Sunken ships loosen bitter lips. The failed McCain campaign, for all its high-minded talk of honor, duty and courage, is now teeming with unscrupulous gossipmongers. Seems the dishy staffers forgot to crack open their copies of Sen. McCain's bestseller, "Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember."
Rest assured: Their cowardly character assassination of Sarah Palin won't be forgotten.
The finks turned to Newsweek and Fox News to spread petty rumors about Palin's intellect and character. The magazine peddled anecdotes from sources horrified that Palin greeted top advisers at her hotel room -- gasp! -- "wearing nothing but a towel" and "wet hair." Fox News reporter Carl Cameron breathlessly reported that his unnamed McCain sources told him Palin lacked "a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate" because, they claimed, she didn't know which countries were parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement and "didn't understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series, a country just in itself."
Let's assume for a moment that the McCain rumormongers are telling the truth about Palin (and I don't believe they are). Who would it damn more: Palin, or McCain and his vetters, who greenlighted her for the vice presidential nomination? Don't need a fancy Ivy League degree to figure that one out.
In introducing her to America, McCain praised her independence and backbone: She "stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down." The inside snipers are now roasting her for that very attribute -- redefined as "going rogue" -- because she had the nerve to try to schedule media interviews on her own. The nerve of her!
Palin's response to the campaign fragging? At a late Wednesday night airport press conference in Anchorage, immediately upon landing home after the election defeat, she smiled cheerfully. The Alaska governor shrugged off the "foolish things" said by the McCain saboteurs, and simply said, "It's politics. … It's rough and tumble and you've got to have a thick skin just like I've got."
Hollywood savaged Palin. Journalists mocked her. Liberal blogs slimed her. Opponents cursed her, Photoshopped her, hacked her e-mail, hanged her in effigy, called her bigot, Bible-thumper and bimbo, and attacked her husband and children. But nothing Palin endured during the election season compares to the treatment she's receiving from these backstabbing blabbermouths who worked on the same campaign she poured herself into over the last three months.
Sarah Palin worked her heart out. She energized tens of thousands to come out when they would have otherwise stayed home. She touched countless families. I didn't agree with everything she said on the campaign trail. But she vigorously defended the Second Amendment and the sanctity of life more eloquently in practice than any of the educated conservative aristocracy. And she did it all with a tirelessness and an infectious optimism that defied the shameless, bottomless attempts by elites in both parties to bring her and her family down.
Liberty needs a virtuous people to survive; self-governance requires virtuous leaders. "Knowledgeability" is a necessary trait in political life, but it is not sufficient. The elitist critics of Palin, so blindly enamored of Barack Obama's ability to hold forth for hours on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, ignored the Founding Fathers' counsel: Character counts. In times of adversity and crisis, it counts more than IQ points, instant trivia recall and bloviation skills.
"The most important thing I have learned, from my parents, from teachers, from my faith, from many good people I have been blessed to know, and from the lives of people whose stories we have included in this book," John McCain wrote in "Character Is Destiny," "is to want what they had, integrity, and to feel the sting of my conscience when I have risked it for some selfish reason."
John McCain not only failed to make that message stick with the electorate, he apparently couldn't persuade his own staff to heed his advice and practice what he preached.
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