Have American presidential politics become so hateful that a pregnant 17-year-old girl has to have the intimate details of her life exposed to the nation by character assassins? Ask the left-wing Internet haters, the anonymous propagandists who call themselves bloggers on the Daily Kos.
And ask Bristol Palin, who didn't deserve it, and was a victim of the rumor-mongers consumed with attacking her mother, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican running mate of Sen. John McCain, because the mother is a conservative and opposes abortion.
The Internet rumors claimed that Sarah's baby, Trig, born four months ago with Down syndrome, wasn't really hers but her daughter's. They plucked some photos from the Internet, photos out of sequence, to make it appear as though Gov. Palin hadn't been pregnant, proving once again that on the Internet, the casualties are credibility and civility. Reading it, you could almost hear the saliva dripping from their teeth as they typed anonymously.
Not all of them typed anonymously as Kass suggests. The Andrew Sullivans and Jen Wagners proudly put their names to their smears, but Kass hits the nail on the head in terms of his description of them. "I don't know if Komodo dragons can type, but their mouths are so full of bacteria that if they bite your leg you'll likely die," Kass writes. He reminds of us some advice he was given as a young reporter on the the children of politicians which he has always followed:
When I was just starting out as a reporter, a wise old newspaper man told me his rule: Don't ever write about their kids. Leave the kids alone, unless the child runs for office, or pulls down some fat government contract, or if the parent hauls them out as a shield before an indictment. Leave them alone, he said, because the kids don't deserve it, because they're civilians.Yes, the media double standard. It's easy to blame the hateful, "stop John McCain and the Republicans at any cost" folks for this ordeal, but we shouldn't forget where these rumors got their start. The Daily Kos. This has been Obama's go-to blog from the beginning. He even attended a little convention they held. When issues cropped up about his birth certificate, the Daily Kos obtained the first copy and posted it to deflect rumors. When document experts claimed the birth certificate was forged, a Daily Kos blogger came forward to accept responsibility. Unlike the Obama birth certificate story, however, the mainstream media refused to even check it out. With Palin's daughter, they were all over the story. The news media was set to run with stories about Palin's daughter's pregnancy whether she voluntarily acknowledged it or not.
I took that to heart. And I know what it's like to be on the receiving end. Some of you may remember that, years ago, white political thugs under federal investigation for city affirmative-action contract fraud—who had connections to both the mob and City Hall—asked me about my children. The thugs came up to me in a restaurant and asked why they never saw my little boys playing outside my house. They let me know they were interested in my kids.
The thugs showed me their teeth, as if smiling, but their eyes weren't smiling. It was a message. It didn't work, and I wrote about it. And I'll never forget the thousands of e-mails and letters and calls that came to me from readers, many offering to stand in my driveway and watch out for my sons. My wife and I will never, ever forget your kindness.
Flashback to Vice President Al Gore. His teen-age son was booted out of the prestigious St. Albans prep school for possession of pot. Laying aside the issue of how a young man surrounded by secret service agents and living in the Vice President's residence at the Naval Observatory acquired the illegal substance, not a single mainstream media news outlet reported on it, although the news was common knowledge in D.C. circles. Years later, as his father was running for president, the younger Gore was busted for possession of pot as an adult. Unfortunately, with the mainstream media today, the rule to leave the kids alone only applies to Democrats. Republican kids are always fair game. We learned every time Jenna and Barbara Bush had a drink. And now we learn about which of Sarah Palin's daughters is pregnant.