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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brooks, re: Ms. Palin

David Brooks wrote an excellent op-ed piece on the inadequacy of Ms. Palin for the post of vice president. He points out her lack of experience and her (apparent) inability to take the nuanced stands necessary to a responsible executive post. He closes with these words:

The idea that “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.

Exactly! The vicious--and often misogynistic and otherwise bigoted--attacks on Ms. Palin are inappropriate. Criticize her for being wrong or being under-qualified, but spare us the condescension.

Viva Eire! Viva Progressivism!

I have a few friends who have that supposedly treasured item: "dual citizenship" in Ireland. These friends are "progressives" and fret that if things get so bad, they'll just move to Ireland, where, apparently, Jack shall have Jill, naught shall go ill, the man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.

So, these people care so much about their less fortunate fellow citizens--most of whom do not have dual citizenship--that they are willing to abandon them at their direst hour of need.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Show, don't tell

A friend of mine once said that as a matter of strategy, there's not a criticism of Ms. Palin that supporters of Obama can make without playing into the hands of the McCain campaign. He's right. As a matter of strategy, Obama supporters should demand as many debates as possible between Ms. Palin and Mr. Biden and in those debates, Mr. Biden should focus on the issues and not attack his opponent, even when parrying her attacks.

If she's unfit to be vice president, show that, don't just tell us.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin and "the haters"

After listening to Sarah Palin's VP speech last night, I really don't want her and Mr. McCain to win the election. I disagree with almost all of her substantive policy prescriptions. But I may say that members of the so-called non-judgmental left who I know have made a very poor showing of the type of tolerance and compassion they blame conservatives for lacking.

One friend, in a display of his detached, urbane academic wit, told me yesterday that Ms. Palin's daughter "needed an abortion" and her failure to choose an abortion demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of Ms. Palin's pro-life stance. (He did not use the word "moral bankruptcy," but I think that term is consistent with the point he was making.) Aside from facts that neither he nor I had access to--neither of us knows whether Ms. Palin's daughter actually wanted an abortion or if she chose to keep the baby--can't one at least recognize that abortion is a complicated issue and that sincere pro-lifers, who honestly believe that human life begins at conception, or some point before childbirth, might not advocate the outlawry of abortion solely out of misogynistic motives?

Another friend complained about a double standard: if Mr. Obama's daughters were, say, 16 or 17 and were pregnant, the media wouldn't treat him as lightly as they treat Ms. Palin. Maybe and maybe not, but probably. Still, what's the point: the Republicans would do it in a hypothetical situation and therefore we have the right to do it now.

Ms. Palin appears to be underqualified, at least if experience is taken into account (although I wonder if any experience can prepare anyone for the presidency), and her substantive policy issues (pseudo-tax cuts, oil drilling in Alaska, a pro-life policy that is just as bigoted and unreflective as--and almost certainly more dangerous than--some people's advocacy of pro-choice policies) leave so much to challenge that taken by themselves, in open debate, they should show her wanting.

Of course, political campaigns are not won on reason, and whether it is right or not, ad hominem attacks are, and have been for a very long time (at least since the election of 1828), within the pale of acceptable political discussion. The goal is to get as many people as possible to vote for your guy or gal, and my moralistic posturing (let's face it, I can be just as judgmental and as the people I criticize: see what I wrote above) probably contributes nothing practical to the debate. Still, one effect of the personal attacks against Ms. Palin will likely be to energize a heretofore more or less apathetic "base" of conservatives to vote for the Republicans in November.

UPDATE (12-2-09): Today I "struck" two phrases (above), the tone of which I believe was inappropriate and disrespectful.