Compare and Contrast

Every word that Governor Sarah Palin utters is flyspecked by the mainstream media, in hopes that they can find something wrong with it. As a result, almost every day we see a news story about some alleged misstatement by her. Today the Associated Press headlined, “Campaign tries to explain Palin’s Putin comment,” the implication being that Palin has once again put her foot in her mouth, and the McCain campaign is engaged in a futile effort to “explain” her error.

The story goes back to Governor Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, in which she talked about Russia’s proximity to Alaska. Palin said:

When you consider even national security issues with Russia, as (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where — where do they go? It’s Alaska.

The AP has apparently been digging ever since, and they’ve come up with this:

Gov. Sarah Palin cites vigilance against Russian warplanes coming into U.S. airspace over Alaska as one of her foreign policy credentials. But the U.S. military command in charge says that hasn’t happened in her 21 months in office.

The spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, Maria Comella, clarified in an e-mail to The Associated Press that when “Russian incursions near Alaskan airspace and inside the air defense identification zone have occurred … U.S. Air Force fighters have been scrambled repeatedly.”

The air defense identification zone, almost completely over water, extends 12-mile past the perimeter of the United States. Most nations have similar areas.

However, no Russian military planes have been flying even into that zone, said Maj. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the Alaska region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

If you didn’t know better, you might think that the AP is on to something. First, though: what do you think the chances are that Major Herritage called the Associated Press to tell them the Russians haven’t been flying into our air defense identification zone? I’d say zero. The AP’s tireless researchers were on the case, investigating this sentence as, I think it’s safe to assume, they tried to get the goods on every sentence that Governor Palin uttered in the Couric interview.

The teapot tempest continues:

What Palin might have been referring to was a buffer zone of airspace that extends beyond the 12-mile strip. Although not recognized internationally as America’s to protect, the military watches it.

That zone is where there has been increased Russian bomber exercises — about 20 incidents in the last two years. When Russian bombers enter that expanded area, sometimes called the outer air defense identification zone by the military, U.S. or Canadian fighter jets are dispatched to check them, Herritage said. …

Herritage said Air Force officials discussed with Palin instances of Russian planes entering the buffer zone and the U.S. response during their annual statehouse briefing in February.

So, worst case, Palin said “the airspace of the United States of America” when she should have said “the buffer zone of airspace of the United States of America.” That’s the bottom line of today’s attack by the Associated Press. This has nothing to do, of course, with the point she was making:

“The point she was making is that the geographical location of Alaska has unique attributes. This doesn’t happen to many states in the union,” [Palin foreign policy adviser Steve] Biegun said. “Her point was that she’s pretty up close to some of the big issues of international affairs.”

So the Associated Press went a long way for nothing, as it does just about every day where Palin is concerned. One can’t help wondering, though: why doesn’t the AP–or the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or CNN, or CBS, or NBC, or ABC–devote the same energy to trying to get the goods on every sentence uttered by Barack Obama?

The fact is that Obama constantly shades the truth in his public statements, and he often violates it entirely. Let’s take just one of many examples, which we highlighted earlier this month. Obama released an ad in which he claimed that as a member of the United States Senate, he “”reach[ed] out to Senator Lugar…to help lock down loose nuclear weapons.”

This was, to put it bluntly, a lie. Obama didn’t reach out to Senator Lugar; that was done by Georgia’s Sam Nunn years before Obama was elected to the Senate, in the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act. What Obama did was offer a minor amendment to that statute in 2006. But Obama’s amendment had nothing to do with “lock[ing] down loose nuclear weapons.” On the contrary, Obama’s amendment by its terms dealt only with “conventional weapons.”

Obama’s fibs in this ad went straight to the heart of his candidacy for the Presidency. Obama is underqualified for the office, in part because he has so few legislative accomplishments to his name. Obama has been in the Senate for only a short time, but even for a freshman Senator, he has a thin record. He tried to burnish his sub-par credentials by claiming, falsely, that he played a key role in “locking down nuclear weapons” around the world. But this was a lie: he did no such thing.

Obama’s representation was not just material, it was central to his effort to overcome the biggest problem in his campaign, the fact that he really has no qualifications for the Presidency. One wonders, then, why the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the television networks haven’t researched Obama’s claim and written articles explaining why it’s false.

Maybe it’s because they have so many reporters working on discrediting Governor Palin that they don’t have any resources left over to look into the accuracy of Barack Obama’s campaign claims. That would be the charitable interpretation. But it can’t be right, because they don’t have to do any research: we’ve done it for them, and they all read this site. So the explanation must be…I don’t know…something else.

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