Here... in its entirety is the WSJ's brilliant editorial on the media's savaging of Sarah Palin for the past four days. I really hope you guys are proud of yourselves...
The Beltway Boys
September 3, 2008; Page A22
Even as the Obama camp ponders how best to handle John McCain's veep pick of Sarah Palin, the high priests and priestesses of the media have marked her as an apostate. The Beltway class is in full-throated rebellion against a nondomesticated conservative who might pose a threat to their coronation of Barack Obama and the return of Camelot-on-the-Potomac.
Here is a sampler of media comment on Governor Palin this week:
- Eleanor Clift, the McLaughlin Group: "If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places across newsrooms."
- Sally Quinn, Newsweek: "It is a political gimmick . . . I find it insulting to women, to the Republican party, and to the country."
- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: "Palin is, if anything, less qualified for the vice presidency (and the presidency) than [Harriet] Miers was for the court. But there is one big difference: Palin passes all the right-wing litmus tests."
- Maureen Dowd, New York Times: "They have a tradition of nominating fun, bantamweight cheerleaders from the West."
- Ruth Marcus, Washington Post: "But as a parent in the media, I also know that the Palins assumed this risk. Anyone who watched coverage of the Bush twins' barroom exploits knew that the avert-your-eyes stance toward candidates' children has its limits."
- Charlie Cook, Beltway pundit, on PBS's "Charlie Rose": "I had a friend that had a young person tell them that they had three interviews to get a job as a server at Ruby Tuesday! So this is like putting a whole -- for someone that hasn't played on a national -- Geraldine Ferraro had more -- Dan Quayle had undergone more scrutiny, had played on a bigger stage than this. This is putting an enormous risk on someone he didn't know. And he has to just pray that it works!"
This is the same media whose chant for weeks -- no, months -- has been "let McCain be McCain." If we know anything about John McCain, it is that he is by instinct a reformer, sometimes to a fault. Yet when he acts like McCain and picks a maverick reformer in his own mold, his former media cheering squad turns on him for not conforming to Beltway mores and picking someone they've all met 10 times in the CNN green room.
They want a VP to be a kind of parliamentary choice, someone they have already vetted, someone who's made them laugh with insider jokes at the Gridiron dinner. The Beltway class whines constantly about how it wants fresh voices in politics, but we guess this means a first-term Democratic Senator rather than a first-term Republican Governor from some godforsaken U.S. state few of them have ever been to.
We are instructed that Mrs. Palin isn't qualified, because she lacks Washington experience. But until recently that was said to be a virtue in Mr. Obama, who is at the top of his ticket. Meanwhile, there's hardly a peep of media notice that the Obama campaign is preposterously trying to remake Joe Biden into a poor scrapper from Scranton when he's been in the Senate for 36 years. They all know Joe. But when Mr. McCain picks an authentic middle-class mother who is also a Governor, we are told she's not up to the job.
The spin du jour is that her choice reflects poorly on Candidate McCain because she wasn't properly vetted. Yet this seems to be false. Campaign vetter A.B. Culvahouse, White House counsel under Ronald Reagan, says Mrs. Palin told the campaign about her pregnant daughter and her husband's DUI at the age of 22. On Monday, Time magazine's Nathan Thornburgh wrote from Wasilla, Alaska, that Bristol Palin's pregnancy had been known by virtually everyone there, with little made of it. But what do these private family matters have to do with Mrs. Palin's credentials to be Vice President in any case?
The press in 2000 ignored marijuana use by Al Gore's son, as it should have. But now we are told a teenage pregnancy is going to raise second thoughts among evangelicals and "family values voters" about Mrs. Palin's ability to be both a mother and a public official. This is also false.
Leaving aside the embarrassing reality that the Beltway press corps barely knows any evangelicals, religious leaders this week greeted the pregnancy news with support for the Palins. Offering support for unwed pregnant women and their families is a primary activity of these churches from one end of America to the other. That might even make a good story for someone this weekend.
What's really going on here is that the Beltway class can see how popular the Palin pick is with Republicans outside Washington, and especially with middle-class conservatives. As Richard Land, a leader with the Southern Baptist Convention, said Monday, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin closed the "enthusiasm gap" between the two parties.
There is nothing more dangerous to entrenched Washington power than a populist conservative who looks unlikely to buy into Washington's creature comforts. Take a close look at Governor Palin's record on ethics and energy in Alaska, and it becomes clear what this Beltway outburst is actually about. The irony is that while Senator Obama is running on change, his acceptance speech made explicit that he's promising only more power and money for Washington. Sarah Palin's history of taking on the career politicians of a corrupt Alaskan GOP machine -- her own party -- shows that she's the more authentic change agent.
* * *
If Sarah Palin succeeds as a national candidate, she could help John McCain proceed to a reform Presidency. Even if he loses while she does well, she could emerge as a major figure in GOP politics for years to come. This is why the media and political classes are so eager to discredit her. They can't let it happen.
We hope Mr. McCain and the GOP are prepared to fight back. On the evidence this week, it looks like an army of volunteers is forming up to help them.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.