The St. Petersburg Times, a Poynter family paper, did an unprecedented vetting (an uber-vetting, if you will) during the weekend of Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, the Republican Party’s candidate for vice president of the United States.
The St. Pete Times, as it is locally known, is a good newspaper despite its left-wing leanings and has served as the liberal voice of Florida for more than 50 years. Thus its Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, issue, especially the Perspective Section with editorials and opinion pieces questioning Palin’s credentials, was hardly a surprise.
What was surprising was the one-sided and vitriolic assault on the Republican vice-presidential candidate with standards not applied to the Democrat vice-presidential candidate.
In the Perspective section, the lead headline, above the fold, read, “Not an average hockey mom.” The opening paragraph, with the following bold type, read: “As governor, Palin makes $125,000. The median salary for a working woman of 25 or older in America is $34,736.” Nowhere does the St. Pete Times (or any other media to date) cite the salary of the Democrat Party’s candidate for vice president U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., which is $169,300, or compare it to the median salary for a working man of 25 or older in America.
This reads as sexism of the worst kind. Even as the Democrat Party’s presidential candidate Barack Obama promises “equal pay for equal work,” is the liberal media suggesting that the Alaska governor should not make more than the average working woman?
The piece goes on to attack “Palin’s household income of $225,000, adding in her husband’s earnings of $93,000 from commercial fishing business, and working part time for BP, and $10,500 from Iron Dog Snowmobile Race.” The piece, researched by Shirl Kennedy, without further comment, cites “The median American household income is $50,740.”
Does the researcher mean to denigrate union member Todd Palin for being industrious and working two jobs? Does she mean to suggest that a working class family making a good income is somehow objectionable and un-American? Does the St. Pete Times mean to infer that hard work and good pay are anathema to the platform of the Democrat Party? To be fair and balanced, just what is the Biden household income, and what does Mrs. Biden make? Where is the vetting of Biden and his wife and the to-dos of his children?
The centerfold article entitled, “Thin Ice” by Craig Pittman, a Times staff writer, attacks Palin for her views on global warming. He cites her statements from a recent Newsmax magazine interview, where she noted that “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state… I’m not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made.”
Pittman then attacks the Palin position for differing with that of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and Sen. John McCain. What is wrong with a governor questioning bureaucratic reports, and what’s wrong with two mavericks disagreeing?
Robyn Blumner, a St. Pete Times columnist and editorial board member of admitted liberal persuasion, is a former ACLU executive director in Utah and Florida. The St. Pete Times gave her column, entitled, “The Wages of Teen Pregnancy,” top billing. In it, she attacked “so-called values voters” who are opposed to “abortion rights, promiscuity, gay marriage, sex education, and church-state separation.” She concludes that “Values like compassion, tolerance, generosity, and humanity do not apply” — grouping Palin with these so-called values voters.
Attacking McCain for having been a “playboy” who left his first wife after she stood by with the children during his POW days, Blumner then snidely adds the following gratuitous bit, “I see a VP pick who gave birth a mere eight months after eloping, whose husband had trouble with the concept of designated driver, and whose pregnant 17-year-old daughter is unmarried.” Beating the liberal drum of how hard it is for most teenage mothers, she exempted, “a teenager with a supportive family.”
A “Special to the Times” piece followed by Julie Hauserman, a former Times reporter and now environmental activist living in Tallahassee. In Hauserman’s special, entitled, “Hardly an Earth Mother,” she finds Palin’s public environmental policies offering up “plenty of clues. It’ll be a wounded, polluted planet with a fresh round of extinct animals.” The writer then attacks the Governor for her “greedy, reckless thrill killing” and her support of “a disgusting and unfair blood ‘sport’.” The writer claims that the Anchorage Daily News caught Palin making up a bogus excuse to bolster a lawsuit to block federal protection of polar bears. Next Hauserman blasts the Governor’s support of drilling on the Northern slope and concludes, “Bush, Cheney, Palin and their Big Oil friends are out of step.” Hauserman chose not to hear the call of the American people to Drill, Drill, Drill to release the United States from foreign oil and to protect national security. She also chose to ignore Governor Palin’s reigning in of big oil in Alaska.
On the same page but designated “Satire”, a short piece by Andy Borowitz, entitled “Palin blames media for daughter’s pregnancy” was neither clever nor funny but simply more anti-Palin pablum. It was followed by an insipid filler pulled together by Times news researcher Shirl Kennedy and entitled “Wasilla: population whatever.”
It consisted of a listing of 23 different estimates published by 23 different publications on the population of Wasilla, Alaska, where Palin served as mayor. The swarm of investigative reporters sent by their publications to Alaska must have used a dart board to obtain their numbers. According to Kennedy, only USA Today quoted the count of 9,780 published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007. After the Barack Obama gaff on small towns clinging to God and guns, was this yet another ill-advised effort to denigrate small-town America?
On the back page of the Perspective section, is a piece by Adriaan Lanni, who teaches at Harvard Law School and Wesley Kelman, a Boston lawyer — both of whom worked in Anchorage in 2004-2005.
Their piece is perhaps more revealing than they meant it to be. In “Blue collar’s promise is still alive in Alaska,” they write that Alaska offers financial rewards for blue-collar workers regardless of education — workers who are willing to work hard. They grudgingly admit that “Mr. Palin’s income alone would put the Palins at about the same level as many well-educated, white collar workers” in Anchorage.
The Democrats seem to be troubled by the fact that in the United States there is room in the middle class for both blue-collar and white-collar workers. Instead the Democrats promise to move blue-collar workers to urban white-collar jobs. They refuse to admit the benefits of the rural life, independence from government control, and the freedom to be one’s self. They seek instead cookie-cutter robots with addiction to government largess, in other words, socialism.
Throughout the 2008 primary and presidential conventions, the Democrats have demonstrated their ambivalence about the middle class. It troubles them that blue-collar workers can make more than white-color workers. A strong, diverse, and self-sufficient middle class is a stumbling block in their drive to change the form of government in the United States. Watch out democracy, watch out republic.
James H. Walsh is a former federal prosecutor.
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