The XX Factor

Mama Palin Is “Channeling Her Anger”

One of the interesting things to watch in American politics is which bit of psychobabble is currently in vogue. This election season, the winner seems to be “channeling anger.” The punditry’s conclusion is that the single line running through last night’s election victories is not conservatism, or anti-government sentiment, or some other form of quantifiable populism, but the guru’s capacity to channel anger. This is the dot that connects, say, John McCain, who won back his Senate seat in Arizona and Joe Miller, the Tea Party- and Sarah Palin-endorsed candidate in the Republican Senate primary in Alaska (who hasn’t won yet but is likely to), but excludes, say Bill McCollum , the deeply conservative incumbent in Florida who had apparently been photographed one too many times in that old jovial thumbs up Washington pol pose .

Given how generally wrong the media was about last night’s results, you would think they would give up trying to impose a unified narrative on the results. But Sarah Palin, more than anyone, keeps us addicted to the prognosticating.  No one really understands the Palin endorsement method – why, say, she endorses the pro-choice Carly Fiorina in California but holds back on Sharron Angle in Nevada. But after last night – where all five of her candidates probably won – we are back to bowing before the power of her particular mystique – or at least we can’t discount it anymore. So like a family headed by a charismatic and inscrutable mother, we keep reaching for the magical, emotionally explosive formulas that can explain some part of the picture but never quite capture the whole thing. So, kids, maybe what Mom is doing this week is “channeling her anger.”