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The Press, a Few Dollars Short

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"The journalism that's important to me is no longer possible. . . . It's time to stop standing behind our salaries, our bonuses and our pensions and stand up and say what needs to be said," he told the Knight Digital Media Center.

All right, back to the campaign: Sarah Palin finds herself on the cover of Newsweek, again, but with the most biased campaign headline I've ever seen: "Yes, she won the debate by not imploding. But governing requires knowledge, and mindless populism is just that -- mindless."

Doggone it, maybe her rhetoric is simplistic, misleading or irrelevant. But mindless? Here's the argument:

"Palin is on the ticket because she connects with everyday Americans. It is not shocking to learn that politics played a big role in the making of a presidential team (ticket-balancing to attract different constituencies has been with us at least since Andrew Jackson ran with John C. Calhoun, a man he later said he would like to kill). But that honest explanation of the rationale for her candidacy -- not her preparedness for office, but her personality and nascent maverickism in Alaska -- raises an important question, not only about this election but about democratic leadership. Do we want leaders who are everyday folks, or do we want leaders who u nderstand everyday folks? Therein lies an enormous difference, one that could decide the presidential election and, if McCain and Palin were to win, shape the governance of the nation . . .

"A key argument for Palin, in essence, is this: Washington and Wall Street are serving their own interests rather than those of the broad whole of the country, and the moment requires a vice president who will, Cincinnatus-like, help a new president come to the rescue. The problem with the argument is that Cincinnatus knew things. Palin sometimes seems an odd combination of Chauncey Gardiner from 'Being There' and Marge from 'Fargo.'

"Is this an elitist point of view? Perhaps, though it seems only reasonable and patriotic to hold candidates for high office to high standards."

Sure, which is why it's troubling that so much of the media was obsessed with the style of the debate rather than the substance of what Palin avoided or got wrong.

An unsympathetic view as well in Politico, from John Harris and Mike Allen:

"She got out alive, though there were white-knuckle moments along the way: questions that were answered with painfully obvious talking points that betrayed scant knowledge of the issue at hand and sometimes little relevance to the question that had been asked. But recent days have given John McCain's team little reason to suppose that not-that-bad is good enough.

"The Republican ticket's sliding polls and narrowing electoral map gave it a different imperative in Palin's showdown against Joe Biden. That was to alter the trajectory of the race in a way reminiscent of how Palin first enlivened Republicans -- it seems long ago now -- when she joined the ticket in late August. Absent new polling, there is little reason to think she cleared that bar in St. Louis.

"To the contrary, it is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter. She looked like she was trying to get people to take her seriously. He looked like he was running for vice president. His answers were more responsive to the questions, far more detailed and less rhetorical. On at least 10 occasions, Palin gave answers that were nonspecific, completely generic, pivoted away from the question at hand, or simply ignored it: on global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, Iran and Pakistan, Iranian diplomacy, Israel-Palestine (and a follow-up), the nuclear trigger, interventionism, Cheney's vice presidency and her own greatest weakness."

A big front-page rehash over the weekend in the New York Times examines the relationship between Obama and onetime terrorist William Ayers, only to conclude that the two men "do not appear to be close":


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