St. Paul – On Wednesday, I headed between events from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, driven by a woman named Kimberly. She was white, a mom in her late 40s, with a tattoo on her forearm and a mild Minnesota accent. She did not look like a typical Republican voter. She certainly was nothing like the party faithful who had flocked to her town.
I asked her what she thought of the convention, and she complained about the protesters who had come in from outside, breaking things and hurting business. “That’s just dumb,” she said. “There’s a perfectly fine way to protest, and they have to come here and act like idiots.”
Then she went on: “I don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I haven’t been watching the stuff at the convention. But what really upsets me is the way they’re treating this woman.”
“You mean Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska?”
“Yes. I can’t even watch my television anymore with what they’re doing to her. It’s just awful.”
Kimberly was expressing Americans’ fundamental sense of decency and fair play — perhaps also the frustration of watching a woman subjected to an unfair double standard. This week, the false left-wing Internet rumors about Sarah Palin — about how her youngest son is actually her daughter’s baby, about how she was an Alaska secessionist — were as unworthy of the attention of the mainstream media as any claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Yet they received that attention anyway, with some especially irresponsible tidbits seeing print. Reporters suddenly acquired a heretofore absent interest in obtaining birth certificates. The New York Times had to retract Elizabeth Bumiller’s story about the Alaska Independence Party (which is not a secessionist party), but Bumiller still stands by her story.
In the Washington Post, a respected reporter noted disapprovingly that Palin had “slashed” funds for a program benefiting pregnant teens. He failed to mention the relevant fact that she was using her line-item veto power to quadruple funds for the program instead of quintupling them.
In 2000, Palin endorsed and campaigned for Steve Forbes for president. This week, Obama’s campaign spokesman and Obama’s surrogate, Rep. Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), falsely stated that Palin had supported Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. Wexler then smeared her and Buchanan by calling her a “Nazi sympathizer” on those grounds. The Nation and MSNBC reported the Obama campaigners’ false statements as fact. CNN posted a picture of Palin at the rostrum in this pose.
On the Internet, leftists took to calling her “Caribou Barbie.” Commentators chimed in with such brilliant questions as “Don’t they have birth control up in Alaska?” A radio interview with Palin surfaced in which she discussed a petty, last-minute attempt by Lyda Green — the Republican state Senate leader and Palin’s political enemy — to change the time of this year’s state of the state address. The schedule had been set well in advance, but Green cited a transparently bogus scheduling conflict in an attempt to force the speech to a time that would have prevented Palin from attending her son’s graduation. In that context, Palin let loose a small giggle when the radio host called Green a “bitch.”
I spoke with three Alaskans about these issues at the convention on Wednesday. One was Randy Ruedrich, the man Palin had removed from the Alaskan Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for unethical behavior and whom she has tried repeatedly to remove as state party chairman. One of his companions, a young woman, piped up immediately: “Well, Lyda Green is a bitch.”