Where do God and Family fit if "Country" -- meaning the Government -- comes first? Republican cultists perform on cue at the GOP convention.
"`We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.' I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind.... I grew up with those people. They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars."
From Sarah Palin's Vice Presidential Acceptance Speech
Which is the more significant defining fact about Sarah Palin's priorities: The fact that she carried to term and gave birth to a lovely child with Down's Syndrome; or the fact that she apparently encouraged her oldest son to enlist in the military to fight, and perhaps die, in an immoral war?
Why was a mother so devoted to protecting the life of a child with a challenging disability so eager to see her firstborn become an instrument of needless death -- including, perhaps, his own?
Sarah Palin is in many way the embodiment of the Evangelical conservative element of the Republican Party, and this includes its defining contradictions regarding the sanctity of life and the destructive nature of government power. To put the matter in unadorned terms: Most self-defined conservative Christians are as apathetic about the slaughter of innocents in foreign wars as they are agitated about the annihilation of the pre-born through abortion, and they are expansively suspicious of government except when it is engaged in mass-murder abroad.
Anyone who has spent much time in the company of people with Down's Syndrome probably realizes that they are very easy to love, without understanding how difficult it can be to care for them. Even before abortion became this country's most common elective surgical procedure, it was relatively common for "Mongoloids" to be killed in the womb, as if they were human weeds to be pulled and discarded.
He's "perfect": Newborn Trig Palin. There is nothing more beautiful than a baby.
Although Mrs. Palin's supporters may have cynical reasons for saying so, the fact that she gratefully bore a child diagnosed with Down's Syndrome is a fact of unalloyed loveliness. This remains true despite the calculated way the McCain campaign turned little Trig Palin into a fetish.
But I have to wonder why someone so devoted to protecting the right to life would take such conspicuous pride in sending her oldest son off to help kill the children of other mothers in a war that has nothing to do with defending our homes and communities. And this is made even odder by her insistence on referring to the foreign conflicts arranged by our rulers as "our wars."
In her acceptance speech -- which was completed, in all but a few perfunctory personalized details, by Republican campaign consultants before McCain had chosen a nominee -- Palin assailed the Democratic Party presidential candidate for cavilling about the Long War (Against Terrorism, Iraq, and Other Countries To Be Named Later): "Victory in Iraq is finally in sight. He [the Democratic nominee] wants to forfeit....Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions."
Of course, these digs infuriated those who end their prayers in the name of Barack Obama, and electrified those who see in Mr. Obama the figure Daniel referred to as the "King of Fierce Countenance." Whatever may or may not be Obama's eschatological role, in plain truth he is firmly in the Democratic Party's lamentable Wilsonian tradition.
Obama is reliably bellicose toward Iran; his critique of the Iraq war focuses on the Bush administration's ineptitude, rather than on the fundamental immorality of the enterprise itself; and his posture toward Russia is almost as needlessly provocative as that of John McCain.
For advice on international affairs Obama has surrounded himself with retread Clintonians such as the unspeakable Madeleine Albright, who defended an embargo that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and then several years later helped arrange the 78-day terror bombing of Serbia by a U.S.-led coalition. And although Palin mocked Obama as unduly fastidious about the due process rights of accused terrorists, Obama himself has supported nearly the entire menu of dictatorial executive enhancements ordered by the Bush Regime.
Yes, the prospect of an Obama presidency is terrifying -- not necessarily because of the candidate himself, but because of the success the conservative movement has enjoyed in endowing the presidency with autocratic powers.
For entirely self-serving reasons, the Republican Party's base, which until recently treated Bush the Lesser with the same slack-jawed, glassy-eyed adoration rendered to Obama by his more devoted supporters, is just now awakening to the dangers of executive aggrandizement.
But such concerns will evaporate among the GOP faithful if McCain is victorious in November. Indeed, tumultuous applause greeted every derogatory allusion to the Bill of Rights offered by Palin and her warm-up act, the Polystyrene Panderer from Massachusetts. The salient fear displayed by the Republicans is that Obama will inherit a distended office and destroy what remains of our liberty before the Republicans have a chance to finish that job themselves.
Priorities: Is a home in the Naval Observatory worth missing a minute of this tiny boy's life?
Of Obama, Mrs. Palin said:
"Government is too big -- he wants to grow it. Congress spends too much -- he promises more. Taxes are too high -- he wants to raise them.... My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that's now opened for business - like millions of others who run small businesses. How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you're trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio, or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia, or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota. How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy?"
If Palin had written those lines, it would be fair to ask her how her sister and brother-in-law, and the millions of other small businessmen she referred to, could survive the economic fallout from the anticipated, and entirely avoidable, war with Iran. It likewise would be useful to find out if she understands the economically ruinous consequences of the Iraq war, or has any inkling of the extent to which our economy has been militarized. And it would be immensely worthwhile to learn if she has any concern about the effect decades of war will have on the economy, liberties, and morals of our society, and its impact on the small-town "good people" invoked in her address.
But Palin wasn't the author of that address, which wasn't so much a speech as a collection of focus group-inspired Pavlovian cues.Nope, it's not Sarah: When they make the movie-of-the-week, we can expect to see Tina Fey play the role of the first female Republican Vice Presidential candidate.
In fact, Sarah Palin(tm) -- the public figure, not the individual of the same name -- is a focus group-inspired creation, a cunning political hybrid intended to rivet the loyalty of the GOP's religious base while attracting a small but decisive population of disaffected Democrats.
Deploying that creation last Friday achieved the first objective: It captured the news cycle immediately following the grotesque apotheosis of Barack the Redeemer in Denver. And it gave James Dobson an excuse -- then again, practically any would do -- to capitulate and endorse the McCain ticket, thereby triggering similar endorsements from the Palace Prophets of the GOP-aligned Evangelical movement.
It's hardly a surprise that Dobson and his comrades endorsed Palin, given that she was their creation: The Council on National Policy, a secretive and sinister network of GOP kingmakers, essentially dictated to McCain the selection of Palin as a condition of earning Evangelical support.
That fact, coupled with McCain's precarious health, the GOP's insatiable militarism, and Palin's vaguely Armageddonite theological leanings, make me wonder if, under the right set of circumstances, she could morph into a distaff version of Greg Stillson from The Dead Zone.
Yes, such suspicions seem extravagant. But keep in mind that Mrs. Palin has urged fellow dispensational Christians to pray that the Iraq war will be a "task from God," and that she is willing to bear the sacrifice of her oldest son in that undertaking.* Although second on the ticket to arch-warmonger McCain, Palin is now the sentimental leader of a party that defines its priorites entirely in terms of winning one war of aggression, and carrying out several more. And the dim-witted incumbent of that party has very thoughtfully arranged the resumption of hostilities with Russia, the only nuclear-armed regime that presents a plausible threat to the security of the United States.
If she really were the cultural conservative she's advertised to be, Sarah Palin wouldn't have bought herself this package of trouble. She would have recognized that raising a family of five beautiful children -- soon to be expanded to include a grandchild -- is a worthier accomplishment than making "history" as a stalking horse for the Power Elite that is leading our country into permanent war and incurable ruin.
*Clarification, 9/5 --
The original version of this essay inaccurately characterized Mrs. Palin's comments as a statement that the war itself is a "task from God," which isn't a completely sound depiction. My thanks to Scott Watson and Nels Wilson for pointing this out, and keeping me honest by insisting on strict accuracy.
A reminder --
Tomorrow, for the fifth and final time this week, I'm filling in for Alan Stang on his Republic Broadcasting Network radio program. You're all invited to participate by calling 1-800-313-9443.
Dum spiro, pugno!