Palin Coward Clock Starts Ticking

Sarah Palin is an able liar, as her acceptance speech showed. She may be a coward, too, at least when it comes to facing down the reporters she blasted from the comfort of that solitary podium in St. Paul.

The McCain campaign has admitted to a ban on most press interviews for its largely unknown but popular running mate. McCain's aides are selling this highly unusual approach with rank contempt for the public. "Who cares?" laughed Nicolle Wallace, when pressed on why Palin won't take questions by Time's Jay Carney, on MSNBC. "But I mean, like, from who, from you?" she added, incredulous at the very idea of Palin taking questions from Time's Washington bureau chief. "Who cares? No offense," she added, "who cares if she can talk to Time magazine?" (Of course, it was Time's Jay Carney who had that "prickly" interview with McCain last week, which enraged his aides.) Booman Tribune reports the strategy in action this weekend:

The McCain campaign is literally going to try to sell Sarah Palin as a credible president without letting the press talk to her. For example, this Sunday, Barack Obama will appear on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," John McCain with be on "Face the Nation," and Joe Biden will be on "Meet the Press." Sarah Palin will be reading briefing papers in Alaska.

It's a big challenge for the press: scrutinize Palin without access and correct her falsehoods during an all-out partisan war on the media's coverage, including heated charges of bias and sexism. That's tough, even if you're not sympathetic to reporters. And then there's the troopergate investigation, where Palin is tapping her inner Cheney to duck investigators' questions. It doesn't look like Palin will tackle any tough questions, at least until the vice presidential debate, unless there is a political cost.

Journalists should report on this press blackout as news in itself -- it is a big deal that after 8 years of Bush-Cheney secrecy, the G.O.P. is running a VP candidate who won't even make a pretense of answering questions from the press or investigators -- and activists can make the blackout an issue. The Nation has learned that, for example, is launching a new "clock" counting how long Palin refuses to "talk to the press."

Ultimately, with proper coverage and pressure, voters can make a judgment about what Palin's actions as a candidate tell us about her character. She talks tough about reporters, but can't face them; she talks up government ethics, but won't answer an investigation under oath; she raves about her own pit-bull image on stage, but betrays a cowardice under actual pressure. In some ways, she is living out the very caricature that she drew of Obama last week -- all talk, no action -- coupled with the smug attitude of her predecessor, the sarcastic swagger and faux-populism of George W. Bush.

Ari Melber, a correspondent for The Nation, is traveling with the Obama campaign for The Washington Independent.