Thursday, October 23, 2008

The lack of promise exhibited by Gov. Palin (UPDATED)

UPDATE: This week, Charles Fried of Harvard Law School, a well-known conservative, who served as Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration and back in January announced his support for Sen. McCain "announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot. In his letter to Trevor Potter, the General Counsel to the McCain-Palin campaign, he asked that his name be removed from the several campaign-related committees on which he serves. In that letter, he said that chief among the reasons for his decision 'is the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis'" (Eduardo Peñalver writing on dotCommonweal). George Will, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, Doug Kmiec, Christopher Buckley, Charles Fried, many of the leading lights of the conservative intellectual establishment have expressed their disapproval of McCain's inexplicable gamble. How many misgivings are left unexpressed?

Daniel Henninger, writing for the WSJ, attempts to articulate (salvage) an alternative view of Gov. Palin in an article entitled Hatin' Palin: She's not the reason Americans can't stand their politicians. Henninger makes several good points, especially about the U.S. Congress. Palin is not running for either the House or the Senate, she is on the presidential ticket. Besides, Nancy Pelosi gets called plenty of names by those who do not like her. So, I will concede that there is some structural sexism in our national discourse. However, after reading Henninger's article, and not engaging in name calling, I find myself wondering where he was during her painfully incoherent Couric interviews and the VP debate, in which she did not so much succeed as just not mess up too badly.

Look again at when Palin is asked if she supports the right to privacy established (i.e., invented out of whole cloth) by the Supreme Court in its Roe decision. To which she responds with an enthusiastic "I do". She then goes on to say that even though there is a constitutional right to privacy, it is best left up to the states! Well, since it is this right to privacy that elevates a woman's right-to-choose over a child's right-to-life and effectively federalizes the matter, on what basis do you legally or politically seek to eliminate abortion? Even if we ignore the contradiction and allow the matter to be left up to individual states, you run the gamut from banning abortion outright to allowing it outright! Isn't this supposed to be Gov. Palin's signature issue? How does this represent an unwavering commitment to life? In politics, which is the art of the possible, it is not enough to be merely for or against something. You have to articulate a realistic plan for accomplishing what you set out to achieve and demonstrate the ability to execute it. Again, we need an abortion policy, not more political posturing.

If McCain loses Palin's national political career will be effectively over. Contra Henninger and SNL producer Lorne Michaels, whose show Tina Fey as Sarah Palin has single-handedly revived and whom Henninger quotes, Gov. Palin is not the one who is going to re-establish coherency for the GOP. On my view, which is well-expressed by Roger Cohen of the NY Times, Gov. Palin is "the representative of a kind of last-gasp Republicanism, of an exhausted party, whose proud fiscal conservatism and patriotism have given away to scurrilous fear-mongering and ideological confusion". As something of a conservative Democrat myself, I hope that after this election, moving into the opposition will bring the GOP back to its senses, which have escaped them lo these past ten or twelve years.

I apologize for the many edits, but I wanted to be accurate. Despite all of this, I am leaning towards voting for Sen. McCain. It is no secret that I worry about his age, his health, his temperament, his running mate, his bellicose foreign policy, and his letting his campaign slip out of his control, not to mention having no plan to provide access to health care for all citizens. Nonetheless, I do admire him personally and, as Sharon has masterfully articulated in a number of posts and as I previously wrote in Hesitancy and backpeddling, I see him as being largely in tune with what we hold most dear. Voting has to be an act of reason, even if a bit devoid of hope. The good news is Jesus Christ and that politics is not and cannot be our salvation.

I try not to be too influenced by the fact that McCain will win in Utah so overwhelmingly that it hardly matters how I vote and that Sen. Obama, short of some major blow up, is bound for victory. I will say that how Utah votes was a big factor in the two elections I voted for third party candidates, doing my bit to get them over the 5% threshold felt like I was having more of an impact. I still haven't ruled that out.

I remember back in 2000 really rooting for McCain, wanting to vote for him. John Allen gets it right when he states that Serious Catholics wind up "politically homeless" in America. That's okay, we are disciples of a homeless man.


JACK said...

I have to say that I was really shocked by Prof. Fried's announcement. When I was at HLS, he was about as close to a light of intellectual honesty and consistency as one could find at that school. For all its fame and glamour, Harvard Law School is not a place where reason is on full display.

So I can't help but feel like I never really knew the man, which I suppose on many levels is true. But his rationale for why he is then casting a ballot for Obama seems inconsistent with everything I saw or heard from him when I was there and void of logic. It has been close to a decade now, so time, I suppose, could have changed the man.

But this was incredibly disappointing to read for me on a personal level.

JACK said...

If I had to speculate, in the end, I would think it probably is about abortion on some level, really. (Fried, despite being labeled a conservative, shouldn't be assumed to be pro-life. From what I remember he isn't in favor of Roe being overturned. But he always spoke with an intellectual care and honesty when asked about judges who were seen as pro-life judges that you found something different about the man.)