The most offensive part of the onslaught was the attack on Palin's family, particularly the children. First, they claimed her Down syndrome baby was in fact her daughter's, and she and her husband were running a "cover-up." As if that was not enough, one caring Democrat on the Daily Kos suggested the baby was the result of incest (no facts needed, just make the charge).
Another fabrication was the assertion that Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party, a fringe group that advocates Alaskan secession. The truth according to the AIP is that she has never been a member of that party.
An astonishing hypocrisy was demonstrated by those who criticized Palin for running for vice president and not staying home to take care of her children. Nobody criticized Joe Biden for staying in the Senate after his wife and daughter were killed in a car wreck leaving his two sons without a mother.
In the same spirit, one enlightened commentator criticized her for having a hairdo that was 30 years out of date.
Alan Colmes, the Democrat half of Hannity & Colmes fame, blamed Palin for the Down syndrome outcome because she was working as governor and not taking good enough care of herself. Colmes clearly knows nothing about Down syndrome and could not be bothered to find out.
Then there is the husband's 20-year-old driving under the influence conviction; remember, he is not running for office. This got plenty of media attention even though that was about the same time that Barack Obama was snorting cocaine, an admitted indiscretion that has received absolutely no media attention.
Sarah Palin's experience and public service record are fair game in any political contest. Hence, her role in the firing of her ex-brother-in-law from the state police is a legitimate issue, although an officer who tasers his stepson gets my vote for dismissal.
On the other hand, I am not sure it is wise for the Democrats to bring up the experience issue. Given Barack Obama's limited experience and lack of legislative achievements, it seems imprudent to claim a sitting governor lacks experience.
We hear a lot about the "vicious right wing attack machine," "swift boating" and "divisive" Republicans from Democrats. Swift boating was about John Kerry's war record, an issue he put on the table by running on that record and, of course, it was about him and not his children. As for divisiveness, is going after someone's children the kind of bipartisan change Obama has in mind? Furthermore, how can Obama/Biden "bring us together" if they plan, as Joe Biden claims, to bring criminal charges against the Bush administration if they win the election? Will criminalizing politics make this a better country?
The Democrats have a penchant for politics by character assassination. They choose this option first, rather than as a last resort. It takes coherent ideas and programs to conduct politics based on the issues, their very personal attacks on Sarah Palin reveal they bring little substance to the table.
Bob Martin is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Centre College. Email: email@example.com.