City Desk

WaPo Turns in Limp Palin Piece

Can't be a good day at the Washington Post's National desk. Five days after the New York Times turned in a whopper of a triple-bylined piece on Sarah Palin's tenure as mayor and governor in Alaska, the Post puts forth its own triple-threat presentation, courtesy of Amy Goldstein, Kimberly Kindy, and Steven Mufson.

The first tipoff on the mediocrity of this story comes from the headline: "Palin Attuned More to Public Will, Less to Job's Details." Hold on a minute–sure this isn't a biography of W.?

And hold on another minute: The first tipoff on the mediocrity of this story actually comes from its placement, on page A04.

Then come all the platitudes, in big paragraphs:

The episode in April over the license fee, which went from $100 to $50, illustrates central aspects of Palin's style of governing during her 21 months as Alaska's chief executive. According to lawmakers, senior gubernatorial aides and others who have watched her closely, the woman chosen by Republican Sen. John McCain as his vice presidential running mate has little interest in political give-and-take, or in sustained working relationships with legislators or other important figures around the state. Nor has she proven particularly attentive to the details of public policy. "She's not known for burning the midnight oil on in-depth policy issues," said Larry Persily, a former journalist who was associate director of the governor's Washington office until the spring.

And:

With her independent streak and her method of governing by leveraging her popular appeal, some who know Palin wonder privately how she would adapt as second-in-command in a McCain administration. Others can envision a natural role she might play. "She is going to be the deliverer of the message," said Bitney, who is now chief of staff to the state House speaker, "as opposed to sitting down and hashing out the war strategy for the Mideast."

Ah yes, the old "some...others" dyad–one of the sure signs that your piece is headed nowhere. And the balance of the piece doesn't disappoint, dishing out a large dose of background on Alaska and other observations about the vp nominee's political style.

There is, to be sure, a sweet tale of Palin working two BlackBerries in the middle of an important meeting.

So the battle of the titans on Palin's Alaska record continues. To recap the fight: The Post scored early with pieces on an investigation into whether Palin improperly pressured a state public-safety official and on her collection of per diem expenses while staying at her home. Then came this exchange of three-bylined pieces.

Let's hope the two outlets keep swinging–Alaska politics, after all, make for fun reading.

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