On the trail with Sarah Palin in Richmond, Va., New York Times reporter Patrick Healy filed a condescending profile of her stump speech in Tuesday's "A Riveting Speaker, Waving the Flag." Healy claimed that Palin's "partisan zeal" and "with-us-or-against-us message" could "repel some independent voters," and that her speeches have "holes in logic." It was the sort of treatment that gaffe machine Joe Biden never receives from the Times:
Here is the thing about Gov. Sarah Palin: She loves America. Really loves it. She loves the smell of cut grass and hay, as she told Ohio voters Sunday. She loves Navy bases, she said in Virginia Beach on Monday morning. She loves America's "most beautiful national anthem," she told a crowd here a few hours later.
Apparently there are people who do not feel the same way about America as Ms. Palin does, she said at campaign rallies over the last two days. Those people just do not get it.
"Man, I love small-town U.S.A.," Ms. Palin told several thousand people on a field in Ohio, "and I don't care what anyone else says about small-town U.S.A. You guys, you just get it."
Ms. Palin did not identify who "anyone else" was. But listening to her campaign speeches three weeks before the presidential election, an informed voter would not need two chances to guess between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. (The posters reading "Barack Bin Lyin" at the McCain-Palin rally in Virginia Beach might be a hint, too.)
Healy estimated the crowd at the Richmond International Raceway as "more than 10,000 people," but the text box knocked that down: "Gov. Sarah Palin addressed 10,000 people on Monday at a raceway in Richmond, Va." A Washington Post blog entry puts the crowd at 20,000. More from Healy:
But Ms. Palin's partisan zeal could repel some independent voters in closely contested states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania; Democratic polling in both states shows Ms. Palin with high negative ratings among independents. Palin advisers say many of these voters do not know enough about her; Ms. Palin is campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and New Hampshire on Wednesday.
In some ways, Ms. Palin seems like a 2.0 version of George W. Bush -- not the deeply unpopular president, but the plain-spoken and energetic campaigner who rose as a political talent in Texas and solidified his appeal in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Hers, like his, is a with-us-or-against-us message, as when Ms. Palin pledges total solidarity with "good, hard-working, patriotic Americans."
The Times questioned why Palin wasn't attacking her own party, portraying her as an empty suit.
Ms. Palin's speeches do not acknowledge that looking at past mistakes is one way to avoid making those mistakes again. And her addresses gloss over some uncomfortable details, like that the most recent big spender in the White House is the Republican now there.
If there are holes in logic or a lack of specifics in Ms. Palin's speeches, her audiences tend to fill the absence with gushing affection.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign trail has been riddled with gaffes, yet he doesn't get the scrutiny that journalists give every pause or hole in a speech by Palin. The Times has yet to mention Biden's novel explanation to CBS anchor Katie Couric about how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got on television to talk to America about the 1929 stock market crash. Only two things wrong with the anecdote: FDR wasn't elected president until 1932, and TV wouldn't be introduced to the public until 1939.Palin called into Rush Limbaugh's show Tuesday and Limbaugh brought up Healy's article as an example of what he called "an attempt to get [Palin] to shut up."