The "Fraudulent...Fiction" of the McCain-Palin Ticket

Conservatives are happy, and columnist Frank Rich is spitting mad.

John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin has conservatives excited and columnist Frank Rich spitting mad at the "fraudulent" "fiction" from theRepublican Convention,as demonstrated in his weekly super-sized Sunday column, "Palin and McCain's Shotgun Marriage."

Some of the spittle Rich directed at McCain and Palin:

Even more fraudulent, if that's possible, is the contrast between McCain's platonic presentation of his personal code of honor and the man he has become. He always puts his country first, he told us: "I've been called a maverick." If there was any doubt that that McCain has fled, confirmation arrived with his last-minute embrace of Sarah Palin.

We still don't know a lot about Palin except that she's better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter's right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women. Most of the rest of the biography supplied by her and the McCain camp is fiction.

After a paragraph in which he unconvincingly strained to show that the party is misrepresenting Palin's experience and reform credentials, Rich asked:

How long before we learn she never shot a moose?

Then Rich put on some peer pressure byludicrously accusingMark Halperin, ajournalist withTime and ABC News of being a "surrogate" to McCain, twisting Halperin's standard-issue, what-McCain-should-do-in-his-speech post into a dastardly attack on a flawed Times' article on McCain's vetting process (in fact, Halperin hardly mentioned the Times article and suggested McCain back off from attacking the paper).

As The New York Times reported last Tuesday, Palin was sloppily vetted, at best. McCain operatives and some of their press surrogates responded to this revelation by trying to discredit The Times article. After all, The Washington Post had cited McCain aides (including his campaign manager, Rick Davis) last weekend to assure us that Palin had a "full vetting process." She had been subjected to "an F.B.I. background check," we were told, and "the McCain camp had reviewed everything it could find on her."

The Times had it right. The McCain campaign's claims of a "full vetting process" for Palin were as much a lie as the biographical details they've invented for her. There was no F.B.I. background check. The Times found no evidence that a McCain representative spoke to anyone in the State Legislature or business community.

And in a nugget that apparently fell from an interstice of the fifth dimension, Rich argued that the media has been soft on Palin, as the "talking heads marched in lock step last week to proclaim her a star."

America loves nothing more than a new celebrity face, and the talking heads marched in lock step last week to proclaim her a star. Palin is a high-energy distraction from the top of the ticket, even if the provenance of her stardom is in itself a reflection of exactly what's frightening about the top of the ticket.