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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Democrats, the MSM, Sarah Palin, and the Definition of Insanity

In my opinion, one of the best, non scientific, ways to see what the media is interested in for a given day or week, you take a look at the front page of Real Clear Politics and see what topic, or topics, the majority of the stories are about. If you have done that since the Friday before last, you would have found that overwhelmingly each and every single day the topic that dominated that front page is Sarah Palin. Now, Palin certainly has her fair share of supporters from the conservative side of the media, but it goes without saying that the general majority of media scrutiny of Palin has been negative.

Now, I will give the media a break for the first five days of their coverage. Clearly, they didn't know who they were dealing with, and so I can only assume that they assumed that, like most politicians, if they said enough bad things the public would follow. Clearly though, after this past Wednesday's speech, the MSM should have done some reflection and seen that their strategy wasn't working. Yet, just about every pundit and Democratic strategist this side of Sally Quinn didn't seem to come to the realization that the nonstop smears and criticism wasn't working.

A recent Rasmussen poll has Palin more popular than anyone else in the race. I understand a recent poll of Alaskans has Palin's approval ratings as Governor of the state at about 80%. Apparently, the MSM, along with their Democratic allies, are determined to continue with the same attacks until the make up of her popularity nationally mirrors that of her popularity in Alaska.

What is remarkable about the criticism since Thursday, when the media should have realized their attacks weren't working, is that not only have their attacks not stopped but they haven't changed.

Let's first take a look at this piece by Jessica Reaves of the Chicago Tribune.

Sarah Palin is a woman. Hillary Clinton is a woman. Women just love voting for other women. Women candidates are interchangeable. Therefore, women who would have voted for Clinton are obviously going to vote for Palin.

If this syllogism strikes you as stupid, that's because it is. Not to mention cynical and not a little bit sexist. Yet it also appears to be one of the reasons behind John
's choice of a running mate.Oh, lots of alternative explanations for his decision are floating around: McCain chose Palin because her staunch anti-abortion stance bolsters his case among Christian conservatives; he chose her because she personifies youthful energy while he, well, doesn't.

Possibly the Palin decision was a big Bronx cheer meant for strategist Karl Rove, who pushed hard for Mitt Romney (over Joe Lieberman, McCain's rumored first choice). Then again, maybe the Republican candidate for president of the United States plucked his running mate from relative obscurity because he's desperate for the moose-hunting vote. (But really, who isn't?)

Setting aside for a moment the political clout of America's moose-hunting bloc, let's take a closer look at one of the more plausible reasons behind McCain's peculiar pick: He's tipping his cap and winking at disconsolate Clinton supporters, hoping he'll pick up a few all-important Lady Votes from the pool of Still Undecideds who monitored last week's events in Denver but remain unconverted—and unconvinced.

Yes, Reaves seems to be making the unique point that Palin is not the sort of feminist she likes and thus she won't attract women. I guess Reaves wasn't reading her colleagues in the media when Gloria Steinem, Arianna Huffington, Sally Quinn, and Sarah Seltzer made the exact same point last week. What's remarkable about what all of these ladies say is the obscene amount of political hubris they exhibit. First, none of them were actually part of McCain's vetting process, and yet, they all know with certainty exactly why he chose Palin. Second, they seem to believe that the entire female population of America speaks with one voice and furthermore, they represent that voice. It apparently never dawns on someone like Reaves that some women might actually be offended when someone they've never met speaks for them.

Then, there is this piece by Joe Conason about Bristol Palin's baby.

Families deserve privacy about family matters, but families that want absolute privacy should stay out of politics. Sooner or later someone would have noticed the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, 17-year-old daughter of John McCain's vice-presidential pick, especially since everyone in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, seemed to know already.

The question that remains is what, if anything, her plight may portend for the rest of us. With all due respect to this young woman, her future husband and the rest of the family -- and best wishes to all of them for a successful birth -- let us first stop pretending that this is good news. There are excellent reasons why we discourage teenage pregnancy and motherhood, and none of them have disappeared simply because the Republicans are about to put Sarah Palin on their ticket.

Adolescents are rarely prepared to take on the challenges of raising a child. Often they drop out of school as a result, and usually become dependent on their own parents for support (which may be complicated for a family whose mom is running for vice president). Pregnancies in adolescence are high-risk, and the babies born to teenage mothers tend to have more illnesses during their first year of life. Teenage marriages -- whether or not they occur because of an unplanned pregnancy -- have a tendency to work out poorly, too. ("I don't want to have kids," noted Bristol Palin's prospective husband Levi Johnston, 18, on his MySpace page, according to the New York Post, and at his age, why would he?)

But such is life in the red states, where sensible sex education and availability of contraceptives are discouraged for adolescents, even though they are just as sexually active as teenagers everywhere else. Despite the supposed religious purity of the evangelical right-wingers who today regard themselves as the base of the Republican Party, rates of teenage pregnancy and divorce tend to be higher in their domain than elsewhere in America. To the extent that their values would dominate for another four years of Republican rule, those pathologies can be expected to prevail. During the past four years of the Bush administration, teen pregnancies have increased for the first time since 1990, when they began a 14-year decline.

This was echoed by Obama bundler Howard Gutman.

This has nothing to do with gender, whether Todd Palin was the nominee or Sarah Palin was the nominee," [Howard] Gutman said. "If my daughter had just come home at 17 years old and said, 'Mom, Dad, I'm pregnant, we have a family problem,' I wouldn't say, 'You know what we're going to do? We're going to take this private family problem...and you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go on the international stage and broadcast this to the world.'

Now, one would think that this would be a no brainer. It appears obvious to me at least that going after a seveteen year old to attack your opponent is doomed for failure. Even if they once thought this was a good idea, you would think this Rasmussen poll that showed a majority of Americans believing that media coverage of Palin has been unfair would have set them straight. It appears the MSM along with their Democratic allies regard polls the way most folks regard polls, use the ones that advance your view of the world and ignore all that don't.

If the madness wasn't enough, Congressman Barney Frank had this to say today.

WITH ONE important exception, what we have learned about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family does not reflect badly on any of them. What the Palin family story does do is underscore the flaws in the political philosophy that was critical to her being selected by John McCain.

The exception, of course, is the allegation that she tried to get the Alaska public safety commissioner to fire her former brother-in-law and fired the commissioner when he would not give in to her wishes. Public officials cannot use their official positions on behalf of family members in a domestic dispute.

The divorce itself and the pregnancy of Palin's daughter are the sorts of things that occur in many American families, and those involved are entitled to be treated with compassion. But that is precisely the point that makes this a relevant political issue. Palin was selected by McCain in substantial part because of her high standing as a leading advocate of the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party. McCain was reportedly leaning strongly toward naming Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, but was deterred by the vehement opposition of social conservatives. And when Palin was selected, James Dobson, one of the leading advocates for imposing personal moral choices on the rest of us, announced that this was the one thing that switched him from skepticism about McCain to enthusiastic support.

So, in other words, Frank continues the same meme started by Sally Quinn (early last week) that if you dare preach social conservatism and family values that your family must be perfect or liberals who want secular progressivism and no moral judgments will immediately brand you a hypocrite and use your story as proof that everything Conservatives believe is wrong. It didn't work then, and yet Frank is willing to give it another shot.

Finally, the MSM fervently believes that the public just doesn't know Sarah Palin's stance on abortion, and if they talk about it enough the country will see that she is really just a religious zealot.

I had dinner last night with a Republican-leaning independent who was despondent over John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She had been looking forward to supporting McCain as a fiscal conservative with a deep understanding of foreign relations. But all she could now see was that picture of Palin's pregnant 17-year-old looking defiant and stupid as she held mom's fifth baby.

Many religious conservatives are jubilant. They regard Palin as a swell choice because her high-schooler is going to have the baby. The line sent my friend into shock. This is not a matter of abortion politics, she said, but of managing one's own affairs

Don't they have birth control up in Alaska?" she asked. If that view has any currency among Republican-leaners, you can imagine what other independents are thinking. Or disaffected supporters of Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama's recent pandering
toward the Clinton holdouts didn't do the Democrat a fraction of the good that
McCain is doing him. McCain's apparent belief that dangling any woman before
die-hard Clinton fans would win them over may be optimistic.

Until now, one could counter the Democrats' argument that a McCain presidency would amount to a third term for Bush. After all, McCain is a deficit hawk. He cares about the environment. Many pro-choice voters were willing to overlook McCain's
generally anti-abortion stance on the belief that he didn't really care about the issue. And the widespread concern regarding McCain's age could have been assuaged by the choice of a competent vice president.

Now, I wonder if Ms. Harrop really believes this horse maneur she is peddling. First, some unnamed "independent" now represents all Americans. Second, all independents are apparently not only pro choice but apparently so virulently that this is a deal killer for them. Isn't that the sort of thing that would make them Democrats. Furthermore, even though McCain's record on abortion is a 100% voting record against abortion, somehow it was the choice of Sarah Palin that would cement the ticket as bad. Of course, what is really going on here is that folks like Harrop herself are the ones that are virulently pro abortion and what they do is project their beliefs upon Americans as a whole in some sort of monolithic voting pattern. It's of course the sort of thing every so called "leader of the feminist movement" attempted to do for a week, and after they were done excoriating Palin for her "extreme abortion position", Palin wound up more popular than anyone else in the race. To all the pro abortion forces in the media, if someone still doesn't know Sarah Palin's anti abortion stance it isn't because you haven't repeated it ad nauseum.

Now, lost in the winds of the lunacy of trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity) are two astute pieces from the MSM. Here is Matt Cooper.

Ignore Palin. Dissing the Alaska governor is not helping. She'll either collapse or help the ticket on her own accord, but ultimately the race is about John McCain.

Here is Arianna Huffington.

And this is clearly McCain's campaign strategy: inducing amnesia about the past and confusion about the future, attempting to hoodwink the American people about what he has become.

Which is where Sarah Palin comes in. As a major distraction. In the effort to divert attention from the matter at hand -- McCain's embrace of all things Bush -- Palin is the perfect storm.Americans love the outsider plucked from obscurity. And Palin provides bucketfuls of the new and exciting. As long as voters and the media are caught up in the latest installment of As Sarah Turns or the Alaska version of All My Children, they aren't paying attention to the lack of solutions McCain is offering to the serious crises that face us.

Forget worrying about the economy or health care or the housing crisis -- think about how many people live in Wasilla, whether Bristol and Levi will live happily ever after, and if Sarah and her "First Dude" really want Alaska to secede from the union.

This is why the McCain campaign wants Palin front and center -- did you notice how much time McCain spent during the speech praising Palin and how quickly the celebratory post-speech music shifted from "Raisin' McCain" to "Barracuda"?

They are absolutely right. Not only are Palin's opponents simply overmatched against her, but she is the candidate more naturally apt to ignore. She is the one running for Vice President. What in the world are the MSM and their allies in the Democratic Party spending so much time analyzing her for? They all had a perfectly good narrative making McCain Bush's third term until Palin came along. If anyone is the anti Bush it is Sarah Palin. The last thing the MSM and the Democrats need to do is attempt to make this election about Sarah Palin. Nothing is a surer shot for defeat than if both these forces spend the next two months looking to do anything to bring her down. From this Cohservative, I'd like to in the words of Mr. Strickland from Back to the Future offer a nickel's worth of free advice. Let it go. You lost the battle with Sarah Palin. She's smarter than you, more politically astute, and no matter what you do the public will still like her. Focus on the target that presents more opportunity for criticism, John McCain. Believe you me, there is nothing that Conservatives, including John McCain, want more than the remainder of this election be all Sarah Palin all the time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that one of the first questions asked of David Alexrod this Sunday was about Palin. There is a link to the transcript at