A war of words

Media hold conservatives to unfairly different standards on speech

It had come, sadly, to this: After conservative Sarah Palin mistakenly morphed the word "repudiate" into "refudiate" in a recent Twitter post, CNN thought it to be such an important story that it consulted
a Shakespearean scholar as one of the sources for their story.

Palin tried to lightly laugh off the kerfuffle basically by saying, hey, William Shakespeare coined words in his plays, so what's the big deal?

Instead, media took that comment seriously -- too seriously. Now reporters and talking heads are asserting that Palin has compared herself to the Immortal Bard.

To borrow from A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

Compare the breathless fervor of media outlets covering Palin's linguistic misstep to the snail-like speed with which the media covered such gaffes as President Obama claiming to have visited 57 states, or Joe Biden dropping the execrable "f-bomb" into conversation on more than one occasion.

Or Obama referring to a military corpsman as a "corpse-man." Or Biden asking an aide for the "website number" for a site monitoring stimulus spending. Or Obama's assertion that "Austrian" is a language (Austrians speak German). Or Biden telling a campaign crowd in 2008 that "jobs" is a three-letter word.

Guess what: It happens. Politicians on both sides of the aisle can say -- and have said -- a lot of silly and offensive things that make them sound a lot less intelligent than they are. And it's deplorable the way the media pounce on conservatives for such matters, while giving barely a sniff toward equally deserving liberals.

But the way that media are jumping on Palin perhaps shows in stark relief how terrified the left is of her presence in politics. She's likable. She embraces conservative values shared by legions of voters. She galvanizes people. And you don't need the intelligence of a Shakespeare scholar to know that Democrats just can't stand that.

For every molehill inadvertently left behind by Palin, there doubtless will be someone in the mainstream media to try to mold it into a mountain.

But in the long run, that exercise is -- how did Shakespeare put it in Romeo and Juliet ? -- a "wild-goose chase."

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