Sunday, October 5, 2008

Scary thought: she is us

UPDATE III: Tom Friedman weighs in with Palin's Kind of Patriotism, in which he writes: "Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative.

"And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?"

UPDATE II: Roger Cohen writes in Kiplin' vs Palin: "'One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just everyday American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say ‘Never Again.’ Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those managing our money and loaning us these dollars.'


"I’m sorry, Governor Palin, words matter. Life has its solemn lessons. 'Never Again' is a hallowed phrase. It’s applicable not to the loss of a mortgage, but to the Holocaust and genocide.

"According verbal equivalency to a $60,000 loan and six million murdered Jews, or 800,000 slaughtered Rwandans, is grotesque. Perhaps Palin didn’t mean it, but that’s no less serious. The world’s gravity escapes her."

UPDATE I- political rant III: I really don't think Sarah Palin means it when she says, as she did in Florida today, regarding Barack Obama's membership in his congregation in Chicago: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country." This is an open invitation to "discuss more" her religious affiliations and practice, which are far more extensive than that of Sen. Obama. She cannot truly welcome such scrutiny, unless she really is that naïve. I find the things said and done at her Assemblies of God church in Wasilla far more disturbing than anything the admittedly bombastic Rev. Wright, from whom Sen. Obama has clearly and publicly, if painfully, distanced himself, even going so far as cancelling his membership at Trinity, said. I mean, does Jesus really want that pipeline and was it God's will to launch a pre-emptive, largely unjustifed war with Iraq? Let's also look at Palin's political associations, namely her involvement, as well as that of her husband, Todd, in the Alaskan Independence Party, which supports secession from "our great country". I don't think even Rev. Wright went that far! I guess desperation brings out the negative.

A local business owner here in Salt Lake, Daniel Patterson, wrote an editorial that appeared in today's Salt Lake Tribune. In it he captures the reality of the Palin phenomenon better than anyone else I've heard or read. In his article, What's a voter to make of Sarah Palin?, he observes:

"The problem isn't Sarah Palin the candidate. The problem is the American culture that has unknowingly embraced 'Palin-ness' for decades, only to discover now in the 11th hour the high price of our collective incompetence. We've charmed, pushed, and leapfrogged our way into houses we couldn't afford and investments we couldn't make good on. We've supported wars in countries we didn't understand for reasons that we never bothered to question.
"For us to now deny Palin the chance to stand alongside the president is, in fact, to acknowledge all the things that we as an American people weren't ready for, weren't qualified for and had no business getting involved with in the first place. She is us"
He is correct to assert that we "are facing unprecedented payback on literally every front imaginable. From housing to credit, we've failed to manage ourselves on just about every level possible". To wit: "geographical proximity to Russia doesn't equal foreign policy readiness any more than being sequestered and prepped by strategists and campaign aides prepares you to lead a country during one of the most volatile periods in the nation's history". Indeed, the mortgage on the White House "is far beyond Gov. Palin's means".

But she's good on abortion! Given what is at stake that kind of simplistic reasoning does not suffice.


  1. I would say, though, the scariest thought is that she isn't the only one running who is "us" in that way.

  2. Perhaps not, but I think there is a huge qualitative difference between her and the three senators. That difference boils down to two, perhaps three, things:

    1) Education
    2) Experience

    I am not just writing about exeprience in office, but experience in terms of what you did before office. It is important to have a large view of the world.

  3. I will take you up o your offer to discuss Palin and her views more.

    I guess living among Assembly of God folks and the related Pentecostal I don't find stuff that was happening at her Church that shocking.

    Is it wrong to pray for economic devlopment ( a pipeline). I often hear Catholic pray for economic development

    As to the Iraq war I think if you wish to discuss it then you then to get her entire quote right.

    If you wish to make a issue of Gov Palin's experince in foreign policy lets be careful then to look at Obama whose Policy experience is nill. In fact during the democrat deabte he said he would depend a good deal on Biden. Why is this ignored

    If you wish to talk about the Palin effect you might alsoi inquite about her record in Alaska and what she did. This curiously is a non issue or is not being discussed Why?

    By the way in the VP debate the other night Biden sadi that the US. and Nato kicked Hellbollah out of Lebanon? When did this happen? It was the craziest thing I ever heard.

    On and Bidens' Iraq views. Can we talk about his plan to DIVIDE IRaq into three countries as late as last year!! If this is a bigger view of the world then I think I will take a pass.

  4. One final thought on the Op-ed you cite. Have exactly is Palin like Bush (we can debate that if it that is good or bad) or represents all these things?

    Before we start assuming that perhaps we should examine that. I guess I find that charge rather odd since one reason some conservatives do not like Palin is they see hints of populism. See Peggy Noonan on the meet the press yesterday. Strangly this was the same objection to Huckabee.

    So I have time seeing where this person is getting out. People do like Palin because she does seem to be more of us. I think the country might need that. GO over to the Washington Post Religion blog where in the past weeks the Catholic writer basically called her a slut, a female Theologian raised concerned that Todd Palim might be VP because of the "submit " scriptures, and last week there was a horrible screed against her and all people of a similar faith.

    Forgive me if at times I am getting the indication that many people don't know squat about the people they govern.

  5. James:

    Of course it is not wrong to pray for economic development. It is highly questionable for a person holding public office to persistently invoke God's will for particular developments that just happen to coincide with what you support, especially ones that are hotly contested, like the pipeline and the war. This has the effect of painting people who oppose you as being against God. It is a distraction and a disservice because it is a distraction, as are personal attacks. It is clear from Gov Palin's comments that she thinks going to war with Iraq was morally justifiable, even if it doesn't quite rise to the level of being God's explicit will.

    I'd love to discuss the issues about what to do in Iraq, like Sen. Biden's proposal to create three separate entities, which I, too, oppose and which Biden is no longer pushing because Obama is opposed to it as well. So, you miss the question, how can we focus on the issues when we're worried that Sen Obama, when working as a community organizer in Chicago, may have went to meetings that a former leader of the Weather Underground, who was also working in community development in the same city, also attended, or waste time arguing about the politics of Jeremiah Wright, who, last time I checked, was not running for any public office?

  6. "It is high questionable for a person holding public office to persistently invoke God's will for particular developments that just happen to coincide with what you support, especially ones that are hotly contested, like the pipeline and the war."

    First do we really have a record of her doing this "peristently". Second I don't think she was doing this in the State of Alaska address. It was in her Church Again I think the full quote about the war puts that in context.

    " you miss the question, how can we focus on the issues when we're worried that Sen Obama may have went to meetings that a former leader of the Weather Underground also attended, or waste time arguing about the politics of Jeremiah Wright, who, last time I checked, was not running for any public office?"

    In the end is not a "either/or" THere are issues of character and judgment and much of Obama rise has not been totally explored. McCain and Palin are getting it from the left too as people are going after them.

    I have no objection to these questions on either side because you much rather find out something now than 5 months from down when it is too late

    I guess in a way there is also a dynamic that the President and the relationship to the voter is now a very intense one. Lets face it you cannot escape them either on tv or comedy or various aspect so culture. So I want issues discussed but this debate about issue such Wright or McCain associations have been withus forever and is part of the mix

  7. At the end of the day, I am happy to let us decide at the ballot box. I'll conclude by paraphrasing something Jimmy Carter said a long time ago: The American people will never have a better government than they deserve, which, I believe, is really Daniel Patterson's point.

    I do not think Sarah Palin is exactly like George Bush, but the parallels, for me, are too eery.

  8. "The American people will never have a better government than they deserve, which, I believe, is really Daniel Patterson's point"

    Well thher eis truth in this. It is too easy to blame politicians and not point he finger at ourselves. They are often doing our bidding.

    That being said I am not sure I see a lot of connection between Bush and Palin besides having some common Republican themes and both having been Governors of Energy States.

    Palin I thik has much more of a Libertarian populist flair in her.

    She is the new breed of up and coming folks like Huckabee and Jindal that will be slightly different I think from what we are used to seeing

  9. hi james h,

    You touch on some points that we were discussing at our house. My husband who is very liberal and thinks that people who voted for Bush were nearly defunct of any kind of intelligence at all, asked me, why are people so stupid?

    I went to the defense of conservatives, and one thing I said to him was that Palin is attractive as a VP candidate for the same reason as Bush in that both of them are seen as "one of us".

    It is sort of, don't look at how successful, experienced or knowledgeable she is (or not), but rather, notice that she has been successful enough to become a Governor of a state, but she isn't so successful that she is "putting on airs". I think this goes to your comment that she is becoming, or has become, too big for her britches (populism).

    Perception is everything.

    As for Obama, his inexperience is something that I have in the "con" column. But, that doesn't make it a "pro" for McCain. On the issue of the war in Iraq, neither of them have a solution that I see as viable. McCain keeps pointing to Regan, which just makes me scream inside, "Can we please move FORWARD?!" While Obama seems to have an idealistic view that I don't see as very realistic. And his inexperience in this matter is pretty darn scary (to me anyway).


    There is no doubt that the upcoming Presidential election is proving to be one of tremendous consequence on a variety of issues; issues that are core to our Catholic faith, issues that will have significant impact on us, future generations and the future of our country.

    With that in mind, we would like to invite you to join in the Voice Your Vote discussion to share your views, thoughts and ideas.

    Its about whats most important to you.

    Speak up and let your voice be heard!

  11. Bear with my simplistic reasoning as I seem to be missing somthing. What is it exactly that is at stake in this presidential election that carries equal moral weight to abortion?

  12. Dear MyCatholicVoice:

    I thought that was what I was doing by blogging, voicing my vote. I am a bit hoarse as a reult.

    I think I'm giving up blogging about politics from now to election. We'll see how that goes.

    Dcn Scott

  13. kRad:

    Your reasoning is not overly simplistic. It is a good question. My first instinct is to refer you to my political posts from the time of the conventions to now, which I still do.

    Given that abortion is a constitutional issue and has been since Roe, I am not convinced that there is a lot a president can do, apart from appointing Supreme Court justices, who, even if McCain wins, will have to be confirmed by a Democratically-controlled Senate, with an increased majority. It is likely that the two justices considering retirement, Ginsburg and Stevens, would not retire if McCain were to win. I am not convinced a simple overturning of Roe is sufficient to course-correct on abortion

    So, in no particular order
    fetal stem cells
    health care, access to which is a life issue
    the economic crisis
    Iraq & Afghanistan
    Iran and nukes
    energy policy, especially as it affects the environment

    This list is not comprehensive. I am not even so sure that Palin is all that great on abortion. When asked by Katie Couric if she supported the Supreme Court-discovered right to privacy, on which abortion is predicated, she said she did thoroughly.

  14. I want to know who will promise me that if McCain is elected we will see either the complete elimnation of abortion or even a significant decline in the number of abortions. One thing that people forget is that abortions began to decline under Bush I, continue under Clinton, and fall further under Bush II. Isn't this where the rubber-meets-the-road?

    My prediction is that regardless who gets elected, abortions will continue to decline, or perhaps level out, but not increase. To wit: nobody is seeking to increase the number of abortions AND everybody wants to decrease them. So, it becomes a matter of means, not ends. Politically what does it mean to be pro-life, merely to be anti-abortion? What does it mean to be anti-abortion? To overturn Roe, to criminalize abortion? I'd like somebody to explain to me, apart from appointing Supreme Court justices who might overturn Roe (which is different from banning abortion), McCain's specific strategy to eliminate or significantly reduce abortions. It is easy to say, I oppose abortion. All the candidates say that, all of them.

    In my opinion this decline is not primarily due to anything the president or Congress has done, but because people themselves are more pro-life, people see the issue more clearly.

  15. Well, when it comes to any presidential candidate following through on his own stated set of beliefs, I wouldn't hold our collective breath. Our most reliable indicator of what a candidate will do is what he has done, and since Obama really has no history in terms of leading by taking responsiblity for a bill (writing, or sponsoring one) it's really hard to predict what he will actually do. This election I will probably error on the evil I know over the one I don't know.

    With respect to abortion I think then Cardinal Ratzinger had something important to say about why it needs to be illegal when he says:
    "First, there are no "small murders". The respect of every human life is an essential condition if a societal life worthy of the name is to be possible.
    Secondly, when man's conscience loses respect for life as something sacred, he inevitably ends by losing his own identity."
    (see Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures)

    By having abortion legal we, as a society, have legitimized it. A "societal life worthy of the name" is not possible so long as abortion is legal, because it has allowed our collective conscience to drift away from whence it comes and we no longer recognize who we are anymore. Being a uniquely created human being is no longer enough to deem us worthy of life. Now we have to be able to perform some arbitrary level of function in order to have a right to live. This mindset flows from the years of saying that abortion is a legitimate thing to do. The only way to say, collectively as a society, that it is not legitimate is to make it illegal.

    It is good that abortions have been dropping, and I believe that the Catholic Church does more than any other organization to reduce the numbers (Amy Welbourn has been discussing this lately), but the end goal is to end abortion, and create a society that says that this is not a legitimate thing to do, that we all have inherent value because we are uniquely created human beings. If we don't first recognize the right to life as a society, then we will only accidentally recognize other human rights because we will not have a sound ethic from which to base those other rights on.

    I can't say that a McCain administration will end, or even reduce abortion. But I'm confident he won't actively work to keep it legal, and at this point in time perhaps that's the most I can ask for.

    I hope that makes sense. I started rambling a bit in there.


  16. Deacon Scott,

    Thank you very much for the reply...

    I very much appreciate your opinion and enjoy reading your blog... Hence why I wanted to extend the invitation to comment on our page as well.

    I can see that the "political" topic may be getting a bit banal, and therefore further understand if you don't feel compelled to comment.

    Either way... I definitely value your "voice" and opinion, and appreciate the commentary you have provided thus far.


  17. Obama really has no history in terms of leading by taking responsiblity for a bill (writing, or sponsoring one) it's really hard to predict what he will actually do.

    Your facts are wrong. Sen. Obama has sponsored and co-sponosred legislation during his time in the U.S. Senate. He has not written or sponsored legislation on abortion, that is true.

    As regards abortion, all you have done is articulate an abortion posture, not a policy. This is clear when you write: "I can't say that a McCain administration will end, or even reduce abortion." What provokes me to what I hope is something like righteous anger (not being righteous I am constitutionally incapable of righteous anger) is that all we have on abortion, politically, from both sides, and often from church leaders, is posturing. I mean denying Doug Kmiec communion because he is pro-life, but supports Sen. Obama for president! Forcing a resignation from a board that oversees a Catholic university for the same thing! All of that is posturing and penalizing intelligent, conscientious Catholics for making a prudential judgment on the basis of proportional reasoning. There is not blatant disregard for church teaching in either of these cases. I'll take Archbishop Niederauer's approach over such punitive "Hey look at me! I'm more orthodox than you" antics any day.

    In my state a group of conservative legislators are writing a bill for the next legislative session that seeks to ban abortion by statute. It is a symbolic gesture because the bill will never pass judicial review and the sponsors know that. Nonetheless, defending this doomed piece of legislation will be expensive. This proposal comes in a year that the state will have to cut spending because, as per our state law, the budget has to balance. So, programs will be cut. In Utah, I can guarantee you that among the first programs to be cut will be social programs of the kind that help women in crisis pregnancies. I oppose abortion AND I oppose this bill because it is empty posturing and will negatively impact the citizens of our state.

  18. Can you point me to those bills that sen. Obama has has sponsored? If I could look in to those it would help me understand better what he is all about.

    The gist of my post had to do with the pyschological impact of being a part of a society that legitimizes abortion, so if that's what you're directing your righteous anger at, I missed it. If not, then I'm not sure how your response relates to my post. I'm not sure where I claimed to be more orthodox than the next Catholic.

    I didn't intend to hash out a comprehensive abortion policy. I don't think the space of a blog post would be sufficient for that, anyway. But any policy within the context of legalized abortion would still leave us with a society that legitimized abortion, and the psychological impact of that legitimization on society would remain...IMHO.

    I would've hoped that my post had more substance so as to not be dismissed as mere posturing. Perhaps my simple mind can just do no better.

  19. Steve:

    For a list of bills sponsored by Sen. Obama click here. Be careful of just repeating campaign talking-points, they are notoriously inaccurate.

    As far as dismissing you, as with kRad's post, my first instinct was to refer you to my political posts from the time of the conventions to now. All of that terrain has been covered. I don't think saying you're against abortion and then doing nothing or making only empty gestures, ones that are sure to be rejected by the courts, is what is needed to build a culture of love, which is the opposite of the culture of death.

    As we are reminded by our bishops in Faithful Citizenship:"Sometimes morally flawed laws already exist. In this situation, the process of framing legislation to protect life is subject to prudential judgment and 'the art of the possible'" (no . 32) In terms of my comment, if by voting for McCain I am doing nothing to eliminate or reduce abortions, then why vote for him, especially when there little else he is proposing that I agree with? This question becomes more important because the Republicans have preyed on people for years, with the Democrats' foolish acquiescence, getting people to vote for them who only agree with them on this one issue. As to Cardinal Ratzinger, if you look, I have posted the entire text of his letter to Cardinal McCarrick back in 2004 on this matter, written in response to concerns about there being a Catholic presidential nominee who was pro-choice. He explicitly states that while voting for candidates precisely because they are pro-choice constitutes formal cooperation with evil, one may, in good conscience, vote for them for other proportionate reasons. To wit: I am both familiar and in tune with Catholic teaching on the issue of abortion. I fully accept that one aspect of being pro-life is being against abortion. I am pro-life.

    One indication that we pro-lifers are having an impact is that we are no longer content with symbolism by those who claim to agree with us and we have forced those who do not agree, who favor abortion, to at least acknowledge the moral gravity of abortion. They are also increasingly challenged when they appeal to the right to privacy, the existence if which, again, Sarah Palin, seeming not to know that the creation of this "constitutional" right was the result of Roe, not an outright legalization of abortion, acknowledged when asked by Katie Couric. To wit: abortion was justified by this so-called right to privacy, not enshrined as a right in and of itself.

  20. I am anti-abortion. I was anti-abortion long before I became a Catholic. Since becoming Catholic, I have learned that being Pro Life means so much more than being anti-abortion. The Church has done an excellent job of helping me become more aware of the bigger picture; of what it truly means to be Pro Life. My attitude toward the death penalty, stem cell research, euthanasia, just war, health care for the poor, immigration issues, and much more, has changed dramatically, simply because I have studied and been taught the Catholic position on these important moral and social issues.

    It's nearly time to cast my first vote in a general election, as a Catholic. It's a vote I desire to make using my best judgment, and my conscience, which has been formed and enlightened by these teachings. And yet, what am I facing as I read around Catholic cyber world, attend bible study or coffee hour after mass? I am facing the accusation that I cannot truly be a "real" Catholic, if I choose NOT to vote on one issue, and one issue alone. And it is an issue that will certainly not be fixed simply because a candidate SAYS they are Pro Choice. If I thought for one minute that it would, well that would make all the difference in the world.

    I want to say thanks for your blog, Scott. It's a tremendous resource. Through your blog, I've been able to tap into so many good articles during this election period. Without this, I'd probably either cave to the pressure, or perhaps not vote at all.

  21. Thanks for the wikipedia link. It's good to see what Obama has attached his name to. Of course, I'll never have time to read through each of those.

    For the record, I'm not a one issue voter. I happen to agree with real conservatives on a number of issues. I originally wanted Romney...go figure.

    I can see you're not going to interact with my main point (perhaps I'm just not communicating it), so I will just leave things there.

  22. Steve:

    I don't apologize for the Wikipedia link because when you click on the hyperlinks that tell you what legislation Sen. Obama has sponsored and co-sponsored, you are linked to the Library of Congress, which, I think we'll both agree, is a credible source of information. This certainly refutes your earlier assertion that Sen. Obama has neither written nor sponsored legislation during his time in the Senate.

    I have interacted with your main point plenty, both in this dialogue and over many previous posts. I do not apologize for not finding your argument enough to convince me to vote for Sen. McCain, just as you do not have to apologize for not being convinced by me. It works out that way sometimes.

  23. OK Scott, now you have forced me to crack open a beer and hunker down.

    What I was trying to address is the idea that it is not that critical to the pro life movement, or society in general, for abortion to be made illegal. In doing so, I was trying to use more of a theological angle than a political one. After all, politics is not really interested in the spiritual health of society.

    I believe that allowing abortion to be legal has diminished society in every way. Why? Because as the Holy Father says, it has given us an identity crisis. We don't know who we are anymore, and we therefore can't form a legitimate ethic with respect to ANY human right. If we do, it is merely accidental, because it cannot flow from an understanding of ourselves.

    As I said these are theological points. The overall scope of my original comment was meant to look at how legitimizing abortion reverberates through society and effects the way we view every aspect of our lives together. NOT how it impacts the shear numbers of abortions.

    Nor was it an attempt to say who someone should vote for. Perhaps this was just the wrong place to post my comments.


  24. Your response brings us back to the question you set about answering, what is a workable strategy for making abortions illegal? Abortion cannot be outlawed by statute and overturning Roe would not only not make abortions illegal but, by de-federalizing abortion, overturning Roe would allow abortion to be liberalized in states that would be so inclined. Given these realties, what can we do except put restrictions on abortion (i.e., parental notification laws, recognizing fathers rights- which might prove a double-edged sword-making it illegal to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion, etc.) and banning partial birth abortions?

    Your response begs the question. Besides, there are ways of working to restrict, reduce and even eliminate abortions that fall within the "art of the possible" and are policy, not posturing.

  25. if I choose NOT to vote on one issue, and one issue alone. And it is an issue that will certainly not be fixed simply because a candidate SAYS they are Pro Life. If I thought for one minute that it would, well that would make all the difference in the world.

    (I hope it obvious I meant to write Pro Life).

  26. You know I love ya man but…

    The Utah bill you're referring to is to have its court costs privately funded.

    Abortion cannot be outlawed by statute and overturning Roe would not only not make abortions illegal but, by de-federalizing abortion, overturning Roe would allow abortion to be liberalized in states that would be so inclined.

    Most abortions were illegal in 50 states prior to 1973 by statute.

    Dread Scott v. Sandford was overturned why not Roe v Wade? Slavery is now illegal why not abortion?

    The Supreme Court as already partially made abortion illegal with Gonzales v. Carhart - Partial Birth abortions are now illegal - even in liberalized states.

    Check the Supreme Court appointment records of the current bench, then the vote split on Gonzales v. Carhart. The 5-4 decision would have gone the other way with just one more pro-abortion appointment to the bench.

    I still have yet to hear anything as disturbing from Palin as from the candidate who is a FOCA co-sponsor, proponent of all forms of abortion, the only one I know apposed to BAIPA, and who's first act as president would be to sign FOCA into law.

    I’m not saying vote for McCain. I don’t however think a Catholic in good conscience can vote for Obama.

  27. kRad:

    I appreciate your insights very much. I hope that I do not give the impression of not agonizing over these issues. To be really honest, prior to and even a bit after Gov. Palin was picked as his running mate, I was leaning heavily toward voting for Sen. McCain for precisely the reasons you mention. I also like the fact that Sen McCain supports school choice and has been a strong proponent of marriage.

    I have never been shy about giving Pres. Bush his due when it comes to issues, like holding the line on fetal stem cells, supporting marriage, and being strongly pro-life. Again, he gets an A+ for his two Supreme Court appointments.

    There is still time between now and 4 November. I cn always take the cop out because I live in Utah and McCain will win here with at least a two-thirds majority, regardless as to how I vote. I see voting as a matter of conscience. Given the state of things, I really feel compelled to look at the whole picture and I still haven't definitively made up mind.

    As always, I appreciate your insights. They are helpful and get to the point, which I sometimes have difficulty doing


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