Politics

When McCain picked Palin, liberal journalists coordinated the best line of attack

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Blogger Matt Yglesias sent out a new post thread with the subject, “The line on Palin.”

“John McCain picked someone to help him politically, Barack Obama picked someone to help him govern,” Yglesias wrote.

Ed Kilgore, managing editor of the Democratic Strategist blog, argued that journalists and others trying to help the Obama campaign should focus on Palin’s beliefs. “The criticism of her really, really needs to be ideological, not just about experience.  If we concede she’s a ‘maverick,’ we will have done John McCain an enormous service.  And let’s don’t concede the claim that [Hillary Clinton] supporters are likely to be very attracted to her,” Kilgore said.

Amidst this debate over how most effectively to destroy Palin’s reputation, reporter Avi Zenilman, who was then writing about the campaign for Politico, chimed in to note that Palin had “openly backed” parts of Obama’s energy plan. In an interview Wednesday, Zenilman said he sent the information as a means of promoting a story he had written for Politico.

Chris Hayes of the Nation wrote in with words of encouragement, and to ask for more talking points. “Keep the ideas coming! Have to go on TV to talk about this in a few min and need all the help I can get,” Hayes wrote.

Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: “I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick.  Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”

Mother Jones’s Stein loved the idea. “That’s excellent! If enough people – people on this list? – write that the pick is sexist, you’ll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket,” he wrote.

Another writer from Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, had this idea: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism’.”

Kilgore wasn’t sold: “I STRONGLY think the immediate task is to challenge the ‘maverick’ bullshit about Palin, which everybody on the tube is echoing. I’ll say it one more time: Palin is a hard-core conservative ideologue in every measurable way.”

Zenilman of Politico, a purportedly nonpartisan journalist, weighed in with tactical advice: “The experience attack is a stupid one. It’s absolutely the wrong tack — the tack that McCain took when he was losing, and that Hillary and Biden took all primaries.” Zenilman said Wednesday he was offering “typical offhand political analysis.”

Joe Klein of Time stopped by with an update on the latest from his magazine: “We’re reporting that she actually supported the bridge to nowhere. First flub?”

Klein, who displayed an independent streak in other circumstances (“anybody who knows me knows I do my own thinking,” he said in a Wednesday interview), seemed to exude more partisanship that day than usual.

As the morning wore on into the afternoon, some on Journolist came to believe the Palin pick had been shrewd. Palin was coming off as appealing and a maverick, they worried.

“Okay, let’s get deadly serious, folks.  Grating voice or not, ‘inexperienced’ or not, Sarah Palin’s just been introduced to the country as a brave, above-party, oil-company-bashing, pork-hating maverick ‘outsider’,” Kilgore said, “What we can do is to expose her ideology.”