Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thursday talk radio update

Glenn Beck confessed that he was so taken by Sarah Palin's speech that he wet his pants. Sean Hannity was equally rapt but less confessional; still, I would not want to be responsible for his laundry.

As you might suspect, I was quite able to control my biological functions during her speech. Everything I had read, even from her worst enemies, assured me that she was impressive in person, and she certainly was. But since my concern is whether she is fit to be president, I was listening instead for indications that she might not be up to the job for which she was auditioning. It was a tough assignment, considering that she was speaking to a crowd eager to adore her, reading a speech on matters of little substance that someone else had written.

I heard five things that troubled me.

1. This actually passed me by, but others have pointed it out. Her reference to Harry Truman emphasized his small-town values but omitted his considerable national experience and reputation - a comparison that does not redound to her credit. It also may have reminded some listeners that Truman became president only because the president he served under died in office. Reminding us of McCain's fragility may have been a poor tactic.

2. She referred to Obama as "turning back the waters and healing the planet." This whole Republican obsession with Obama as Messiah is, as I have suggested in other posts, idiotic. Smart people sometimes say stupid things, but people who make a habit of saying idiotic things are, regrettably, often idiots.

3. She repeated the story that she had told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" for the Bridge to Nowhere. This story, as has been well established, is true neither as literal fact nor as metaphor. Yet she repeated it. This suggest a certain imperiousness that can be fatal in politicians.

4. She continued a Republican theme of belittling "community organizers." Why don't self-anointed conservatives embrace the idea that people acting outside of government can work together to make their communities better? Republicans should not only love community organizers but should consider that experience superior to experience gained through inherently corrupt, inefficient, overreaching government.

5. I have seen no one else pick up on this, but I thought it was the oddest and most troubling thing in the whole speech. She said, "Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America. [Obama]'s worried that someone won't read them their rights."

What could that possibly mean? At best, it might mean that she opposes the 1966 Supreme Court ruling in Miranda vs. Arizona. Why this should be an issue in 2008 is a mystery. I thought we had all by now pretty much agreed that having people aware of their legal rights is not a bad thing and should not conflict with competent law enforcement. Maybe it means that she thinks Obama wants American soldiers to read enemy soldiers their rights before firing in combat. If Obama -- or any other rational person -- has ever said such a thing, it's news to me.

At worst, it might mean that she endorses the whole Bush administration argument that the president has power under the Constitution to imprison anybody suspected of certain crimes anytime he wants for as long as he wants, with no obligation to ever file charges or present evidence of any sort. If this is what she thinks, she is utterly unfit for high office. She owes us an explanation.


6 Generations said...

David, I watched Palin's speech, and the sneering comment about reading rights to enemy combatants ("Al-qaeda terrorists" being the emotive term of choice) made me gasp out loud. I heard it as support of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay: incarcerating people for years, denying them the right of habeas corpus, etc. In an interview in Flint, Michigan, in June, Barack Obama was questioned about his support of the Supreme Court's decision to grant suspects at Guantanamo Bay access to due process. Here is part of Obama's response: "And it is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can't.

And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks -- for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims."

So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws." (source:, "Transcript: Jake Tapper Interviews Barack Obama")

The next day the McCain campaign made a public statement criticizing Obama's response. Here is part of the statement: ""He brings the attitude, the failures of judgment, the misunderstanding of the nature of our adversaries and the dangers posed by them, to a series of policy positions. This is just his latest a long line of positions that reveal he does not understand the nature of the enemies we face." (Source:
06/mccain_camp_hits_obama_on_guan.html, "McCain Camp Hits Obama on Guantanamo.")

Draw your own conclusions.

David said...

Thanks, 6 generations, for the info. I think that hits the nail squarely on the head.