Posted by Eric (September 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm)
The following was originally posted in the comments of my last post on Matt Damon’s urgent need to know whether Sarah Palin believes dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago, “because she’s gonna have the nuclear codes”. My old high school buddy Jim Macchione turned up to defend Damon, and I wrote a lengthy reply, which my wife April suggested I make into a post. Which I did.
You of all people should understand nuance.
Nuance? Damon’s remarks about Sarah Palin exhibit all the nuance of sledghammer—a big, puffy clown sledgehammer made of styrofoam, equally incapable of achieving subtle effect or landing a telling blow.
Nuance would be to say that, while Sarah Palin has—like all state governors—sought federal money for various projects in her state, she has also substantially reduced earmarks in Alaska.
But our partisan mainstream media—let alone the likes of Matt Damon—aren’t the least bit interested in nuance. The McCain campaign’s claim that Palin has reduced earmarks in Alaska is somehow taken as a claim that Palin has refused to take a single federal dollar for her state, and then characterized as a “lie” because in fact some federal dollars have gone to Alaska.
Or, to take an example from the Gibson interview you alluded to, a photograph of Sarah Palin sporting a “Nowhere, Alaska” T-shirt is construed as evidence that she was always and ever an ardent supporter of that bridge; maybe she was, but a more nuanced interpretation of the T-shirt would be that it shows her support for Gravina Island—as well as her sense of humor.
More on nuance in a minute.
I know you are a brilliant person with a great mind, you always were, but has your fight for one issue so blinded you that you do not see the tremendous harm the far right has caused this country over the last eight years.
It’s not much consolation, Jim, to be told that I’m a “brilliant person with a great mind” only to be accused, in the same sentence, no less, that I’m “blinded.”
As a matter of fact, I care deeply about many issues. The abortion issue is paramount to me, as you know—and often it’s the make or break issue for how I cast my vote. During the primaries, when the presence of several pro-life candidates on the Republican ticket gave me the luxury of considering other issues, I didn’t vote McCain.
I will vote for McCain on November 4 not with “blinders” on, but in the cold light of day—it is the politically most pragmatic vote for me to cast. The issues I care about will be better served—in some cases, less harmed—by a McCain administration.
One of those issues, overlapping but not coextensive with the abortion issue, is judicial appointments. In the past twelve months, I’ve been involved in three different federal cases, and another that may reach the federal level before the end. So I care an awful lot about the judicial philosophy of appointees to the federal court.
I don’t have the slightest doubt that Barack Obama would appoint liberal activist judges, perpetuating the liberal bent of the Supreme Court on such issues as the establishment clause, the equal protection clause, and of course abortion; and appointing judges to the Seventh Circuit who will tend to be hostile to my side in those cases that arise form my work (which aren’t always “abortion cases”, though too often pro-lifers have a hard time convincing the court of that).
I also disagree with Obama on energy policy, environmental policy, foreign relations, the U.S. mission in Iraq, the role of religion in public life, and more.
Now, if I could fashion my ideal presidential candidate out of clay, I can assure you it wouldn’t be John McCain. Actually, it might look an awful lot like Sarah Palin, a few years on.
But I don’t get to do that. In the real world, I have a choice between Barack Obama, who I stand in opposition to on nearly everything (and whose only significant accomplishment in life is having run for president) and John McCain, who I stand together with on some matters (and who has long years in government).
Abortions, teen pregnancies, all of the things you rally against have INCREASED over the last four years.
That’s news to me. I know you’re wrong about the abortion rate; not only have total numbers of abortions gone down, but given population increase, the rate has gone down more.
It’s still astronomically high, though. But don’t collapse the entire pro-life political program into the reduction of abortions. There’s also the long-term campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, which Bush advanced substantially when he replaced Sandra Day O’Connor with John Roberts, and when he signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act into law.
Bush also restored Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, and, recently, provided conscience-rights protection to health care workers, so that they will not be forced to participate in taking the lives of unborn human beings.
Bush has been far from the ideal pro-life president. But he has, on the whole, helped the pro-life movement.
Damon’s comments are understandable given that Palin has given just ONE interview since she was selected vice president two weeks ago. What do we know about her?
I chuckle. The way we get to know somebody is by having them interviewed by Charlie Gibson? Please.
Charlie Gibson never interviewed George Washington, but we know an awful lot about him. He gave speeches. He enacted policies. He made political alliances and earned political enemies. And so forth.
Likewise, Sarah Palin has a record. She’s been involved in public affairs for decades. That’s why she was being touted as a VP candidate by some Republicans as long ago as early last year. She didn’t actually come into being the moment her face first appeared on MSNBC.
And what little you think you know seems to have been culled from the Daily Kos. For example:
Is she a total creationist, does she believe in evolution?
Why on earth does that matter? What possible difference can it make in her possible vice-presidential role or what policies she would pursue in the unlikely event she were to succeed tough-as-nails John McCain?
Why are you and Damon even asking this question? I don’t remember ever hearing this question raised about a presidential or vice-presidential candidate before. Why aren’t you demanding the same answers from Joe Biden—or Obama? Or McCain for that matter?
This question is only asked because of those false rumors—one of so many—that surfaced from the left of the blogosphere immediately upon her selection as McCain’s running mate.
And that ought to trouble you, Jim—that demonstrably false rumors and deliberate mischaracterizations have become the basis of what claims to be legitimate reporting on who Sarah Palin is.
But the idea that Palin is a benighted creationist—and a “holy war monger”, and an anti-abortion zealot, etc.—fits so neatly with the left’s caricature of the right, especially the socially conservative right.
You and Matt Damon really don’t understand how badly you just don’t get us. And, frankly, I hesitate to disabuse you, because “know thine enemy” is damn good advice; on one level I’d just as soon you remain in the dark. (Not that we’re enemies, really—but we are enemies in Election ’08.)
I wish that instead of the caricature—the idea that only the blind or foolish could disagree with your policy positions—we could start with the shared belief that reasonable people can disagree about policies—that in the end we share a common concern for the welfare of this nation, but differ about how to accomplish it.
I get why you support Barack Obama. You describe yourself as “very liberal,” and so is Obama. He’s your guy. I get it. And I’m not going to accuse you of being “blind” to his pro-abortion record; I assume you think other issues outweigh that.
I disagree with you, of course, but I’m not going to insult your intelligence for your choice. I wish you could cut me the same slack.
But the left is committed to the idea that only rubes or villains—the “blinded” in your terms—could possibly disagree with their views on everything from foreign policy to abortion. That’s sad.
But what’s encouraging is that this whole Palin affair has exposed the left’s smug, snearing condescension as nothing else ever has before. It’s true that some—even many—on the right are intolerant of liberals (vis Michael Savages “Liberalism Is a Mental Illness”), but the whole nation is seeing that intolerance is far more dominant on the left.
And quite honestly . . . what does she think about dinosaurs? Sometimes the dumbest questions can reveal the most telling answers.
Indeed. In this case, the revelation is that the real dinosaur here is Left wing of American politics—and we’re witnessing its extinction right now.