The candidate herself said as much during her speech at the Republican Convention in St. Paul. "I've learned quickly, these past few days," Palin told the crowd, "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."
Of course, Palin and her supporters did have some reason to be upset. Some of the coverage--most notably the questions about whether she'd be able to handle motherhood and the vice presidency--was clearly sexist (although no more sexist than the "is Obama black enough?" coverage was racist). Yet, that sexist reporting represented the minority of media reaction. The more fringe accusations (rumors that Palin's son Trig was actually her grandson) didn't even enter the mainstream. For the most part, the media was doing its job (just as it has done in covering the three other top candidates). There were legitimate questions about Palin's background, her readiness to become commander-in-chief, and about the vetting process in general.
But how dare they ask! Who is Sarah Palin? What does she believe in? Where is she on the issues? Is she qualified? Sexist, sexist, sexist!
The reality of the situation did not matter. The strategy for the McCain team was to work the refs for a variety of reasons. First, it would distract from the meaningful coverage of Palin. Why answer a question when you can question the motives of the person asking it? Doing so would also curry favor with the electorate, as evidenced by a new poll in which more than half of the respondents thought the media was trying to hurt Palin with their coverage. The outrage would also help unite the Republican party, rallying them against a familiar foe.
"I'd like to thank the elite media for doing something," former presidential contender Mike Huckabee said in his speech in St. Paul, "that, quite frankly, I didn't think could be done: unify the Republican Party and all of America in support of John McCain and Sarah Palin."
And so, the real motives of this faux outrage are clear and they could not be more shallow. It was all little more than a smokescreen, distracting the voters the issues at hand and the substance of Palin's record. Now the McCain campaign is crying more crocodile tears. It seems, so they would have us believe, that Barack Obama compared Sarah Palin to a pig yesterday.
"You can put lipstick on a pig," Obama said at a campaign event in Virginia yesterday. "It's still a pig."
Once again the outrage machine fired up, with the McCain campaign dispatching former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift and the "Palin Truth Squad" (I didn't make that up). It didn't matter to Swift that Obama was clearly talking about the type of change the Republican ticket was offering, which he sees as more of the same. It didn't matter than McCain himself had used the line or something like it a number of times. No, of course not.
"She is the only one of the four candidates... who wears lipstick," Swift explained. "It seemed to me a very gendered comment." Thanks for enlightening us.
Obama has apparently had enough, responding to the "scandal" earlier today:
This happens every election cycle. Every four years. This is what we do. We've got an energy crisis. We have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive. We have an economy that is creating hardship for families all across America. We've got two wars going on, veterans coming home not being cared for -- and this is what they want to talk about! this is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about.
You know who ends up losing at the end of the day? It's not the Democratic candidate, It's not the republican candidate. It's you, the American people. because then we go another year or another four years or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you. Enough.
I don't care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift-boat politics. Enough is enough.
Cross-posted at Political Realm.