The cynicism is breathtaking--all the more so for the fact that millions of McCain supporters will praise his wisdom, judgment, and patriotism for offering to sacrifice the great benefits of his first debate with Obama and move it from tomorrow to... October 2, the scheduled date for the Biden-Palin debate, Which would in turn, I can only suppose, be "postponed"?
Here's the question: are we--the electorate and the media who are supposed to keep us informed--going to quietly submit to the McCain's campaign plan to hide the nominee for Vice President of our country from sight and protect her from every legitimate question until after it's too late? So far, they seem to have gotten away with it. The grumblings from press and public have gone ignored or treated with scorn. Those who dare to question Palin's qualifications are brushed off as sexists or bullies--or both. And now the plan's afoot--who can doubt it?--to insulate her even from the scheduled vice-presidential debate.
This is not only about Palin and her qualifications. More importantly, this is about McCain and his judgment. Do we want, in the Oval Office, another man who makes gut-level decisions on important issues and, when pushed, leaps into risks that turn out to be disasters? I say no.
I'm sure that you, as have I, have been recipients of dozens of panicked online forwards begging you to vote on that PBS poll that asks if Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President. It seems that right-wing zealots have organized a campaign to activate the Republican "base" to mail in "yes" answers in the attempt to force the issue and prove, in what they surely see as a liberally biased medium, that their candidate is the popular choice.
The first time this thing reached me, I was seduced by the alarm, and went online to vote. The more forwards I received, however, the more it seemed to me that the best response would not have been to participate in the melee, but to ignore it. The poll has become a meaningless morass of unnecessary alarm, and its results are predictably as meaningless as the process. I can't believe, at this juncture, that PBS will want to put out the results without some caveat as to the rampant abuse of their poll on both sides of political spectrum.
There seems to be some small effort in the media to hold Palin's feet to the fire, as well they should be. No one should be given a free pass into the office that leads directly into the Oval Office should accident or illness befall the incumbent. I read today in the New York Times that even Campbell Brown of CNN--not a hotbed of radical journalism--was expressing outrage: "I call upon the McCain campaign," she said, "to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment... For me, it's about accountability." And yes, writes the NYT, "she does think that the McCain campaign is being sexist about Ms. Palin. 'The McCain campaign says that if she were a man, the media would not be treating her this way. So it's fair for me to ask, If she were a man, would they be coddling her this way?'"
It's clear that the McCain campaign wants things both ways, and is thus far successful in getting it. The Obama people are soft-pedaling their approach to Palin, and for good reason: they'll get slapped with the sexist prejudice label as soon as they open their mouths, and that won't help their cause. So it's up to the media to demand accountability on our behalf, and for us to demand no less from our media. Let's be sure we're up to the task.