Palin: the debate continues

Our discussion of Sarah Palin, which began in this thread yesterday morning, continues below.

John L. writes:

As a traditionalist I’m not sure yet how I feel about Governor Palin as a VP choice, but watching the news last night with my mother (a right-leaning liberal), I thought that Palin was a good strategic choice by McCain. It spikes the enemy’s guns on one of the chief battlefields, the media.

What were the weapons the media were planning to deploy to elect their candidate Obama? I see two. I believe they were going to call this election “historic” about a million times. Of course it would only have been “historic” if the black man won. We were about to endure months of snide comments from the media along the lines of, “Is America ready to elect a black man?” On the other hand, they were never, ever going to discuss his lack of experience or leftist background or boring old LBJ-style policies.

I heard a sign-off last night that was: ” … covering an election now guaranteed to be historic,” i.e. one of the top two spots is guaranteed not be held by a white man. Palin as VP will make all the sneers about “change,” and, “Is America ready?” seem empty quibbling, as some kind of historical change is now inevitable.

Journalists have to pretend to be objective, so they always carefully present both positive and negative aspects of whatever they talk about. So the journalists on the TV news last night just rushed along in their usual way, getting to the negative aspect, which was, obviously, Palin’s inexperience. My mother burst out, “But does Obama have any more experience?” Even the journalists acknowledged something like that. Their own habits and their left-wing leanings force journalists to point out the Republican VP’s chief flaw. But since that is identical with their Presidential candidate’s chief flaw, they can no longer ignore it. They’re forced to shoot themselves in the foot!

A woman with a Down’s syndrome child is also one of the pro-choice side’s favorite victims. They usually distract from the issue by coming up with sob stories—“you wouldn’t be such a meany as to force a woman with a Down’s baby to keep it, would you?”—since they can’t state their position openly. Imagine an abortion advocate saying that to the face of a vice-president who’s raising a Down’s baby; the cold cruelty hiding inside the supposed compassion of the pro-choice position would be revealed. Palin really interferes with the pro-choice side’s ability to frame the debate so that they appear to be the compassionate ones.

For those reasons it seems to me like a canny strategic choice by the old soldier McCain.

Randy writes:

The Republicans refuse to run on issues and principle. This leaves them nothing left but to run on “focus group” politics. The idea of making an issue of having experience (or lack of it) or being a Washington insider is ridiculous. Both parties use this to attack their opponents all the while ignoring the same in their own party. I would gladly have a Reagan or Goldwater in office for 50 years if they stuck to their principles. I would rather have a “no experience” political leader who has a traditionalist instinct for survival and an inherent respect for our country and Western civilization than a 20 year socialist, America-hating hack.

McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin is purely a political calculation, not based on principle. You see that from the “glass ceiling” comments. This will fail because McCain cannot run with Palin on principle because he is not a conservative. The press is going to have him chasing his tail. Why is the Obama lack of experience an issue that he has emphasized, yet not an issue with the Republicans? They will endlessly pick at the differences between his positions and hers. They will make Sarah Palin the female version of Dan Quayle.

McCain’s “outreach” to Hillary Democrats will fail. Palin will get votes for reasons other than just being the first woman. The whole idea that she will get Hillary’s women voters is stupid. What they want is a woman who is a whimpering, America and man-hating feminist. It is the same for the blacks. They only want an angry, white hating, Malcolm X, Marion Berry, or black panther type. They call people like Clarence Thomas or Colin Powell sellouts or Uncle Tom’s.

The Republicans should run on traditionalist, conservative principles and expose the Democratic left for the EVIL that it is. If the American people have abandoned those principles so be it. Liberal delusion and fantasy will fail and traditionalist reality will filter to the top. Whether the destiny of the United States is to decline and disappear from history or revive remains to be seen. But that is no excuse for not standing firm in your principles and keeping up the good fight.

Julius I. writes:

I wonder what her religious background is. This is perhaps one of the more important issues from my perspective. Some say she was a member of the Assemblies of God, while others say she was part of a “Bible church.” Another says she is a Lutheran.

Bible churches and wild organizations like the Assemblies of God are in large part responsible for the support of the neo-conservatives in the effort to bring about “Armageddon” in many cases, and their support of mindless militarism of the neo-cons.

I hope we can come to understand in detail her religious influences. I too was initially hopeful, but now I am dreading the likeliness that she is AOG and might hold their militaristic views.

LA replies:

According to Wikipedia, she’s a member of Assemblies of God.

Also, when she appeared with McCain yesterday and I saw her hair oddly piled on top of her head the way it is, I thought she looked eccentric, yet, despite the oddity, the whole effect “worked.” And now I see at Wikipedia that her birthday is February 11. So she’s born under Aquarius, the sign of eccentric individualism. (I discuss my views of astrology in comments in this thread.)

Carol Iannone writes:

It’s unfair to imply that she’s more experienced than Obama, or to counter charges of her inexperience with the assertion that he is inexperienced too. She has less experience on the national stage than Obama and he at least had to earn his way electorally to where he is now. She is just being picked and she’s an affirmative action choice. I think it’s an insult to the American people for the oldest presidential candidate to choose a running mate who is so obviously unprepared to take over should anything happen, which, after all is the chief purpose of the vice president. It makes the race for the presidency into a circus, in which each act tries to top the last. And to see Republicans surrendering so completely to the gender and personality ploy is demoralizing. But I think the excitement betrays how little many Republicans and conservatives really feel for McCain and how desperate they are to get fired up at all or to believe he’s on their side in one way or other, and how easily they are bought off. (And are women bought off just because a woman is on the ticket? Time was when Republican women would reject that idea handily.) Once in office, he doesn’t have to listen to her in any way, shape, or form, of course. And then, after all the excitement, we will soon be hearing the refrain, no one votes for the bottom of the ticket anyway. Once the fairy dust has worn off, they will be left with McCain, the man as is.

Allan Wall writes:

I really appreciate the fact that your site is dealing with the Sarah Palin V-P choice from a traditionalist perspective, it’s probably one of the only sites to do so. I was listening to Sean Hannity yesterday, who was just raving effusively about Palin. Of course, had McCain selected Jack the Ripper as his running mate, Hannity would have raved over it.

As for the strange names, that sort of thing is by no means limited to Alaska, many parents today seem to give as little thought to selecting a name for their children as they would to choosing a pseudonym on a chat site—maybe less. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

LA replies:

In modern culture, human beings are seen as flies of the summer, so nothing about them really matters, including their names.

Gerald M. of Dallas writes:

Politically, I must hand it to McCain; it’s a smart pick, perhaps a brilliant one. My initial impression of Palin is positive. She will get some of the hard-core Hillary supporters, just because she’s a woman, and she will get a lot of conservatives who have doubts about McCain but like her All-American, unashamedly patriotic family (unlike Obama’s) and conservative history. And yeah, she looks like a real person. If I could vote only for vice-president, I’d vote Palin.

But I can’t, and there’s the rub. We know McCain is our enemy. It’s McCain who becomes “King of the World” (so he thinks) if he’s elected in November. It’s McCain who will plunge us into more regime-changing, nation-building wars. It’s McCain who will open our borders to hordes of Third World barbarians (even more than they are now, that is).

And as much as Palin might impress me, as vice-president she won’t (and can’t) do anything to stop McCain.

As an aside, I agree with Ron L. (and Paul Nachman) that it’s way past time for the presidency to be devalued. We’ve had enough strutting emperors for a hundred years or so.

Richard P. writes:

You said:

“For the Republican party, the party of family values, to nominate a mother with young children for vice president is to send the message that it’s ok and desirable for women to make their career more important than caring for their children.”

Maybe the message being sent is that it’s OK to have children in the first place.

James W. writes:

I agree Palin will be helpless to dissuade McCain in governing from across the aisle. Still, it was always clear that conservatives were not indulging in the idea that McCain could be made less liberal, but rather were warning him that they would desert him if he dissed them one more time. It is good their expectations are very modest. I do not speak of the Hannity Kool-aide drinkers.

Ron K. writes:

That stomach-turning German (assuming he is German) Marc Pitzke who wrote the article in Der Spiegel should really look at his own country first.

Apparently screening for Down’s doesn’t take place until the third month—after which abortion is severely restricted in Germany. Perhaps Editrix could tell us if Down’s Syndrome constitutes the “medical necessity” required to allow abortions after that period.

At any rate, their vaunted state health insurance system (not “single-payer,” though) does not cover abortions, even early ones, according to Wikipedia’s page on “Abortion in Germany.”

Nowhere in Europe is abortion as liberal as it is in America or Canada. That’s because it’s decided in parliaments, not courtrooms.

LA writes:

Powerline had interesting responses yesterday to the Palin pick.

Initially, yesterday morning, Paul said he was “very disappointed that John McCain would put someone as inexperienced and lacking in foreign policy and national security background as Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

Then John looked at the bright side, showing various photos of Palin over the years as a 21 year old beauty contestant, a fisherman, gun user, snowmobile racer, indicating her qualifications as a real person with popular appeal.

Scott said he was also disappointed by the selection of Palin over Pawlenty, but then continued:

Watching the announcement of Governor Palin’s naming in Dayton, it strikes me that she may have the same kind of likability in her favor as Governor Pawlenty. Her personal story is compelling and she comes across as an authentic person. Standing next to John McCain on stage, Governor Palin looks like Mattie Ross to McCain’s Rooster Cogburn. They could make a good team.

Judging by our email, Governor Palin’s selection has electrified conservatives. I think this is in part because of the way she is living out the prolife credo. She sets a powerful and inspiring example. In part the excitement also derives from her stands against the corruption that has tarnished the Republican Party. It seemed unlikely that McCain’s vice presidential selection would at the same time excite party regulars and serve to attract independents, but it may well do so. Anyway, here’s hoping.

John then argues that Palin is not only an outsider nationally, but in Alaska as well:

So it is hard to imagine a more complete outsider, in terms of national politics, than Sarah Palin. She ran and was elected as a reformer, has governed successfully as such, and owes nothing whatever to anyone in Washington. Personally, I’m not as anti-Washington as many conservatives, but it would be just about unAmerican not to root for a rebel and outsider like Palin.

In all, Powerline’s disappointment did not last very long.

LA writes:

David Frum has stood apart from his ecstatic NRO colleagues in criticizing the Palin choice. He has an entry at his Diary summarizing and replying to the many critical e-mails he has received over his dissent on Palin.

N. writes:

I find it interesting that the “outsider” Gov. Palin is the only normal person on either ticket. Consider:

- She married her high school sweetheart, and then had children.

- She has worked on the family commercial fishing boat.

- She appears to have had a normal childhood.

- She hunts and fishes, not as some kind of statement, but because that is what normal people in Alaska do.

Contrast that with the bizarre world of Senator Obama, or with Senator Biden’s repeated beatings as a child and adolescent at the hands of his older sister, or with Senator McCain’s failed first marriage. At least McCain expressed remorse over that at Rick Warren’s interview.

Part of the appeal that Gov. Palin has for many Americans is quite simply that she appears to be a normal person, rather than a bizarre “citizen of the world,” creepy Washington insider with a weird and troubled past, etc. and so on. The hairdo, by the way, is likely a holdover from her past: a woman puts her hair up that way to get work done (say, on a fishing boat), to play basketball, or possibly as part of a beauty pageant. It’s is another bit of normality, too.

None of this is intended to endorse or criticize Gov. Palin, but rather to point to one source of the enthusiasm: she’s a normal human being, unlike pretty much everyone else we’ve seen in this election for some time. That is, to be blunt, quite a relief.

Terry Morris writes:

Here’s the subject line of an email I received yesterday from Dr. Dobson’s CitizenLink newsletter:

Dr. Dobson: McCain’s choice of Palin: “Outstanding.”


I don’t get the immediate display of enthusiasm among “conservatives” for this choice. Not only does she not have a political record to speak of, but nobody really knows anything of substance about her. Is it that they were just so dismayed and disgruntled by their nominee that McCain’s choice of a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-homosexual rights (female) running mate far exceeded all their expectations?

It seems like President Bush’s phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” could be easily customized to fit this situation.

LA replies:

It’s not true that she does not have a political record to speak of, and that nobody really knows anything of substance about her. The issue is whether she has the background to be president, not whether she has a political record to speak of.

Terry Morris writes:

Okay, she has a political record that consists of her time as governor of Alaska, and as mayor of the city of Wasilla (population: ten thousand).

You’re right about what the issue is. And in my opinion she definitely does not have the background to be president. But who does in this race?

LA writes:

A life-long Alaskan Democrat, posting anonymously at a website I can’t make sense of, called MyDD, warns Democrats not to dismiss Sarah Palin as a cute lightweight. Based on her come from behind crushing victory over the Alaska political estaliblishement two years ago, and her maintenance of 80 percent approval ratings, he says she’s formidable. That was certainly my first impression of her, though others, particularly conservative women, disagree and see her as a silly female chosen only to win the female vote.

August 31

LA writes:

A reader writes to the Corner:

To borrow from Ross Perot (not always a good idea), would you hire any of these people as a manager at your company?

Palin you’d offer the job to right away, and then you’d sweat until she accepted it.

McCain would seem like a decent choice, but wouldn’t make or break you either way.

You’d wonder how Obama possibly thought he was qualified, and you’d leave him to be hired by some other company where they fall for people who say all the right things.

And you’d be telling stories about Biden’s interview, and making jokes about it, for years.

Carol Iannone writes:

It may seem like a cheap shot but Sarah Palin really is a form of Viagra. I just heard a commentator on ABC say, joining with her has energized McCain again, he’s got his mojo back, there’s a smile on his face, a bounce in his walk, and so on! Good grief, it’s practically the scenario of those offensive commercials for male enhancing drugs!

LA writes:

In the “Sarah Palin” thread on Friday, Robert B. wrote:

Thought you might like these photos [of Palin with guns]. She is definitely my kind of woman. In fact, reading about her and gives insight into my own daughter’s future in a way—she scored a 100 percent on her gun safety test at age 12 and is, in fact, a great shot. She is also on her way to being a three time National Honor Society inductee and a two National Latin Exam perfect score honoree. I know how this woman was raised.

In response, I commented:

So, now we automatically approve of a person and assume she is a kindred spirit and represents our values, simply if she uses guns? Is that really enough to make us support someone politically? Robert B. is essentially begging politicians to press his buttons: “Post for a picture holding a firearm, and I’ll support you.” Please. We can’t allow ourselves to be swayed that easily. We need to look at the totality of a politician’s record.

Today a reader pointed out that I had had been dismissive of Robert. I saw he was correct, and wrote to Robert:

Re my comment to you, I did not mean to put down the way you like her and relate to her. I’ve said myself she’s a genuine and real person. I had an instant liking of her myself. I should have made that more clear. Also, guns are essential to American liberty and part of your emotional reaction to her was connected with that. I could have made my point about the need to avoid one-issue politics without being so dismissive of your comment. Sorry about that.

Where I was coming from was that we’re choosing a president and vice president, and I do feel that conservatives have gone somewhat overboard in their enthusiasm for her. I guess I’m an “anti-enthusiast.” I’m suspicious of enthusiasm. I want something more solid. At the same time, enthusiasm has its place, is sorely needed on the right, and should not be squelched when it appears.

Robert replied:

Yes, you were, and you failed to read fully what I wrote. This is a woman who was raised as I was—to some degree, and to some degree how I have raised my daughter. Which is to say, that both were taught to have a deep and abiding respect for the way of life that created and nurtured the America that others were allowed to migrate into. I come from ancestors who were both colonialists and pioneers. I put Alaskans into the category of Pioneers—those of Palin’s parents age—because it was a very rough and untamed wilderness and still mostly is. Make no mistake, it takes tough people to live in such an environment and they are seldom people to mess with.

Palin not only talks the talk, but she walks it—and walks it with the pride and certainty that can only come from knowing one is right. That sense of rightness can only come from being very well grounded in who and what you are—and that includes the traditions that she honors. This in turn can only come from parents who were well grounded and reared that child in a traditional manner—just like themselves.

This may seem simplistic to you, but speaking as one who has survived in the wilderness, hunted and fished for one’s food, was taught the right from wrong in the taking of this food and has successfully passed it on to my own children, I have to say, that there is much to be said for uniquely American tradition which was passed down to us from the colonialists and pioneers who were the de facto builders of this nation. There is a vast difference between those who know and honor their traditions and those with no history, no past and hence, no traditions.

Ray G. writes:

I agree with you, just first impressions but this woman seems pretty impressive (for a politician!) and not to put too fine a point on it, genuine and very archetypical—American. My wife and I watched a long, CNBC business network interview with her Friday night and she’s quick, articulate, and friendly. I mean, high school basketball star, beauty queen, city council-woman, small town mayor, then governor, all while having five children and also is into hunting, fishing and camping!

Let’s dump McAmnesty and go for broke with Sarah for President!

M. Mason writes:

With regard to candidates running for political office, it’s important to distinguish between their personal qualifications and professional qualifications. The spontaneous, visceral approval among conservatives with which Palin’s nomination was greeted was, it seems to me, due in large part not to her professional experience, but her life-experience. Many conservatives are less concerned with how large and impressive her political resume is than with her world-view, and the way she lives her conservative beliefs, day in and day out. And besides, they also like what they see in Palin’s thin resume more than what they see in the thick resumes of many others that McCain could have chosen. Frankly, there are a lot of voters out there who think that regular people from ordinary backgrounds like hers are the ones who should be holding high public office instead of too many of the sort of careerist, insider political hacks at the national level that we’ve had to endure over the years.

Andrew McCarthy over at The Corner has it exactly right when he says that compared to the liberal “numinous negro” fantasies rooted in white guilt that have been projected onto Obama,

The contrast to Sarah Palin couldn’t be more stark. Even if the only things we knew about her really were that she’d rejected the option of aborting her baby and owned guns, those would be concrete indicia of a conservative American life actually lived“…. “No one is asking you to assume Palin is wise due to something so irrelevant to wisdom as the color of her skin. You can make a reliable judgment about who she is, though, by the choices she has made when confronted by life’s highs and lows.

Other objections are being raised about Palin just because she’s a former beauty queen and ex-sportscaster. Well, so what? How is that disqualifying? Ronald Reagan worked for various radio small town radio stations as a young man, eventually becoming a play-by-play announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games, and as a movie actor he spent the majority of his Hollywood career in the “B film” division. I don’t imagine that there were a whole lot of professional career options in Alaska for someone with Palin’s obvious talents, energy and personal drive, so she wisely made the most of her limited opportunities, and eventually—as Reagan did—found her way into politics. In 21st century America you can’t dismiss a woman for that, and I think traditionalist conservatives make a mistake if they reflexively turn up their noses at Palin as a VP choice just because she’s a working mother or reject her out of hand because she doesn’t meet every other criteria of their stringent ideological white-glove inspection. We have to work with the reality of where our society is today and make progress in the right direction going forward. No, Palin isn’t the “perfect” choice for a number of reasons, but she’s principled, she seems to have sound judgment and is a fighter. It will be very interesting to see how the lady performs on the campaign trail during the next two months.

Dale F. writes:

Re Laura W’s comments about Sarah Palin’s seeming to put career before family, you write: “For the Republican party, the party of family values, to nominate a mother with a five month old baby for vice president is to send the message that it’s ok and desirable for women to make their career more important than caring for their children. This is a message that, at least as traditionalists understand, is harmful to the fundamental well being of society.”

This is a fair point.

However, there’s another way of looking at it. Maybe she’s putting country before (or at least right along with) family. How many times have Americans bemoaned the mediocrity of our presidential candidates? How many times have we wondered, why aren’t better people stepping forward?

Now comes a vice-presidential candidate who appears to be a traditionalist by upbringing, not by abstract philosophical conversion. Granted, coming of age as she did in the 1970s rather than the 1870s, she might not incarnate the traditionalism that some of us have in mind. But if there is a road from our present plight to a strong, vital, traditionalist America, I expect that road will be twisty and at times surprising.

Many unlikely people have risen to great occasions. I don’t know if Sarah Palin is such a one, but I hope so.

Robert B. writes:

Some conservatives seem to be forgetting that a great may of our heroes of old were elected for no better reasons—that they typified Americana in their lives—which is, after all, one of the best reasons to elect someone. Based upon the lives they have lived, one can approximate their response to future problems that might unfold. A lasting part of this Americana, for instance, is the notion of Andrew Jackson shooting (and killing) someone from the front porch of the White House. Davy Crocket who was elected to office because he was a frontiersman and a great shot. [LA replies: That’s a “notion” I’ve never heard. Of course Jackson was in gun fights, and carried the lead in his body from them for the rest of his life. I’ve been to the site of probably the most famous one of them, the very interesting historical town of Jonesborough, Tennessee. But Jackson certainly was not in any gun fight as president. That’s taking frontier legends too far.]

Likewise, Americans have always honored women who could “ride and shoot” like a man—doubly so if they were pretty. We honored these attributes because without them, we could not have survived and we certainly could not have became a great nation and a world power in less than 200 years. The idea of the woman who was as tough as man, but pretty to boot, may itself come from none other than Elizabeth I—a woman who dressed in armor and rode English style in front of her troops, rather than side saddle as most noble women did at the time. She was also a good shot—with both the bow and the musket. These were also attributes of Catherine the Great, you know.

In my own life, I did not choose my wife simply because of her expertise at skeet shooting—but, like the rest of her attributes, it was a compelling asset. A man likes a woman who can appreciate his interests, even more, one who can partake in them.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 30, 2008 02:50 PM | Send

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