Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, the evangelical candidate

Sarah Palin
"not the most photogenic angle"
(Image from Christianity Today)

With my mind on the upcoming election, I read this morning a moderately interesting editorial in Christianity Today, "Misunderstanding Sarah: Media reaction to Gov. Palin shows ignorance of evangelicalism," (October 28, 2008). Two issues are briefly treated, but I'll address only the first, which involves the assumption among nonevangelicals concerning the supposed puritanical views of evangelicals.
[This assumption was revealed in] reactions to news of Bristol Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy: liberal pundits gleefully announced that this was going to seriously undermine Governor Palin's standing with the Republican Party's evangelical base. Any informed evangelical watcher or evangelical believer could have told them that this is a non-issue.
Right. I knew immediately that the out-of-wedlock pregnancy wouldn't matter. Evangelical believers regularly deal with this situation. Almost nobody was shocked. Some might have been dismayed, but most empathized. Why? The editorial explains:
It is a non-issue because John Newton's famous line, "I once was lost but now I'm found," defines the evangelical ethos. We specialize in troubled lives. Stories of transformation from sin and degradation to righteousness and wholeness frame the way evangelicals see life. From the slave-trading Newton to the White House "hatchet man" Chuck Colson, God saves people from their slavery to sin and uses them to restore others. Indeed, those of us who never did anything particularly shocking sometimes have trouble fitting in.
That's my problem. I never did anything wrong. Just kidding. I've done plenty that wasn't quite right . . . very quietly. When I was home in the Ozarks last February, one high school friend remarked, "I never heard anything bad about Jeff Hodges." I could only smile in chagrin and say, "I just got away with it because I was quiet." Then, pointing over at my wife, I added, "If you want some details on my faults, just talk to her."

Actually, my wife doesn't bad-mouth me, and evangelicals generally accept a lot of awkward situations because that's the untidiness of life:
Evangelical pews are full of people whose family lives are untidy. If we get angry when a teen gets pregnant, it is not at the hot-blooded teens but at the fashion and entertainment industries that persistently sexualize the images of the young and set them up for bad choices. It's no wonder: One recent study showed that adolescents with a sexually charged media diet are more than twice as likely as others to have sex by the time they turn 16. Teen pregnancy is one of the situations in which it is easiest for us to hate the sin but love the sinner.
The evangelical reaction to Bristol Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy was thus one of immediate acceptance. Evangelical empathy for the Palin family probably even strengthened Governor Palin's personal support.

But as I noted yesterday in a conversation with my philosopher friend Dan Ernst over coffee at an Ewha campus coffee shop, although Palin may have personally energized the Republican Party's evangelical base, she put off many other conservatives. I mentioned Charles Krauthammer, George Will, David Brooks, and other conservative pundits who expressed disappointment at McCain's selection of a running mate so 'inexperienced'. By that, they also meant "ignorant" even if they were careful about not quite saying so.

In my own opinion as amateur pundit (if that's not a redundancy), Palin is highly intelligent but needs -- to put it generously -- at least four more years of exposure to national and international issues before she'd be minimally prepared to take on the responsibilities of high office. Evangelicals remain excited by Palin the person, in ways that surprise nonevangelicals, but I sense that many of these same evangelicals have some uncertainty about Palin the candidate -- though most will fervently pull the lever for her on November 4th and even more fervently pray that McCain lives a long, healthy life.

To be frank, however, I don't think that the evangelical vote will be enough to give the Republican Party this election, and Palin's untimely, national political career will be tragically over, fallen victim to the blame game as Republicans fight over who lost the White House.

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At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is unique in the American political scene among those of the other developed nations, is its perpetual embrace of presidential or vice-presidential candidates who are either stupid, willfully ignorant, or both (see Dan Quayle, George Bush, Sarah Palin).

Why? Is American education the culprit?

The Guardian (UK)'s George Monbiot has some trenchant observations on this.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief, Christopher. What a "stupid, willfully ignorant, or both" thing to say.

None of the three folks you mentioned can be remotely characterized by the terms of derogation you gratuitously employ. Bush, for example, is a highly educated man, with two degrees from Ivy league universities. He also has an unusually high IQ and earned very good grad school grades. He is a former governor and a two-time president. He might be many things, but stupid and willfully ignorant are not among them.

Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin have been widely ridiculed and maligned by the leftist media, but neither is even remotely stupid or ignorant.

These three folks do have this in common: they are ardent evangelicals, which means they are the targets of persistent bigotry by those who habitually invoke tolerance, but who seem unable to practice it.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Christopher, I don't think any of these three are stupid -- though I admit that I used to think that Dan Quayle was (but have since learned that he was far brighter than portrayed).

However, Quayle did lack the right experience and knowledge, and so does Palin (despite being very bright).

Bush is far more knowledgeable than usually portrayed, but he is not a particularly articulate man, and he doesn't seem to have had any sustained interest in foreign issues until he became president.

Just as an aside, I think that the only Republican political figure who could currently compete with Barack Obama in terms of articulate intelligence and breadth of knowledge is Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, whose depth of knowledge perhaps exceeds Obama's.

Now that would have been an interesting race. In fact, we may see Jindal challenging Obama in 2012.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Michael, the media are not always hard on evangelicals. Jimmy Carter got a lot of good press back when he ran against Ford. And both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are evangelicals but receive respectful treatment.

I think that it's more the combination of evangelical and conservative that gets the negative attention, and there's a long tradition of that in the States -- going back, at least, to the Monkey Trial in Tennessee and the attacks by H. L. Mencken.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:24 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

From many blacks point of view, which many are evangelicals, is that it was a white pregnant teenager that was accepted and ushered into their loving environment. The Black pregnant teenager seem to be the proof of excessive sexuality and responsible for all the social and moral ills in this country. Sucking welfare money out of the their (many of which don't pay taxes) pockets to pay for their hedonistic lifestyle. Lets say we just saw a lot of hypocrisy in that acceptance.

Michelle Obama was called a baby momma by the right wing press and I heard no evangelical from the right stand up for her.

I don't like the idea at all that evangelicals and other "Christians" have this much influence in politics. Especially when I heard one woman say that Obama's Christianity is not in the Bible, like her's were the true religion.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, you make a good point about the different reaction that we might see if one of Obama's daughters were a few years older and pregnant out of wedlock.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason that we who call ourselves evangelicals are willing to forgive those who may fall into sinful situations is that we realize our own fallibality, and capability to commit acts of sin.
Most of us, as nephew Jeffery stated, have our own secret skeletons hiding in our closets.
If we are honest, we can only claim to be sinners who have been saved by the grace of God.
As far as Dan Quayle, George Bush, Sarah Palin are concerned, they are the victims of a press bent on wrecking the reputation of those who hold opposing political viewpoints, while overlooking the faults of their own kind.
It would be worthwhile to read the life of President Abraham Lincoln, who was probably ridiculed and vilified more that any president in our history. He was called stupid, an ape, ignorant, one sending young men to their deaths, fighting an unwinnable war, etc., etc. (Does this sound familiar)?
King Solomon stated, "There is nothing new under the sun."
I read somewhere that the lesson of history is that we never learn the lessons of history.
We might try a little forgiveness ourselves.
Whoever wins, I am instructed to honor and pray for those in positions of leadership. (Romans 12:1-7); (1 Timothy 2:1,2). The prophet Samuel said, "God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you." (1 Samuel 12:23), speaking to Israel and King Saul.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There does seem to be quite a bit of vilifying going on where everyone seeking office is concerned. The sign in West Plains was "apparently" placed by self-described evangelicals.

Crans' correct, alas all my skeletons are sitting on the front porch drinking beer.


At 10:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

A fallibility that Uncle Cran demonstrates with his own "fallibality."

Speaking of fallibility, Uncle Cran, when are you going to regale us with more tales from the Ozark wild life of your youth?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I didn't realize that I was on your front porch again!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery - When I implied Dan Quayle was stupid, I had forgotten his 1988 debate with super-smart Al Gore, when Dan aquitted himself extremely well, and came out at least even (or I thought he did).

So I take back my implication that Dan was stupid. Had he been the Republican nominee in 2000 and become president, he may well have had the intelligence, experience, knowledge of history, and judgement not to have embarked on the Iraq adventure.

George Bush may be more knowledgeable than usually portrayed, as you said, but his knowledge (particularly of history) was insufficient when making the decisions about Iraq.

Words like "stupid", "intelligent", and their like are, of course, extremely subjective and multi-layered. And what difference does it make whether a national leader is inately "stupid" or "unintelligent" and makes "stupid" or "unintelligent" decisions; or if he/she is "intelligent" or "smart" and still makes "stupid" or "unintelligent" decisions"? The ramifications are the same.

Sometimes one can be too clever by half. For what it's worth, I've known my fair of people with high IQs, but who are obviously fools.

Regarding willful ignorance, I put it to you that a leader who remains willfully ignorant to the extent that it affects the decisions he/she makes, is behaving stupidly or unintelligently, and is therefore, for all intents and purposes, stupid and unintelligent in him/herself.

As to Bobby Jindal, let's hope he'll be the instrument which prevents the terrifying Sarah Palin from being the Republican nominee in 2012.

I noted what you said about her, that she " highly intelligent but needs least four more years of exposure to national and international issues before she'd be minimally prepared to take on the responsibilities of high office.........".

This raises the question: Can one make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We disagree -- strongly disagree -- that the Iraq war is stupid.

We also disagree that Sarah Palin is anything like a sow's ear. To think she is might itself be stupid.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Christopher, I think that Sarah Palin's problem is lack of experience and lack of knowledge, but I certainly don't see her as stupid. In fact, she seems a quick study.

But she does need time and experience, along with a steady pursuit of knowledge, to qualify her for the highest office.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Incidentally, since this is a sensitive topic at a sensitive time, let's all remind ourselves to be mindful of how we address each other in saying what we say to each other.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery - In my 2nd comment, I referred to Dan Quayle's 1988 debate with Al Gore. I should have said 1992.

Dan's 1988 debate was, of course, the more famous one with Lloyd Bensen ("John Kennedy was a friend of mine......").

Slips like the one I made, show I sometimes have my "seniors moments"!!

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I didn't catch the 'senior moment', but I was already living overseas by 1989 (as well as half the time between 1986 and 1988) and thus have an excuse concerning 1992 . . . though not much of one.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe one day I will regale my "fans" (A scary phrase) with my first drink of booze, provided by brother Bradley and his friend we will call "Dale," which incidentally, is his real name.

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

Can one make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?

Case in point. Did her hair look different after she spent all that money?

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I can scarcely wait for the story of how you became entangled in sin's coils.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:24 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought that Palin looked pretty good both before and after . . . but no comparison to my beautiful wife.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:00 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

At the very least, George Bush and Sarah Palin have managed to give the majority of observers the impression of being intellectually incurious, proudly ignorant, contemptuous of cerebral endeavor generally, and given to frighteningly simplistic views of subtle and complex problems.

Furthermore, Mr. Bush's handling of nearly everything -- from the war in Iraq (which I have supported all along as morally justified) to the economy, diplomatic affairs, and national emergencies -- has given nobody the slightest reason to suspect that he is a man of conspicuously high or subtle intellect. Both Mr. Bush and Ms. Palin are also grossly, wincingly inarticulate, and revel in the lowest forms of aw-shucks populism and simplistic religiosity -- all of which may, by some stretch of the imagination, be compatible with above-average intelligence, but which, surely, nobody would list as reliable indicators of a rich and complex mind.

If these people are indeed fooling us all, and are actually far smarter than they seem, then they should be ashamed of themselves for fostering such yahooism in America.

At 4:12 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

I'm voting for Uncle Cran!

P.S. Bobby Jindal is my favorite Republican, but I predict that if and when he does run for President, he will face the same onslaught of negative media that Sarah Palin has faced -- precisely because he is a religious, conservative, pro-life Republican. He will be painted as a wacko religious fanatic, though, of course, the "anti-intellectual" and "willfully ignorant" meme will be a much harder sell.

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, while I do think that Bush and Palin have above-average intelligence (with Palin being quite bright), I agree with you that neither of them has "a rich and complex mind."

Bush was not an especially serious-minded man until 9/11, when history thrust upon him responsibilities in a manner reminiscent of Prince Hal in Henry IV . . . but Bush had been Falstaff for too long, and he never entirely adjusted to the new role.

Palin seems to me to be intelligent but to have more of a practical intellect. She is a quick study and is far more articulate than Bush. Whether she could at this relatively late date apply her mind to the complexities of the nation and the world is a big question for me. One needs a strategic vision and the subtlety to apply the right tactics at the right time. Does she have the perspective and that ability? Who knows?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, the difference is that Bobby Jindal can hold his own intellectually because he has not just the brilliance but also the requisite knowledge and the verbal skills to articulate what he knows.

Imagine the difference if he were asked about court cases other than Roe vs. Wade. He would not only be able to name them but also to analyze them.

He certainly wouldn't be stumped by Katie Couric, as Palin was in a particularly painful moment during that interview.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:09 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Right, Jeffery. I think that's why they probably won't ask him about Supreme Court decisions. They'll ask him instead whether he believes in the possibility of demonic possession. ;)

At 5:20 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

While I do not disagree that Ms. Palin may in fact be moderately intelligent, she comes across, frankly, as little more than a smug and conceited child -- mugging and winking at the camera; blabbering cocky and incoherent rubbish without a moment of self-doubt when asked by her betters about grown-up topics beyond her ken; her rambling and unparseable sentences an entirely unselfconscious jumble of "doggones", "you-betchas" and hastily memorized bullet-points.

As Sam Harris wrote recently in Newsweek:

The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

This is not the sort of person we need at the wheel, or for that matter anywhere within reach of it.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I've heard about Jindal it was the same as here and now on this forum: He's the coming man; He's also basically almost everything you could wish for. I agree. He's also proof of the very strong trust people have in smart Indians (as opposed to the half-baked, slightly placative trust in, say, smart blacks; Hawaiian grandmother or not).
However, I wish people would stop giving their children misspelt names: "Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert, and Slade Ryan". Please! I also hate Palin's children's names, btw.

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, demonic possession might explain a lot about the state of our world...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I have many of the same concerns. One could only hope for good advisors.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Erdal, I agree completely. My entire life, I've been plagued by my misspelt name.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:52 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Or, better still, that she fails altogether in her bid for national office, and can content herself with becoming something better suited to her talents (and less dangerous to the rest of the world), such as a conservative talk-show hostess.

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin is so thick-headed perhaps we could just make use of her as a New York engineer. They seem to be a rather dull lot.

Or, am I being unduly and unjustifiably critical of you personally, and demeaning your intelligence and wisdom based upon inadequate data -- much like you and your assessment of a woman who has been elected a mayor, a governor, and now, possibly, the Vice President of the United States?

I'd be happy to pit her abilities and her accomplishments against those of most of the people on the planet, including yours.

Neither she nor her record justify the derogatory and insulting things you say. Simply by saying them, you tar yourself with the brush you use to tar her.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Malcolm, I don't think that she's going to make it to national office. All the odds are stacked against McCain's candidacy.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Michael, my own problem with Palin is similar to Malcolm's, but he and I interpret the evidence differently.

I think that she's intelligent but unprepared, whereas Malcolm thinks that she's unprepared because she's not especially intelligent.

But, for now anyway, I'll leave this to you and Malcolm to discuss.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:14 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

I have to agree with Michael here. You've got no call to get snippy about Sarah Palin, Malcolm. :)

One can reasonably argue that Palin is unprepared -- as one could reasonably argue that Obama is unprepared. But Malcolm's invective seems to go beyond any such argument.

Who are Sarah Palin's "betters," for instance? Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson? Why? Because they don't say "you betcha" and they are competent at sitting in front of a camera and reading the news that other people write for them? Is Joe Biden her better? His rambling, factually and historically inaccurate claims (about the Supreme Court and about the U.S. kicking Hezbollah out of Lebanon, for instance) are neither particularly articulate nor confidence-inspiring. But doggone it, he doesn't say "you betcha," so there y'are.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Michael, I'm sorry if I strike you as dull. I may indeed be as simple-minded as you suggest, though it hardly seems gentlemanly to insult all the rest of Gotham's many talented engineers merely by association.

I assure you that I would have nothing whatsoever to say about Sarah Palin if she were not making a deadly serious effort to become vice-president of the United States - with, in actuarial terms, a fair shot at succeeding John McCain (who I might even have been voting for, were it not for his vice-presidential selection) as president if by some misfortune their ticket should win.

You are welcome to compare Ms. Palin to me on whatever terms you like, and to find me wanting. The most important difference between us, though, is that I would never flatter myself as being qualified for the job she is presently seeking, and am not involved in a grotesquely embarrassing effort to hoodwink a depressingly credulous electorate into imagining that I am.

As a citizen I have every right - arguably, even an obligation - to voice my alarm at the prospect of such a person as Ms. Palin appears to be occupying high national office. I have to live here too.

If some buffoon of the Left - Michael Moore, say, or Al Sharpton - were standing on the threshold of the Oval Office, wouldn't you see fit, just as I do here, to call attention to their shortcomings?

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...


Yes, in fact I do imagine that both Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, having steeped themselves in news and analysis of international affairs for decades, are far better informed than Sarah Palin.

As for Joe Biden, I will confess that I have always regarded the man as a garrulous windbag - and his recent gaffes are, sadly, quite in character. I was sorry, frankly, that he was chosen as Obama's running mate.

Nevertheless, Mr. Biden has spent decades at the highest levels of government - having joined the Senate when Ms. Palin was eight years old - and is admitted by all, even his detractors, to have impressive expertise in foreign affairs.

I am generally a civil person, and normally wouldn't comment so harshly. But the stakes are high, and, as they say, "Politics ain't beanbag."

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I think that Michael knows that you're certainly not dull. He's employing some over--the-top irony to present his 'misjudgement' of your intelligence as being on a par with your misjudgement of Palin's intelligence.

But you know that, of course. I just want to make sure that everyone else understands so that this doesn't lead to genuine ad hominem.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:01 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...


I wasn't aware that Katie Couric *had* steeped herself in international affairs for decades. In fact, wasn't she -- until a few years ago -- a morning talk show hostess?

As for Joe Biden, I'll grant you he has experience. Whether that translates into "expertise" is another matter entirely.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...


I really don't think that Sarah Palin is congenitally unintelligent. She may well be more intelligent than most.

I do think, though, that she is the product of a particular subset of American culture that does not admire - and indeed tends to stifle and disparage - intellectual curiosity and accomplishment.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, Palin simply gets on Malcolm's nerves. She just presses his nucular buttons.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:08 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Hi Kate,

No, Ms. Couric has been covering news at the national and international level for a long time, and was a Pentagon correspondent for NBC as far back as the '80s, if memory serves.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...


Guilty as charged. It's true. She does.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Goodness! The comments are coming too fast for me to keep up.

I'll just say that we need to keep discourse civil . . . though it's okay to call Joe Biden a "garrulous windbag."

Because he is.

But that sort of makes him vice-presidential, don't you think?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:13 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

I do promise to be civil, Jeffery.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

A good dose of humor would help us all.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or perhaps another of "Uncle Cran's Famous Tales of Yesteryear."
Keep looking!

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good, I could use a break from all this serious blogging.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:44 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...


I stand corrected. Couric was a "serious" journalist, of sorts, before she took the Today Show gig. I simply don't agree, however, with your characterization of Gibson and Couric. They may be reasonably well-informed, like most journalists who cover these issues, but -- based on the questions they ask, and the follow-ups they fail to ask -- I find their grasp of the issues rather shallow. They have information, but no deep knowledge.

What I found most objectionable about your characterization of people like Gibson and Couric as Palin's "betters" was that it's a term I associate with an assumption of moral superiority, usually connected with presumed intellectual or class superiority. I think John McCain is much better informed and more experienced than Barack Obama on foreign policy, for instance, but I don't think I would ever refer to John McCain as Obama's "better."

As for your suggestion that Sarah Palin is part of a "particular subset of American culture" that "tends to stifle and disparage intellectual curiosity and accomplishment," it seems to me that the basis for your assumption is stylistic and not substantive. What evidence do you have for it other than the way she speaks and sounds?

I don't mean to keep pressing your "nucular buttons," Malcolm. Just curious.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

I second the motion to request one of "Uncle Cran's Famous Tales of Yesteryear."

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, one could wonder if Palin, despite her innate intelligence, has even much information, let alone deep knowledge, for someone who would have to operate at the national and international levels.

Within her context, namely, governor of Alaska, I've no reason to doubt that she's competent.

My view -- which I suppose that I've already stated -- is that she was untimely chosen, plucked from relative obscurity too soon.

McCain has inadvertently done her a disservice.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, more of my Uncle Cran's exaggerated stories will be forthcoming soon -- including one tomorrow.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:49 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...


You think she was from obscurity "untimely plucked"?
Maybe she has the potential to play Macduff to Obama's Macbeth?

I guess Hillary Clinton would be Duncan in my scenario. :)

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, I guess that I echoed Shakespeare unawares this time.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:39 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Hi Kate,

I'm afraid that remark about her "betters" was a nod to H.L. Mencken, who said of William Jennings Bryan:

"If the fellow was sincere, then so was P.T. Barnum. The word is disgraced and degraded by such uses. He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity. What animated him from end to end of his grotesque career was simply ambition--the ambition of a common man to get his hand upon the collar of his superiors, or, failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes. He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits against their betters, that he himself might shine."

We are all entitled to moral equality, and to equal treatment under the law. But like the unabashed elitist Mencken, I do not confuse equality before the law with equality in esse. I think it is fair, and wise, to want to choose as our leaders the finest among us - our betters - rather than unexceptional representatives of the common people.

I must ask: it is October 2009, and the world is awash in economic turmoil and sanguinary conflict. The new President of the United States, John McCain, has just succumbed to an aggressive relapse of melanoma. Sarah Palin is about to be sworn in as his successor. Are you confident and optimistic about her prospects, and ours?

As for populist disdain for intellectualism, it has been sharply resurgent in the American conservative movement in recent decades. David Brooks wrote an excellent essay about this in the Times a month or so ago, which I remarked and expanded upon in a little post over at my place, if I may invite you over for a look.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone watch "Charlie Rose" last night?

A question was asked whether Mrs Palins' recent appearance created any "undue necessity?"

The producer, Loren Michaels said, "No, she a natural."

Charlie Rose asked, "How do you mean?"

Everyone at the table agreed, except of course for the host, "She's a natural born performer, an actor."

Herein she differs fundamentally from GW. He couldn't repeat a line if he wrote it himself.

And I rather prefer her in a swimsuit. At least a reddish one.
And she kills Meese.


At 12:45 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

In such circumstances, Malcolm, one would have to hope that 1) Palin had learned an uncanny amount in one year and/or that 2) Palin would be 'inheriting' uncannily good advisors.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

An "undue necessity"? JK, what the hell is that? It sounds like a euphemism for an unexpected but unavoidable bowel movement.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Where "undue necessity" presents itself in the context of play acting, I think that means, "Did anyone have to put any effort into getting her trained to say her lines?"

I took that to mean as I indicated. Of course the interview was conversational.

Oh gosh darn Jeff, let me see if I couldn't do a better hockey mom compression after I get the nooclur codes.


At 1:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, it must be jargon, for it went completely over my head.

Thanks for the explanation.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah nope Jeff,

Anyway I don't know what jargon is. Do you mean that you have to place a scoop shovel beneath a swim suited future Alaskan Governor?

If that is the case, I'd suggest kitty litter.

What I think the answer implied was that Mrs. Palin is in the tradition of Ronnie Reagan.


At 1:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nah, none of that. Just happy to understand the expression.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:04 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

I think there is too much effort to defend Sarah Palin.

It is more than competency or intelligence that would be required, a sense of what America actually is would be needed. How could she govern if she has no respect for all of us.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, that is a problem. The culture war has become too hot of late. Both Republicans and Democrats are at fault for this . . . though Obama himself has usually tried to appeal to the angels of our better nature.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:15 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


Who gets to judge ignorance?

I'd have to say that your attitude in the opening comment on this post displays an arrogant form of ignorance.

Otherwise known as elitism.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


would you PLEASE address the obvious...Obamessiah is less experienced for high office.

And much more tainted by controversy!

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

I would say that Obama's legislative experience would be less than John McCain's but certainly more than Palin's. Interesting enough, she has more executive experience than both. We have had presidents with a variety of experience and the US is still standing. Just think of our original government, when did we get our first president with either legislative or executive experience? Think of all those whose thought shaped the beginnings of this country. It was quite of bit more than most citizens do now.

We could have had many possible candidates around the age of the older boomers with more questionable associations than Obama's has. Their circles then as young people, did not reflect their political or religious views or do they now. Conservatives with a libertarian flavor were suspect at one time and Christians preaching a Gospel of Liberation weren't black.

I don't think many of us would have no controversy about our lives, unless we had lived as a hermit.

At 1:59 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...


Thanks for the invitation to read your blog post. I will mosey on over there after I post this comment. And thank you for what has been, on the whole, a civil discussion. I'm only disappointed that no one spotted my Fargo reference.

I'm still confused, though, about which kinds or qualities of exceptionalism merit our consideration and which don't. The following people, for instance, are or were *all* exceptional: Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Brett Favre, Harry Truman, Charles Manson, Dwight Eisenhower, Cary Grant, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Bork, . . . and, yes -- as a very popular governor of the biggest state in the Union -- Sarah Palin.

Now, some of those exceptional people I would vote for for President, and some of them I wouldn't. Barack Obama may have a "better" intellect than Sarah Palin (I really don't know), and he does have a better formal education than Sarah Palin, but he is a first term Senator without any real legislative accomplishments who has spent most of his time in the Senate running for President. What's more, for all his intelligence, his positions on the issues I most care about are diametrically opposed to mine.

In answer to your hypothetical, then, I must say that I would be more optimistic about Palin's prospects and ours under the scenario you imagine than I would be about our prospects under an Obama-Biden administration.

As Jeffery has pointed out, it takes two to tango in the culture wars. Look at how many comments this post has generated. While I agree with you that the Republican party would do well to try to eradicate some of the more virulent srains of anti-intellectualism among its members, I would also suggest that the Democrats (who have their own factions of anti-intellectualism to deal with) might want to distance themselves from the kind of sneering "intellect-and-education-uber-alles" elitism that some of its members seem to engage in.

Don't get me wrong. I *do* think there's a case to be made for a certain kind of elitism. I've simply become more aware, over the years, of how thin a line separates the good kind of elitism from the bad. I say that as a criticism of myself, since I think one of my worst sins is a tendency to pride -- particularly to intellectual pride. Nowadays, besides reminding myself that I'm smart enough but there are lots and lots of smarter people in the world, I also try to remember a little dictum from a movie that I used to despise utterly: stupid is as stupid does.

Thanks for the discussion, Malcolm. I'll check out your post now.

At 2:59 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Fair and reasonable comments, Kate, and I find little in them to disagree with - other than your optimism at the prospect of Sarah P. taking the reins.

As for Brett Favre, a lot of folks here in New York are hoping he can continue to be as exceptional as you suggest.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, if I find the time for research, I might post something on Obama.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, about your question:

"Just think of our original government, when did we get our first president with either legislative or executive experience?"

I'm not sure of the individual biographies of the early leaders, but the 13 colonies had legislatures and governors (or the equivalents) prior to the Revolutionary War.

Americans therefore had some experience in governing (though George Washington had primarily military experience).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm and KM, I'm relieved to see that you two still love each other.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:26 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Yes, we do, Jeffery. In fact, I've checked out Malcolm's blog and like it very much.

And FWIW, go Jets!

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Why, thanks very much, Kate!

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

You have an impressive website also, Kate.

I have a feeling you might also enjoy this one, maintained by a friend of mine.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

Answered my own question. Looked it up.

George Washington - Virginia House of Burgess
John Adams - diplomat
Thomas Jefferson - Virginia House of Burgess
James Madison - Virginia Assembly
James Monroe - US Senator from Virginia

Adams thru Monroe went to colleges now thought to produce the elite.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, thanks for the additional details.

Those elitists just wouldn't fit in these days!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:02 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


Though most of us have skeletons in the closet, most of us aren't running for the highest office in the land...or on earth for that matter.

To insinuate that past associations...especially RECENT past associations...and recent past associations that include current controversy and criminal behavior (ACORN, Rezko)is not relevant to the election of POTUS is just wrong.

It's a cop-out for Obama's true believers.

Obama's given PLENTY of reason to doubt his integrity and honor.

At 2:49 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

But I could run for president.

I don't think I'm blinded, but I do think what I see from Obama is different, perhaps because of cultural differences. Where in our community some types of philosphy has always been there and not all of us agree with others, but neither are we afraid or think it is going to taint our own beliefs.

At 3:18 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


What does that have to do with electing a known marxist, terrorist-coddler as POTUS?


I see Obama as different, as well. I see him as one who despises America's best attributes.

He's different, alright. He's not fit for the office.

Maybe we could talk him into running against Hugo downunder.

At 3:42 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Al, just curious: what American qualities do you think Obama despises?

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I think that Daddio (aka Al) considers Obama a Marxist because Obama is left of center, worked as community organizer following the principles of Saul Alinsky, formed his own identity through leftist reading, and has been generally influenced by leftist thought.

I myself don't think that Obama is a Marxist, and he even seems to have moved rightward over the years -- though he remains left of center.

From my own experience and development, I'd suggest that anyone going through university sometime in the period from the 60s through the 80s (and perhaps even now) would rather typically pass through a leftist phase before turning more conservative over time.

The big question for me is this "Where does Obama stand now?"

Looks like we'll soon find out.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:11 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...


Yes, that's pretty much how I see it also. I don't doubt that he is temperamentally still left of center - and more so than me - in many ways.

He also seems to be a pragmatic fellow though, and probably has learned to temper his youthful ideals with a practical appreciation of what simply doesn't work, and of the plain fact that human nature trumps pie-in-the-sky schemes every time.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery, Malcolm,

No need to worry about a doggone thing where al-O is concerned. My vote will cancel his.

I admit to being a Marxist leftie pinko commie whatever that doesn't agree with whomever the authoratative grand poobah of the self-appointed is self approved to be.

One up- one down- negated. = 0

And of course I'm an entilluctul enlitmusnest test too.

Not to worry, I can still be friends with guys I admit to be my bettors. Heck, I'm a dadgone elitmus entilluctul too.

Trick or treat.


At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, think you could make that a linkable link?


At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jeff,

Even if you can't, Ayers was never convicted-however McCains' buddy was, to wit:

In 1983, Arocena was arrested and charged with 42 counts pertaining to conspiracy, explosives, firearms, and destruction of foreign government property within the United States. He is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison in Indiana. His targets included:

Madison Square Garden (he blew up an adjacent store);

JFK airport (Arocena's group planted a suitcase bomb intended for a TWA flight to Los Angeles—in protest of the airline's flights to Cuba. The plane would have exploded if not for the fact that the bomb went off on the tarmac prior to being loaded);

Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center (causing damage to three levels of the theater and halting the performance of a music group from Cuba);

the ticket office of the Soviet airline Aeroflot;

and a church.


But heck, at least he wasn't charged for being an elitest.

Herschel D.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, you "admit to being a Marxist leftie pinko commie"? Well, I -- for one -- disbelieve you, for such leftists always lie.

Uh . . . which means that you're not "a Marxist leftie pinko commie."

Hmmm . . . isn't this the so-called "Liar's Paradox"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I'll just let folks copy and paste.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Herschel, that's very interesting. What's Arocena's connection to McCain?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jeff,

Have you ever heard of a guy named Adnan Chalabi? He was a guy that General Anthony Zinni testified before Congress was a "Gucci Geurrlla [sic]" but McCain was a fervent believer in. But after five years in Iraq, the Pentagon sidelined him.

Arocena was a guy that was a young pup when JFK had the Enterprise sitting off the coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. McCain while sitting in his Skyhawk (which never left the catapult) so much for experience during the big crisis... anyway.

Obama was eight years old. Ayers was in his early teens. Ayers talked about blowing up buildings. About seven years before, Obama was one year old, Kennedy and Kruschev talked about blowing up buildings, Ayers was in juniour high school and McCain sat strapped into the cockpit of a navy fighter which he would have flown a pre-planned route to blow up buildings.

But none of that happened. Ayers didn't blow up any buildings. Admittedly Kennedy and Kruschev probably did (nuke testing you know) and McCain had to wait several years before he got a chance to blow up buildings. Obama apparently never got a chance to blow up a building.

Ayers in the meantime got accused of blowing up buildings. McCain did blow up buildings (but admittedly that was a police action). And Arocena who (like Chalabi after him) actually did manage to blow up buildings.

Arocena individually, Chalabi with the assistance of the USAF, McCain and President Bush.

The problem for Arocena was that he blew up buildings within the jurisdiction of the US. He even managed to kill a few people within the jurisdictional boundaries of the US. John McCain, having sat in a Skyhawk some years before later requested that any "misfortunes" created by an actual terrorist rather than a suspected terrorist should be overlooked.

Admittedly the (by then stripped of nuclear weapons) Cuba, limited to driving 1950's era cars couldn't accomplish much more than Hugo Downunder does now.

Ayers was tried and not convicted, which presumably in our ystem sorta equates "not guilty" I put it in quotations because of OJ.

However Arocena was convicted and received a life sentence-even though he, like OJ was a minority.

Actually Jeff, so long as anyone looks at it through the prism of elitism, hell... it makes perfect sense.

Herschel D.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Herschel, it still looks rather opaque to me. We generally distinguish between terrorists blowing up buildings (and people) and soldiers blowing up buildings (and people).

Typically, the former intentionally target civilians, whereas the latter inadvertently harm civilians.

Some exceptions demand accounting. The WWII firebombing of cities was intentional aggression against civilians, as were the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Could you clarify the similarity/distinction between Ayers and Arocena?

Jeffery Hodges

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