Sarah Palin is the hottest act in town, and the critics can only grind their teeth. She’s playing the media like a violin, though the likes of Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd look more like bass fiddles.
Her “secret” bus tour of America is a secret so closely held that she travels in a Greyhound-sized monster decorated with her name and an American flag the size of a barn. The lady who was mocked by the wisenheimers for saying she could see Russia from her backyard in Alaska now sees revenge through the windshield of her bus.
The media’s Gaffe Patrol, ever on the scout for mistakes, errors, blunders, slips of the tongue and other erratum the patrollers think they see in our pols, pounced on the lady the other day in Boston for “mangling” the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. She had recounted the story that Revere warned the British when every man riding in the press caravan was sure it wasn’t the British he warned, but patriots.
The great media ha-ha chorus jeered Miss Sarah for days. She felt the need to try to explain. “Part of his ride,” she told Fox News on Sunday, “was to warn the British who were already there. ‘That, hey! You’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.’ “
This makes perfect sense to the Americans she speaks to, but to the press claque this was only further proof that Miss Sarah was the usual Republican moron. She obviously hadn’t mastered American history in elementary school — indeed, she didn’t even get her diploma in the Ivy League.
Only now it turns out that she was right about Revere’s midnight ride, and the press claque was wrong. Even the professors say so, though they’re grudging to the point of churlishness. “Basically,” says Brendan McConville, a history professor at Boston University, “when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting.’ ” Revere, an honest tradesman, probably didn’t employ “professor-speak” in the heat of the moment, with words like “mobilization” and “confronting,” but we can take the point. In the account of the most famous midnight ride in American history, the professor says, “The British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside they hear church bells ringing - she was right about that - and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”
Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House in Boston says the midnight rider was probably bluffing his Redcoat captors, so maybe it could be construed that Revere was in fact warning the British. “But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.” Mr. McConville was even less gracious conceding that Mrs. Palin had gotten it right. He wouldn’t concede that her remarks were based on scholarship. No Ph.D, no tenure for her. “I would call her lucky in her comments.” The rest of us would call her correct, but that’s just how professors think. Though not all. “It seems to be a historical fact that it happened [her way],” says William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell. “A lot of the criticism [of Sarah Palin] is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history.”
Nobody knows exactly what Mrs. Palin is up to; the smart money, which is often wrong, says she isn’t actually running for president, that she’s only having a little fun teasing the liberals who wet their pants at the mere mention of her name. Too bad if she doesn’t run, because she’s by far the most entertaining politician on the scene. The media storyline is that she’s not smart enough to be president, that her “mangling” of history proves it. But from the looks of the chaos that Barack Obama has made of the economy, she apparently knows more about history than the president knows about economics (and the concerns of the people in Mr. Obama’s “57 states”).
Sarah Palin has hardly been scratched by the shot and shell showered on her since she streaked like a rocket across the landscape three years ago. She has a gift for feeling the love and expressing the enthusiasm Americans feel in their bones for their God and their country. For all his cool dispassion and occasional eloquence, it’s a gift the president doesn’t have.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.