I wonder if Sarah Palin is trying to single-handedly create a new Olympic
event called The Double Standard? She's certainly pulled way ahead of all
competition by erupting in righteous indignation whenever Democrats or the
media engage in behavior that she finds totally appropriate in her own life.
Her latest attempt to score more points in this event happened over the
weekend when she appeared on FOX News Sunday to express sympathy for Rand
Paul. The partial-term former governor explained that widespread negative
reaction to Paul's opinions about the right of business owners to practice
discrimination was just another example of "gotcha" politics.
"They're looking for that 'gotcha' moment," she said, "and that's what
it evidently appears to be that they did with Rand Paul. I'm thankful that
he was able to clarify his answer about his support for the Civil Rights
Okay, Ms. Palin, let's go back to the summer of 2008 when you were
trying to become Vice-President. Remember how you kept hammering at Barack
Obama because of his "association" with William Ayers? At one campaign
rally after another you repeatedly claimed that Senator Obama was "Pallin'
around with terrorists" and that he "needs to explain" his association with
William Ayers was in the Weather Underground. No revelation there.
Many journalists and commentators retraced his whole life, how he came to be
a professor at the University of Illinois, and how he hosted a small
campaign gathering at his house and candidate Obama was present. It was all
Except Sarah Palin didn't think so. She made the "Pallin' around with
terrorists" mantra into a relentless "gotcha" routine. There was no direct
accusation, of course, just constant insinuation that Barack Obama and
William Ayers had a secret, sinister relationship. And if anyone thinks Ms.
Palin was raising a genuinely serious issue, why has she never followed up
on it during all the time that Barack Obama has been serving as President?
Palin may believe Rand Paul has done the necessary clarifying in the area
of civil rights, but in fact Mr. Paul has plenty of additional explaining to
do. Libertarian thinking has wide ranging implications about what kind of
country Americans want to live in.
Does he think businesses should be required to pay workers a minimum
wage or should we let the free market determine labor rates? Is it right to
force owners of commercial buildings to install wheelchair ramps for
disabled patrons? Those questions are just the tip of the campaign iceberg
in this race.
One thing we can learn from this lesson that I
have learned and that Rand Paul is learning now is don't assume you can
engage in a hypothetical discussion... with a reporter or media personality
who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the
interview in regards to what your answer may be--and then the opportunity
that they seize to get you.
Ah yes, those darn reporters and media personalities. This is one
aspect of the 2008 campaign Sarah doesn¹t mind talking about. She still
feels victimized by that "unfair" question from Katie Couric about what
newspapers the governor was reading at the time. The now-famous reply was,
"Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these
Since Ms. Palin has cited this incident repeatedly as a typical media
"gotcha" moment, she's fully aware that her answer was, shall we say, a
clunker. And having been stung so badly once, you¹d think Sarah would have
all her "Mama Grizzly" instincts on full alert during any similar episodes
to avoid getting stung again.
Yet there she was on FOX-TV back in January talking to Glenn Beck, and when
Beck popped a history question by asking "Who's your favorite founder?"
Palin went deja vu all over again with, "You know, well, all of them--"
Regardless of how anyone feels about Glenn I'm giving the guy props for
immediately interrupting Sarah to interject the word, "Bullcrap!" He
pursued the question long enough to make Palin refine her answer and come up
with one specific name. She finally settled on George Washington.
If Katie Couric or any other non-FOX personality had said "bullcrap" to
Sarah Palin's face during an interview, I'm pretty sure she (and her loyal
fans) would have spent the next several years excoriating the entire field
of broadcast journalism as nothing but a pack of crude, sensation-seeking
Perhaps someday Sarah will include the Beck interview in her list of
unfair gotcha incidents, but for now she seems to have filed it away in a
folder marked "Just another day at the (FOX) office."
As the 2010 campaign season shifts into high gear there will surely be
many new opportunities for Sarah Palin to display her Olympian mastery of
the Double Standard. If I had to pick one word to describe her ongoing
pursuit of excellence in this field would it be citius, altius, or fortius?
Oh wait--what am I thinking? This is one case where the correct answer
would be, um, you know, ALL OF THEM.
Follow Jeffrey Shaffer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShafferJeffrey