In addition to regularly contributing to NRO’s excellent Home Front blog, my wife Nancy is the editor of the Patheos Faith and Family portal, a multi-faith website that thoughtfully explores, well, faith and family. Last week she added a young, single-mother blogger to the site, a person who could reach a wide audience and was experiencing life as a mother in the glare of unusually harsh publicity: Bristol Palin.
As an editor, Nancy often lives in the more mundane world of Internet punditry — posting blogs, correcting typos, monitoring traffic, and managing a group of talented and eclectic writers. But some days are less mundane than others.
Over the weekend, Bristol wrote a post that asked a simple question: “Mr. President, When Should I Expect Your Call?” Noting that President Obama had called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh’s now-famous insult, Bristol reminds the president that she’s been the target of much worse:
But here’s why I’m a little surprised my phone hasn’t rung. Your $1,000,000 donor Bill Maher has said reprehensible things about my family. He’s made fun of my brother because of his Down’s Syndrome. He’s said I was “f—-d so hard a baby fell out.” (In a classy move, he did this while his producers put up the cover of my book, which tells about the forgiveness and redemption I’ve found in God after my past — very public — mistakes.)
If Maher talked about Malia and Sasha that way, you’d return his dirty money and the Secret Service would probably have to restrain you. After all, I’ve always felt you understood my plight more than most because your mom was a teenager. That’s why you stood up for me when you were campaigning against Sen. McCain and my mom — you said vicious attacks on me should be off limits.
Yet I wonder if the Presidency has changed you. Now that you’re in office, it seems you’re only willing to defend certain women. You’re only willing to take a moral stand when you know your liberal supporters will stand behind you.
It’s a great post. It exposes the fundamental disingenuousness and faux outrage of the Left and its “war on women” rhetoric. In reality, no one knows better than conservative women the depths of the depravity of leftist rhetoric when conservatives threaten their cherished identity-politics-based cultural narrative. After Bristol sent the post in, Nancy put it up shortly after midnight on Sunday night.
Nancy tweeted it to her few hundred followers (she and I have a rather pathetic contest for twitter followers; right now I’m barely in the lead with a whopping 776), and Bristol facebooked it. Within hours, it had been shared 8,000 times. Already it was taking off.
Then Sarah Palin tweeted.
Patheos’s server promptly melted down. One of the most-trafficked religious sites on the web, its server still spontaneously combusted. A small mushroom cloud was spotted over the server farm. Eleven additional servers had to be brought online to handle the traffic flow, and by the end of the day, 8,000 shares had turned into more than 85,000 (update: 100,000), and the story of Bristol’s challenge to the president had been reported not just in the political and mainstream media but also in the Hollywood media as well. Thousands of tweets, and tens of thousands more Facebook shares from Fox to the Huffington Post to the Hollywood Reporter took the post well beyond the familiar and comfortable enclaves of the conservative blogosphere.
That, in essence, is Palin power. No other name in the conservative movement can instantly break through the wall of separation between conservative punditry and popular culture. Bristol powerfully and concisely told the truth — and reached an audience so large it resides only in most pundits’ wildest dreams.