Palin deserves better criticism

The Internet exploded this week after former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin mistakenly stated America needed to stand by its North Korean allies during a radio interview.

The remark, which came shortly after Palin said she might run for president in 2012, sparked a fury of criticism from her detractors.

The criticism of Palin, however, is totally unfounded. The remark circulated in a 58-second clip from a longer interview with Glenn Beck which sees Palin demonstrate a clear understanding of the difference between North and South Korea earlier in that same clip. Furthermore, once she misspeaks, Beck corrects her, she quickly agrees and they carry on.

This is not the same as her infamous, “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska” remark, which she argued had been taken out of context. That remark had no context– it was just a silly and ignorant statement.

Her latest gaffe is entirely forgivable. Palin’s camp replied afterward by posting a video of similar mistakes made by President Barack Obama. It’s obvious Obama, a constitutional scholar, doesn’t think there are 57 states (one of his more popular mistakes). Everyone misspeaks.

Palin’s supporters argue this is an example of liberal media criticizing her unfairly and they are right. If Palin’s detractors want to pick on her, they have plenty of other material to choose from. Her propensity for anti-intellectualism, her support of only “traditional” marriage, her utter lack of foreign policy experience or her flip-flopping on the notorious “Bridge to Nowhere” all come to mind as issues more worthy of criticism.

There are similarities between the recent ridiculing of Palin and criticism leveled at the Tea Party member Christine O’Donnell, who admitted to practicing witchcraft in high school. The media went wild with the disclosure, hammering O’Donnell. O’Donnell battled back, arguing that what she had or had not done in high school was irrelevant to her appropriateness as a political candidate and critics should focus on the issues. Her tactics worked and despite losing the contest for the seat in the House, O’Donnell solidified the small base that stuck with her and accrued huge amounts of campaign financing.

There are plenty of other ways to criticize Palin, there’s no need to settle on this simple mistake.

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