Earlier this week, I suggested that there was rough justice in the fact that those people who peddled the false and disgusting rumors about Sarah Palin and her recently born son Trig had made it possible for Palin to release the news of her daughter’s pregnany in a way that was actually far less damaging than it might otherwise have been to her standing. I titled that blog item “Choke On It.”

Well, it has gotten worse for them. The effort to turn her nomination into a scandal, so relished by the scandalmongers, raised the curiosity of the American people to an unprecedented level. The results are astonishing. It appears 37.2 million people tuned in to watch Palin’s speech last night, only a million shy of Barack Obama’s total last week — making it the second most-watched convention address in history. (And given the fact that it was covered live on six networks, while Obama was live on ten networks, suggests her audience might have been larger still under entirely equal circumstances).

Without the hysteria surrounding Palin’s selection, her audience would surely have been reduced by as many as 13 million viewers, which would have put it at the same level as Joe Biden’s (24.4 million). Even if we assume that her emergence from obscurity, together with her gender, would have made the event more interesting than Biden’s in any case, it is impossible to imagine that she would have even approached a total of 30 million.

And given that the speech could not possibly have gone better, the word “backfire” hardly seems even to begin to capture what happened here.

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