The woman introducing Joe Biden to a Michigan crowd yesterday called Sarah Palin a "bucket of fluff." Biden then told the crowd that Barack Obama is too smart and too well-educated to live in a Republican neighborhood. Now that the Dems have put Obama's smarts and education on the table, will the MSM demand Obama finally release his Columbia transcript?
But, OK, fine. Biden's put it out there. We know about Biden's academic record. And John McCain's far-from-stellar academics at the Naval Academy are well documented. Sarah Palin apparently moved around quite a bit in college. But there's one person about whom there is a very large lacuna when it comes to his academic record: one Barack Obama. His campaign has refused to release his Columbia University undergraduate transcript, the one upon which he was admitted to Harvard Law. Now that Biden has put smarts on the table, will the MSM demand that Obama come clean on Columbia?
Decimate: 1. to destroy a great number or proportion of: the population was decimated by a plague. 2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.
Is that the definition of the post-partisan politics Barack Obama claims to be preaching? You know, the kind where there's no blue-state America or red-state America: just the United States of America? Maybe Chevy Chase didn't get the email. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Chase expressed his disappointment that Tina Fey didn't go after Sarah Palin harder in her SNL impersonation. Chase wanted to see Fey "decimate" the Republican VP candidate.
Chase was appearing to tout a charity auction he and wife Jayni are conducting to fund environmental education in the schools. See Bonus Coverage for a disturbing factoid Jayni let slip. Chase's call for blood came in response to Willie Geist's very first question.
My NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard, in the course of detailing how the New York Times devoted four items and over 6,000 words today to attacking Sarah Palin, cited Frank Rich's column and its malicious message. Rich's piece is such a treasure trove for chroniclers of Palin Derangement Syndrome that I'd like to devote a bit more time to deconstructing it.
For sheer paranoid fantasy, it will be hard to outdo the scenario Rich sketches. In having mentioned Harry Truman in her convention speech, Rich sees nothing less than a "creepy" clue to what Palin has in mind.Truman, you see [roll the menacing music] . . . ascended to the presidency due to the death of the president whom he served as VP. Rich imagines a "Palin presidency" that is nothing less than a far-right, McCarthyite coup.
"I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail." -- Bob Herbert, NYT, 9-13-08
Bob Herbert's item in today's New York Times, She's Not Ready, is not so much political analysis as a howl of MSM shock and outrage. No-o-o-o-o!, Herbert seems to cry. I can't believe this is happening to us! Meanwhile, with condescension worthy of his ABC stablemate Charlie Gibson, certified Obama fan David Wright suggests that Palin has been in need of a "chaperone" on the campaign trail.
Annotated excerpts from Herbert's "She's Not Ready':
How is it that so much of the mainstream media has dropped all pretense of seriousness to hop aboard the bandwagon and go along for the giddy ride?
The MSM has hopped aboard the Palin bandwagon? PDS has obviously affected Herbert's faculties.
H/t cgb1. Sarah Palin is sending the MSM around the bend. On MSNBC this afternoon, Andrea Mitchell provided perhaps the most blatant example yet of an MSMer openly admitting she doesn't want Palin as VP. Mitchell, clearly frustrated by Palin's every-woman-appeal, complained: "Is that what we really want in our leaders? Do we want someone 'just like me?' I mean, I don't want someone like me because I know I'm not because I know I'm not prepared to be vice-president or president. What makes people think that having someone like their neigbhor be in the White House is a good thing?"
Mitchell's guest was Lisa Murkowski, Republican senator from Alaska. Mitchell began by trying to lure Murkowski into taking a swing at Palin for her comments about taking on the "good old boys." Palin defeated Murkowski's father Frank, then the sitting governor of Alaska, in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary:
Make it a trio of mindreaders at NBC/MSNBC. As noted here, yesterday Howard Fineman and David Shuster went Carnac on us, emphatically declaring that Barack Obama didn't have Sarah Palin in mind with his lipstick line. On this morning's Today, Andrea Mitchell joined her network stablemates [no pun intended!] in delving into Barack's brain and assuring us he meant no harm.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Barack Obama has been a punching-bag [aww] for a barrage of criticism from the McCain campaign. Charges that he slurred Sarah Palin when he said this about McCain and his change argument [cut to clip of Obama's lipstick line]. He was clearly talking about McCain, not Palin.
Well, guess that wraps it up. But wait. Over at Morning Joe, the group wasn't so forgiving, opining that Obama either did know, or should have known, the implications of what he was saying. Mika Brzezinski herself took the first shot.
You could see this one coming. After Harry Smith called Sarah Palin "Geritol" for McCain, some MSM wag was sure to take things the next step. I'd say it just happened. NBC News DC bureau chief Mark Whitaker was chatting with Andrea Mitchell at 1:27 PM EDT today.
MARK WHITAKER: [People] want to see passion. They want to see that Obama, and the same thing is true of McCain, and we've seen him [show] a lot more passion since he picked Sarah Palin, it's definitely --
ANDREA MITCHELL: Someone described it as Geritol.
WHITAKER: Well, or something else. Put a little pep in his step!
An Obama campaign spokeswoman opened today's Morning Joe with an aggressive defense of his lipstick line, arguing that Obama was being criticized "for saying something that John McCain has said before, that Barack Obama frequently says about 'you can dress something up.' He was talking about the Republican change argument."
A bit later, bolstering her argument, the spokeswoman described the conference call the McCain campaign arranged to respond to Obama's line. She pointed out that all the reporters asking questions on the call were women, and that all of them asked McCain representative Jane Swift "are you serious?" in alleging that Obama was alluding to Palin.
Concluding, the Obama spokeswoman argued that if read in context, "he's not talking about Sarah Palin." Oh, wait. That wasn't an Obama spokeswoman. It was Andrea Mitchell, sitting in for Mika Brzezinski.
As everyone knows, conservatives are a distinctly disagreeable bunch. Mean-spirited knuckle-draggers, pretty much. It's therefore a shock to come across one who's actually likeable. At least if you're Chris Matthews.
Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, a guest on this evening's Hardball, observed that the Obama campaign hasn't quite decided how to go after Sarah Palin. The first line of attack was on the experience issue, but "now they're saying, OK, let's define her as a right-winger. You know, we'll talk about her views on creationism and some of these other extreme views." That elicited this from the Hardball host.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: She's got a lot of--they are pretty far over. For a person that seems very likeable and mellow, she doesn't look like a political zealot.
The liberal campaign to seek to diminish Sarah Palin by sexualizing her continues. Yesterday, I described how Frank Rich used a number of sexualized terms in reference to Palin's relationship with McCain: "shotgun marriage," "speed-dating" and "embrace." Chris Matthews employed a similar tactic this evening, claiming that Palin is running "somewhere between a VP and a First Lady."
During the first segment of this evening's Hardball, Matthews tried out his theory, with no particular success, on pollster Stu Rothenberg and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. For the record, Matthews did stop short of telling Palin to iron McCain's shirt:
Check out this [emphasis added] excerpt from an LA Weekly report on Michelle Obama's appearance at a private fundraiser last Wednesday in the ritzy LA neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Mrs. Obama was addressing a crowd that reporter Patrick Range McDonald described "heavily entertainment-industry."
Obama then moved on to politics, where she first brought up her husband’s vice-presidential choice. “I think it was a really good pick—Senator Joe Biden,” she said, and later added, “People say they have amazing chemistry, and it’s true.”
Obama continued with talk about Biden when she said, “What you learn about Barack from his choice is that he’s not afraid of smart people.” The crowd softly chuckled.
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the culture war has become a civil war—on the left. Mika Brzezinski bravely opened a new front in the conflict during today's "Morning Joe," repeatedly going after two female MSMers for suggesting Palin is taking the working-mom thing too far.
And, mirabile dictu, Mika even admitted to sensing MSM unfairness to Republicans.
"This is an argument Joe and I have about fairness and whether or not there are some sort of underlying unfairness when it comes to Republicans. And I just, you know, I feel it here," Brzezinski said referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Full text and commentary after the jump. View video here.
If any pundit should celebrate Sarah Palin, you might think it would be Judith Warner. The author of "Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" is the Times' resident expert on the challenges women face in balancing career and family. But think again. Politics trumps female solidarity. Warner's column on Palin is perhaps the most vitriolic and condescending I've read. The Mirrored Ceiling is a few days old, but Warner's fury still rings fresh.
Excerpts [emphasis added]:
It turns out there was something more nauseating than the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate this past week. It was the tone of the acclaim that followed her acceptance speech.
Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her . . . But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.
Hard to believe, but Meredith Vieira is apparently not a regular NewsBusters reader. The Today co-anchor would otherwise have avoided an embarrassing lapse. On Today this morning, Vieira claimed that it was only "blogs" that went after Sarah Palin's family matters. That left her vulnerable to McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's zinger, pointing out that one of her own network's anchors had questioned Palin's ability to serve as vice-president while attending to her children' needs.
It's been a wild week, so how about a little comic relief? Turns out Howard Dean does his own personal polling—among his wife's employees. And, surprise! They tend to agree with him. The DNC Chairman was chatting with Tom Brokaw on MSNBC this afternoon.
TOM BROKAW: What did you think of Sarah Palin last night?
HOWARD DEAN: I think the first half was terrific. I thought she really laid out who she was. I was fascinated. The second half, she sounded like Dick Cheney, she really did. The same old attack stuff, the same old canards about Democrats that mostly weren't true.
If only Brokaw had thought to ask Dean to mention the canards that were true! In any case, a bit later Dean described how he keeps his finger on the people's pulse.
What does it say about Sarah Palin that some of my favorite targets, um, subjects raved about her this morning? Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski could hardly have been more complimentary, Tom Brokaw and Jay Carney chipping in with positive comments.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Here was a novice on the national scene, with the lowest of expectations. People said sure, she'll be able to perform. But it was an amazing, amazing speech in terms of the way it connected to people. I talked to people afterwards on the floor, a lot of women. One woman from California who said it didn't matter that she, this woman delegate, is pro-choice. She said "I'm a mom. I've got three kids at home. And I see myself up there." And she's connecting to her. She said "I did not think this was a good choice until I heard that speech." Now this is admittedly a select audience of very passionate and very conservative Republican delegates. But I think there is a broader audience for this out there. I think it was an extraordinary debut.
When NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd passed along comments from Dem strategists suggesting the speech might have been "a little too hot" for swing voters, Andrea and Mika actually rode to Palin's defense.
Subtract the subdued demeanor and the good tailoring, and how much difference is there between Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann? Take Williams' post-Palin speech analysis. Was the Nightly News anchor suggesting Palin's appeal is rooted in racism? He certainly made a clarion call to his fellow MSMers to keep up the good fight against her. Ann Curry interviewed a woman delegate who described Palin as "the American woman . . . who's had all the experiences that we have."
When it came Williams' turn to comment, he twisted the delegate's words into an invidious comparison between Palin and Barack Obama. Williams seemed perhaps to be suggesting Palin was appealing to racism.
Post-Palin Speech Update: How's that poll going now, Bill?
Imagine it's a few days before the Dem convention. In a big—BIG—surprise, Barack Obama names Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy his vice-presidential running mate. You're a partisan Republican. Do you?:
a. demand that Obama drop Kennedy from the ticket; or
b. sit back and enjoy the, uh, ride.
I'm guessing the great majority of red-blooded Republicans would answer 'b.' Why wouldn't you want a weak link on the opposing ticket? So what kind of scare has Sarah Palin has put into the MSM that various of its members, like Jack Cafferty, are floating the notion that McCain should consider dropping Palin? Do they sense she could be a real game-changer?
If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
Is there nothing—nothing?—that the MSM won't try to spin against Sarah Palin? They've turned the matter of her Down syndrome son into a suggestion she will neglect her child. Twisted the news of her daughter's pregnancy into a "damaging revelation" that will cause her image to "suffer." Now, in perhaps the most acrobatic stunt yet, Andrea Mitchell has suggested that the intensity of Palin's popularity . . . could be a bad thing.
Mitchell's theme-o'-the-day, as announced at the top of her 1 PM MSNBC hour, was that there was something flawed in the process by which Palin was vetted. She repeatedly hammered at the issue with her guest, Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. Of course, suggesting that the vetting of Palin was inadequate is to imply that she was a poor pick. Voters will ultimately be the judge of that, but the initial evidence—as gauged by that outpouring of GOP enthusiasm [and dollars]—and by the very virulence of the MSM/Dem counterattack, suggests Sarah will prove to be a big plus for the ticket. It was when Mitchell wondered what would have happened if McCain had "gone with his heart" and picked Joe Lieberman that the matter of the intensity of Palin's popularity arose.
Imagine the outrage in feminist circles if a conservative columnist had mockingly analogized a sitting Dem governor to an animal. But Richard Cohen has said as much of Sarah Palin. And I predict you won't hear a peep from the Kim Gandys or Naomi Wolffs of the world—much less from their allies in the MSM.
Cohen begins his WaPo column of today by dismissing Palin as "a sitcom of a vice presidential choice and a disaster movie if she moves up to the presidency." After noting Newt's defense of her nomination, Cohen continues [emphasis added]:
It's a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse.
No, not Chris Matthews to Keith Olbermann. That media odd couple have already begun to kiss and make up. Instead, it was Joe Scarborough who authored the line this morning, directing it at Obama spokesman Mark Bubriski. The cause of Joe's ire was this email statement Bubriski released to the Miami Herald [emphasis added]:
Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer.
The Morning Joe crew was unanimous in roundly condemning the Obama campaign tactic, rallying around Buchanan, one of its own, who was present on the set. Bubriski was riffing off a similar allegation made by Bob Wexler, a south Florida Dem congressman.
View video here. It's perhaps the longest video clip I've posted, but hope you'll agree the content justifies the length. Joe unleashes on Bubriski [calling him a "jackass" for good measure] three minutes in.
Bristol Palin's pregnancy is a "damaging revelation " that has caused Sarah Palin's image to "suffer." Says who? Says ABC News, in an article by Rick Klein and Jennifer Parker.
In Palin Pregnancy Rocks Political World, Klein and Parker report reaction from a variety of Republican and traditional-values sources. Every one, from Dr. James Dobson to Grover Norquist to Chuck Donovan of the Family Research Council to a pro-life delegate to the GOP convention who said "the fact that her daughter's keeping it and marrying the father is wonderful," had a positive reaction.
But what do they know? Declare Klein and Parker [emphasis added]:
Palin's image may suffer further if more damaging revelations come out in the coming days and weeks.
It was more like 10 AM than 3 AM. Somewhere, a phone was ringing, to announce the news that John McCain had selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. And the immediate response of Barack Obama's operation was intemperate and inappropriate. Obama found himself apologizing, calling the reaction "hair trigger." He and Biden subsequently made the more gracious kind of comment that should have been offered in the first place. Senators get to "revise and extend" their remarks when they've said something dumb on the floor. That's not always the case for presidents. A "hair trigger" reaction to a real crisis could have disastrous consequences.
Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton snidely when the news broke:
Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same
Compare and contrast with the gracious, statesmanlike ad McCain aired on the day of Obama's acceptance speech. Obama eventually realized that his campaign's intemperate reaction was out of line. According to the AP, Obama "blamed the mixed messages about McCain's choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on campaign aides with a "hair trigger."
You might have thought Bill Weir would have learned. Yesterday, CNN's John Roberts was roundly condemned for suggesting Sarah Palin might neglect her Down Syndrome baby while running for VP. But Weir, the weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, posed a very similar question this morning. Coke Roberts, to her credit, called him out on it. Weir's guest during GMA's opening half-hour was McCain political director Mike Duhaime.
BILL WEIR: I must ask. Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the senator and the governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?
MIKE DUHAIME: In terms of her personal life? You know, to the extent people want to look at her, she's got an incredible life story: five children, the son going into the military, she's got a --
Weir brusquely interrupted, virtually shouting.
WEIR: She has an, she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?
You know the old software programmer's excuse: "that's not a bug. That's a feature!" John Harwood of CNBC/NYT has produced a political variation on the theme to buff up Joe Biden. Biden's gaffes, including the racially-insensitive ones, are actually . . . "a strength."
Harwood was chatting with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on a special Morning Joe edition today, and the topic of Biden's famous "clean and articulate" comment about Obama arose. Biden also made headlines of course with his crack about 7-11s being populated by people with Indian accents.
JOHN HARWOOD: He is not somebody who is infused with political correctness, the verbal equivalent of putting his pinky up when he opens his mouth. So this is what, the way ordinary voters are as well. They're not always worried about sort of calibrating every single word by "ooh, is this racially insensitive?" That's something that Joe Biden brings as an asset to the ticket. The gaffes actually show one of his strengths.
That didn't take long. Exactly five minutes before Obama's official text message went out this morning, Howard Fineman had an article up at Newsweek praising the process by which Obama picked his running mate. He even turned lemons into lemonade, claiming Hillary really didn't want to be considered and that Obama "did her a favor" by not doing so. R-i-g-h-h-t.
First, the praise:
The minute-by-minute story of how Obama handled the selection is interesting, and revealing of the way the Democratic nominee works. He insisted on the utmost secrecy; he paid the losers the courtesy of essentially telling them "no" to their faces--not an easy thing to do. And he swallowed his considerable pride and all but confessed his lack of knowledge of foreign affairs by selecting as his running mate the Senate's senior Democratic leader on that topic.
But then came the challenge for Fineman: finessing Obama's brush-off of Hillary—in which it was reported that he had never paid her the courtesy of considering her—into a plus. The Newsweek correspondent managed to square the circle [emphasis added]: