I’ve never thought of it this way:
When in 2004 John Kerry picked Edwards, whose entire resume in public life at that point consisted of six years in the U.S. Senate, to be his vice-presidential nominee, few questioned whether Edwards was qualified for the post.
Search “Edwards is unqualified” in Lexis-Nexis from the time Edwards was tapped by Kerry through Election Day 2004, and you get 11 results. Do the same for Palin and you get 174 results – and the search period is nearly two months shorter for Palin, because she was picked by McCain much later in the 2008 election cycle.
We now definitively know just how much of a liar, cheat and phony John Edwards is. But if the media had been one half as interested in exposing Edwards as a fraud as they have been in excoriating Palin, perhaps it would not have taken the National Enquirer to discover the truth that has led to the downfall of a politician who had a very real chance of becoming President.
One of the media’s favorite attacks against Palin revolves around her failure to tell Katie Couric what magazines and newspapers she regularly reads. The clumsy answer was an early flash point that led many to scoff that the Alaskan governor didn’t read anything at all.
But guess who doesn’t read very much either? That would be John Edwards, if you believe John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book “Game Change.” According to their reporting, when a friend inquired if John Edwards read a particular tome, his wife, Elizabeth, apparently found the idea of her husband reading laugh-out-loud funny, saying, “Oh, he doesn’t read books.”
Yet this impression of her husband as an anti-intellectual “hick,” as Elizabeth reportedly referred to him, never became a common undercurrent during his his 2004 campaign for vice president or his later run for President.
So why did Palin get painted so quickly as a bombastic dunce and Edwards escape without such a negative characterization?
My current opinion of Sarah Palin is basically that, though I generally still like her, McCain chose her as his running mate basically in order to yank a lot of peoples’ chains (“maverick!”), which was a dumb choice. What happened after that is hardly her fault, but I do think she should have just been very low key and finished her term as governor. Also:
Update (2.24): More, from Jeb Bush…
“I don’t know what her deal is. My belief is in 2010 and 2012 public leaders need to have intellectual curiosity. The world is really an amazing place but it is very complex, it is very fast moving. If you think you’ve got it all figured out, the minute you start thinking that is the first day of your demise.”
Just in case Bush thinks he’s stopped talking about Palin, he adds: “So if she has those skills and she wants to run then she’ll be a great candidate.”
It is hard to dispute that Bush is right on both counts. Palin clearly possesses a rare and natural political talent. But thus far she has displayed very little willingness to build on this by studying the world and coming up with some intelligent conclusions or questions about it.