Our View

Forget the lipstick

The complete scope of the absurdity surrounding the media coverage and campaign treatment of Sarah Palin’s run for vice president is so vast it is difficult to express in mere words. So here’s another take – let’s apply the same kind of attention Palin gets to her Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

Round one: Eager to inform voters on the issues that affect them most, CNN focuses its first stories after Barack Obama announces his choice of running mate on Joe Biden’s fashion choices. It spends hours on end interviewing male voters smitten by Joe’s smile and desperate to find stores that sell imitations of his donkey-shaped cufflinks. MSNBC goes a different direction and brings on experts to chat about how much he looks like Tom Hanks and who should, of course, play him in the inevitable feature film about his drama-filled life.

Round two: Still talking about Tom Hanks, the national media latches on to Joe’s family after discovering that a 1972 car accident killed his wife and 13-month-old daughter and injured his two young sons. Joe was actually sworn into the U.S. Senate at their bedsides in the hospital, leading the media to report on how Americans doubt his ability to both lead and care for his family. Failing to find enough voters with that fear, CNN brings on pundits to speak for them. The 24-hour news outlets then spend the next day looking up obscure facts about his wife and analyzing what they mean to his candidacy.

Round three: Attention turns back to the first strain of the ever-contagious superficiality-ruling discussion, but now with stories about how Joe’s personality has won over voters who don’t give a second thought about his qualifications. The Obama campaign starts printing signs that read “Bobcat with cologne” for men to wave at rallies. Blogs around the world incorrectly report that Joe would be the 45th man to be elected vice president (he would actually be the 47th) should his ticket win.

Round four: Bloggers discover that Joe has not always been loyal to men, as was assumed of him given the fact that he is a man. In the meantime, the campaign continues to use Joe as a talking point, bringing up his gender at every possible opportunity in hopes that men will vote for someone of their kind.

Round five: Remembering that the vice president is “a heartbeat away from the presidency,” people start talking about Joe’s education and political experience. The media halfheartedly look for answers, which the Obama campaign, happy to ride Joe’s wave of popularity to the White House, decline to give, instead keeping Joe’s media appearances to photo ops.

Round six: After a mostly disappointing presidential debate, Joe’s opponent does the nightly news rounds to discuss the results while Joe declines invitations to speak.

Round seven: The nation braces for the one and only vice presidential debate – the only chance voters will have to compare the two major candidates – with an uneasy feeling of anticipation. No one knows what to expect, because Joe has been a posterchild for his month as a candidate, instead of a voice in his own right.

Unless more voters get more access to Joe, the country faces the possibility of a vice president (and maybe someday president) who was elected based on face value, with no promise of how he would perform and the choices he would make.

But let’s get back to reality.

Stop the nonsense. We must go beyond the lipstick, but not beyond the issues. Demand that Sarah Palin be treated like a real candidate – we deserve a chance to know who we’re voting for or against.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.