Thursday, September 04, 2008

Did She Deceive Us?

When Sarah Palin spoke at the Republican national convention she didn't mention god or religion, much less abortion or creationism. I expected that she would play all that down in an effort to woo independents and especially Clinton supporters, but no mention? Everyone else spoke on behalf of conservative social values. Even that old dog Rudy Giuliani mentioned religion.

We hear that she has very radical social views: no abortion even in cases of rape; book bannings; creationism in the classroom. I can see only two options: either she separates her personal views from what she wants to implement, or she was being very deceptive in her speech.

There are some indications to suggest the former. The previous governor vetoed pro-life legislation, but she signed it. She promised that as governor she would not promote the teaching of creationism, and stuck to her promise (none of her school official appointments are creationists). She vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (arguing that it was unconstitutional). This was all while a politician in a right wing state.

I'm still feeling that she deceived us. I'm used to people who hold those views wanting to impose them on everyone else. (Try to imagine an extremist anti-choice advocate who doesn't want to make abortion illegal.) I'm used to feeling that Republicans represent a base that does not include me. In the last 16 years I have seen the Republicans as a party that holds extremist views and that wants to control and harm people who don't agree with them. Either she's different (which would be wonderful) or she is conning us with sins of omission.

The problem is not just that she appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It's also that the so-called media vetting of her is no salacious and partisan that it's not credible. Here's hoping for some balanced, in-depth analysis of who Sarah Palin really is and what she stands for.

So much of the criticism has just been junk. She's criticized for exploiting her family by bringing them on stage, but every single national politician has done that, and as far as I know they have always done that. People are claiming that she supported the bridge to nowhere before she opposed it; but so what if she did the right thing in the end? She's dismissed for using a speech writer but they all use speech writers. And on and on. There are claims that she's an Alaskan secessionist when she obviously isn't; I read an interview with her in which she said Alaska was brought into the United States for its resources and so it was her duty as governor to provide them. The big problem with the junk criticism is that it diminishes the credibility of real criticism.

A microcosm of the problem exists in the viral email by Anne Kilkenny. (Just google the name to find it.) I did some checking and it appears to be legit in that it's not a hoax, but the tone is so relentlessly negative that it's difficult to believe.

Palin's environmental record is an area where I suspect the criticism misses the mark. She is criticized for questioning the cause of global warming, but she is one of the few governors who has done something about greenhouse gas emissions, signing a pact with BC on the issue. Her support for drilling in Alaska is about whether or not to preserve the pristine nature of a park, not the environment in terms of global issues. And most northerners understand that designating polar bears as endangered is a mistake: polar bears are being hurt by global warming, which can't be affected locally, but they're also unbelievably dangerous to humans, and people have to be able to protect themselves.

Amidst all the smears of her character and record, I fear that the real problem with Sarah Palin may be getting lost: what she will do in office about issues like abortion, creationism, sex education and the separation of church and state.

Update: It now appears that some of what was said about Sarah Palin's social views was incorrect. She did not ban any books, or try to. According to CNN, all she did was write a letter (when she was mayor) to the city librarian asking about the policy on banning books.



Joseph said...

Well, probably the biggie is supreme court justices should she become President. And VPs typically do become Presidents in the US. Notable exceptions, of course, but it is something to consider.

From what I can tell, it was more a signal she gave with the part of the speech where she talked about having the heart of a servant (or something like that). It resonates with the evangelical crowd. I'm not calling it a code-word - because it isn't. But it is a way of sending a signal by expressing a phrase instead of "praising Jesus" during the speech.

Have you watched the videos from her church? They are disconcerting to me, espeically when she is encouraging youth to pray for a pipeline because she feels it is what "God will."

So I do think she is being a bit deceptive. She got into politics at a time when evangelicals were getting into local politics with the full intent of climbing the ladder - which is Democracy at work (no slam there). The very detailed - and factual, not slamming - article I read earlier this week talked about how her first campaign as mayor of Wasilla included flyers about abortion and talk about getting a Christian mayor (the incumbent was agnostic) although it was only a local race in a town of about 7,000 people.

Don't get me wrong. I think your analysis on this post, and the questions you ask, are valid. (I have been mildly concerned about your recent posts . . . stay healthy, I detect signs of obsession, which I know something about - from myself ; ).

But since you've posed the question, that's my answer. The far right have been pushing her for months now, and seemed to be the only ones who had talking points - even among Republicans - immediately last Friday when she was announced (while everyone else was still scrambling). Seriously, CBN had people on networks and were issuing statements within an hour of her announcement.

So, yeah, I think the maverick reformer has a nice ring to it - and some validity - but there are some other things she's bringing with her with a wink and a smirky grin . . .

That's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

Joseph seems right on, and helpful, on all points, especially in his fifth paragraph. But also, let's not forget that the central issue is McCain vs. Obama. Which of these two would be better for the world, and for the US? And for Canada I guess.

Isn't the VP issue largely a sideshow? Yes we want to understand what brought Clinton down, and what lies behind the attacks on Palin. But I for one don't think Obama's contribution to these things was large enough to make me want to let that be a significant factor in deciding who to vote for?

Anonymous said...

I meant to add: there is no reason to think that the right wing is less inclined to 'pick on girls' than the left wing. Or McCain than Obama.

Yappa said...

Hi guys -

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. It's true that there are distractions within distractions - Palin is a distraction from the McCain-Obama choice, and the heaps of criticism about Palin distract from the main problem with her (extremist social values), which she seems to be trying to hide.

I'm not feeling strongly partisan about the US election - I'm not horrified by either outcome (unlike the upcoming Canadian election) but I'd like to understand what's going on in McCain's head and in his ticket.Is there a precedent for someone with extremist values trying to sneak into office without revealing them?

The Mound of Sound said...

Wow, she stood up against everything the Supreme Court has already struck down! Awesome. She chose to side with the constitution over her fellow rightwing extremists. Gee, now there's a huge political risk.

Is there a precedent for someone with extremist values sneaking into office? Are you serious? Was Dick Cheney a full-fledged member of the Project for the New American Century before he appointed himself Bush's veep? Did he bring a horde of followers into the Bush administration - Wolfowitz, Bolten, Feith, Rumsfeld? Did they play any role in bringing the US and the world to the state it finds itself in today?

By the way, if you really want to understand what's in McCain's head you would have to ask his handlers. This is the most managed presidential candidate in many decades, perhaps ever. That much is apparent in his embrace of everything he scorned in 2000. There aren't many possibilities - maybe his "values" expired on his 65th birthday or maybe he never really had these values he so boldly proclaimed or maybe he's willing to put his values in the bottom drawer and do what he's told he needs to say in order to win.

Yappa said...

Hi MoS -

Your comment made me think of something. McCain is either hiding his old moderate stance or he's changed. Palin is either hiding her old extremist Christian views or she's changed. Partisans assume that McCain has changed but Palin has not. It seems more likely to me that neither has changed.

I can't remember what Cheney said during the first campaign. It's true though that in that campaign Bush was big on saying he didn't believe the US should be a nation builder... and that Cheney was instrumental in turning bush into a nation-builder (except the building part failed and became just destrution).

Still, I think Palin is in effect deceiving the American public and so far it's working; and attacks on her relations with the Alaskan independence party or her daughter's pregnancy are helping her to get away with it.

s.b. said...

“What's the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?”

“One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let's be honest, a pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

“The other kills her own food.”