With the release of her new book, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” former Alaskan Gov. and Republican Party vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is once again being given a spotlight she does not deserve. Under normal circumstances, Palin would have drifted into obscurity by now; a political has-been, who never was. Instead, a sub-par politician with no substantial constituency, no command of relevant issues and no solutions to substantive problems is being given air and face time as though she really matters. The simple reality that few are willing to articulate is, if she were not relatively attractive, of European ancestry and a woman, Sarah Palin would be day-old bread.
Former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) did not select Palin as his running mate because she was a “rogue,” an innovator or had demonstrated intellectual heft. McCain simply pandered to the conservative right, tried to siphon off some of the disgruntled Senator Clinton supporters and gave America more of the same ol’ politics. From that point until now, Sarah Palin has continually tried to reinvent herself, but continues to give Americans more of the same: “all sizzle and no steak.”
After almost 18 months on the national stage, Americans have yet to hear anything substantive from Palin on foreign policy. During the campaign, she stated that the war in Iraq was a part of God’s plan. According to The Associated Press, Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God … there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.” Her religious justifications for the invasion in Iraq sound very similar to the Muslim fundamentalists that attacked America; according to them, they were carrying out the will of Allah. This is why religious fundamentalism, no matter what the belief system, has no place in foreign or domestic policy.
In August 2009, she weighed in on the health insurance reform debate by posting a baseless diatribe on her Facebook page stating, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” By using scare tactics and inflammatory rhetoric such as the “death panel” and “evil” references, Palin did nothing to further the debate, while doing the American people a great disservice.
During an interview with Sean Hannity on November 18, Sarah Palin said alleged Fort Hood shooter Army Major Hasan should have been profiled. “… I think that it was quite unfortunate that, to me, it was a fear of being politically incorrect to not – I am going to use the word – profile this guy – profile in the sense of finding out what his radical beliefs were…. Now, because I used the word ‘profile’ I am going to get clobbered tomorrow morning. The liberals, their heads are just going to be spinning. They’re going to say ‘she is radical, she is extreme.'” Actually, that’s not radical or extreme; it’s just wrong.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded to her comments by saying, “[I]n a nation as diverse as the United States the last thing we need to do is start pointing fingers at each other, particularly when there’s no basis in fact for it …” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen stated, “My message to all those in uniform, including Muslims in uniform, is how much we appreciate their service, the difference that they make; that the … the diversity of our force is one of its greatest strengths … that no one should draw any rapid conclusions. And we need to ensure that we treat everybody fairly …” I have never known Secretary Gates or Admiral Mullen to be liberal but they clearly take issue with Ms. Palin’s less than thoughtful, baseless and reactionary observations.
I don’t know how evangelical Christians like Sarah Palin would feel about being profiled based upon the acts of other evangelicals who use terror to promote their anti-abortion agenda by bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors who perform them. She does not see those who engage in such acts as domestic terrorists. During an October 23, 2008, interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, when asked, “Are the people that set fire to American cities during the 60s terrorists? … Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist?” She replied, “There’s no question that Bill Ayers, via his own admittance … is a domestic terrorist…. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that, uh, it would be unacceptable, I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there but it’s unacceptable …”
At what point will mainstream American media start to hold Sarah Palin accountable for her statements and her record? Holding someone accountable for their statements is not “gotcha journalism,” sexist treatment or unfair scrutiny. Any person running for national public office who cannot provide a list of the newspapers that they read should be aggressively challenged. In her attempt to connect with the “average American,” go “unplugged” and turn her lack of intellectual horsepower into an asset, Sarah Palin has failed miserably. Her anti-intellectualism clearly demonstrates that she possesses very little if any insight into or understanding of the salient issues that are impacting America today. However, Palin’s lack of insight and understanding of key issues have not precluded her from attempting to appeal to the worst in us, such as her assertion on the campaign trail that then candidate Obama associated with terrorists.
During the 2008 presidential election, Palin’s poor performances on the national stage did not provide the lasting support that the floundering McCain campaign needed. As the governor of Alaska she abandoned her constituents; she quit. In the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, Bill Owens became the first Democrat in more than 100 years to hold the seat, in spite of Sarah Palin’s support for Owens ultra-conservative opponent Doug Hoffman. Even Republicans have lost interest as her veneer has worn thin.
The record and the facts just don’t support her version of reality. According to The Associated Press (AP), in her book, Palin ignores “… substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer’s dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.” For example, according to the AP, she “rails against taxpayer-financed bailouts, which she attributes to Obama … Palin is blurring the lines between Obama’s stimulus plan – a $787 billion package of tax cuts, state aid, social programs and government contracts – and the federal bailout that Republican presidential candidate John McCain voted for and President George W. Bush signed.” Palin apologists will try to dismiss this as small detail or minor fact. Small details and facts are what matter when you want to be the leader of the free world.
Palin draws crowds, sells books and raises money, but she has yet to transfer her personal popularity to other candidates and deliver the vote. A lot can be sold with a big … smile and a pretty face, but what Sarah’s selling, most Americans don’t want to buy. In a recent interview, Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed said Palin, “… came out of no where and burst on the American scene …” Well, she should return from whence she’s come. Sarah, don’t go “rogue”; go home!