Former top Hillary Clinton adviser Mark Penn says the media obsession with finding skeletons in the closet of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin since virtually the moment she was named the Republican vice presidential candidate could well backfire.
In an interview with CBSNews.com, Mr. Penn said, "I think here the media are on very dangerous ground. I think that when you see them going through every single expense report that Governor Palin ever filed, if they don't do that for all four of the candidates, they're on very dangerous ground. I think the media so far have been the biggest losers in this race. And they continue to have growing credibility problems."
I couldn't agree more. The scrutiny accorded Governor Palin is far more intense and malicious in its intent than any directed toward either of the men on the Democratic ticket. Liberals are driven nuts by the idea that this woman could be that proverbial heartbeat away from being president.
There are all sorts of rumors and innuendos about Sen. Barack Obama, too. How is this different? It's different because the attacks on Mrs. Palin of which I'm speaking come not from "Swift-boaters" or extremist bloggers, but from the bastions of American journalism. The opinion-makers in American journalism seem to loathe Mrs. Palin.
The New York Times, to cite one such entity, has totally discarded any notion of being objective about this race. On Sunday, the Times ran a story about Mrs. Palin's tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, headlined, "Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes." Stop the presses. Certainly no other politician has done any such thing.
The Times story says, "Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials."
Even so, the report from Wasilla concedes Mrs. Palin has done a lot of good things as well and has "many supporters." Well, yeah, judging from her well-noted high approval ratings among Alaskans.
The Sunday talk shows were filled with politicians doing their partisan posturing over Sarah Palin's qualifications for high office. Democrats say she doesn't have any, or at least not enough, while Republicans point out she possesses more executive experience than the man at the top of the Democratic ticket - even though that man, Barack Obama, is the object of passion among all well-meaning persons who've gone to school, learned what properly indoctrinated people learn and abandoned whatever it is that makes so many yokels in fly-over country cling to their guns and their Bibles and their (assumed) evil racism.
In fact, it's become an article of faith on the political left to claim that an Obama loss in November can only happen if white racism wins the day for Mr. McCain. Never mind that millions of white Americans have voted for the man in the Democratic primaries, and that there are plenty of reasons other than racism that one might prefer the Republican candidate. These include a resume many people think is thinner than Mrs. Palin's, his adherence to extreme liberal views (the kind that sank George McGovern, Walter F. Mondale, Michael S. Dukakis and John Kerry in their attempts to win the White House), his association with shady developer Tony Rezko, his connections to the cesspool that is Chicago machine politics, and his long-term membership in the congregation of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., he of the "God damn America" rant.
Where are the teams of reporters poring over the negative aspects in the life and career of the junior senator from Illinois? The newspapers and networks wasted no time dispatching reporters to Alaska to dig up whatever dirt they could on the mother of five who spoke to 37 million television viewers in accepting her nomination, captivating so many of them and energizing what had been a dispirited Republican base.
Oh, so that's it. Even though the political maxim is that nobody votes for the person in the second spot of a presidential ticket, there is apparently some considerable fright among Democrats and their media loyalists that Sarah Palin could turn enough votes toward the GOP to decide the election in John McCain's favor. They'll do everything in their power to make that nightmare fade away, so Americans and people of good will all over the world will awaken that Wednesday morning after the results are counted and be seized by joy that their prayers have been answered and their savior has been given the keys to the kingdom.
Ron Smith can be heard weekdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., on 1090 WBAL-AM and WBAL.com. His column appears Wednesdays in The Sun. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.