It's been 24 days since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was introduced to the nation as Sen. John McCain's choice to be a heartbeat away from leadership of the Free World. And though McCain reassures all skeptics that Palin -- who got her first passport two years ago -- is "absolutely" prepared to be president, the way campaign officials have protected her from her press corps does not necessarily suggest that they hold her ability to handle such a routine event -- a press conference -- in high regard.
The Washington Post editorialized yesterday about this, writing that "McCain's selection of an inexperienced and relatively unknown figure was unsettling, and the campaign's decision to keep her sequestered from serious interchanges with reporters and voters serves only to deepen the unease. Mr. McCain is entitled to choose the person he thinks would be best for the job. He is not entitled to keep the public from being able to make an informed assessment of that judgment. Ms. Palin's speech-making skills are impressive, but the more she repeats the same stump speech lines, the queasier we get. Nor have her answers to the gentle questioning she has encountered provided any confidence that Ms. Palin has a grasp of the issues."
McCain, himself, was once the most accessible presidential candidate in modern history; he once pledged to hold weekly news conferences if elected president. But he, himself, has gone 40 days without taking questions from his press corps, his last media availability having been on Aug. 13 in Birmingham, Mich.
Early on in this campaign, before McCain began his media avoidance strategy, the McCain campaign would muse aloud about how relatively inaccessible Sen. Barack Obama was. Why was he afraid of answering questions? they would ask. Weren't we in the press corps insulted? Didn't the American people see how cowardly this was of Obama, the disdain it showed he had for accountability?