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Jeffrey Shaffer

Jeffrey Shaffer

Posted: May 25, 2010 10:57 AM

The Double Standard World of Sarah Palin

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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 Act."

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 Mr. Ayers.

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 clarified.

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.

Looking ahead, Double-Standard Sarah offered this cautionary advice during her FOX appearance:

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 years."

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 attack dogs.

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.