Friday, September 05, 2008

The vastly "incorrect" Sarah Palin: A conservative of the future

She shoots guns, she opposes abortions, she's good-looking, she loves her country and she cuts government waste! Unforgiveable! Comment below from Australian conservative columnist, Greg Sheridan

SARAH Palin is the most brilliant, bold, risky, dynamic-changing and consequential choice of vice-presidential running mate that John McCain could possibly have made. The reactions, pro and con, are incredible. Palin is now the most searched name on the internet. The Republicans raised more money online the day Palin was announced than ever before in this campaign. The left-liberal media in the US are in a panic. And their loyal Australian imitators are regurgitating a stream of derivative anti-Americanism and cultural sneering entirely imitative of their big brothers at The New York Times.

The US political contest is thus poised at a delicate and fascinating moment. It's like the key seconds in a judo bout, to see who gets the better hold and executes the throw. The liberal establishment will try to blitzkrieg Palin into oblivion by charging that she is an extremist, a nut and corrupt. If the liberal elites fail in this, they risk mainstream America seeing their attacks on Palin as attacking the American heartland. Democrats should know from bitter experience that that kind of polarisation leads directly to Democratic defeat.

Thus we had The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, notoriously the silliest columnist in North America, who has never shown any evidence that a serious or worthwhile thought has ever passed through her addled head, sneering at Palin over the Christian names of her children. Imagine The New York Times' reaction if someone wrote a column sneering at the name Barack. But anti-Christian prejudice is licensed in the elite American media. The hypocrisy and cultural prejudice are obvious. Almost as a direct counterpoint to Dowd, another liberal columnist, the more serious Bob Herbert, wrote a cautionary piece advising fellow liberals to be very, very careful about the terms in which they attacked Palin. He could sense the danger.

Democratic politics involves a judgment of both policy and character. The voter answers two questions: do I agree with this candidate's policies, and do I believe this candidate has the character and experience for high office? Palin answers both these questions in ways that are deeply troubling for Democrats. Amazingly, she has the potential both to energise the Republican base, capture more women voters and appeal to independents.

It's wrong to see her choice as McCain going for a right-winger over a centrist such as his good friend Joe Lieberman. Although she is certainly a conservative, the left/right analysis doesn't capture Palin.

Her political story, and her personal story, are compelling. Politics first. In the mid-'90s Palin ran for the town council of Wasilla, where she lives, about an hour north of Anchorage, Alaska. She then ran for mayor, won and was re-elected comfortably. She ran the town -- population about 9000 -- well, cutting taxes and instituting a police force.

The corrupt Republican establishment which ran Alaska considered her for a casual vacancy in the Senate. She was overlooked and instead appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Council. This is a powerful body which oversees Alaska's energy policy. On this council she found her Republican colleagues were behaving corruptly. She protested their behaviour but got nowhere so resigned in disgust. The Republican she complained about was later booted off the commission, and paid a record fine.

Palin then ran for governor against the hitherto immensely powerful Republican incumbent. She beat him in a landslide in the Republican primary. She then beat a former Democratic governor in the general election. She has since then cut taxes, cut wasteful pork-barrel spending, got a natural gas pipeline started, overcome the influence of oil and gas companies on the state's energy policy and, two years into her term, has an approval rating over 80 per cent, the highest in the US.

This domestic political story makes Palin the most successful governor in the US. Again, the double standard and hypocrisy of liberal commentators who demean all this is obvious. Did they demean Bill Clinton because he was the governor of the very small state of Arkansas? Hillary Clinton talks of her lifetime of political achievement. Much of that involves not even being governor of a small state, such as Clinton or Sarah Palin, but being the wife of a governor of a small state.

Much of what excited McCain about Palin is that she achieved in Alaska what he wants to achieve nationally. She put integrity first in politics, is a political reformer, fought the Republican Party establishment, and came out on top. That's exactly how McCain wants his own script to read. The idea that with these political achievements she could be called inexperienced in comparison with Barack Obama is absurd.

Like Obama, she is obviously untutored and inexperienced in foreign policy. But she is not running for president, but vice-president. It is routine to balance a ticket with one having more foreign, and one more domestic, experience. Within a very short time as McCain's vice-president, Palin would be at ease in international affairs.

But it is the personal life of Palin that most liberal commentators can't bear. And they can't bear it because it threatens their world view. Palin is a happy conservative warrior who exudes vitality and a natural gratitude for all the wonders of life and all the wonders of America. She is a pro-life Christian. The liberal media wants politically active Christians to present like Elmer Gantry: dreadful, corrupt hypocrites. They should look like Jerry Falwell if they're men or Tammy Faye Bakker if they're women. They should not be so radiantly normal and happy as Palin.

Palin is 44. She has five children. She is married to a Joe Six-Pack kind of guy, a sportsman, oil rig worker and unionist, who mostly leaves the politics to his wife. Palin's oldest son is about to go to Iraq with the US military. McCain's sons have served in Iraq as well. The liberal critique that conservative policy-makers want other families to pay the price of their policies won't wash with McCain or Palin.

Similarly, Palin is anti-abortion, a far more mainstream position in the US than in Australia. During her pregnancy with her fifth child she was told he would suffer from Down syndrome. She went ahead with the pregnancy and the profound commitment to looking after her youngest son for the rest of her life.

This is a woman who lives according to what she says. Now it transpires that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. She will have the child. In the way of these things, this irrelevant controversy could yet destroy Palin's position, as could the slew of truly micro-scandals the media is obsessing about: her husband got a drink-driving ticket in the mid-'80s, for heaven's sake. If the media can frame the Palin story that way, it could destroy her.

If it doesn't, Palin's effect on the campaign could be explosive. She is a huntin' and fishin' kinda gal. She loves Alaska's great outdoors. Famously, she won one beauty pageant and came second in Miss Alaska 1984. This kind of thing drives the left-liberal mind absolutely nuts. With all the good, and the many challenges, in her life, Palin exudes the optimistic, sunny, distinctive personality of the great American west. She could play very well in the rocky mountain states and in the critical Midwest. Incidentally, she's the first woman on a Republican ticket. But that's the least of her accomplishments. If American conservatism has a future, it could look a lot worse than Palin.


Sarah Palin gets the spiteful Margaret Thatcher treatment

A comment from Janet Daley in Britain

There are few sights more bloodcurdling than the liberal pack in full cry. The viciousness of the attacks on Sarah Palin is a testimony to the degree of panic her appointment has generated in Leftist circles. It would seem that it is only sexist to trash a woman candidate if she is a Woman Candidate, which is to say a liberal.

It took about 20 minutes after John McCain announced her as his running mate for the attack machine to mobilise: woman candidate (bleep, bleep), no previous warning (nee-naw, nee-naw), exterminate, exterminate.

At first, it was pretty tenuous stuff: her husband had once been caught on a drink-drive charge - when he was 22 years old. You don't say. In blue-collar America, having only one drink-drive offence pretty much qualifies you as a Grade A wimp. Then the piranhas got hold of a real prize (or so they thought): the 17-year-old daughter of this Christian Evangelical family was pregnant.

Yes, these things happen - and this particular thing happens quite a lot among the working-class American families that Mrs Palin personifies. She and her daughter are being true to their convictions: the girl will have her baby and marry her boyfriend. There will be no abortion or adoption.

The Palin family will offer them love, compassion and support. What's your problem? Christianity (even of the Evangelical sort) does not expect human beings to be faultless: it demands only that they make amends for their transgressions and accept responsibility for them. The Evangelical churches have made it their particular mission in recent years to support teenage mothers and urge their families to stand by them. So where is the shame in this situation?

Now those who are not of the Palins' religious persuasion may well feel that it is wrong to allow a 17-year-old to marry and start a family. If one of my daughters had become pregnant at the age of 17, would I have advised her to have the baby and marry the father? No, I would not.

Do I respect the decision of another mother and daughter to make that choice based on their own values? Yes, I do. And that - as far as I am concerned - is what it means to be a "liberal". Which brings us to the subject of those hokey old redneck values that the Guardian and the blogosphere find so amusing (or pernicious, depending on their degree of dedication).

I personally am, and always have been, fervently pro-choice on abortion. I do not consider this to be the only sanctified Woman's point of view because I am aware that huge numbers of women disagree with me. Whenever I touch on the subject, they write in and tell me so, often in eloquent and passionate terms. But according to the official feminist sisterhood (which was taken over by the totalitarian Marxist tendency long ago) you can represent the views of Women only if you accept the tenets of their ideology. Ergo, Mrs Palin is not a Woman Candidate.

She is a renegade, the gender equivalent of an Uncle Tom. In the US, her position is particularly incendiary because it is part of the culture war between metropolitan liberals and provincial America: that vast fly-over country where people (or "folks", as they call themselves) still live by the standards the Palin family embodies. Life is about hard work and hard play.

They hunt with guns from childhood. They talk about sin (and redemption) in ways that embarrass the urban elite, and they regard patriotism as a fundamental part of their moral code. (It is the liberals' ambivalence about patriotism that they detest most.)

Like Margaret Thatcher before her, Mrs Palin is coming in for both barrels of Left-wing contempt: misogyny and snobbery. Where Lady Thatcher was dismissed as a "grocer's daughter" by people who called themselves egalitarian, Mrs Palin is regarded as a small-town nobody by those who claim to represent "ordinary people".

What the metropolitan sophisticates failed to understand in the 1980s when Thatcher won election after election is even more the case in the US: most (and I do mean most) ordinary people actually believe in the basic decencies, the "small-town values", of family, marital fidelity, and personal responsibility. They believe in and honour them - even if they do not manage to uphold them. Middle America - of which Alaska is spiritually, if not geographically, a part - builds its life around those ideals and regards commonplace moral lapses as part of the eternal struggle to be good.

The life of small-town USA is based on the principles of those Protestant colonial settlers who founded the nation: hard work, self-improvement, personal faith and family devotion. Mrs Palin speaks to and for them in a way that patronising "liberal" elitists find infuriating.


Bishops Deliver One Last Blow to "Catholic" Pelosi on Abortion Remarks

Maybe she is confusing abortion with facelifts

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released another statement yesterday condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's defense of her avowedly "Catholic" pro-abortion views, this time outlining Church history in detail to prove that abortion has always been considered a grave evil, at any stage of human development.

Pelosi first drew ire from Catholic officials when, after Tom Brokaw of NBC's Meet the Press asked her when life begins in the womb, she claimed that as an "ardent, practicing Catholic" she discovered that the Catholic Church "was not able to make that definition." She said that "St. Augustine said at three months" and "we don't know" when life begins. She then went on to explain that the question doesn't matter anyway, because "it shouldn't have an impact on a woman's right to choose."

In response to the ensuing outrage of bishops and Catholic laypeople, Pelosi's spokeswoman released a statement three days later acknowledging that the Church does teach that life begins at conception, but insisting that Pelosi legitimately cited St. Augustine in support of her answer.

The statement by the USCCB cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which observes, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable."

The statement provides a detailed historical outline of Catholic teaching on abortion in support of the Catechism, in order to respond "to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin."

Although "knowledge of human embryology was very limited until recent times," says the USCCB, now-antiquated theories about when life began "never changed the Church's common conviction that abortion is gravely wrong at every stage."

The USCCB notes that St. Augustine's teachings never condoned abortion, contrary to Pelosi's suggestion, but along with the Church considered abortion an evil whether or not the embryo had yet been vivified.

"[St. Augustine] knew of theories about the human soul not being present until some weeks into pregnancy. . . . But he also held that human knowledge of biology was very limited, and he wisely warned against misusing such theories to risk committing homicide."

The statement concludes: "Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church's opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person."

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, commented on the confusion that Pelosi's statements have fostered: "It is precisely because of people like Morton Kondracke of the Fox News Channel, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo of the Newsweek-Washington Post 'On Faith' blog site, and anti-Catholic groups such as Catholics for Choice, that the confusion continues to rage. All of them defend Pelosi's ignorant remarks."

Despite nineteen Catholic members of the House petitioning the Speaker to correct her statements, she has refused, and Donohue said, "Her steadfast refusal to do so is keeping this matter alive.

"One wonders what it will take to get her to retract her comments before more damage is done to the Catholic Church, to her and to the Democratic Party."


Didgeridoo correctness

For non-Australian readers: The didgeridoo is a primitive musical instrument with a very limited expressive range. It is basically a hollowed-out tree stem

ANGRY Aborigines say women face infertility - or worse - if they follow advice in a new book and touch a didgeridoo because it is ''men's business''. An indigenous academic claims an extreme cultural indiscretion has been committed by the Australian version of an American activities book - The Daring Book for Girls - as it includes a section on how to play the didgeridoo.

The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association has even demanded the book be withdrawn. The association's general manager Mark Rose said: "I would say from an indigenous perspective, an extreme mistake but part of a general ignorance that mainstream Australia has about Aboriginal culture. "We know very clearly that there's a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo. "Infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences. I won't even let my daughter touch one."

Dr Rose says there is men's business and there is women's business. "And the didgeridoo is definitely a men's business ceremonial tool," he said. "It sends out that Aboriginal culture is tokenistic. That is the issue that perturbs me the greatest."

Publisher Harper Collins has refused calls to withdraw the book from sale.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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