Syndrome suffering infant son, Trig”?

    That is a pretty serious thing to say unless you have a link to back it up.

    Sullivan, rightly or wrongly, was annoyed that Palin didn’t release her health records, and took rather too seriously the notion that Trig is Palin’s son, not grandson.

    None of that is “making sport of” Trig.

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  17. Charlotte says:

    Correction: What President Obama and the Congress are doing with their actions is more like communism than socialism. However, I believe a strong argument can be made that the Dems are socialists because of their attitude that the goverment is going to solve EVERYTHING.

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  18. Eric Florack says:

    Aside: Back when I was starting BitsBlog, I gave brief thought to calling it “Occam’s After Shave”. Then I found out about a blogspotter called “Occam’s Toothbrush” which was popular at the time. Nah… a little too close.

    I don’t think that Governor Palin comes off as thin skinned.

    Of course not. But as Reynolds grumbled yesterday, what IS it with the left and that kid?

    But here’s the test of the central point of Stacy’s piece…. …the test of opposites. (Given Stacy’s references to homosexuality there’s an entire minefield of double entendre, all on that one line! Anyway….)

    Posit with me a Downs Syndome kid named Trig Pelosi, and do the math. Think the reaction to that nonsense would be the same calm resignation we see from Palin?

    No, I don’t think so, either.

    And more than just Palin… we’d see Democrats of all stripes venting outrage at volume 11. As it is, we have none of that… what we do have is the apparently acceptable leftist hate spewed at Palin and family.

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  19. DamnWalker says:

    “Sarah Palin does not dress, talk, or act like a governor — much less a vice presidential candidate — is supposed to.”

    Hmmmm. Given the myriad governors now stretched across our great land and the “doofus” factor of our current VP, what is the standard of how they should act? Yet, I think I know what angle your spinning here. As EYE-gor said as the light bulb went off, “Oh, I see”.

    Do you also say Froderick?
    No, it’s Frederick.
    Well, why isn’t it Froderick?
    Because–it just isn’t.

    So, I suppose the test for acting like a governor – much less a vice presidential candidate- is what you say it is because — it just is. Oh. We see.

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  20. JorgXMcKie says:

    “she is grossly inarticulate”
    Hoo, boy!! Do you mean compared to the TOTUS? “uhm, er, ah, umm . . .” or to Joe Biden, or John F’n Kerry (who by the way served in Vietnam)?
    She is no more no less articulate than the average politician.
    “she was unprepared for her first major interviews, and the VP debate” ??
    Fine. Next election, let Rush Limbaugh conduct the first interview with the Dem candidates and edit the tape and see how they come off.

    You, sir, are a fine example of the dangers of cranio-rectal inversion.

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  21. James Joyner says:

    Can you link to ANY post by Andrew Sullivan where he “makes sport of her Down Syndrome suffering infant son, Trig”?

    It’s a rewrite of a previous erroneous sentence that tries to come up with a name for two very different things that Sullivan and Layne are engaged in. Maybe it’s inartful.

    He’s written like 6000 posts on the subject of Trig Palin’s provenance. It was, for a time, seemingly all he wrote about. Not sure whether that truly constitutes “making sport” but it’s bizarre and sad.

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  22. An Interested Party says:

    Oh look, Gustopher has touched several raw nerves around here…who knew that the governor of Alaska was now Saint Sarah, She who dare not be criticized…I really hope she runs for and wins the GOP presidential nomination in 2012…that’ll be so much fun…

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  23. Ken says:

    Mr. Joyner, I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion regarding Stacy McCain. As long as that disgustingly vile reptile who calls himself “Perez Hilton” is drawing a breath and able to reach his rabid little fingers to a keyboard he has no peer as the most skilled attention whore in the blogosphere. Mr. McCain would have to reach some rather astounding depths to come within a country mile of that level of desperate need for attention.

    As for your comments on Governor Palin, Gustaphson, I would challenge you to consider the following regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

    she is a socialist (really, really far to the left, far enough to actually be a little scary to the folks on the right)

    she was unprepared for her first major challenge on the CIA briefings, and folded up like a junior high diva when challenged to defend her comments (leaving the lasting impression that she is either ignorant, stupid, or overconfident, arrogant, ignorant and stupid)

    she calls Republicans “partisan” (indicating she is either hasn’t the cranial power for honest self-review, or is a rabid unyielding ideologue)

    she promised to “drain the swamp”, which has been translated by her inaction to mean “I’ll only pursue ethics investigations of the OTHER party” (proving for anyone who can read that she lies as easily as she draws in air. How she can ignore the ethics cesspool that Jack Murtha, Charles Rangel, and James Moran are in is beyond me. She just drained the swamp and poured it some place else, hoping we’d stop smelling the stench.)

    I’d add that she is coming across as a venal, money grabbing, hack politician, for whom the word “bi-partisan” means “do it my way or else”. But I don’t think this made anyone hate her who didn’t already hate her.

    When someone comes across as an arrogant, ignorant, stupid, left-wing ideologue, it’s pretty easy to hate them, especially when they have a blind as a bat to thug politics cheer leading section that loves her.

    And her looks… is she really in a lengthy contest with Joan Rivers to see who can have the most hideous plastic surgery?

    See how easy that is?

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  24. Anderson says:

    What is the evidence that Pelosi is a “socialist,” I wonder?

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  25. Eric Florack says:

    Does the voting record count, I wonder?

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  26. KN@PPSTER says:

    Pretty hate machine…

    My first step toward Palin hate was the realization that she is not (the assurances of people in that crowd, assurances I had made a little blogosphere bank on notwithstanding), repeat not a “libertarian Republican” in any meaningful sense of the wor…

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  27. Anderson says:

    Sure, Bitsy. Regale us with Pelosi’s votes to abolish capitalism and instill a socialist economy.

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  28. An Interested Party says:

    I’d add that she is coming across as a venal, money grabbing, hack politician, for whom the word “bi-partisan” means “do it my way or else”.

    I didn’t know Tom Delay was still in Congress…

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  29. Gustopher says:

    Posit with me a Downs Syndome kid named Trig Pelosi, and do the math.

    Excellent punsterism!

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  30. Gustopher says:

    As for your comments on Governor Palin, Gustaphson, I would challenge you to consider the following regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

    I thought the topic was “Why do people hate Sarah Palin?” not “Who is the most hateful?”

    If the best defense of Gov. Palin is that she is no more hateful than Rep. Pelosi, then perhaps that is a problem.

    Neither Palin nor Pelosi can reach voters on the other side of the aisle, because they are so vilified.

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  31. Brett says:

    Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me, James. I’d probably have to be a big attention whore and ego-inflater myself if my parents had idiotically named me “Stacy”.

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  32. Jim Treacher says:

    she is a social conservative

    OH NOES!!!! Hey, what’s Obama’s opinion on gay marriage?

    she is grossly inarticulate

    Biden.

    she was unprepared for her first major interviews, and the VP debate

    See previous.

    she calls Democrats socialists

    No, she calls socialists socialists, even the ones who call themselves Democrats.

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  33. Jim Treacher says:

    I’d probably have to be a big attention whore and ego-inflater myself if my parents had idiotically named me “Stacy”.

    Good point, Brett.

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  34. Brainster says:

    Dunno if you’ve read the Purdum hit piece on Palin in VF yet, but he indulges himself in a little second-hand pop psychology himself, claiming that numerous individuals in Alaska approached him independently to offer their diagnosis of her as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder according to some scientific tome that apparently is a hot seller in the frozen tundra.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    re: Jim Treacher | June 30, 2009 | 04:54 pm

    Here’s another comparison for ya…unlike Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Sarah Palin will never be president or vice-president of this country…

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  36. Sure, Bitsy. Regale us with Pelosi’s votes to abolish capitalism and instill a socialist economy.

    Well, since @lm on the road it’s not to hand. Though, I imagine her support of cap and tax can be considered evidence of her socialism. That will be the result of that mess.

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  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    I thought people hated her because:

    Thats what liberals do….

    Fine. Next election, let Rush Limbaugh conduct the first interview with the Dem candidates and edit the tape and see how they come off.

    lol, let me…….

    So is everyone saying that Obama is grossly articulate?

    Dudes worse then Biden without his trusty Donkeyprompter…..

    Nothing worse then a stammering bull**** artist…..

    And at least Biden doesn’t blame his being an ignorant **** on being sleepy…….

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  38. Eric Florack says:

    Excellent punsterism!

    I was beginning to wonder if anyone would figure out ONE of the zingers I toseed into that one. Just one. You get the cigar.

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  39. Jim Treacher says:

    Here’s another comparison for ya…unlike Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Sarah Palin will never be president or vice-president of this country…

    Comment bookmarked.

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  40. Hating Sarah Palin is so gay!…

    As regular readers know, I love Sarah Palin. (So does co-blogger M. Simon). What I don’t love, though, is this attempt by Stacy McCain to link hatred of Sarah Palin to homosexuality (which McCain sees as synonymous with Andrew Sullivan’s……

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  41. [...] Taking Ockham’s Razor to Sarah Palin Haters (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  42. [...] Taking Ockham’s Razor to Sarah Palin Haters (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  44. [...] Taking Ockham’s Razor to Sarah Palin Haters (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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