Christopher Hitchens on Sarah Palin

14 10 2008

In a piece where he could barely bring himself to endorse Barack Obama for President, Christoper Hitchens took Gov. Sarah Palin to task with searing wit and unsparing honesty.

The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.

Damn that last line is a zinger.


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9 responses

14 10 2008
mariestacey

Hmmm…where to begin.

That last line isn’t a zinger, it’s barely intelligible.

‘her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations — were very well-founded, indeed.’
Speaking of vindictive behavior, the voter coercion being echoed by Union voters seems to fit that bill as well.
Speaking of bizarre religious and political affiliations, have you been informed about William Ayers and Reverend Jeremiah Wright? I assume not…otherwise you would feel kind-of like a halfwit for even posting Christopher Hitchen’s dribble.

It’s so hysterical to me how you Obama nut-hacks are just disguising the situation, tearing Sarah Palin apart as if you are some sort of God-sent authority on her life and beliefs, and completely ignoring any valid oppositional argument.

Good job, I expect nothing less from a drone.

14 10 2008
KUT

Well, at least I am a “drone” that reads the news, a “drone” that can name more than one Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, and a “drone” that actually knows what he Bush doctrine entails. That’s more than I or you could say for Gov. Palin.

Now, as much as you seem to adore Palin you have to admit that her shallow understanding of the conservative positions she professes to believe in clearly means she is not ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Besides, people having been making the case for Palin for the longest time now, but even the most ardent sober thinking conservatives no longer find them persuasive. Nearly all the credible ones have revolted against the pick. David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Peggy Noonan, and David Frum are among the many conservatives who have been made more or less embarrassed by the Palin pick. Please familiarize yourself with these writers.

Perhaps conservative criticism and even outright rejection of Palin is a fact that you have been slow to appreciate, but I do not understand how my commenting on the governor’s deeply flawed candidacy is evidence of believing I am some deity of punditry. To the contrary, my dear Marie Stacey, I simply believe bloggers have the right to engage in reasoned criticism, and even admire the wit of others. I imagine or at least hope you do too.

I also do not know what warranted you making the assumption that I do consider opposing opinions. In fact, I actually read conservatives as evidenced by the list above. But surely you must admit that simply having a point of view is not an indication that you do not take the arguments others make seriously.

Perhaps that’s the kind of inference someone like Palin might make, but surely you are better than that. Isn’t that right, Marie Stacey?

And as far as the Will Ayers and Reverend Wright guilt by associations accusations goes, that’s a game we can play all day. Palin was a member of a wacko church out and has maintained ties to a secessionist party in Alaska. McCain sought the endorsement of Pastors like Agee who has said some of the most vile and anti-Semitic remarks. But how does exploring these associations really provide any real insights into how such people would govern. Not much.

Policy positions are the stuff of serious elections and serious thinking. I implore you to observe that fact if you intend to make well grounded arguments instead of launching flismy ad hominem attacks. After all, someone with such a sweet name like Marie Stacey shouldn’t engage in such attacks. xoxoxoxoxox

14 10 2008
mariestacey

Which conservative policies does she have ‘shallow understanding of’? I haven’t heard a shallow answer from her yet. Have you listened to the speeches or do you rely solely on the dimwit Katie Couric to be enough to judge her on?

This was an interview. Remembering specific Supreme Court Cases is necessary but its not easy. When you’re on television, on the spot, with a moron questioning every value you possess, you may not be able to recall many from detail. I’m not sure exactly what she said about that, but if she doesn’t know more than one Supreme Court Case, I agree she needs to go spend a week in a legal library and learn about the History of the Supreme Court. Hell, a couple weeks. What do you people want? It’s not THAT big of a deal.

Um…I’m not sure where you get your ‘conservative info’ but allow me to explain this to you, as a conservative. I listen to Mark Levin, I listen to Rush, I listen to various other conservative talk radio shows, I listen to Hannity occasionally, and I watch CSPAN for debates, speeches, anything important. I don’t care what low-level conservatives have to say about Sarah Palin. No one said the woman was perfect for God’s sake, but you nutjobs act like you don’t know what we’re running against here. Sarah Palin, while somewhat inexperienced is MORE experienced than the Presidential candidate running on the opposing ticket. Again, factual.

A condescending attitude adds very little to an argument. Or so I’ve heard from my boyfriend. =)

You are distracting away from the real point here. I’m into serious elections and serious thinking. I wrote a book. Published and everything, about this election. Beyond that, I research this topic all day everyday. If you can present to me an argument (COHERENT) that will sway me from supporting Sarah Palin, then by all means, give it a shot, but I am firmly aware of what my beliefs are. And I know that Sarah Palin has shown me that she believes in the same things.

Your turn.

15 10 2008
KUT

Are you serious? Do you really not think that failing to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade is not “that big of a deal”?

I am not sure if you know this but Article 3 section 2 of the U.S. Constitution endows the President with the power to appoint judges to the federal bench upon confirmation by the Senate. If something were to happen to John McCain, that would mean she would inherit a power she does not have the faintest idea how to wield.

Additionally, according to a September 5, 2008 Rasmussen Reports poll regarding the judiciary, “The majority (63%) believe it is very important. Just 8% think the selection process by the president is not important.” So unlike you, most people think that judicial appoints and the court more generally are very important. In fact, you fall into that mere 8 percent of voters who think its unimportant.

Plus, I don’t know how much you know about the Reagan revolution, but packing the court and overturning certain decisions has been a major preoccupation of the conservatives agenda since the Gipper took office. So, it hard to understand how Palin’s lack of knowledge of key court decisions is somehow not that big of a deal. Do you not understand that its the closet thing you all have to perpetuating the culture wars?

Even if we wanted to limit her knowledge of the court to just abortion issues are you willing to excuse the fact that she could not even name any other reproductive rights cases such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which is arguably more influential than Roe, or Gonzales v. Carhart, which was about so-called partial birth abortions?

Furthermore, I have to reiterate the fact that she was completely stumped by what the Bush doctrine was should be a scary thing for most conservatives and all Americans who give a shit. Not only is that doctrine one of the most catastrophic foreign policy failures ever, but we are still living with its consequences and probably will do so for years to come. If we are going to successfully undo the damage done by Bush, it kinda helps to know what he actually did and how he did it. Studying the past allow us to draw valid inferences about causes, effects and viable solutions. Marie Stacey, I am sure we can both agree with that.

Now, perhaps its true that the average voter on the street that’s unaccustomed to having a mic in front of her face may be taken aback if quizzed on the federal judiciary or what the Bush doctrine entails, but its unbecoming and evidence of her lack of preparedness for someone who aspires to be a heart beat away from the presidency. She should know these things cold and possess total fluency on such key national issues. I may not know what my muffler does or how to replace the fan belt in my car, but my mechanic sure as hell should. So, the notion that she got nervous on television is far from a persuasive excuse.

If you are a serious thinking conservative you might watch and listen to Hannity, Rush, Michael Savage crowd for entertainment, but they are hardly probing intellectuals. In fact, they probably fit the bill of the most cartoonish representations of conservatives. You should actually read columnists like David Brooks, who helped found the Weekly Standard, David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, and so on. Each of them found serious deficiencies in Palin and have been very public in their criticisms of her and McCain for picking her.

I am sure you would agree Romney would have been the far better pick for you all, especially in light of the recent contracting credit markets. And if McCain wanted to pick a woman he could have done far better with Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas.

Palin’s experience also leaves much to be desired. She was the mayor of a town of less than 10,000 people. There are national campaigns that are larger than that. And now she is governor of a state about the size of the average Congressional District. Obama by contrast, has had at least way more experience than Palin in state government and has spent virtually his entire adult life advocating and studying national issues as a constitutional law professor, as a state senator, and a U.S. Senator of a state with at least 9 times as big.

He’s been right about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, about financial meltdown, and a wide range of civil rights issues. The same cannot be said of Palin. Perhaps with a little mentoring she could get a good talk show following the 700 club with Pat Robertson after this is all done. I hear the conservative right has been in the market for a next Jerry Falwell in a skirt.

But then I wonder who would keep an eye on Putin from Alaska?

BTW, you can check out the soft ball questions that Couric asked Palin here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBt0r9Exv2I

And Palin’s interview with Gibson here

15 10 2008
mariestacey

You liberals are never satisfied with anything. Can we talk about the walking-gaff-nightmare that is Joe Biden for a second or must you keep degrading and insulting Palin? Obama chose a dimwitted moron to be his running mate. I don’t hear you screeching about that. No, no. Attack PALIN!

I really am sick of hearing you libs insult Rush Limbaugh’s intelligence. Have you ever listened to Rush? EVER? Have you ever heard him articulate an argument? If not, then why would you imply that he’s not intelligent. I think it’s hysterical, because he’s definitely more intelligent than a couple of the progressive leftist professors I’ve had, yet they deplore him and mock him. It’s revealing. None of you can even admit to his intelligence because he says controversial remarks every now and then that you don’t agree with. Get over yourselves. Rush is smarter than you.

I’m not a Romney fan. And I don’t care who you think would’ve been the better female. The pick is Palin, and the pick is solid.

And for the record, we disagree on who is responsible for what. Beginning with the Mortgage crisis. Would you just give the responsibility to the Democrats so that I don’t have to prove you wrong? Because I’ll do it.

And for God’s SAKE! Obama has not even had ANY experience in the Executive Branch of Government. You do know we have 3 branches, and he has not been in the one he is running for? Sarah Palin, having mayoral and governor experience, has experience in the Executive Branch of government. Barack Obama has experience being a politician and a community organizer, not in GOVERNING. Yet you sit here and spew the lie that he’s more experienced for the office than Palin. What experience has Barack Obama had that will benefit him in the Presidency (aside from the 2 years of Senate experience, which will only help him for political reasons)?

It drives me insane.

15 10 2008
KUT

If you are going to cite executive experience as the exclusive or even chief standard by which you judge presidential candidates, then that would mean you consider Sarah Palin to be more qualified than John McCain, which is another laughable proposition.

Now you cite Palin’s experience as a governor as evidence of her being a solid pick, but she has served with little distinction in that regard. I suppose one could credit her with some passing some ethics reform laws in Alaska. But even that part of her record has been compromised by her incessantly and wholly fabricated claims that she put an end to the bridge to nowhere when in fact Congress cut off funding for it after she already vigorously campaigned to have it restored. In other words, she supported the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. The same bridge to nowhere that John McCain railed against as a form of wasteful government spending on the Senate floor not that long ago.

Don’t believe me? Check out the Washington Post’s fact check here http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/09/sarah_palin_and_the_bridge_to.html

She has also claims to be an energy expert because she is the governor of a state that sitting on top of barrels of oil, but her mantra on the issue merely amounts to one slogan “drill baby drill.” Now every credible expert has concluded that the U.S. cannot drill its way out of the energy crisis, in fact that will make matters worse in the long run.

Don’t believe me? See for your self. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/08/05/politics/fromtheroad/entry4323718.shtml

Plus, a recent report by the Department of energy concluded that lifting a federal moratorium on offshore drilling would have an insignificant impact on oil production during the next two decades. Assuming that Palin was even aware of the reports findings it apparently did not make much of an impression since she is so dismissive of alternative energy solutions because they “are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop.”

Don’t believe me check it out: http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/16/alaska_gov_wants_tap_oil_resources51051/

As mayor of Wasilla, she cut taxes after growing the local government there, which left the poor town of a few thousand people with a debt in excess of 20 million dollars. Don’t believe me, check it out http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12987.html

With regard to health care, Gov Palin signed a much weaker SCHIP bill, that translated into more people losing health care coverage altogether. Don’t believe me check it out http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/71501.php

Now lets look at the productivity of Barack Obama by constrast during his years in the state Senate of Illinois and the U.S. Senate. While in the state Senate in Illinois he passed a number of bills that expanded, not cut, health insurance for working families particularly those just above the poverty line. He also passed bills on ethics reform, bills on assisting immigrants in education and outreach, bills assisting juveniles offenders better integrate into society and require cops to videotape interrogations, and a bill to establish a commission that would provide universal health care for all those living in Illinois. You can check out all that and other bills he sponsored in Illinois here http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/07/29/us/politics/20070730_OBAMA_GRAPHIC.html

While in the U.S. Senate, he passed the most sweeping and far ranging ethics reform bill in Congress since Watergate. Check it out here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/21/AR2007082101420.html?nav=rss_opinions

He also joined forces with Sen. Dick Lugar to pass a non proliferation and threat reduction bill into law, which expanded U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also enhanced the State Department’s ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction. Read about it here http://lugar.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=278019

He also passed a bill an amendment ensuring that wounded veterans recovering in military hospitals would not have to pay for their own meals. http://obama.senate.gov/press/050512-obama_amendment_to_pay_for_wou/

He also passed another bill ending no bid contracts in the aftermath of Katrina. http://obama.senate.gov/press/050512-obama_amendment_to_pay_for_wou/

He also secured funding for foreign countries attempting to lift themselves out of constant conflict seeking to hold open and fair elections. He also sponsored many more ranging from women’s rights, to voting rights to ending the war in Iraq and improving the state of our homeland security.

So lets stop waving this gubernatorial card as if it means something, since there is very little in Palin’s record to suggested that she is transformative or visionary figure with an exceptional mind for crafting policy.

As for your pal Rush, its possible that he’s a smart guy. Its obvious that he knows how to make a buck and sustain a following for many years, so I give him credit for that. But even if he were smarter than me or your professors I am not so sure what that proves. After all, that does not make him one of the leading conservative minds, pundit or academic, in the country. I mean he’s a polemicist, but not necessarily someone who articulates something visionary for conservatives to really reflect on. If that’s what you rely on to satiate your appetite for conservative ideas, then your diet is lacking the proper nutrients.

Please read the National Review or the Weekly Standard or the American Conservative or editorial pages of the Washington Times or the many publications by the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute.

You last comment was just a snarky tirade without much substance or focus to it. And you know what they say all rant and no well reasoned opinion makes Marie Stacey a Palin like gal.

But seriously Marie Stacy I know you can do better than that.

15 10 2008
mariestacey

“If you are going to cite executive experience as the exclusive or even chief standard by which you judge presidential candidates, then that would mean you consider Sarah Palin to be more qualified than John McCain, which is another laughable proposition.”

You were the first one to figure that out. I was wondering when someone would notice that. But it doesn’t negate my argument. I don’t care how many spins you put on the facts. Palin is more experienced for the Vice Presidency than Barack Obama is for the Presidency. If you don’t agree, then I think you have a skewed perception of ‘experience’ — especially when Obama’s experience has been tainted and maimed with various scandals and of course the biggest cover-up in the history of the United States.

I’m sorry…when did the bridge to nowhere become a 2008 Presidential Election issue? Lots of people were on the fence about it. It wasn’t just Palin. And this issue is IRRELEVANT to the Election. Maybe not to you, but it is to me.

Oh, the productivity of Barack Obama in the Illinois State Legislator. What an interesting, yet extremely unreliable allegation. Do you support infanticide, KUT, because most Americans don’t. And if you, like most Americans, do not support the death of born babies in a hospital storage closet, then you would be at odds with your hero Barack Obama. He supports the abandonment of born babies intended to be killed via partial birth abortion. Do you want me to begin to discuss ethical repercussions of this stance or would you rather me just use the Constitutional argument of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I’m poised to go either way.

But on to Senator Biden (wouldn’t it be more productive to compare Biden and Palin anyway, since really any President has the possibility of dying in office?)

Now these are just for your viewing pleasure:

Top 5 Joe Biden Gaffes:
http://politicalhumor.about.com/b/2008/09/21/top-5-joe-biden-gaffes.htm

I know they’re funny, but you do realize THIS MAN could be President right? Definitely worse than Bush. But then Democrats would be the laughing stock, which would definitely satisfy me to some extent.

15 10 2008
KUT

Oh Marie Stacey, it seems as if you forgot to respond to an argument with an argument. You simply responded with snark and more snark.

And the reason why the bridge to nowhere is a relevant issue is because Palin herself cited it as relevant executive experience while campaigning on the stump for McCain long after it was proven to be false. That’s inherently problematic. Someone uttering falsehoods matters when you aspire to occupy a position of worthy of the public’s trust?

Perhaps you and I differ on this, but I would rather have someone as gaffe prone yet actually knowledgeable about the issues as Biden as my vice president than someone who knowingly lies to voters on the campaign trail about her record.

Also, while your assertion about anyone could die in office is true, we have to consider likelihood here. McCain is a cancer survivor who was tortured for years while serving admirably in Vietnam that’s now well into his 70′s.

Obama, on the other hand, is in the prime of his life in his mid-40′s works out 3 times a week often jogging 3 miles. According to a recent report, “His build was lean and muscular with no excess body fat. His physical examination was completely normal.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10686.html

Would you really bet your money on McCain outliving Obama? Lets be rational about this.

Please respond with an argument next time that actually includes doing some substantive research on your part rather than making empty accusation after empty accusation. In other words, defend your position with well grounded facts and data points with cited references.

If that’s too much trouble, then please lets not waste anymore time with this exchange.

15 10 2008
mariestacey

I’m sure JFK didn’t think he was going to die either. In the ‘prime’ of his life.

What is the argument here? On whether McCain will outlive Obama? That’s not an argument, that’s speculation at best, and race baiting at worst. The answer to that question is that no one knows. The point is that both of them have a chance of dying in office and so BOTH Vice Presidential candidates should be scrutinized on that basis. I wrote a blog on Joe Biden that I posted on my other website, but you’re looking for arguments. I certainly have them. Let me give you some.

Here are 2: gun control, Energy Efficiency:
One of my personal favorite topics is gun ownership, and Joe Biden has terrible positions on gun ownership. He voted to keep the assault weapons ban and close gun show loophone. Whatever the hell that means. He voted “No” on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. (Jul 2005) He voted “No” on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence. What kind of stance is that?!?!? These nitwits in Congress think that the solution to stopping gun violence is to punish the manufacturers of gun weapons. If you don’t already know why this line of reasoning is completely irrational, let me explain it to you. The gun manufacturer did not fire the gun. The gun manufacturer did not kill anyone, and the gun manufacturer’s intent while manufacturing the weapon was not so that some low-life criminal could go and shoot someone. Gun manufacturers manufacture guns because there is a market for them in this country — a legal, well-regulated market. The Constitution guarantees every American citizen a right to gun ownership for an array of reasons including personal security and the ability of individuals to form a militia against a corrupt government. Without the right to gun ownership, a free society such as the United States of America could not function normally. Southerners understand this. Northerners have a difficult time with it, but some do. Gun ownership is intrinsically necessary to preserving the state of security in this country. <— That is also a line from my book. Joe Biden also voted “Yes” on background checks at gun shows, but I don’t hear him voting for background checks at a Ludacris concert. Yes, Ludacris, I’m calling you out because I heard about your reprehensible song about this election. Yes, look up and define the word reprehensible and you will understand what I am saying. Senator Joe Biden was rated “F” by the NRA — indicating a pro-gun control voting record. We need this nitwits in Congress to back off of our 2nd Amendment right to gun ownership, and I encourage any Democratic Congressman or woman that supports this kind of legislation to look into the history of the 16th Amendment (Prohibition of Alcohol), and its long-run effect on the United States of America. Ironic, I know.

I will also discuss Senator Biden on Energy Efficiency and Expansion. Gas prices are a major concern to Americans in this country. That cannot be disputed by anyone except Speaker Nancy Pelosi — whose tripe and rhetoric about oil drilling is nauseating and shows a real lack of intelligence on the part of the Speaker of the House. Hopefully she will have to relinquish that title soon enough. Joe Biden said in December of 2007 that, “the energy challenge takes sacrifice and is a moral crusade.” Why don’t Democrats ever accurately define a position on an issue? What kind of quotation is this ontheissues.com? I’m waiting for the Democrats to sacrifice for energy. When was the last time any of them did that — flying around in their jets or riding luxuriously in their limousines? Alright Senator Biden, since you agree that the energy crisis requires sacrifice, it is your turn to sacrifice your agenda for the American public. How about that? Your socialist and environmentalist agenda does not trump the immediate need of the American public for crude oil prices to come down. You, as a representative of the United States Government and now a contender in a political race, have a personal responsibility to ensure that you make a sacrifice for the American public. Do you agree, Senator Biden?

What do you think of my arguments so far?

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