McCain And Palin: Stars In Their Eyes

For months now, John McCain has been belittling Barack Obama as inexperienced and unprepared to be president. Much of the criticism has targeted his speech making prowess and charisma, which McCain characterizes as the hollow trappings of celebrity. There was even an ad that attacked Obama as the “biggest celebrity in the world,” and juxtaposed his image with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. McCain himself said that:

“The bottom line is that Sen. Obama’s words, for all their eloquence and passion, don’t mean all that much.”

But now, the day after Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the “pit bull in lipstick,” debuted at the Republican National Convention, the campaign, the Party, and the media have all adopted a new view of celebrity. While it was a pejorative when directed Obama, for Palin it elicits the sort of applause and acclaim that is ordinarily reserved for … well, celebrities. Consider this sampling of the press:

Chris Wallace – Fox News: “I don’t think it’s overstating it to say being right here on the floor that a star was born tonight. A new star in the political galaxy.”
Michael Barone – U.S. News & World Report: “Sarah Palin’s speech to the Republican National Convention last night was a home run. A star was born.”
Margaret Carlson – Bloomberg: “On Wednesday night, a political star was born.”
William Kristol – New York Times: “A star is born.”
Karen Breslau – Newsweek: “A populist star is born.”
Art Moore – WorldNetDaily: “A star is born. The country ‘fell in love with Sarah Palin tonight.’”
Rich Lowry – National Review: “After that, you feel like asking not: How did she rise so fast? but Where has she been so long?”

And that’s not all. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough, and Fox News’ Brit Hume and Dick Morris, all used some variation of the “Star is Born” theme to describe Palin’s debut. And all it took was one speech for the GOP establishment, and the media at large, to succumb to the charms of a heretofore unknown political neophyte who, two years ago, was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 6,000. One speech to transform the perception of this newcomer into someone qualified to be a 72 year old heartbeat from the presidency. Just one extensively rehearsed, meticulously stage-crafted speech.

So now Republicans, who demeaned Obama for attracting positive attention and adoring fans, is boasting that they have their own idol at whom to stare glassy-eyed. Now the media is abuzz with glowing notices for Palin’s opening night. And yet the McCain/Palin camp is still bashing the press as biased, despite the unfiltered adulation that is being blasted at them from all sides. The press is being castigated for doing what any professional journalist would acknowledge is their job. Politico’s Roger Simon is one of the very few who see the irony in this. He penned a must-read column that sarcastically explains Why the media should apologize.”

“We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? [...] Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.”

In her address last night, Palin spoke of “dramatic speeches before devoted followers” and wondered what happens “when the cloud of rhetoric has passed… when the roar of the crowd fades away.” But no one in the press observed that she might as well have been talking about herself, even more than Obama. After all, Obama has been on the campaign trail for 19 months developing the devotion of his supporters, but Palin has achieved the task after a grand total of four days and one speech. Four days during which she has been sequestered from the public by the campaign which has not offered her up for a single press conference. Despite the many controversies swirling around her appointment, she has so far only sat for an interview with the hard-hitting People Magazine. There is talk that she will appear on a Sunday morning news program this weekend. Guess which one. Fox News Sunday!

The result of all of this is that the two arguments McCain has used most aggressively against Obama – his experience and his celebrity – have both been rendered inert. Palin has less experience and, contrary to Obama’s multitude of stirring public addresses, Palin still has – and, I repeat – just one speech. The fanatical fawning of faithful Republicans is bad enough, but not unexpected. From the media, however, it is just plain creepy. Is anyone paying attention?

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5 thoughts on “McCain And Palin: Stars In Their Eyes

  1. [Admin: Edited because this commenter is a profane jerk]

  2. Good commentary.

    I am saddened by her choice as McCain’s VP – not because of her specific policy positions themselves, but because she brings Karl Rove style divisive politics back into the political spot-light.

    She stands in remarkable contrast to his promises to be bi-partisan.

    ****

    That graphic is too over-the-top, though. It’s just my opinion, but I think it distracts from your important points.

    Even though it’s her own self labeling…

    • Yes, she did refer to herself as a pit bull with lipstick. I just created a visual representation of that.

      And this isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being “over the top” with my artwork. The problem is that I wear it as a badge of honor. So whatever you do, don’t encourage me. ;-)

  3. Sarah Palin speaks, that well knows Russia because Alaska borders on Russia. It is ridiculous. Alaska borders on very wild part of Russia, with Chukotka. Chukotka in Russia is as rezervation indians in the USA. Therefore Sarah Palin cannot ” well know Russia “. It is nonsense.

  4. I’m about at my hypocrisy limit during this political season already and we’re just a few days out from the conventions! How will I survive? ;)

    I posted a wonderful Jon Stewart clip on my blog (News Hounds also features it) that includes Karl Rove doing both sides of the experience jig. Governor Kaine was a horrible pick because he was mayor of tiny Richmond, Va with a population of only 200,000 and has less than a 1-term governorship under his belt; Sarah Palin has wonderful experience as mayor of a town of 9,000 and a wonderful 2 years experience as governor of Alaska. ;)

    Liberals are reversing the hypocrisy. Oh-so-inexperienced Sarah Palin is a heartbeat from the presidency so let’s elect Obama as president with no more or even less experience as president.

    I look at Obama’s fumbling, bumbling inability to use McCain’s celebrity ad to his advantage as more evidence of a campaign running on empty. Now we have the left mimicking the conservatives they despise and complaining hypocritically the media has anointed Palin a “star” based upon 1 speech. Heck, Obama bases the bulk of his campaign on 1 convention speech critical of the Iraq War.

    The staunch lefties supporting Obama because – for a reason completely lost upon me – they think he’s the real far left deal need to quit copying right-wing talk radio smear tactics and insults in favor of discussing issues.

    My suspicion is they can’t for the simple reason Obama has no track record to debate any more than Palin does which leaves them armed with Obama’s over promising. Not a strong hand. And just chanting “yes we can” and “change, change, change” is getting very old.

    Obama could have out debated the Republicans on the experience issue rationally, however he took a pass on that by picking Senator Biden as VP. This left an opening for McCain to pick a conservative woman who both shores up the right-wing base of the Republican party while exploiting divisions within the Democratic party.

    Obama ran a great campaign early on in the primaries but has imploded since then. The only thing going for him is the stink of an incompetent Bush administration lingering over the Republican party.

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