Bigger Buffoon Face-Off: Is It Rendell on Napolitano, or Campbell Brown's Hyprocritical Coverage?

SarahPalin1008CampbellBrown1108Rendell1208At first glance, it's hard to figure out who is the bigger buffoon:

  • Is it Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, for suggesting that Arizona Governor and Obama Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Janet Napolitano is perfect for her presumptive position because she's single and can therefore "have no life"?
  • Or is it CNN's Campbell Brown, for criticizing Rendell's sexism and bias against employees who don't have families -- after Brown herself suggested in September that Sarah Palin shouldn't have accepted John McCain's vice-presidential nomination because of her daughter's pregnancy?

Here are excerpts from the program transcript (video here), including Rendell's howler, and Brown's subsequent hypocritical editorializing (HT Tall Cotton):

Brown: How many times have politicians been warned about the dangers of an open microphone? And yet, on Tuesday, the lectern mic at the National Governors Conference picked up this little nugget from Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

..... Rendell: Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it.

Brown: Wow. Now, I'm sure Gov. Napolitano has many qualifications for the job beyond having no family, and therefore the ability to devote 20 hours a day to the job.

..... But it is fascinating to me that that is the quality being highlighted here as so perfect. C'mon. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is married with two grown children. His predecessor, Tom Ridge, had a family. Anybody remember a debate about whether they would have trouble balancing the demands of work and family?

No, but I do remember a certain CNN reporter -- her name is Campbell Brown -- who,  in a September interview with Tucker Bounds, questioned whether Sarah Palin was being a good mother (i.e., properly "balancing the demands of work and family") by accepting the nomination in light of her daughter's situation (bolds are mine):

BROWN: Tucker, though, this obviously putting this young woman, Bristol Palin, smack in the media spotlight at what's already got to be a very challenging time in her life, I mean, how do you respond to people who wonder why her mother would have subjected her to this kind of scrutiny by accepting this high-profile position?

BOUNDS: I think Gov. Palin understands that these are serious times. We have serious challenges and it's time to shake up Washington. It was the reason she was happy to take John McCain's invitation to go to Washington, make the changes that Americans needs and Americans depend on. She's an expert on energy. She understands we need an all of the above energy approach that includes the alternatives and the renewable fuels. This is an important decision. I think it's dangerous to confuse her civic decision to get involved and make a difference in the country with a family matter --

BROWN: I understand that. I recognize that. In an ideal world, it would be private. You know, this is a presidential campaign. Nothing is private. The world is watching. And if we, you know, as much as everyone might want to give this young woman her privacy, you know that's not going to happen. And so you do risk putting her through an incredibly difficult process by accepting this job if you're her mother. You can't deny that, right?

Brown's attack on Palin's nomination acceptance as being unfair to her pregnant daughter was every bit as sexist as Rendell's comment was stereotypically discriminatory against unmarried women (and men). Please -- the media were going to dig, and probably did dig, into every aspect of each of Palin's children, up to and including whether or not they ever talked back to a teacher, jaywalked, or stuck chewing gum under a table. They clearly found nothing. The pregnancy/privacy matter was a fig leaf Brown used to go after Palin as a bad mother for having the nerve to take on a tough job. You might also recall that within 2-3 weeks of Palin's nomination, all interest in Bristol Palin had virtually vanished.

Brown's September attack on Palin would seem to imply that someone like the childless Napolitano would be a good fit for the tough job for which she has been nominated.

Thus, based on false concerns over a problem that never really materialized, and demonstrated sexism beyond the call of duty, Campbell Brown wins the "bigger buffoon" contest quite handily.

Cross-posted at

Media Bias Debate Sexuality Immigration Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Feminism Culture/Society Double Standards Government Agencies Obama transition CNN Other CNN Ed Rendell Sarah Palin Janet Napolitano