11 September 2008

The Pretty Face and Ugly Policies of Sarah Palin

Well, they've done it again. The Republicans have found a way to distract voters from policy and its aftermath by making people think personality is more important than policy or worldview.

The election news has focused on Sarah Palin. She's better looking than Biden. She has kids. She has taken on good old boys in the Republican Party. She has won beauty pageants and the state basketball championship. Suddenly, the question seems to be, wouldn't you rather support this woman we can all relate to and admire rather than that wonkish and not quite one of us candidate with the funny name?

But does it really matter how personable someone is if they still think that blood letting is the way to cure illness? Palin’s policies are pretty much Bush’s policies. It is not obvious how her good looks and missing Y chromosome will make those policies any less of a disaster.

The poverty of Palin's policies ought to be evident. As a person, she could be wonderful or she could be a pitbull. I really don't care. I do know that the vapidity of her advocacy for abstinence-only education for teens should be evident to anyone who sees the consequence of that in her own house. Her unwed seventeen year old is about to give birth within a year of her mom. If this is the consequence of her policies, does it really matter whether or not she is likable?

Of course, for all their talk of accountability, the Republicans never actually do take responsibility. The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the bailout by American taxpayers (a bill that will total tens, perhaps hundreds of billions) is in no way related to the Republicans love for deregulation. At least not in their minds. These mortgage giants are too big to fail but they were left in private hands, largely unregulated, until they did fail. The profits are left in private hands and the losses are made public, passed on to taxpayers. This is not a random act. This is a direct consequence of ignoring lessons learned from financial busts past. Of course, those hard to understand policy wonks who explain financial regulation could never compete with the lovable politician who said, "And I say get government out of financial markets. Ours is a capitalist system. Government can't be trusted!" And so they deregulate things they can't understand - or refuse to understand because it conflicts with their ideology. And then the party that will not raise taxes taxes us twice - once to bailout the institutions and again in the form of unemployment and slow economic growth.

And like the candidate George W., Sarah is a governor who pledges to make government smaller and lower taxes. Having heard this promise by a man who then began spending like a 9 year old who just got his first VISA card, expanding government more than anyone since FDR (who dealt with a Great Depression and a World War), you would think that American voters would want more than a simple promise. The question is, can she do it? The answer is, she sure hasn't done it in Alaska.

Some states pay more in taxes than they get back from Washington. No state gets more from Washington than Alaska. Alaska ranks No. 1 in spending per citizen, but much of this is paid for by those of us in states like California, where we pay in more than we get back. Palin is an expert on deficit spending. When she gets into office in Washington, she won't have other states to borrow from. Or, rather, she'll have to borrow from other nation-states, continuing George W.'s massive dependence on the nation-state of China, for instance.

Palin is not ready to take action against climate change but is ready to take action against Iran. Like George, she is biased towards action and not given to deep thought.

The question is not who is Sarah Palin. Delving into that could reveal ugly warts or things to admire. The question is, what would be the consequence of implementing her policies? When she talks about what we should do with government, she sounds just like George Bush. I'm guessing that the results she would get would be no different.

The Republicans are the incumbent party and have had a chance to pursue their policies unfettered for six of the last eight years. Their foreign and domestic policy has been expensive, ineffectual, and left us all (Americans and the rest of the world) worse off. Nothing that Sarah Palin has said or done suggests she sees any connection between these policies and outcome or any reason to change. Why that doesn’t make everything else about her irrelevant escapes me.


texasholly said...

I call for an American political history do-over. Let's just go back to the signing of the constitution and start over again. Ya, that isn't going to work is it?

I am horribly depressed by both political parties.

Tim Coulter said...


Good points. I would also point out that the two financial institutions that you mentioned were heavily in bed with the Demo party. #1 on the list of their donations to political candidates was Kerry, #2 was Obama. Also, there are those that feel like the failure was more a factor of congress encouraging them to make loans to more people, which meant lowering the bar so that those that couldn't pay could get mortgages.

So, in essence, the failure could have been too much government intervention, "congressional" and "driven by democrat policy".

Your observations about Palin not being fiscally conservative are correct, but it is balanced by the fact that she did veto a significant amount of spending. The legislative branch of government sets the budget, the executive just gets to say no some of the time. She seemed willing to say no.

Let's talk about her personal values. I know you well enough to say that you do understand abortion is murder. Obama has tried to make it illegal to provide medical care to a baby that survived a botched abortion. So if we can all agree that killing babies is morally wrong, then the question becomes whether or not it should be legal. We have had laws in the past that supported morally wrong institutions, like slavery. Come to think of it there are many parallels to these two institutions. And I would respectfully suggest that anyone supporting abortion would have also supported slavery, using the same arguments.

1. The government should not be telling me what to do with my "body"/"property"
2. This "black"/"baby" is not human, and therefore has no rights.
3. Someone will have to take care of this "black"/"baby" if they are "free"/"alive".
4. etc.

Finally, I was humbled to hear Laura Bush express appreciation for the prayers that have been given for Her and the President. Even if the inexperienced Marxist get's elected, I will be faithful in praying for him, but I will be surprised if it is ever acknowledged. What do you think?

Tim Coulter

Dave said...

I started to respond to Tim's comment, then realized that it would be of no use.

Ron Davison said...

remember, this is what "They" want - for good and intelligent people to become discouraged by the process. If you don't like the Dems or Republicans, vote Green or Libertarian or for Nader or ...

I know that you are intelligent but if you call Obama a Marxist (based on what? health care reform?), you'll just be dismissed as a nut. (Now Cheney as a fascist that I'll buy.)

Your personal conviction does not equal provable fact.

And I don't know that abortion is murder. You can draw parallels between slavery and abortion and someone from PETA can draw parallels between murder and animal slaughter. Parallels don't make a thing so; they just prove that you think killing cattle is as bad as ethnic cleansing.

The Pope thinks that one ought not to use contraceptives, to tamper with life at its earliest potential. That's fine. Let the pope stay away from contraceptives, but just don't legislate that everyone has to abide by his religious belief. You find the pope's position obviously silly, but KNOW (like he knows) that at the moment of conception the sperm and egg are suddenly the exact same as an 18 year old and to end life at that moment is murder. Like the pope, you've got your religious belief, and that is fine. Don't abort. But there is no scientific fact or critical mass of public opinion behind that position, two things that ought to be behind a position in order for it to move from the domain of private belief to public policy.

You obviously don’t know me that well. I think my position is pretty much like the vast majority of Americans'. I don't think that abortion in the third trimester should be legal and in the first trimester it should be legal and I am terribly squeamish about it in the second. I have never seen a verse or scientific report that said that a zygote and baby were identical.

Palin doesn't think that quality of life should factor in the decision to abort. Murder is murder and is always wrong. You are on the same page. So, you two must be outraged that Bush ordered the shock and awe bombing of Iraq, initiating an invasion that ultimately killed between 50,000 to 200,000 Iraqi children. Why did he do it? So Iraqis could enjoy a better quality of life - could live under a democracy. But obviously, this is no justification if quality of life is irrelevant in the decision. Why wouldn’t you comment on this?

Oh, and one other thing. If you are going to reference the Bible for your belief (not that it would be the basis for secular law anyway), you might want to look in Deuteronomy (I think it is). If a man, through violence, terminates the pregnancy of a woman, he gets a sentence. (This is even against the woman's will.) It is not even close to the sentence for murder of a child or adult. Even in Old Testament times, when it was a sin to eat shellfish, they made a distinction between a fetus and a baby. Where - outside of the American evangelical movement - do you find facts or verses that define abortion as murder or a zygote as a child? Even good religion makes for bad policy – bad religion makes for worse.

There are verses that clearly speak out against riches, and yet we all support the goal of a better economy. There are verses that suggest we should turn the other check, and yet we all support a strong military. Not just obscure verses, either. These are quotes from Christ. There are no verses that even mention abortion, and yet this is something we should put into law because evangelicals say so? Either advocate the whole of Christ’s teachings (and see how much support that gets in the political arena) or accept that this is a secular government and we no longer subcontract the creation of laws to priests.

[Tim - you must have provoked me to set a personal record for length of comment response.]

Lifehiker said...

Ron, you know why Palin is not irrelevant: too many Americans lack the education and experience to understand why Palin also lacks these important qualifications. They understand soap operas and pro football, not international relations and economics. Their "Christianity" is exclusive, whereas Christ was inclusive. Palin is like them, and it appears Tim is like them.

Oh, I forgot about the media. Those people I mentioned above get daily doses of the "good media" - Rush, Fox News, Hannity, etc., all scripted by the conservative republican establishment to repeat ad nauseum pure bullshit like "Obama is a Marxist", while also heaping false praise on the "smart people" who listen to them. Who do you listen to, Tim?

I'm no knee-jerk liberal. I was an army officer, I have a CPA and MBA, I hold leadership roles in several community organizations and my church, and I'm a registered republican. In my view, the republicans have presided over disaster after disaster of their own making during the past eight years. Palin shares their views...are you ready for more?

wheelsonthebus said...

I'm with Dave.

You did a GREAT job articulating this. I wish more people would read it.

Tim Coulter said...


Obama a marxist? It is hard to really know, isn't it. Where does he stand on drilling? Where does he stand on taxes, from each according to their ability to each according to their need? Where does he stand on the the war in Afghanistan, is he for getting troops out, or sending more troops in? Does he want to have more control over our lives or less? Does he trust you to make the decisions, or would it seem that he wants you to trust the government?

Abortion? You have a well reasoned and thoughtful explanation about your stance. My stance isn't religious, it is moral, maybe they are the same thing??;-) Thou shalt not steal isn't just for us religious wacko's, it makes for a healthy society. We know that laws don't have to align with what is morally right and wrong, but society is healthiest when they do.

Please send me valid references that indicate that we Americans have killed 50,000 to 200,000 Iraqi children. Did we put them in camps? Gas them? Dump them head first into tree choppers, hmm, maybe that was the regime that we overthrew. Here's a little stat for you, we had more murders in Chicago this summer, than we had troops die in Iraq. Yes the Chicago that Obama is coming from.. Is he bringing the same culture to the rest of America? Let's name some other democrat bastions.... Oakland, Detroit, Philly, etc. Look at past behavior to forecast the future. Are you sure that you want to allow the democrats to expand their success in those mecca's of virtue and enlightenment to the rest of the country? Go live in downtown Chicago for a bit and then decide whether you really want the change that Obama is advocating;-) "Make sure you live in one of Rezko's construction projects"..

I like McCain and Palin, and feel like their track record more closely aligns with my values. I love the fact that other people respectfully disagree with me, and will do everything that they can to get Obama and Biden elected. My strong feeling is that either pair when elected will do the best that they can for this country.

Government isn't the answer.
Better Government isn't the answer.
More Government isn't the answer.
Better people are the answer. People that have high ideals, and try to live up to them. People that love others, and try to help them. People that are willing to live for what is right, and protect the weak. People that are willing to be used to make things better for everyone.

Hopefully you realize I didn't jump in to piss you and the rest off. Discourse has a lot more substance, when the opinions are different.

Takes me back to our pontificating in the jacuzzi, years ago.;-)

And I have to agree with the previous poster, you did do a great job articulating your thoughts.


Tim Coulter said...


Thought I would spend a few minutes responding. If you are asking if I am a Christian, I would have to claim guilty. As far as being exclusive?, my experience is that those that ask me to have an open mind feel like it is a one way street. They want me to validate their views but can't conceive that I could have a different opinion and be intelligent or rational. My beliefs are not going to be swayed, but that doesn't affect whether or not I like or will listen to someone. Can you say the same?

Palin, is an accomplished successful working mom, but is besmirched because she doesn't worship at the altar of abortion on demand, and other liberal views. You are absolutely correct that she is very well liked by those watching football, and soap opera's, and clinging to their guns's and religion, because they see her as themselves or their wife, or as their daughter. She lives in a normal house with a semi normal screwed up family, but has been very successful as a mayor, appointed government employee, and governor. 80% approval rating, taking on her own party to root out corruption, well spoken, and in alignment with her beliefs. She is a wonderful story. Why not rejoice that there are still stories like this? You don't have to vote for her, but don't castigate her either.

I listen to Rush, and Hannity, but do my own thinking. I also listen to the liberals down here in San Francisco, and still do my own thinking. Don't have a TV, but am smart enough to see that we wouldn't have the right wing radio personality's if the other news venues were not so left wing and out of touch with the ordinary Americans. They balance each other out.

I would love 8 years more of the first six years of the bush presidency. Great economy after we got through the Clinton recession, safety here at home, I would ask that the congress rein in on the spending though.

Sounds like you have a different view of the world, even though you have done very well. Please help me understand where the disaster is? The mortgage crisis? Pretty bad, but I don't hear of people dying? Iraq? Seems like things are going pretty well. Gas prices, well do you notice that they are dropping now that we have starting figuring out that if you drill for more oil, you will get more oil? Gustav, I think both the states and the fed have learned some lessons.

Life is good, don't you agree?

ThomasLB said...

I think of Sarah Palin as a younger, prettier Ann Coulter. There are people who are going to cheer her no matter what she says, and there are people who are going to boo her no matter what she says.

She was chosen specifically to drive a wedge. It worked.

LSD said...


Camille Paglia has an interesting piece at Salon. It compliments Palin and it is written by an Obama supporter. Paglia is an iconoclast; a professor of humanities, a writer, a feminist and a lesbian parent. (She listens to Rush Limbaugh!) -Like Christopher Hitchens, she is one of these people who provokes thought and challenges the direction of the herd(s.)

As you might guess, I like what I have seen of Palin.

I think the speed with which we saw cover stories bragging authority on the topic of Sarah Palin, told something of the magnitude of the threat that she represents. Obama apparently has identified her as such, but I think his policies are the problem. It will be interesting to see if the campaigns can clearly address the issues, or if posture and personality completely obscure the discussion.

On that note, I think Democrats ought to be more concerned about Biden than Palin. -If he appears to manhandle her or can't maintain a high level of civility in debate, he might scare away more votes than she attracts. Actually, I think she has a green light to be confrontational with him, but if he tries the same, he might look like a bully.

-While we can all agree that it ought to be about the issues, clearly other things come in to play.

mamaneeds2rant said...

Thank you, Tim Coulter. People like you convince me that there is still intelligent life on this planet.

Life Hiker said...

Tim, I'm glad your life is good.

It's not so good for the 45 million Americans without health insurance.

It's not so good for those average working stiffs who got conned into Ford F150's and can't afford the gas to get to work.

It's not so good for retirees whose investments are tanking, whose home is now worth much less than they had counted on, and whose Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy because the administration has not acted to shore them up.

It's not so good for people who, right or wrong, took sub-prime loans that "government" never should have allowed and will now lose 100% of their investment and possibly go bankrupt.

It's not so good for the parents, wives, children and friends of soldiers killed or maimed in Iraq, a totally unnecessary war.

Life's not so good for all these people, Tim, but I'm glad it's good for you. Maybe if these people got right with God, he'd fix their problems. Oops! I forgot that God already gave you and me that job. Have you forgotten about that?

Damon said...

my comments don't seem to be posting, which is a bummer since I just wrote a mini-book for a comment. hmpf.

Damon said...

oh. sure. NOW they post. well, I just want to say this...

Lifehiker, you seem fairly riled up here and more than a little frustrated. You've made some good points though. Healthcare, gas prices, sub-prime loans....

But I couldnt help smiling when I read that...because hey, God has UNDOUBTEDLY blessed any nation whose main critics are most frustrated about Healtcare, gas prices and sub-prime loans!

I enjoy how Tim acknowledges that whoever wins the election will have our country and it's best interest at heart. Takes a pretty fair and honest and humble person to put aside the obvious bias and admit that, beyond policy differences, both Obama and McCain love their country and want the best for it.

So we've seen Tim the conservative give Obama his respectful due. I think it's time for Lifehiker to return the favor, no?

Or is there just too much bitterness and anger?

For the sake of our country, our freedom of speech and our respect for healthy debate...I sure hope not!

Ron Davison said...

Wow. Hardly know how to respond to so much. It is as though a novel has been written in response to a haiku. I feel like my post should have had more substance to justify all this.

Tim, killing babies is a moral issue. Defining zygotes as babies is a religious or scientific or philosophical issue. No one disagrees that killing babies is wrong. The disagreement is about the instant when ejaculate becomes a human and gains such rights.

Damon and Tim, I think that I share Lifehiker's frustration. This is not about civility. This is about efficacy. Do we really have to give flat earth advocates a hearing? If things do not work, why do we have to give them a civil hearing? Bush has disregarded international agreements, constitutional rights, presided over stagnating wages, soaring debt, etc., etc. Has he not been given a hearing? Has he not been given a chance? Two chances? McCain has yet to explain why Bush did so poorly or what he would do differently. How he is running neck and neck with Obama is a mystery to me, and one that is no less mysterious after reading your comments.

Let's take an example from something unmentioned in the comments: abstinence only sex education. If, as it shows, the rate of teen pregnancy is higher as a result, do you stay with that? What constitutes a failure that would suggest a change in strategy? If you are committed to abstinence only education, you will be happy with it no matter what its results. If you are committed to Republican rule, you will be happy with it no matter what its results. You have to accept outcomes other than "we are doing things in a way that makes us happy" if you want to understand why someone like LifeHiker would choose Republicans in one instance and Democrats in another. Until you are willing to change strategies or ideologies in pursuit of a goal, you are just being led by blind party loyalty rather than anything empirical.

Damon said...

TOTALLY agree Ron. I'm just wary of those who assume that the people who are not overwhelmed with frustration are the ones "being led by blind party loyalty".

Remember, empirical evidence is like a coin. There is ALWAYS more than one way to look at it.

And gosh darn I know one thing for SURE. My way of looking at that coin is not always gonna be right! And I respect those who admit the same thing.

Ron Davison said...

You would respect me if I admitted this? I admit it!
Actually, my hero Deming would have been glad to hear you say that even data can be interpreted more than one way. One of the things he advocated was operational definitions, agreements about how to measure intended outcomes, before designing process or measurement. Do we accept poverty? How do we measure it? What policies change it? For better or worse? What conditions make it better or worse? I still think that all legislation should come with a testable hypothesis - if the theory behind it is not borne out by data, the law expires. But I guess my love of empirical methods shows just how much of an idealist I am.

Big Al said...

As I sift through all the comments, that nagging voice in the nether-regions of my mind keeps asking the same question over and over and over again: why do McCain and Obama, and by extension Palin and Biden, want to be President of the United States? Why do they want such a job? Do they want it for the sheer, unbelievable challenge of it all? Do they want it for the title? The power? What?

Can I possibly hope to believe that any one of the 4 want the position because they truly believe they can leave the U.S., nay the World, a better place after the next 4 (maybe 8) years?

I truly believe GW Bush, very much like Nixon, had his own agenda and was determined to see it through to the bitter end no matter the consequences. Will our next President be as horse-blindered as GW or will our next President be as determined yet open to the advice of others?

I'm looking for Leadership . . . a person who has a vision for truly a healthier country for us all . . . who isn't afraid to immediately say "I made a mistake" when they do . . . a person who takes some time to consider decisions and weigh others' advice before making a decision . . . a person not afraid to look us all in the eye and tell us the economy is bad, our healthcare system is disastrous and our working together as one big country trying to do best for each other is certainly not happening . . . a person who pulls all the Congress-people together in 1 big room, House & Senate, closes the door and says to everybody (kudos to Ron), "Ladies and Gentlemen, what do we want to create together? We are the elected leaders. Our family outside this room, the entire United States of America, expects us to work together. Let's figure out how we all do that, together. We have an awesome responsibility. Remember, we're not working for ourselves. We're working for the people who elected us."

I'm so damn tired of the shit-slinging. It's not mud anymore. It's feces being thrown around. I wish the candidates would be fighting as hard to one-up the other guy on proclaiming in clear, concise language what they're going to do for our country instead of constantly one-upping the other guy on how bad the other guy is.

Ron Davison said...

More commenting on the comments (or, part of an on-going series on why language will never become obsolete).

Thank you for the acknowledgment and for linking to this post. I appreciate it.

As always, you make me wonder why take sooo many words to say what I say. I wish I had your gift for cutting directly to the point.

Yes, it is like us teenagers talking in the jacuzzi - we still talk as if we have a clue. And Tim, I must be a Marxist if opposing offshore oil drilling makes you one. Actually, I think the whole thing is a distraction - http://rwrld.blogspot.com/2008/06/anwr-is-distraction.html

that is a typically provocative piece by Paglia. Thank you. And as to Biden, wouldn't it be sexist of him to refrain from showing Palin's paucity of knowledge compared to his own? I'd say that he should just make this explicit in the debate(s). To me, Biden is the strongest of the four (cf. with McCain, Obama, and Palin) in terms of foreign policy and even "maverick" approach to politics. I still haven't heard anyone speak with more understanding, candor, and intelligence about these issues.

Welcome to R World and thanks for encouraging Tim to speak up here.

I (unsurprisingly) agree that the real focus ought to be on what they are trying to create. I think that by this point, they are so busy trying to create the impression that they are wonderful and their opponent is scary that not much else is heard.

Again, thanks everyone for such thoughtful and intelligent comments. Next week, when it is my birthday, perhaps you all could just pretend - for at least the day - that, in the end, you really do agree with me on all these points. I would appreciate that and even express how humbled I am by it.

nunya said...

"George W.'s massive dependence on the nation-state of China, for instance"

And Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc. ad infinitum

ben said...

What a discussion.

I'm incredibly frustrated by something I've seen a lot of lately - people say their own life is good and can't figure out why other people think there may be problems. Have we really become that short-sighted and selfish?

I don't agree that healthcare and mortgage crises are trivial "at least life is still good" problems. Obviously they aren't civil war, or massive poverty, or the unchecked plague.

Ron Davison said...

Good point. It seems that our most popular products are financial - most in the form of debt instruments.

Nice to have you stop by.
I do suspect that behind many bad policy decisions lies a failure of empathy. And, as much as it does seem that one would look at more than one data point for deciding whether or not a policy works, I have come to believe that it is the rare belief that does not have its defender.