Conservative says my writings about Palin have been shameful and disgusting

I’ve received this comment from one of the contributors at the conservative Christian weblog, What’s Wrong with the World:

From: Steve Burton
Subj.: Shame on you

Yuval Levin is right. This has been a shameful week for the press. And for you, too, joining with them in their disgusting attack on Sarah Palin and her family.

I hope that you will listen to her speech tonight with an open mind.

LA replied:

What’s been disgusting about my criticisms of Palin? What have I said that is shameful? Be specific.

And what do the writings at VFR have in common with the left-media attacks on Palin, of which Yehuda Levin says:

I have never seen, and I admit that I could never have imagined, such shameful, out-of-control, frenzied, angry, condescending, and pathetic journalistic malpractice. The ignorant assault on Palin’s accomplishments and experience, the breathless careless airing of deranged rumors about her private life, the staggeringly indecent mistreatment of her teenage daughter in a difficult time…

In what manner have I, as you put it, “joined” with the press in their “staggeringly indecent” attacks?

VFR has taken a principled and reasoned position that Palin, given her family circumstances, should not be running for national office. How is that shameful and disgusting?

And by the way, you didn’t notice that I repeatedly defended Palin from the charge that she was just picked because she is a woman. I said over and over that she has outstanding qualities and that McCain picked her for those qualities.

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

Someone is to blame for letting Beckwith go out of control over there at What’s Wrong with the World …

People are really misunderstanding your criticisms. You’re trying to talk lovesick teenagers out of love-at-first-sight.

Steve Burton writes:

In the last few days, we have been witness to the worst media lynching since Robert Bork and/or Clarence Thomas.

Even if there are legitimate criticisms to be made of Sarah Palin, now is simply not the time to be piling on.

At the very least, can’t we just wait for a few hours, and see what she has to say for herself?

Lydia McGrew writes:

I think it’s only fair to point out that VFR has gone a good deal farther than merely saying that she has too much on her plate and should bow out. For example, there is the not terribly amusing goddess Diana post at the top of the page right now, the mocking of conservatives as adolescents in the grip of calf love because they are so positive about her, and the like. [LA replies: Oh, I guess now that it’s not just Palin’s family which is off limits, but all pro-Palin conservatives!!]

And there has been, too, the statement (as I understand it) from you, Larry, to the effect that McCain had a special duty to announce Palin as a VP pick extra-far in advance so that conservatives could decide what they thought about these matters—e.g., her daughter’s pregnancy—and so that, perhaps, she could be forced to withdraw as a result. This seems to me to give an inordinate emphasis to her daughter’s pregnancy as a disqualifier. I assume you would not have said the same thing merely about his picking a career politician running mate with positions less acceptable to conservatives than Palin’s are or with (as McCain has) a long-ago adultery scandal in his past. I cannot agree that there is something so specially bad about her daughter’s getting pregnant with her boyfriend that Palin needed some special vetting or informal party referendum, at the cost (especially) of unleashing the leftist hounds on her still sooner. [LA replies: Ok, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary about Palin’s selection. Also, since you seem to be justfifying Steve Burton’s attack on me, is my suggestoin that the announcement should have been made two weeks earlier what you mean by VFR being “shameful,” “disgusting,” an ally of the left, and all the rest of it?]

Then, too, there has been the strong implication that her daughter’s pregnancy is definitely indicative of a character flaw on Palin’s part. This is not necessarily so. Even very good parents have had children who were not perfectly chaste with their fiances before marriage! And remember that any number of secular, liberal politicians with adolescent children very probably have children who have “safe sex,” yet that garners no blame because the children do not happen to get pregnant. [LA replies: Once again, you like other Palinites want to get into a detailed discussion about the private virtue or lack thereof of the individual, while my point is that we should not have to be discussing these issues in the first place, because, as a matter of objective political reality, not as a matter of some ultimate determination of Sarah Palin’s private virtuousness as a parent, a woman in her situation should not be running for vice president, period, because it forces the entire Republican party and (if she wins the election) the country into justifying this situation. So of course my position goes beyond just saying that she shouldn’t have run. Since she did run, she is imposing this mess on all of us and requiring conservatives and America to become nonjudgmental about illegitimacy and thus to abandon a fundamental principle on which civilized society rests. And that is something for which I consider her very blameworthy.

[Do you really think that the nonjudgmentalness about illegitimacy will stop with Bristol Palin? Of course not. It will become impossible, across the board, to say that illegitimacy is something to be avoided. That is the number one issue here for me. The entire conservative movement, in their gushing approval of the Bristol situation, are saying that illegitimate pregnancy is ok, so long as there’s no abortion. The part about getting married is icing on the cake. Do you think the Palinites would turn against Palin if Bristol were not (supposedly) going to marry Levi? No. How do we know this? We know it because they’ve expressed ecstasy about the fact that Bristol did not get an abortion, while they’ve shown a total lack of criticism of Bristol or her parents over the fact that she got pregnant in the first place. They congratulated the young man and woman on their upcoming wedding, but that was secondary. It was the illegitimate pregnancy, combined with the non-abortion, that turned the situation into an epiphany. So please tell me, other than opposition to abortion, what is left of “family values” in the Republican party? Family values as now defined means, in principle, a society full of children without fathers. That’s where the McCainized Republican party, which you are supporting, has brought us.]

Also, there has been the new emphasis at VFR upon Palin’s lack of experience and her young baby—both of which were known before the news broke about her daughter’s pregnancy—which are now taking center stage as they did not before. I have even seen the “one heartbeat from the presidency” phrase at VFR, which in my opinion is a tiresome cliche, to say the least. And this emphasis does is not really seem logical to me. If those things were not disqualifying before, they do not suddenly become so in the light of the revelation that her teenage daughter is pregnant.

In other words, there is more going on at VFR on this issue than merely a statement—which, in fact, I do disagree with—that Palin has too much on her plate and should back out of the campaign.

Lydia McGrew writes:

No, I am not arguing that your statements are shameful and disgusting. I was replying to your claim that all that is going on at VFR is the advocacy of the position that Palin should drop out because of her family situation. There is a lot more going on, and I think it is highly, highly unfortunate. [LA replies: Unfortunate? ]

You state that I am the one who wishes to get into a discussion of Palin’s personal virtue. But I, in making my point about whether Palin was neglectful and the like, was thinking of comments of yours like this:

“Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Palin raised their children with so much love and discipline that their 17 year old daughter went and got herself knocked up. Maybe if the family had actually been spending time together, and if the parents had exercised real discipline, as Laura W. powerfully argues, this would not have happened.”

See? This isn’t just saying she’s got too much on her plate or even that we should not approve of illegitimacy. It’s a lot more than that. [LA replies: Yes, I was expressing diapproval of their daughter’s illegitimate pregnancy, AS ANY NORMAL MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN WOULD HAVE DONE 50 YEARS AGO, and I was making the larger point that regardless of whether their situation is ok or not, regardless of whether Bristol is “ok” and her baby is “ok,” the larger social impact of this situation is to legitimate illegitimacy for the whole country.]

As for approval of illegitimacy, that certainly needn’t be the effect upon conservatives. I put nothing past McCain. As you know, I hold no brief for him at all. As a matter of fact, I believe he is using Sarah Palin for his own ends. And I know quite well that we live in a sentimental society and that the effect you describe is a possible one, though the approval of sex outside of marriage is so high in our society already that it is hard to see how this is likely to make much of a difference. But that needn’t be the case, and it is my strong opinion that her daughter’s situation in itself was not a disqualifier of Palin and that she wasn’t obligated to consider it a disqualifier. In particular, she was not obligated to do so on the grounds that her situation would somehow force conservatives to approve of illegitimacy and sex outside of marriage. Why need it do so? Time out of mind, young people, the children of traditional parents with traditional morals, have done wrong and conceived a child outside of marriage. [LA replies: There we go again. “It’s always happened. Therefore illegitimacy is traditional. And therefore traditionalists shouldn’t make a big deal of it now.’ Come on, Lydia. In the America of 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago, was illegitimate pregnancy considered a shame, or not?] Their parents have known that they have done wrong. The young people, often though not always, have known that they have done wrong. [LA replies: You’ve missed the point. The whole conservative movement has said that Bristol has not done anything wrong! Haven’t you been reading what people have been saying?] The parents and young people have then decided what to do about the situation—whether mariage, adoption, or the mother’s raising the child unwed. Of all of these options, I consider the last to be probably the worst for the child (leaving killing it out of account altogether, of course). But the fact that the Palin family happens to be in this situation and that people vote for Sarah Palin and like her need not in any way imply approval of sex outside of marriage.

I’m also not sure I understand why it somehow counts against pro-life conservatives that they would have liked Palin even if her daughter did not marry the young man. I’m very much in favor of adoption, being adopted myself. Obviously, the Palin family knows better than someone hundreds of miles away whether the young people are well-suited to get married. Yes, it would have been perfectly acceptable from a conservative position for the girl to place the baby for adoption instead if they decided it wasn’t best for her and the boy to get married. How does the willingness to accept that option show something bad about pro-life conservatives?

I don’t know why you should consider that I am supporting McCain (“the McCainized Republican party”) in some way by these comments. I’ve made it known to all and sundry that I have no intention of voting for him and that it is really sad that conservatives should think a VP pick alone—with no change in his own objectionable positions—makes him acceptable. I’m simply commenting on what seems to me the highly misguided and over-the-top position I see at VFR about Palin. [LA replies: Ok.]

As for Palin-supporting conservatives being “off limits,” I think it is fairly obvious that the sour Gintas post with the picture of a statue of Diana with Palin’s face on it and all the mocking of the stupid conservatives who support her of course is also making fun of her and implying that she is a beyond-the-pale candidate. I’m not saying anybody is “off limits.” I’m saying that that sort of mockery is something other and farther, to put it mildly, than merely taking a position that she has too much on her plate and should withdraw from the race. [LA replies: What? A classical statue with a candidate’s head wittily superimposed on it is illegitimate mockery? Wow. Let’s throw all cartoonists and satirists in jail.]

Gintas writes:

I guess Lydia McGrew couldn’t help herself.

For example, there is the not terribly amusing goddess Diana post at the top of the page right now, the mocking of conservatives as adolescents in the grip of calf love because they are so positive about her, and the like.

I’m just a bit biased about this, but I thought it was exceedingly amusing.

I think McGrew should get her own house (WWWtW) in order first. That place is a squalid mess right now.

Gintas continues:

Lydia McGrew says:

In other words, there is more going on at VFR on this issue than merely a statement—which, in fact, I do disagree with—that Palin has too much on her plate and should back out of the campaign.

Now might be a good time to reassert some points about the non-interchangeability of men and women, and women doing men’s things. I bet that would really set her off! Note: I have a vested interest in setting her off, I’ve posted a few times at WWWtW in answer to McGrew, and I don’t think she likes me. (I think it was about libertarianism.)

A reader writes:

You said: “Since she did run, she is imposing this mess on all of us and requiring conservatives and America to become nonjudgmental about illegitimacy and thus to abandon a fundamental principle on which civilized society rests. And that is something for which I consider her very blameworthy.”

I think that you have hit the nail square on the head as to why I am feeling overwhelmed with this choice for VP. There are a number of problems with Palin as a national political figure that some pundits have raised, but what you say encompasses the main points about Sarah Palin’s character that concern me. She really is Sarah Barracuda.

Sarah Palin has many positives on a number of conservative issues, but she appears to want this national recognition too much; so much that she outs her own daughter on the world stage and ignores the message she is sending to our children and to our society as a whole. The entire world has not likely missed the message either. That aggressiveness on her part is what I have been feeling ambivalent about, and now that you have put it into words, I recognize that I have been perceiving her as being quite selfish. I can’t think of another word that describes her better.

I suppose that sounds harsh, but her pleasing, outward demeanor might hide a very self-centered inward spirit. However, she, as you also say, is being justified for not choosing abortion for her daughter. No one really knows if her daughter ever thought of having an abortion. Girls have many motives and thoughts of their own that we can’t always discern, but this family is possibly being given enormous righteous credit for something that I am not sure they deserve credit for. However, God does know the inward thoughts and motives and He has not told me.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 03, 2008 04:40 PM | Send

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