- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

The liberal media are determined to tarnish the reputation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The New York Times devoted three Page One stories to the pregnancy of Mrs. Palin’s 17-year-old teenage daughter. CNN’s John Roberts questioned whether Mrs. Palin, a mother of five children, could devote the attention necessary to be vice president and not neglect her family responsibilities. The Washington Post’s arch-liberal feminist, Sally Quinn, said that having such a large family called into question Mrs. Palin’s ability to be “a good mother” and an effective national candidate.

The far-left Daily Kos Web site claimed Mrs. Palin is not the mother of the infant boy with Down syndrome; her 17-year-old girl is. The story is a vicious fabrication that seeks to eviscerate Mrs. Palin’s pro-family image - and attempts to show, as one Democratic operative put it, that “she is one step removed from white trash.”

The fact that Mrs. Palin’s daughter is pregnant has no relevance to her performance as a politician. The charge that she can’t be both a good mother and competent leader is hypocritical and sexist. For decades, feminists have claimed women can have it all - a stable family, a successful career and a strong marriage. No one in the media ever asked whether the political aspirations of Sen. John McCain or his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, have caused them to neglect their fatherly duties.

Why does Mrs. Palin scare the liberal establishment? For decades, the liberal elite in this country has portrayed itself as the champion of blacks, minorities and women - the supposedly oppressed classes, who have endured centuries of domination at the hands of white males. The Democrats - and their media allies - have sought to use this victimology as their prevailing narrative, their infallible, unquestionable myth, in order to paint Republicans as the party of racists and chauvinists. Mrs. Palin threatens that storyline.

Liberals were similarly ferocious in their unsuccessful attempt to scuttle Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court. They will be equally determined to prevent Mrs. Palin from becoming the first female vice president in U.S. history. Successful women or black conservative Republicans reveal the lie at the core of modern liberalism: Self-reliance, self-help and personal responsibility are not just the keys to success for white males, but for everyone in America. They are universal, enduring values. They demonstrate that the liberal prescription of Big Government and affirmative action is unnecessary.

Mrs. Palin is emerging as a phenomenon. She is a cultural icon, who is galvanizing conservatives, independents and many working- and middle-class women across the country. She is a pro-life, pro-gun rights conservative reformer. She has become the embodiment of the patriotism, work ethic and mistrust of Washington pervasive in America.

Contrary to the claims of Mr. Obama’s campaign and the liberal media, Mrs. Palin has a strong record. She has cut property taxes, slashed wasteful spending and implemented ethics reform. She has exposed corruption and challenged Alaska’s Republican old guard. She is a genuine Republican insurgent in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Also, Mrs. Palin is a leader on the most pressing domestic issue of the day: the need for more oil drilling. As governor, she has embraced opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). She has fought to build a $30 billion gas pipeline in Alaska. She understands the only way to realistically drive down prices at the gas pump is to expand domestic supply.

Democrats believe assaulting her supposed lack of governing experience will damage Mrs. Palin in the eyes of voters - and thereby, call into question Mr. McCain’s judgment in selecting her. Yet this is a double-edged sword. By making experience an issue, it highlights Mr. Obama’s thin resume as well. Mrs. Palin has run a small town and a large state; Mr. Obama has been campaigning for higher office 59 of the last 112 months. He has passed no major piece of legislation - whether in the U.S. Senate or the Illinois state legislature.

Dismissing Mrs. Palin’s achievements makes Democrats seem mean, petty and chauvinistic. This has provided an opening for Republicans to court disaffected supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton, many of whom are white working-class voters who share many of Mrs. Palin’s values.

By criticizing her so relentlessly, the mainstream media has only succeeded in transforming Mrs. Palin into a folk hero - someone who speaks for Middle America and is not afraid to stand up to the country’s liberal elites. “But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,” Mrs. Palin said during her defiant acceptance speech Wednesday night. “I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.”

This message will carry Mr. McCain into the White House. The media have underestimated this hockey mom from Alaska.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.

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