Journolist’s anti-Palin crusade of 2008

Jedediah Bila Contributor
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As The Daily Caller’s coverage of the now-defunct liberal listserv Journolist’s 2008 Obamamania campaign grew more intriguing each day this week, a slew of emails hit my inbox asking variations of this: “So, when do you think the P-bomb’s going to drop?”

Of course, they were referring to the fact that there was no way in heck Sarah Palin could’ve steered clear of scathing remarks. I responded with, “My guess is it’s on its way.” And whad’ya know? Yesterday’s headline read: “Liberal journalists swapped their best lines of attack for coordinated ‘non-official campaign’ against Palin selection.”

Jonathan Strong’s assessment that the tone of the brainstorming among Journolisters “was more campaign headquarters than newsroom” was right on the money. He chronicled how the Obama camp – I mean, journalists – were in a frenzy to come up with ways to discredit Palin and drag down her appeal. So, they set out to counterbalance what they feared – that “Her decision to keep the Down’s baby is going to be a hugely emotional story that appeals to a vast swath of America” and that “Sarah Palin’s just been introduced to the country as a brave, above-party, oil-company-bashing, pork-hating maverick ‘outsider.’”

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones was savvy enough to realize that the “inexperienced” argument wouldn’t fly, recognizing that a likely comeback would involve a critique of then-Senator Obama’s inexperience. (I knew it was hoping for too much that someone would’ve had enough smarts to point out that Palin’s holding of two former executive positions would qualify as experience for a third.)

I was amused beyond measure to see Daniel Levy’s suggestion that “the non-official campaign . . . scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia [sic] wing-nut a heartbeat away …… bang away at McCain’s age making this unusually significant . . . ”

Hmmm. I wonder how many of the Journolisters listened to Levy. Let’s take a peek at what some former Journolist members had to say about Palin in 2008:

Ezra Klein wrote this in August 2008:

“The simple reality of his campaign is that, for reasons of message and age, his vice-presidential pick matters more than most.” He added, “And it is not unimaginable that there could come a time in his presidency when his understudy must sorrowfully step forward.” He later wrote, “She has no foreign policy experience. She has no experience making national policy.”

Matthew Yglesias wrote this in September 2008:

“Another supposed example of McCain’s independent streak is his decision to anoint the obscure and obviously unqualified Gov. Sarah Palin as his party’s vice presidential nominee.” He later added, “Never mind that she’s been governor for just 18 months of a state with a smaller population than Austin, Texas, or Jefferson County, Ky. . . . ”

Katha Pollitt wrote this on September 29, 2008:

“There is just no way Sarah Palin is equipped to be vice-president, much less president. She doesn’t know enough; she lacks the necessary grasp of, and curiosity about, our complex world; her political philosophy could fit on a bumper sticker: Us versus Them.”

She later wrote, “Palin’s only qualification for the second or, God forbid, the first job in the land is that John McCain thought she’d lend his sagging campaign a shot of estrogen and some right-wing Christian fairy dust.”

Harold Pollack wrote this on August 30, 2008:

“Of course, she is nowhere near ready to stand a heartbeat away from the presidency.” He later added, “Senator McCain is 72 years old” and “The typical man of Senator McCain’s age faces a one in seven chance of dying before finishing his term, and a 30 percent chance of not finishing out a second one.”

Joe Conason wrote this on August 30, 2008:

“But if Palin’s résumé is limited, to put it politely, she possesses the only two qualities that McCain now seems to consider essential: She is a right-wing religious ideologue with female gender characteristics.” He also wrote, “Clearly nobody in the Republican camp is concerned that Palin would be clueless in a national security crisis, should a 72-year-old or older President McCain abruptly die or become disabled.” He later added, “The calculation is that millions of undecided Hillary backers will cross partisan lines because a woman is on McCain’s ticket. But will they believe that Palin is comparable to Clinton just because both happen to be female? Or will they regard that comparison as an insult to their heroine?”

Conason’s column was titled “McCain’s Palin pick is the epitome of tokenism.” Interesting, in light of the fact that The Daily Caller revealed yesterday that Nick Baumann, a writer from Mother Jones, had shared this idea with fellow Journolisters on August 29, 2008: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism.’” Note to Conason: Couldn’t you at least have come up with your own title?

Hey, I wonder if any outside journalists happened to cover similar themes to those outlined by the Journolisters?

Michael Cooper and Elisabeth Bumiller led with this in The New York Times on August 29, 2008:

“Senator John McCain astonished the political world on Friday by naming Sarah Palin, a little-known governor of Alaska and self-described ‘hockey mom’ with almost no foreign policy experience, as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.”

They also wrote,

“Democrats and at least some shocked Republicans questioned the judgment of Mr. McCain, who has said repeatedly on the campaign trail that his running mate should have the qualifications to immediately step into the role of commander in chief. Mr. McCain’s words on the matter have had more than usual resonance this year because of his age — he turned 72 on Friday, and hopes to be the oldest person ever elected to a first term — and his history with skin cancer. Ms. Palin appears to have traveled very little outside the United States.”

Saul Friedman wrote this on September 5, 2008:

“Therefore, no matter what your politics may be, McCain’s age suddenly has become an important issue in this presidential campaign. How can the press, or the rest of us, avoid it when McCain, 72, chooses as his vice-president Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 44, who has served in that office less than two years and whose only other elective office has been on the city council and as mayor of her tiny home town, Wasilla, (pop. 6,715)? It does not belittle these accomplishments, but it is a huge understatement to suggest that she is not ready or qualified to become President of the United States should something happen to McCain, who will be near 73 if and when he assumes office, old enough to be Palin’s father.”

Russell Berman wrote this on August 29, 2008:

“At the same time, the pick of Ms. Palin could undercut Mr. McCain’s attempts to focus attention on Mr. Obama’s inexperience, and the campaign will have to answer the question of whether she is ready to step in as president if something happens to Mr. McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected to a first term in the White House.”

And I could go on. And on. I think it’s safe to say that the Journolisters succeeded in doing precisely what they’d set out to do.

What I also found particularly interesting was an approach to target Palin suggested by former Journolister Suzanne Nossel, disclosed in The Daily Caller:

“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.”

On that note, check out the National Organization for Women’s statement on Palin on August 29, 2008, titled “Not Every Woman Supports Women’s Rights:”

“Finally, as the chair of NOW’s Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic ‘No.’ We recognize the importance of having women’s rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women’s rights.”

I salute The Daily Caller for publishing a series that lays it all out, plain and simple. Not only were so many in the media nauseatingly awe-struck by Obama, but some formed an organized coalition to target his opponents and to suppress news stories that might have brought down the hope and change brigade.

I guess they didn’t take the time to consider that the man they were tirelessly promoting wasn’t fit for the job. Or that the woman they were targeting was.

Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist and commentator living in New York City. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com.