The smart folks soberly support Barack Obama, while the ridiculous-looking rednecks love Sarah Palin. That's the subtext of the New York Times coverage on Wednesday. Jennifer Steinhauer was watching the second presidential debate with Obama fans at a Mexican restaurant in Des Moines, "Where He First Got Going, Cheering Obama On."
Debate watchers at Dos Rios -- the sort of crowd that can cite chapter and verse of Medicaid waivers without notes -- watched intensely, taking their eyes off the television only to grab a Corona.
Strangely, one of the self-evident geniuses in attendance thinks Barack Obama wants universal health care, despite the Times' desperate insistence that that's just one of the McCain campaign's many lies:
Health care was clearly a big issue in this crowd, and Mr. Obama's statement that health care was a "right" got a big round, too. "I like the fact that he is taking steps toward universal health care," said Mr. Matson, an osteopath.
In contrast, a Republican rally in Florida featuring Sarah Palin is painted in threatening terms by the Times. In her Wednesday story, "Palin Plays to Conservative Base in Florida Rallies," Julie Bosman seems perturbed at the sight of conservative Republicans in their natural element.
Florida is as far as Gov. Sarah Palin could be from Alaska, and still remain in the United States, but she knew home when she saw it.
Standing before a sea of red T-shirts and homemade signs reading "No Communists!" and "Palin's Pitbulls," Ms. Palin on Tuesday nestled in to her Republican base.
Palin crisscrossed Florida, leading five campaign rallies over two days, and appreciative crowds heckled the press corps (wonder why?). One man made inappropriate comments, and Bosman made sure to pick it up.
From Jacksonville in the northeast to Pensacola in the Panhandle, the fiery crowds gathered to jeer at any hint of liberalism, boo loudly at the mere mention of Senator Barack Obama's name and heckle the traveling press corps (at a rally in Clearwater, one man hurled a racial epithet at a television cameraman).
The Times' lead editorial Wednesday blamed Palin's "demagoguery" for inciting such "race-baiting," and claimed that "others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew" "Others" signifies more than the "one man" cited by Bosman the reporter. Surely the editorial page isn't exaggerating for effect, is it?
Back to Bosman, showing surprise that a Palin rally would be dominated by the kind of people who support Palin:
If there were undecideds, independents or swing voters among them, they were awfully hard to spot.
Florida is still a too-close-to-call battleground state, with most recent polls showing Mr. Obama ahead, but not by much. That Ms. Palin campaigned there in Republican strongholds like Pensacola suggests an effort to increase turnout among the party's base.
Ms. Palin, and the speakers who opened for her, gave the crowds what they came for.
Many of those who went to see Ms. Palin -- some dressed in head-to-toe McCain-Palin regalia -- described themselves as staunch Republicans who said they would never consider voting for a Democrat.
Does the Times ask Obama supporters if they would ever consider voting for a Republican?