After eight years of lethal and constitutionally dangerous outrages, the cloistering of Sarah Palin from the press might seem like a small thing. It's not. Gov. Palin aspires to be the vice president for an old man with a body broken by Vietnamese torture and recurrent cancer (and for those of you who aren't from Arizona, melanoma is extremely serious).
Palin has been all over "the media" -- but this is a channel largely for entertainment and distraction. Unlike any vice-presidential candidate in the modern era, she has been kept from the normal press conferences and give-and-take with professional journalists that come with seeking this position. Similarly, the McCain handlers would only agree to a highly scripted vice-presidential debate, with very limited time for answers. Today, she apparently answered a few reporter questions, finally, but this entire affair is extremely unsettling.
What is the McCain camp hiding, besides her inexperience and callowness, both of which are considerable? She makes Dan Quayle look like Pericles by comparison. Or that McCain didn't choose her -- she was forced on him by the real powers behind his would-be throne? Or her own extreme views...? The secrecy and censorship recall the past eight years of Bush and Cheney.
But shame on the enablers in the press. Even the New York Times ran a front-page photo of Palin, leggy in a suit, sitting with Henry Kissinger in her first meeting with "wise men" and foreign dignitaries. This when reporters were excluded and no questions allowed. Why is the press playing along? My credo as an editor would be: no access, no coverage. We're not your publicists and we're not your propaganda organ.
We shouldn't be surprised. Wrecked by greed and bad leadership, most of the press has been devastated. Those left are terrified of being portrayed as sexist if they demand the same accountability of a female candidate as a male one. Or if they mention Palin's appearance, even though she plays it to the hilt, indeed, just above the knee. (Maureen Dowd is an exception). But the sins of the press are more grievous: failing to play every torture story on Page 1; falling for jargon such as "enhanced interrogation" and "surge"; failing to push for full disclosure on McCain's medical records and Cindy's tax records; pretending there's a legitimate debate left on global warming.
Yes, Palin was intended by McCain handler Steve Schmidt as a distraction. But she's a very serious issue. She can't be ignored.