Persons of the Year

As John McCain’s running mate in the election of 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the GOP sacrificial lamb. McCain never really had a chance of winning the White House. Bamboozeled by Barack Obama into accepting public money for his campaign, the Arizona senator was outspent seven to one by the Democrat, who had agreed to also take public funding, but in the first of what would become a series of broken promises, opted to raise money for his campaign the unfettered way. McCain was also distrusted by the conservatives of his party, a group which makes up the lion’s share of its base. The third strike against McCain came from the media which once loved him, but jilted the Republican for a younger, more dynamic and more attractive suitor – Barack Obama.

One of the leading examples of that Obamedia is TIME magazine, which announced its annual Person of the Year award today. To no one’s surprise, the trophy goes to President-elect Barack Obama, The One TIME and its ilk fell in love with and divorced Sen. H-Rod Clinton for. Among the four runners-up is the woman that same media has attacked relentlessly since being named by John McCain as his running mate, Sarah Palin. She shouldn’t feel bad about not being chosen for TIME’s top honors. In 1976, for example, the magazine chose  Jimmy Carter  to receive the honor, and we all know how well that turned out. On the Palin page of its POTY story, Nancy Gibbs writes:

She was not just a governor, but the most popular governor in the country; not just a mom but a mother of five, with a family made for reality TV. And she wasn’t just a running mate; she was a one-woman rescue team for the Republican ticket. Largely unknown but suddenly exalted, she was the perfect wide screen onto which people projected pride and prejudice in equal measure…

Gibbs writes about the tag team that pinned Sarah Palin. Katie Couric, who had trained for the event with Obama advisors, was the first of their number into the ring:

Couric managed a remarkable feat for a woman making $15 million a year: she made herself invisible. She was not the feminist’s avenging anchor or the snide dean of admissions or any of the archetypes she might have been tempted to embrace, given the stakes. She just asked her questions, then asked again, and can you give us just some example — and stayed far enough out of the way that Palin had the stage entirely to herself and proceeded to self-destruct.

Couric was hardly “invisible.” The only invisible actors in Couric’s piece of attack journalism pretending to be a fair interview were the behind-the-scenes video editors who who disassembled Palin’s responses and digitally glued together only the parts Couric required to savage the governor, leaving all context on the proverbial cutting-room floor. True, Sarah did not help her own case when, angered that the See-BS anchor had the gall to ask her what she liked to read (a question a more perky Couric didn’t stoop to ask of Obama, Joe Biden or even McCain in her interviews with them), responded with a flippant answer that, yes, people read all sorts of books and magazine up there in bassackwards Alaska.

Gibbs goes on to credit the rest of the tag team, Tina Fey and the McCain campaign itself. Then the Obamedia writer tosses out some numbers:

On Election Day, voters concluded in exit polls, 60% to 38%, that she was not qualified to be President.

That is a misleading statement. What the exit polls actually showed was that 60% of voters said that Sarah Palin was a factor in their decision of which presidential candidate to mark their ballots for. Of that 60%, people were more likely to vote McCain by a significant margin.

The TIME writer complains that a clear picture of Gov. Palin never emerged:

Everything about Palin seemed personal: an energy policy reduced to “Drill, baby, drill,” an economic policy embodied by Joe the Plumber. We knew too much about her clothes and her kids and her hunting habits and far too little about her priorities and principles.

And whose fault is that? The Obamedia ignored Sarah Palin when she spoke of her commitment to an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that includes not only oil, but clean-burning natural gas, nuclear and alternative sources from wind and solar to hydroelectric and geothermal. When did any drive-by interviewer ask Gov. Palin about how she cut taxes, produced budget surpluses and vetoed wasteful spending? These facts are not Alaska state secrets. The Wall Street Journal says that Gov. Palin’s Alaska is “one of the most financially sound states in the U.S.” Sarah Palin has a record as an able and effective government executive at both the municipal and state levels. If Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric cared one whit about Palin’s priorities and principles, why the devil didn’t they ask her about them when they had the chance? They were too focused on finding ways to portray her in the worst possible light. Gibbs concludes:

Palin may have lost, but she will now be the place where part of her party at least can park its ambitions for the next year or two. That’s not a bad return on a long-shot investment; in the bombed-out no-man’s-land of Republican rivalry, she starts out with a valuable piece of real estate that she was wise to consolidate. The most interesting thing about the evolution of Sarah Palin will be watching who she becomes, and whether she offers a philosophy that is bigger than her personality, a claim to leadership that rests on more than a wink and a promise.

Palin didn’t lose. John McCain, the real drag on the ticket, lost. It was an election he was doomed to lose. Outspent and out-maneuvered by his opponent, not trusted by his party’s base and cast aside by your own profession, he probably could have never won even if the financial meltdown had never happened. Sarah Palin already has a philosophy, Ms. Gibbs. It is one she shares with the late Ronald Reagan — fiscal restraint, a secure America, a smaller and less obtrusive federal government, and traditional values. Your colleagues should have asked her about it, but they were too fixated on the trivial and the art of character assassination. Her claim to leadership rests on a record of genuine accomplishment against overwhelming odds. They should have bothered to look it up.

– JP