Outside the Box, Inside the Bubble.

A question, via Andrew Sullivan: Is it possible to run for president without ever talking to a non-ideological news outlet? Watch the video first, then we'll discuss:

As I've argued many times before, Republicans are masters at this kind of outside-the-box thinking. We may have an expectation that part of running for president is doing things like holding press conferences and sitting for interviews with major news organizations, but there's no law saying you have to. And for many candidates, those kinds of interactions with the press are in large part an attempt to keep your face and message in front of people. So if you've got Facebook and Twitter, and Fox and Rush, who needs those meanies in the lamestream media?

Well, Sarah Palin probably does, even if she doesn't think so now. If (when?) she's one of many Republican candidates, she won't be able to count on the media giving her every tweet breathless coverage -- and her native audience there isn't all that large (she only has 291,000 followers on Twitter, for instance). And when you constantly insult the media, eventually they start to feel ... insulted. And when you're a candidate, some of them will have as their job reporting on your campaign (which no one has as their job now). If you never talk to them, pretty soon they'll fight back, in part by reporting on how you're too much of a coward to talk to them. This happened to Sharron Angle in Nevada, when her refusal to talk to the media resulted in endless pictures of her running away from reporters as though she were running from the courthouse after being indicted.

On the other hand, you can subject this to a strict cost-benefit analysis. Don't talk to the press, and Palin will see all the stories about how she refuses to talk to the press. Talk to the press, and she'll end up producing a whole bunch of gaffes and occasions on which she can demonstrate her remarkable ignorance about things like policy and government and issues. Which is worse?

Right now, Palin is living in a bubble. She's got her people around her, who tell her how great she is. She goes to events for candidates or conservative organizations, where everyone tells her how great she is. She goes on Fox and conservative radio, where everyone tells her how great she is. She gets e-mails and letters from her supporters, who tell her how great she is. The only people she ever hears about who don't think she's great are mean reporters, mean bloggers, and mean Democrats. But fortunately, she never has to get within 50 feet of them.

The thing about that bubble is, it's really comfy in there. Leaving it would be really hard. If she could become president without leaving it, she would. But she probably can't.

-- Paul Waldman

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