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Palin-Bashing, Euro-style

10:21 AM, Sep 29, 2008 • By ULF GARTZKE
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If you think it's just the mainstream American media that are strongly biased against Governor Sarah Palin you need to take a look at Palin's press coverage on the other side of the Atlantic. Journalists and commentators in Europe have now gone completely negative on John McCain's female running mate.

Germany's influential Der Spiegel provided two examples of the anti-Palin sentiment gripping the press. The first Spiegel Online piece, titled "Palin chit-chats herself into world politics"--the difficult-to-translate German title "Palin plauscht sich in die Weltpolitik" is even more condescending--mocks Sarah Palin's recent trip to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. In essence, Der Spiegel argues that Palin's "crash course in foreign policy" left her completely clueless, forcing the Alaska Governor "to chit-chat with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the meaning of the name of his son Mirwais" (which, as we learn, translates to "Light of the House"). While the German magazine admits at least that the press was only privy to the first 29 seconds of the Palin-Karzai bilateral, it should be a no-brainer that there is nothing wrong in opening a first-time meeting with a visiting foreign dignitary from an allied country with some "get-to-know-you" conversation. The correspondent unfairly casts judgment on Sarah Palin Palin after 29 seconds into her meeting with President Karzai.

Then, to top the day off, Spiegel Online also posted a photo album titled "http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-35189.html#backToArticle=5... target=_blank>America's Power Women: Wise Letters and Dead Caribous" covering 13 U.S. female political leaders ranging from, inter alia, Abigail Smith Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin. The article portrays all the women very favorably, with the exception of Sarah Palin. Eleanor Roosevelt is lauded for her diplomatic skills. Then, Der Spiegel refers to Jackie Kennedy's as representing the descendent of French nobility in U.S. politics. She is praised for her "feminine and elegantly shaped body"; and is described as a "strong contrast to Sarah Palin, whose world was not shaped by either books or dresses but by hunting rifles" (the photo features Sarah Palin and one of her kids kneeling right next to a bloodied Caribou that she just shot while hunting). This is at least partial nonsense. At a minimum, what the Spiegel folks conveniently overlook is the fact that Sarah Palin's life, by her own account, has been shaped above all by what is in Germany generally referred to as "the book of books", i.e. the Bible. Furthermore, notwithstanding the sexist nature of the news magazine's contrast between Jackie Kennedy's elegance and Sarah Palin's supposed lack thereof, it is ironic that Palin was the only woman on the Spiegel list to have actually won a real-life beauty pageant.

Finally, Der Spiegel hails Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton as "standing in the tradition of an enlightened feminism" (needless to say, the photos of the two women show them elegantly dressed walking on-stage to cheering crowds of Democratic supporters). Of course, Der Spiegel just throws out the feel-good label of "enlightened feminism" without defining it. In the end, Der Spiegel's failure to acknowledge that Sarah Palin is a strong, take-charge woman who gets things done, did away with corrupt old-boys network in her home state, and is now trying hard to break one of the last remaining "glass ceilings" in America is blatantly unfair.