Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- How is it that an attractive woman who has been involved in state and local government since the early 1990s without much controversy is passed off in the media now as an airhead? Yet her opponent -- long known as an airhead, a braggart and even a plagiarist -- now is passed off as a statesman? I have in mind Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware or Scranton, Pa., or wherever he now claims to hail from. In September, Gov. Palin sat before ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric and was asked any question that popped into their minds or the minds of their researchers. The comely governor responded adequately. She might not win first prize on "Jeopardy," but then no "Jeopardy" winner has governed Alaska. Nonetheless, she is portrayed in the mainstream moron media as an airhead, and Sen. Biden is a statesman.

Well, take a glance at Sen. Biden's performance just last month. On Sept. 22, he bragged to a Baltimore audience: "If you want to know where al-Qaida lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three United States senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are." Two days later, he continued his BSing that al-Qaida's headquarters had been moved to "the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where (his) helicopter was recently forced down." Both statements were rehashes of his Sept. 9 garbage spiel that "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan (is) where (his) helicopter was forced down." Left unsaid by the senator -- who rarely leaves anything unsaid -- was that the helicopter was "brought down" not by enemy fire but by inclement weather.

OK, maybe those outbursts do not reveal Sen. Biden as an airhead, but they do reveal him as a phony. So consider a few more of the senator's September follies. On Sept. 17, at an appearance in Ohio, Sen. Biden tapped the chest of a reporter (presumably male) and said, "You need to work on your pecs." Then there was the senator's interview with Katie Couric. It is Couric, of course, who supposedly revealed Gov. Palin's intellectual weightlessness, but late in September, she revealed both herself and Sen. Biden to be ignoramuses.

While interviewing him on what appeared to be a bus, Couric evoked this response from the Democrats' vice presidential candidate: "When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Actually, Roosevelt was not president until 1933, and in 1929, there was no "television audience" because there was no television available to consumers. By now, all Biden watchers have had a good laugh at his expense on this one, but the laugh is on Couric, too. Her round, girlish, expressionless face revealed no hint that she was aware of the senator's botched historical reference.

So Sen. Biden, in one month, reminded us that he is a phony and an airhead, but in September, he also reminded us that he is a plagiarist. In his 1988 presidential bid, he was caught lifting from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock the Welshman's biographical treacle, adapting it for an American audience thus: "My ancestors who worked in the coal mines in Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours." In Kinnock's version, his Welsh ancestors "could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football." This was a dreadful humiliation for Sen. Biden, made all the worse when it was revealed that he had faked his academic record and been accused of plagiarism in law school.

After being forced out of the 1988 race, the senator, one would have thought, never again would mention his "coal-mining" heritage. Yet Sept. 21, while addressing an audience filled with coal miners in Virginia, he fibbed: "I am a hard coal miner -- anthracite coal, Scranton, Pa. That's where I was born and raised." He was never a coal miner, and most of his early life was spent in Delaware.

Amazing as it sounds, all the recent pratfalls were committed by the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in but one month. Nonetheless, as we enter October, it is Gov. Palin whom the media deem controversial.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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