In separate articles stacked on the same page, reporter Katharine Seelye previewed the debating styles of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin on the eve of the vice presidential debate Thursday night. Here's the lead of her take on Palin:
Not since Dan Quayle took the stage in 1988 have debate expectations for a major party candidate been as low as they will be on Thursday for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
A newcomer to the national scene, Ms. Palin has given little indication that she has been engaged in a serious way in the pressing national and international issues of the day.
The Times has certainly questioned Palin's foreign policy experience more closely than they ever did the experience of another governor from a low-profile state - Arkansas - who ran for the presidency, not the vice-presidency, back in 1992.
On August 31, the day after McCain announced his surprise pick of Palin, chief political reporter Adam Nagourney wrote:
[Republican organizers} are aware that such criticism in a high-profile setting would provide an opportunity for Democrats to make the same charge against Ms. Palin, who has almost no foreign policy experience and has been governor for just 20 months.
Several Republican delegates said they too were shocked by the selection of Ms. Palin and, while they wished her well, were deeply concerned that she did not have the experience in foreign policy or national security to be commander in chief.
Another August 31 story, "Advisers Say Conservative Ire Pushed McCain Away From Picking Lieberman," used the same phrase, "no foreign policy experience," to describe Palin, andseveral other Times stories have pushed the same criticism.
Yet a Nexis search indicates that no Times reporter ever applied that phrase to Bill Clinton when he ran for president in 1992 after serving as governor of Arkansas, another small state. In 1992, the Times rarely brought up the matter of Clinton's lack of foreign policy experience unless directly quoting theBush-Quayle campaign. Neither have Times reporters ever tagged Barack Obama with the unflattering phrase. Is the Republican vice presidential candidate held to a higher standard?