Palin Rises Above "Shrill" Media

Palin Rises Above "Shrill" Media

By Ruben Navarrette - September 7, 2008

SAN DIEGO -- Anyone who heard Sarah Palin's rousing speech at the GOP National Convention should now understand why Democrats have been trying to destroy her. And why, luckily for the country, they've failed.

You mess with a hockey mom -- and even go after her family -- and you're bound to lose some teeth.

Such as when Palin drew a distinction between "candidates who use change to promote their careers," and "those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change." Or when she said that "a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities" and small-town folks don't know what to make of candidates who talk about them "one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." Or when she described Barack Obama as "a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform" and someone who "can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word 'victory,' except when he's talking about his own campaign."

Don't feel bad for the Democrats. They asked for it. The bunch that President Bush aptly described as "the angry left" has been high-sticking Palin since Day One with a series of assists from their friends in the news media.

As you may have noticed, this has not been the fourth estate's finest hour. Reporters, anchors and pundits have mocked Palin and belittled her accomplishments. They've turned tabloid by going nuts over her pregnant teenage daughter, even demanding -- according to top McCain strategist Steve Schmidt -- DNA and blood tests to see if there is truth to the blogger-conceived conspiracy theory that Palin's youngest child really belongs to her oldest daughter. Some even shamefully descended into sexism by calling her a product of political affirmative action, depicting her as a pretty face with no substance -- McCain's "trophy vice," according to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd -- and asking 1950s-type questions about how she expected to balance family and a new gig as vice president.

The sexism continued after Palin's speech. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the speech "shrill and sarcastic." That brought some members of the media back to their senses. CNN's Campbell Brown and Gloria Borger were among the female journalists who cringed at the word "shrill" and pointed out that -- while that was a term leveled at Hillary Clinton -- you don't often hear it directed at a man.

Palin used her speech to Republican delegates to admit she is not a member of the D.C. insider's club but has no interest in joining.

"I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment," she said. "And I've learned quickly these last few days that, if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone."

Then Palin took a well-deserved shot at the elite media.

"Here's a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country."

The governor of Alaska has figured out what many in our nation's capital either never knew or have long since forgotten: "Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason and not just to mingle with the right people."

The crowd loved it, as I'm sure did millions of people watching around the country -- who work hard, pay taxes, raise kids and start businesses and then have to put up with constantly being told that Washington knows best.

Not surprisingly, the media were not nearly as enthusiastic. The same folks who victimized Palin were suddenly playing the victim. One television anchor asked if her attacks on the media didn't make her less likable.

I wouldn't worry. Even Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton called the speech "well-delivered" although filled with the kind of "divisive, partisan attacks we've heard from George Bush for the last eight years."

It's funny. When it came to defending himself, communicating his message and attacking his critics, I don't remember Bush being this engaging, energetic and effective. Over the next few weeks, Democrats may find themselves wishing they were running against the current president -- and not the woman trying to become vice president.

Copyright 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

Ruben Navarrette

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