THE BLOG

McCain Is Suddenly Camera Shy

10/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sen. John McCain has opted out of yet another interview on CNN. He did not take an interview this week with Anderson Cooper, and now has canceled his Larry King Live appearance too. All, he claims, because Campbell Brown "went over the line" when asking McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds about Palin's experience.

I watched the live interview of Bounds first hand. He made these sweeping statements that contained nothing substantial that made a case for Palin at all. Brown asked a reasonable question: Why is Sarah Palin qualified? What is one decision she made as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard? He began to whine that she was belittling the accomplishments of Palin, to which she responded: no I am not - why can't you just answer my question about Palin?

So FINALLY, someone has the guts to ask the hard questions. Bounds never answered them - I suspect because he doesn't have the answers. As it turns out, she deployed the National Guard once to fight wild fires. That is the extent of her experience as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. But apparently Tucker was not informed.

Laura Bush admonished all Democrats about Palin and sexism on Monday. "The other side will have to be particularly careful," Bush said in an interview on Fox News from St. Paul, "because that's something we all looked at." Now any Republican interviewed by the media, or discussing the race on a corporate media channel, is taking the queue from Laura Bush. When asked even the most reasonable questions -- which frankly, they themselves should have asked about Palin -- they respond "I am offended by that question."

Really? Is this how it's going to be? Can't ask any questions because Palin is too sensitive or any questioning of her abilities is sexist? As a woman, I take issue with that. The whole knight-in-shining-armor syndrome, where both men and women feel compelled to protect Palin, is manipulative and we need to stop buying into it. If you put yourself on a ticket as a vice presidential candidate, then you have to be able to take the tough questions and answer them. You can't have it both ways.

Here are a few realities to put things into perspective, compiled as I watch another Republican stumble, yet again, on CNN Newsroom, Wednesday morning, over the basic questions asked about Palin's actual qualifications:
-- Alaska's total population is 670,053 according to 2006 Census information. Indianapolis Indiana, the twelfth largest city in the United States has a population of 781,870.
-- Palin deployed the National Guard once to fight wild fires, according to Campbell Brown on CNN, Wednesday morning from the RNC in St. Paul. (That is the extent of her experience as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. But apparently Tucker was not informed of this extensive example of her experience).
-- During Palin's six years as Wasilla's city mayor of 5000 people, she left the city $20 million in the red, as she increased taxes by 38% and city expenditures by 33%.
-- Those pesky earmarks and lobbyist's dollars, which according to AP, Palin took as part of a fundraising scheme embroiled in the Ted Stevens scandal.

There seems to be a pattern of drama, misuse of power and finger pointing that follows Palin - from her threat to fire the city's librarian over books, to audio of a blame game on a radio talk show where she laughed as her opponent is called a b***h, to the dismissal of the state public safety commissioner who refused to fire her brother-in-law and the Alaska state senator running an investigation of Palin who says the McCain campaign is using stall tactics to prevent him from releasing his final report by Oct. 31, four days before the November election.

I bet McCain is avoiding any direct interviews this week (the only one he has scheduled is for Wednesday, with ABC). I suspect McCain needs to avoid talking about Palin at all until his campaign decides which way the political wind is going to blow, and how much damage control needs to be done. As Obama passes the 50 percent mark in the polls, as word of the in-fighting behind closed Republican doors leaks, as Republicans and corporate talking heads alike continue to stand on the ebbing enthusiasm of the Palin choice and more thinking people are beginning to have buyer's remorse, I hope that more of the journalists out there stay focused on getting the facts versus appeasing those who don't want too many questions asked. Because the Republicans won't like the answers. Thank you, Campbell Brown.