James Taranto packs his column today with stories about people dumping on Sarah Palin. I thought you'd find it interesting.
Over the weekend Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of "palling around" with terrorists–a reference to his longstanding friendship and professional association with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, husband-and-wife Chicago college professors who are unrepentant about their activities in the Weather Underground gang.
According to an "analysis" by Douglass Daniel of the Associated Press, "[Palin's] attack was unsubstantiated." Palin said she got her information from the New York Times, and we suppose it says something that this isn't good enough for the AP. Odder still is Daniel's claim that Palin's statement "carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret."
Reader, Mr. and Mrs. Ayers are persons of pallor. What could possibly be racist about Palin's criticizing Obama for associating with a couple of despicable characters who are white? This question brings us into the weird world of Douglass Daniel's imagination:
Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Daniel does no reporting to back this up. He accuses Palin of racism because in his mind, terrorist implies Muslim, Muslim implies dark-skinned, and dark-skinned implies black.
This exercise in free association scarcely qualifies as analysis. Nonetheless, let us consider it step by step:
Terrorist implies Muslim. It is certainly true that America's terrorist enemies today are Muslims who justify their actions in Islamic terms. The terrorist fringe of the 1960s far left, by contrast, has withered away (or "sold out," in the parlance of the times). But there is nothing distinctively Islamic about tactics like bombing and kidnapping, which were used by outfits like the Weather Underground in their time and are employed by al Qaeda and its ilk today.
Moreover, as we have noted, the AP is sometimes at pains to avoid drawing a connection between terrorism and Islam when reporting stories about Islamic terrorism. Why does Dennis make the connection so casually here, when it is not even relevant?
Muslim implies dark-skinned. In fact, "Muslim" is a religious identifier, not a racial or ethnic one. Muslims are of all races and ethnicities. Dennis must be conflating Muslims with Arabs, the ethnic group to which the Sept. 11 terrorists belonged. Arabs do generally have darker complexions than people of Northern European origin.
Dark-skinned implies black. The racial identity of Arabs was a matter of some legal controversy in the U.S. early in the last century, but the courts generally concluded that they were white and thus eligible for naturalization under the racially discriminatory immigration laws in effect at the time. Arabs also are classified as white under the Census Bureau's racial taxonomy.
So Dennis seems to be saying that it is racist of Palin to note a nonracial commonality between Obama's white pals and the white men who attacked America seven years ago. Can you make any sense at all of this?
Neither can Dennis, so he changes the subject:
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain's purpose so well. As the fallout from [Jeremiah] Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.
Wait, didn't the Jeremiah Wright controversy prompt Obama to give the most magnificently brilliant speech on the subject of race since Martin Luther King, or at least Abraham Lincoln? That's what it said in the papers, anyway.
Getting back to Daniel and Palin, it seems his claim is that her speech was racist because it somehow called attention to Obama's race. To be sure, there are people who are prejudiced against Obama because he is black. Shame on them. People like them used to have a lot more influence on elections than they do now, both because they were more numerous and because in many parts of the country they disfranchised blacks (including through terrorism!).
Yet we'd venture that there are voters who are troubled by Obama's palling around with terrorists irrespective of his, or anyone else's race. Does the public not have a right to know because some part of the public may be racist?
Furthermore, let's assume for the sake of argument that an actual racist has the brainpower to puzzle through the complex twists and turns that led Douglass Daniel from the information that Obama pals around with terrorists to the conclusion that Obama is black.
Isn't it a good bet that he already knew?
The McCain campaign has released Todd and Sarah Palin's 2006 and 2007 tax returns, the Associated Press notes in a brief dispatch, which ends as follows:
The McCain-Palin campaign had said the tax returns would be released Monday, but it suddenly put them out Friday afternoon–a time long used by government to reveal embarrassing news because few people watch TV or read newspapers Friday evening and Saturday.
And the Palins' tax returns are embarrassing because . . . well, the AP doesn't say in its brief (129-word) dispatch. A later, longer version of the dispatch, which contains the same closing paragraph about "embarrassing news," reveals that the Palins' tax liability for 2007 turned out to be greater than they thought when they filed for an extension in April. As a result they may owe the IRS interest but not penalties. That's embarrassing?
Could it be that the AP just throws in that disclaimer about "embarrassing news" on all Friday afternoon stories? Nope, NewsBusters.org notes that when Joe and Jill Biden released their tax returns three Fridays earlier, no such disclaimer was included in the AP's report.
It did, however, mention that "the Bidens' move is designed to pressure Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin to release her financial records." Apparently in the AP's eyes, all news is embarrassing to Sarah Palin.
A hilarious example of press bias against Palin occurred last FridayI on "The Diane Rehm Show," a production of Washington's WAMU-FM. The exchange between hostess Rehm, caller Tom of Norwich, Vt., and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne begins at about 46:10 of the "10:00 News Roundup":
Tom: I just wonder why not more has been made of the statement by Palin during the debate last night that "Maliki and the Talabani"–this is a quote from the transcript–"also in working with us are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to the point of victory." The Talibani obviously are our absolute enemy and have been since 9/11; Maliki, our central ally in Iraq. This to me is a tremendous blunder, revealing a very superficial familiarity with these sorts of terms.
Rehm: Thanks for calling, Tom. . . . E.J.?
Dionne: I think that "superficial" is absolutely the right word for the knowledge or the lack of knowledge Palin showed yesterday. I'm glad the caller raised that one, and I suspect there is going to be a scouring of that transcript for exactly that sort of gaffe. That has echoes of some of the stuff she said to Katie Couric.
If you look at the debate transcript, however, you will see that the reference is not to "the Talabani" but to Talabani–as in Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq.
Unlike Tom and Dionne's misunderstanding, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi's misquotation of Palin can't be chalked up to superficiality. Her Sunday column included the following correction of her Friday column:
My column on the vice presidential debate incorrectly quoted Sarah Palin. Here is the correct quote: "And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people."
The correction is a bit of a misquote too. Palin actually said, "I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear," as the official transcript confirms; some media transcripts missed the two italicized words.
Although the Web version of Vennochi's Friday column has the almost-correct quote, we were able to retrieve the original column from Factiva. Here is how Vennochi quoted Palin:
The strategy for John McCain's running mate was clear. Be folksy and perky. Her answers were sprinkled with "darn right," and "betcha." Early on, Palin told moderator Gwen Ifill she could ask whatever she wanted; "I'm gonna answer whatever I want."
The most charitable explanation for this is that Vennochi, making notes during the debate, wrote down her interpretation of what Palin said and then mistook it for an actual quote.
Oh, the Sunday column that includes the correction is headlined, "Instead of Hype, How About Honesty?" Good question!
The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin MMIV
The Puffington Host catches Sarah Milhous Palin in another bald-faced lying Swiftboater of a lie:
The statement came after Palin had recounted a "providential" moment she experienced on Saturday: "I'm reading on my Starbucks mocha cup, okay? The quote of the day. . . . It was Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State [crowd boos] and UN ambassador. . . . Now she said it, I didn't. She said, 'There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't support other women.' "
Actually, Albright didn't say that. The accurate quote is, "There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't help other women."
If Barack Obama misquoted a mocha, these people would call him an elitist. This is Rovian politics at its worst. Wait, it gets worse. Power Line points out that the Albright quote Palin shot defenselessly from the air and left to die is not a "Quote of the Day" at all but a "The Way I See It." Give those boys a Yglesias award!
If this horrific Christianist monster is willing to claim a "The Way I See It" is a "Quote of the Day," how can we believe that Trig is really hers? Did the beauty queen and former sportscaster ever even take trig? Barack Obama knows calculus and linear algebra too. Whoops, that was a tangent. Beagle-walking is great!