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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

CAI readers and writers, it’s a pleasure to guest contribute.  I feel compelled to start a discussion inspired by this portion of a recent interview of former Alaskan governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin that a friend shared with me.

I have no specific comments except for a great fear and confusion as to what the cuss Sarah Palin is thinking.  Is President Obama’s lack of ‘toughness’ the root of his failing support in America?  Palin didn’t back up those statements with any response from the people on that particular issue, she simply began talking about the Tea Party.

I am not of the persuasion that the rest of the world ought to necessarily influence American politics, but the last thing the other members of the UN want is for President Obama to follow the lines that Sarah Palin suggested he might in order to be re-elected.  The reason is not because the UN wants to necessarily weaken America, but every war that America starts (some may say that Iraq and Afghanistan were wars initiated by America’s enemies, which is debatable, especially in Iraq) causes a greater degree of global instability.  And say President Obama did declare war on Iran (a possibility which I will admit is rapidly approaching with every new missile factory that Iran builds), where would the thousands of Iranian and neighbouring refugees go?  This is just one example of the many repercussions that Europe faces in light of America’s decisions.

What’s going on here?

See the full transcript here.

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You may have heard the news about Sarah Palin saying that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel should be fired for using offensive language when he called some other democrats, “f***ing retarded”.  Mrs. Palin is upset because of the use of the word retard in any context.  She explained:

Just as we’d be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the “N-word” or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities — and the people who love them — is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.

While I can appreciate her sensitivity in this situation it is, among other things, a political dart she is firing… and not an effective one.  Just as Jesus said of those without fault casting the first stone, so I would wonder if she or any of her staff have never used the terms: stupid, dumb, idiot, or moron?  These are all epithets that can describe actual clinical conditions.  But guess what, the word fat can have connotations and cause offense to people who are fat.  I can imagine that we all have examples of where offense or politically correct behavior has annoyed or even infuriated us.  And so while we can dimly see where people are coming from in their offense to certain terms, we most often do not change our lives around them, knowing well that most every word in the English lexicon could somehow be construed as out of bounds.

My point is not that Palin should not be offended, she most certainly has the right to, and I’m sure her closest friends would never dare or wish to use that word… even in jest.  But as I stated, I think she is after something political here, and not something of moral value.  She cannot truly hold the opinion that the Chief of Staff should be fired for saying what he said.  Surely she knows what kind of language is used behind closed doors… even perhaps by G.W. Bush?

I am aware that my friends and I use words that very likely would offend members of society… even family.  I use the word gay to describe many things that I think are uninteresting to me, or out of sorts… yet I have homosexual family members and friends.  I use the word retarded, and yet am affiliated with a company that works with students with learning disabilities.  Just as with many things of this nature, I think it is always best to look at intent… as far as is possible.  When Rahm Emanuel was berating his colleagues, was he literally thinking that they were of the nature of a child with Down syndrome?  No.  If my wife asks me if I want to read the Twilight series and I say that’s gay, does that somehow imply that I think homosexuals are preternaturally drawn to teen-vampire drama?  No.

Words have meanings, and the meanings have different effects on people.  We can and should be aware of certain contexts – even if you think saying fuck is cool, maybe you don’t drop that bomb in sunday school.  So Rahm can make his apology, and be sincere in doing it, even if he returns to using that word again… but Palin is barking up the wrong tree in proposing he be fired.

MARK ADDS:

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Expressing my objective journalistic intentions with this favourable press shot of Mrs Sarah Palin

Former Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been the primary topic of discussion (courtesy of Mark) in three different posts on Criticism As Inspiration thus far:

I have remained rather silent (for the most part) regarding my specific views of Sarah Palin.  One might assume that because I typically espouse views that lean toward the left to varying degrees that I despise Palin on the grounds that she is a conservative.  That is simply not so.  Frankly, there are plenty of conservatives that I am far less irritated by.  It is not my goal to lay out with great detail why I have this distaste for Palin, but I will mention several specific things, beginning with the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and inspired this post.

Just this week President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  Sarah Palin was interviewed by USA Today regarding his acceptance speech.  Several news outlets (including USA Today) have expressed shock at Palin’s comment, “I liked what he said.”  Unfortunately this comment was quickly overshadowed and devoid of all value with the follow-up comment:

I thumbed through my book quickly this morning to say ‘Wow!  That really sounded familiar.’  Because I talked in my book too about the fallen nature of man and why war is necessary at times.

Of course.  I must make sure that this is known: my grievance has nothing to do with my negative view of war.  I could criticise that (and I do, not only against Palin, but also President Obama), but I must acknowledge the very broad acceptance of ‘Just War Theory’ (which was espoused both in Obama’s acceptance speech and Palin’s comments).  The issue that I take with Sarah Palin’s comments revolve around her self-referential statements, which have become extremely familiar.  Ever since she emerged onto the national political scene and into public’s eye it seems as if she has been shamelessly selling herself – and it’s getting really old.  Palin went on to say that President Obama should behave more like President George W. Bush.

We have to stop those terrorists over there…We’ve learned our lesson from 9/11.  George Bush did a great job of reminding Americans every single day that he was in office what that lesson is.  And, by the way, I’d like to see President Obama follow more closely in the footsteps of George Bush and [Bush’s] passion keeping the homeland safe, his passion for respecting – honoring our troops.

I can hand the benefit of the doubt to Palin and assume that this interview was rather off-handed, but could she please use slightly more sophisticated language when speaking about such serious issues (“those terrorists over there…”).  She speaks so vaguely.  What lesson did American learn from 9/11 and how did President Bush do a “great job of reminding Americans [of that lesson] every single day that he was in office”?  I am not necessarily disagreeing with her statement, but I want to know what she means.  I suspect (as evidenced from her interviews and writing) that she doesn’t mean anything, it’s simply her default: empty rhetoric.  Also, how does President Obama fall short of Bush’s supposed passion for “keeping the homeland safe,” and “for respecting – honoring our troops.”?  Once again, maybe he does fall short (though I doubt one could really make a case for that), but how?  Sarah Palin is not here to answer these questions (though Mrs Palin, if you’re reading, please feel free to enlighten us with responses), so I’ll move onto another recent irritation…

In a radio interview last week Palin was commenting on the recent news that former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used poor judgment nearly a decade ago in his granting of clemency to a convict who went on to murder four police officers.  Palin commented,

It was a bad decision obviously, but my heart goes out to Huckabee.  I love him, and I feel bad for him to be in this position.  But I feel even worse for the victim’s families in this situation.  I do feel bad for Huckabee, but it was a horrible decision he made.

Way to stab Huckabee in the back while giving him a hug?  In typical Palin fashion she went on to make sure that the listeners knew that during her gubernatorial service she never once pardoned or granted clemency to prisoners.

I don’t have a whole lot of mercy for the bad guys, I’m on the good guys’ side.

It’s strange for Palin to compare her two-and-a-half year service as governor Alaska to Mike Huckabee’s 10+ year service as governor of a state with more than four times as many people as Alaska.  But strangeness aside, she did it and will continue to make statements like it.  Also, it’s good to know that Sarah Palin is on the “good guys’ side.”  We need more of the Bush-era absolutist ‘good vs. evil’ talk.  I am not denying the existence of absolute goods and evils – they most certainly exist.  What I am saying is that one ought to exercise a little caution and humility when placing other people (and even ourselves) into those two categories.

In the same interview Palin was asked about her political future.  She didn’t rule out the possibility of running as an independent in the 2012 election, stating,

That depends on how things go in the next couple of years…There are enough Republicans who are realizing, ‘Oh whoops, some of us liberal Republicans have screwed up.’  And I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up.  If the Republican Party gets back to that base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there’s not going to be a need for a third party, but I’ll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years.

Once again, Palin barrages the interviewer with folksy, inarticulate language, vague statements and self-referential moral absolutism (“I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up…”).  How have “liberal Republicans screwed up,” and what does it mean for the Republican Party to get “back to that base.”?

I’m not suggesting that Sarah Palin thinks that she is perfect, but she is trying really hard to sell herself as such – morally unscathed, fighting tirelessly for the average American! When President Reagan didn’t have an answer he would respond with humility, yet confident in the conservative principles that he embodied.  Like him or not, Reagan was true to his well-established core values.  Palin is a very different story.  The self-referential image she so desperately seeks to sell (her vastly [and terrifyingly] popular memoir is called Going Rogue – how many ‘rogues’ do you know and how many of them are self-professing rogues?) seems pathetic and empty.

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Victor Davis Hanson has some advice for Sarah Palin, but also a little reflection on her time in the spotlight.  In his summation he states:

While we rightly argue that the Sarahs of the world, if they are to be taken seriously as leaders, must read and study more, why do we not also suggest that the Baracks of the world could do a little more chain-sawing, run a coffee shop for a summer, or drive a Winnebago cross-country? (Who knows, he might meet a fellow woodcutter who knew there were 50 states or that it was dumb to make fun of the Special Olympics.)

The salt-of-the-earth vs. coastal elites is a theme that Hanson plays on often, and one that I go back and forth on myself.

I’d written here and here about Palin and people’s reaction to her and how though I was/am not a fan, I also don’t despise her as some do.  However it appears she has aspirations of sticking around as a national figure now that she has been elevated to that level, so it remains to be seen if time helps or hurts her perception.

So maybe it’s time for another poll!!

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Palin – In Reflection

Yuval Levin writes a very interesting piece examining Sarah Palin’s presence in this last election.  A very reasonable and interesting reduction of why she was loved and hated by many.  I highly encourage you to read.  Much more level-headed than the creator of this image–

A well founded argument

A well founded argument

I wrote here about Palin and my curiosity at the behavior directed toward her.  Levin’s article does much to shed light on that.

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As an aside, here’s a quote from Levin’s article that I found to be an apt summation of the political parties:

The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism. Republicans tend to identify with the traditional values, unabashedly patriotic, anti-cosmopolitan, non-nuanced Joe Sixpack, even as they pursue an economic policy that aims at elite investor-driven growth. Democrats identify with the mistreated, underpaid, overworked, crushed-by-the-corporation “people against the powerful,” but tend to look down on those people’s religion, education, and way of life.

(HT: Powerline)

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Palin Derangement Syndrome

Ever since John McCain announced that Sarah Palin would be his running mate there has been an enormous amount of coverage on this woman.  Many conservatives (not pundits, but regular Joe’s) loved her, most liberals hated her.  Most of the criticism came in the form of mocking her small town hickish ways and disparaging of having a person like this be in line for the presidency.  And now (I am behind on this, I guess this is actually a few days old) there is a rumor going around the media, and most likely started by republican McCain staffers themselves, stating that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent and not a country.

From everything I have read, this clearly seems like a senseless smear on her for some sort of undefined gain – considering she is no longer running for office.  I put zero stock in its veracity, but if by some reason it was determined to be true, then there is no defense for that sort of ignorance.  And that is one of the very reasons it must be false.  This woman is not an imbecile.  She was governor of the largest state in the union and dealt in all sorts of civic and national programs that would require a modicum of intelligence that having a fourth-grade education would have required, and she clearly succeeded in them… hence, she must know that Africa is a continent.  I would wager that if someone heard something that they then started a rumor about, it most likely was a slip of the tongue.  It’s the fact that the media has so quickly adopted this as some sort of fact about Sarah Palin that disturbs me.  John McCain accidentally (and quite funnily) referred to Barack Obama as Senator Government.  Bwwaaah, look at McCain he doesn’t know his opponents own name!  Seriously, if this is the best people can come up with, then it’s time to get into a different game.

But this brings up another point.  This type of smear is typical of what was being portrayed about Palin.  That she was ignorant and small town.  Unworthy of national office.  Victor Davis Hanson gave a speech at BIOLA not long ago (sent to me by Pete) and during it he criticized the elitism of education as evidenced by the failures of these numerous investment banks lately and the educational background of those running them.  Our country’s recent political history is almost solely made up of men and women with illustrious degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford and elsewhere.  And yet aren’t these the same people who get involved in scandals, take money from lobbyists, make bad decisions, and in some cases kill their dates?  What would be wrong with someone like Sarah Palin, with a normal education, a non-fancy degree, and a typical life filled with issues, being vice-president, or even president?

It’s disappointing to hear about these new rumors going around about her, and only adds to my dismay at the way she was treated during the campaign.  Sarah Palin is not my ideal, and neither was John McCain… but to attack a person and portray them as dumb simply because they come from a ‘backwoods’ town and didn’t graduate from Cornell is disturbing, and even more elitist than I can stand – and we know I put up my share.

UPDATE: To show how quickly people want to embrace stories, before they are vetted, here is a link on how MSNBC and others were duped by people pretending to be the leak on the Palin story.  (This doesn’t debunk the Palin controversy, but just shows that news is most often assumed true nowadays before being investigated.

AND MARK ADDS:  And remember dear readers (including my glorious brother), this post is not defending Palin as a VP candidate, but is stating that I believe that when push comes to shove she knows a continent from a country.

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