WASHINGTON -- What would the mainstream media's response be if former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin described China's economic growth to an audience of students in Shanghai as "an accomplishment unparalleled in human history"? That is what the most inexperienced president in modern American history said in Shanghai this week. I wonder whether any of the assembled journalists choked. President Barack Obama makes such unhinged pronouncements with the kind of frequency that if he were anyone else, he would be set down by the media as a booby. I take that back. Vice President Joe Biden is equally gaffable, yet no one in the mainstream press makes him out to be a booby. When he was tapped to be then-Sen. Obama's running mate, he was acknowledged widely -- from ABC to NBC and with all the like-minded newspapers in between -- as a foreign policy colossus.
Both of these men, when untethered from their teleprompters, are prone to gibberish. Actually, I suspect that the president's Shanghai preposterosity appeared in the text rolling down his teleprompter. His speechwriters are as prone to the absurd as their boss. Nonetheless, President Obama is reputed in the media to be an orator of great gifts, and anyway, he is very charismatic. So apparently, the journalists are insensate as the gaffes, the howlers, the jaw-dropping exaggerations roll forth.
Sarah Palin is accorded no such dispensation. During the 2008 presidential campaign, in answering a foreign policy query by Katie Couric about Russia's proximity to the state of which Palin then served as governor, she was mocked for saying Russia is so close it can be seen from Alaska. Her explanation to Couric, whose face was contorted in disbelief, contained the perfectly sensible observation that Alaska and Russia share "a very narrow maritime border." That, and nothing further that the governor said was laughable. Still, the media laughed. The media did not laugh when Couric, at about the same time in the campaign, listened attentively to Biden claim President Franklin Roosevelt talked to a nonexistent television audience during the 1929 stock market crash, four years before Roosevelt was president and even more years before there was a television audience. Couric's respective countenance betrayed no evidence that she recognized that Herbert Hoover was actually then president or that a television audience was years from reality. Couric, too, is a booby.