Sunday’s edition of Parade magazine (an insert in numerous American newspapers, including The Washington Post) carried a cover photo of Gov. Sarah Palin with the words "The Best & Worst 2008," although the cover didn’t specify which she was. (In the picture, Palin is pointing at the reader, looking like she's laughing at them.) Inside, a tiny article said whether Palin was best or worst was "a matter of opinion," as she "appalled some and energized others. With her eye on 2012, Palin could become the future of the Republican Party – or just a blip on the national memory."
Right below that, they praised Hillary Clinton: "Her smarts and toughness won over former rival Barack Obama, who offered her the job of Secretary of State."
For the list of "Campaign Highs & Lows," Parade brought in a panel of experts, one of them right-leaning (Bill O’Reilly), and the rest left-leaning (Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, pop historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and former New York Times columnist Les Gelb). Only O’Reilly didn’t see the year through Obama goggles. Here’s the left-tilting list:
HIGH Obama’s win in the Iowa caucuses. This early triumph showed that an overwhelmingly white state was ready to vote for an African-American for President. As Obama said in his victory speech, "At this defining moment in history—you have done what cynics said we couldn’t do." – Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of "Team of Rivals"
LOW People shouting, "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" when Obama’s name was mentioned at some John Mc-Cain-Sarah Palin rallies. While this was neither McCain’s nor Palin’s fault, it revealed the thin membrane separating civility from mob rule in politics today. -- Jonathan Alter, NBC News analyst and author of "Between the Lines"
HIGH The third McCain-Obama debate. Both candidates went out of their way to speak respectfully about the other. That’s what politics should be. – Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Channel anchor and author of "A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity"
HIGH Some 3.2 million Americans gave to Obama’s campaign, with an average donation of less than $90. Whatever one thinks about Obama, that’s a good thing for democracy. – Jonathan Alter
HIGH Obama’s speech on race. He gave a candid, calming explanation of his relationship with Rev. Wright, embedding it in a larger discussion about racial anxiety in America. His speech reassured supporters and quieted critics. -- George Stephanopoulos, ABC News chief Washington correspondent
LOW McCain repeated his boilerplate talking points -- "The fundamentals of the economy are strong" – after financial markets collapsed on Sept. 15. He appeared out of touch, and a tied race became a rout. – George Stephanopoulos
HIGH McCain’s concession speech. With his gracious words and sincere pledge to work with his opponent, he reminded Americans why we all admire him so much. – Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations
Needless to say, conservatives don’t agree on most of these. Obama’s rallies surely featured people who yelled horrible things against McCain-Palin or President Bush (and if not, consult a left-wing blog), but the liberal media wanted to imply that conservatives were savages. Millions of Americans gave small donations to Obama, most of whose names were never disclosed, and several of them were exposed as utterly fraudulent.
Perhaps worst of all is the persistent praise of Obama’s "race speech," which should be seen as an embarrassment for Obama, his first broken "Read My Lips" pledge, when he said he could not abandon the wrong Reverend Wright – and then dropped him and left the church he’d attended for decades for political expediency.
Obama should have walked away from his minister’s paranoid and anti-American rants, but he also should have never signed up to belong there in the first place. The speech certainly failed to "quiet critics" -- except for John McCain, who didn't want to focus on religious issues or be accused by his media friends of being a race-baiter.