The XX Factor

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!

The Washington Post’s fine political columnist Dana Milbank has pledged not to write or utter the name “Sarah Palin” for the month of February, an interesting and worthy experiment in which I suspect he will be joined by…no one. Milbank’s self-described “obsession” with Palin-42 columns thus far-“cheapens and demeans me,” he writes, occupying brain space that might be taken up by loftier subjects. And yet, she is almost irresistible, he writes: “If any of us refused to partake of her Facebook candy or declined to use her as blog bait, we would be sending millions of Web surfers, readers, viewers and listeners to our less scrupulous competitors.”

He calls on peers like Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat of the New York Times to join him, along with Keith Olbermann, Sean Hannity, and even the Huffington Post. Good luck with that. (For what it’s worth, beneath Milbank’s column are links to three articles from the Post’ s Outlook section, all of them about Sarah Palin.)

This seems like a particularly difficult stunt for Milbank to pull off, if only because when he inevitably shows up on the Sunday talk shows, he will be asked about his self-imposed ban. (Perhaps he can thread the needle by talking about his stand without saying her name, which would safeguard the letter, if not the spirit, of what he’s doing.) I suspect there will be some interest in the idea of a media prohibition of the former veep candidate, if only because it affords an opportunity to discuss how fascinating we all her, despite ourselves, as well as to excoriate the press for paying too much attention to her-in the context of the press paying too much attention to her. Can a discussion about how we’re all sick of hearing Sarah Palin’s name get as many eyeballs as every other article/TV roundtable/blog post related to her? No doubt.