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Obama Was "Man of Experience" Before Winning, but Palin Still Has None

Adam Nagourney sneers about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's surprise retirement: "By stepping down before finishing her term, she cannot claim to be even a one-term governor." The Times was never bothered by the inexperience of Barack Obama, who was "not even a one-term senator."

Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney emphasized the negative in his Sarah Palin-based "Political Memo" on Sunday, "If Presidency Is Goal, Palin Has Chosen A Risky Route," suggesting that the Alaska governor, who ran for the vice presidency in 2008, has few political credentials toward making a possible presidential run in 2012.



By stepping down before finishing her term, she cannot claim to be even a one-term governor. Without a positive record of accomplishment as governor, Ms. Palin may find she has little to run on as she seeks to achieve a critical political goal: expanding her appeal beyond the conservative voters who crowd her rallies and write checks on her behalf.



Hmm. Let's compare. Barack Obama was a full-time senator for two years. He was sworn into the Senate in January 2005, launched his presidential campaign in January 2007, and resigned his Illinois senate seat after winning the presidency in November 2008 - two years before his term expired. But somehow Obama not being even a one-term senator never became a campaign issue for the Times, even though the paper often portrayed vice presidential candidate Palin as hopelessly green.



GOP-hostile Elisabeth Bumiller wrote this on September 4, 2008, after Palin's well-accepted acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention:



Ms. Palin's speech came afterRudolph W. Giulianiof New York launched a withering attack on Mr. Obama as part of a relentless assault by Republicans arguing that Ms. Palin, the former mayor of a town of less than 7,000 people who has been governor of Alaska for 20 months, had a more impressive résumé than Mr. Obama.



A series of Times reporters were only to eager to claim that Palin had no foreign policy experience, dropping all journalistic niceties to make their disapproval plain. After John McCain picked Palin as his running mate, Nagourney bluntly stated on August 31, 2008 that Palin "has almost no foreign policy experience and has been governor for just 20 months." Another August 31 story used the phrase "no foreign policy experience" to describe Palin.



Barack Obama, who was running for president, not vice-president, had no foreign policy experience either, but didn't get the same dismissive treatment. Quite the opposite. Far from probing Obama's inexperience in both legislative politics and foreign policy, Patrick Healy actually called Obama "a man of experience" after his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, at the end of a story in which one feared Healy would run out of superlatives:



[Hillary] Clinton once said that Mr. McCain had real experience while Mr. Obama's candidacy had been the sum of so many speeches. Mr. Obama's journey over the last 20 months has introduced him to many of the American archetypes - real people - that he described in this speech. On Thursday night, the speechmaker showed, in words, that he was also a man of experience, and a man who wanted to give something back to the people who gave it to him.



By that standard - campaigning equals experience - shouldn't Palin get credit for her experience of going through the rigors of a vice-presidential race, all while enduring far more negative media attacks that press favorite Obama? Not in the Times, apparently.