No cav­ing for the moose killer

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

This is where you ex­pect Repub­li­cans to cave, to start craw­fish­ing, to sur­ren­der con­vic­tions in the wan hope that their ad­ver­saries will ease up and maybe even say some­thing nice. There’s a fa­mil­iar mantra: “Vote Repub­li­can. We’re not as bad as you think.”

But Sarah Palin, clearly a new kind of Repub­li­can, looked feistier and more de­ter­mined than ever when she was in­tro­duced Sept. 3 to a roar­ing wel­come from a hall of del­e­gates on fire. If the lady’s dead, she makes a comely and lively corpse. The Xcel En­ergy Cen­ter arena rocked.

The re­lent­less me­dia pres­sure over nearly a week, one of the sleazi­est cam­paign or­deals since Thomas Jef­fer­son was ac­cused of fa­ther­ing a child with one of his slaves, was meant to in­tim­i­date John McCain into throw­ing the lady off the ticket. (There’s no room un­der Barack Obama’s bus.) So far it hasn’t worked. The man who wouldn’t buckle in five years in a North Viet­namese tor­ture cham­ber seemed more res­o­lute than ever. “She is ex­pe­ri­enced, she’s tal­ented, she knows how to lead, and she has been vet­ted by the peo­ple of the state of Alaska,” the se­na­tor told an in­ter­viewer, try­ing to put to rest the Demo­cratic cat­a­log of Palin short­com­ings in a sin­gle sen­tence. “Amer­i­cans are go­ing to be very, very, very pleased [. . . ] . She’s go­ing to have a re­mark­able im­pact on the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

She gave no quar­ter, demon­strat­ing how she be­came the scourge of both moose and men and kept the arena roar­ing and a na­tional tele­vi­sion au­di­ence at full at­ten­tion. The net­works ex­pected the largest cam­paign au­di­ence so far, ea­ger to mea­sure her first im­pres­sion on the na­tional stage.

If John McCain threw the dice with the se­lec­tion of the gov­er­nor, the Democrats and their starstruck al­lies in the main­stream me­dia gam­bled with an all-out as­sault on Mrs. Palin, her daugh­ter and her hus­band. If this doesn’t drive her off the ticket and back to snow­bound obliv­ion, she’ll emerge stronger, tougher, more de­ter­mined than ever, and with a winning im­age to take to vot­ers in Novem­ber.

Some ed­i­tors, if they value con­sis­tency, may al­ready want to put in a call to re­write. Newsweek mag­a­zine, for ex­am­ple, which has con­ducted its love af­fair with Barack Obama on its cover — six times, in fact — flirted with Mrs. Palin in the pro­mis­cu­ous way of the newsweek­lies only last year, de­scrib- ing her much like John McCain de­scribed her when he rat­tled press row with her se­lec­tion. “For [Mrs.] Palin,” Newsweek said, “[re­form] has meant tackling the cozy re­la­tion­ship be­tween the state’s po­lit­i­cal elite and the en­ergy in­dus­try that pro­vides 85 per­cent of Alaska’s tax rev­enues — and dis­tanc­ing her­self from fel­low Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing the state’s se­nior U.S. se­na­tor [. . . ] .” And then this: “[Mrs.] Palin has trans­formed her own fam­ily’s con­nec­tions to the [oil] in­dus­try into po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage. Her hus­band, Todd, is a long­time em­ployee of Bri­tish Petroleum, but as [Mrs.] Palin points out, the ‘First Dude’ is a blue-col­lar ‘sloper,’ a field­worker on the North Slope, a cher­ished oc­cu­pa­tion in the state.” (His is a col­lar in a deeper shade of blue than Joe Bi­den’s.)

No­body knows bet­ter than the two men on the Demo­cratic ticket how care­fully they must deal with Mrs. Palin. Mr. Obama’s fer­vent re­buke of his blog­ger cra­zies and their fu­ri­ous spread­ing of the early, ugly ru­mors — that the gov­er­nor’s daugh­ter was ac­tu­ally the mother of four-month-old Trig — was the re­buke that he prob­a­bly wishes he had put out ear­lier. Those early ru­mors, which the blog­gers suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the main­stream me­dia to copy, were al­most cer­tainly first passed on to Daily Kos and his In­ter­net ilk by some­one in the dirty-tricks depart­ment of the Obama cam­paign, no doubt without the knowl­edge of the se­na­tor him­self. It’s how cam­paigns work.

The se­na­tor him­self, by his own def­i­ni­tion a born-again Chris­tian, would have known that the evan­gel­i­cals in the Repub­li­can base would re­spond to the even­tual dis­clo­sure as they did, with kind­ness and sym­pa­thy for the Palins and their daugh­ter. No one un­der­stands the power of for­give­ness bet­ter than an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian, whose faith is based on di­vine for­give­ness. The irony of the me­dia’s at­tempt to ap­ply the scar­let let­ter to the breast of a help­less teenager is that the pun­dits and poohbahs of the me­dia, for whom the cheap and vul­gar is rarely to be re­garded as over the line, have cast them­selves in the role of Grandma Grundy, the starchy hyp­ocrite ea­ger to pass harsh moral judg­ment on a teenage mis­take in Lovers Lane.

The Philistines of the me­dia might not get an in­vi­ta­tion to the wed­ding, but Sarah Palin may yet have the sat­is­fac­tion of invit­ing them to an inau­gu­ra­tion.

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