British Press Wrinkles Nose at Palin Pick

Barely masked disdain defines foreign media coverage of campaign twist.

ByABC News
August 30, 2008, 1:47 PM

Aug. 30, 2008 -- The British papers and online commentators are having a field day with the story of Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The Times of London ran these headlines: "Mother of five Sarah Palin ignites race for White House," "Gun-toting beauty queen aiming to be the vice president" and "The mum who's running for vice president."

The British press is usually more restrained when characterizing its own politicians. It's not that Brit leaders don't get insulted in the papers, but the editors, in a general news story, which is supposed to be unbiased, are generally careful to attribute the insult to a rival politician.

Yes, British commentators and editorial writers express direct opinions about their politicians, and even insult them, in the nicest possible taste of course. But when it comes to heaping scorn and implied ridicule upon American politics and culture, the old British insecurities about playing second fiddle to their former colony can often rise to the surface in the form of knee-jerk cynicism.

The Times, in its "tiresome supermom" piece, pretty much implied that Palin is too well-rounded as a person. Check out this Times quote: "The U.S. media and blogosphere is calling Sarah Palin a 'brilliant' pick for John McCain's running mate, yet it all smells a bit too cynical.

* Young - TICK

* Female - TICK

* A mum (of five) - TICK

* An outsider - TICK

* Hunts and shoots - TICK

* Against abortion and same-sex marriage - TICK

* Has mixed-race credentials (her husband is Yup-ik Eskimo) - TICK

She is less a running mate, more a collection of polling qualities."

The Guardian played it more or less straight. Their main online headline: "McCain moves to steal Obama's thunder by choosing woman running mate."

By the way, do people really speak that way? Can someone tell me why headline writers still use words like "move" to describe something like "decide" or "tries to steal thunder?" And what real person would say something like "I'm in a 'bid' for that nomination"?