Editors’ Round Table on Sarah Palin: Energized—For What?

I will resist the temptation to steal my own thunder for next week’s John Randolph Club meeting in Philadelphia, where I intend to talk about the most important aspect of the Palin Pandemonium: the conservative Christian rejection of the natural order.

There are at least two other aspects of McCain-Palin that are troubling: abortion and Israel.

James Dobson predictably ate his own words, and pro-lifers now, nearly to a man, are “energized.”  George W. Bush’s words are now in the mouth of McCain, and we’ll hear them again and again until the first week of November—”culture of life.”  What conservative doesn’t want a culture of life?  Sarah Palin, we are told, is a sign, a winkie-winkie to the pro-life community that a Roe-reversal is in the cards.  “Change is coming!”

Senator McCain, as he told us at Saddleback, believes that life begins at conception.  (Obama, pay grade notwithstanding, seems to think otherwise.)  Is abortion murder, or infanticide?   Well, you bet, if life begins at conception.  So here is this human life, made in the image of God, the product of dinner-and-a-movie, when “no” didn’t mean “no.”  Kill it, says John McCain.  It’s a human life, but kill it.  It’s small, it’s out of sight, and hasn’t this young woman been through enough?

John McCain has flip-flopped on Roe.  Whether purely out of political expedience or not, we cannot say.  But we can say that it has been politically beneficial to him.  He’s no longer talking about family conferences and never, ever wanting to overturn Roe.  (Roe is necessary, by the way, for killing that date-rape baby.)  “Life begins at conception” and “culture of life” flow easily, but if pressed, he’ll say that he’d like to see the culture of life grow to the point that Roe would become irrelevant.  Sarah Palin, on the other hand and commendably, doesn’t like abortion at all.

John McCain, like Hillary, Pelosi, Barack, and Michael J. Fox, has thought long and hard about fetal stem-cell research and has come to a very special, personal, and painful decision.  Unlike the rest of the aforementioned cavalcade of stars, he promotes a culture of life and knows when life begins.  Kill ‘em anyway.  People have diseases.  Make a pill; down the hatch.  Sarah Palin disagrees.

Whose opinion matters?  Does the Vice President nominate justices?

Wait, we are told, Sarah Palin is a symbol.  Winkie winkie.  No one seems to disagree that, at least for a very long while, Joe Lieberman (one of McCain’s many “safe, legal, and rare” buddies) was his choice for running mate.  That choice would not have energized a significant segment of voters.  Palin has.  None of that changes McCain’s views on the Constitution, the role of Supreme Court justices, or his friends.  If the primary source of “energizement” for the McCain ticket is Sarah Palin’s views on abortion and fetal stem cells, a great burnout awaits the “culture of life.”  Sadly, James Dobson knew that a McCain administration would mean this, but, like a growing host of “excited” antiabortionists, he fell for winkie winkie.

I could not tell you whether George W. Bush is really a dispensationalist, believing that the success of a secular and “democratic” state of Israel is part of God’s plan for the rebuilding of the Temple and the Battle of Armageddon.  For him, perhaps, that’s something that makes sense for great men of God like Billy Graham, but I don’t know whether he relishes the Left Behind novels and fights the urge to jump whenever he hears a trumpet sound.  His foreign policy has (somewhat) pleased dispensationalists, but it is designed around the plans of the neoconservatives.

Sarah Palin speaks the language of the Assemblies of God.  She prays that our war effort in the Middle East is “of God.”  That doesn’t mean that she has doubts about our presence in Mesopotamia; it simply means that she wants God to bless it and “prosper” it.  Beyond that, she hadn’t thought much about Iraq, until the Bush-McCain team began to bring her up to speed.  Her proximity to Siberia notwithstanding, she has zero foreign-policy experience.  What she does have is the proud flag of a modern, secular/religious state that is hostile toward Christianity.  Thus, she has a firm commitment to a policy that has fomented Islamic aggression against the United States.  That commitment will only grow in the malleable Mrs. Palin as she sits at the knee of the neoconservative Bush-McCain advisors, who are all too happy to make use of evangelical interpretations of Scripture in order to achieve their ends.  The neocons are energized, too.

Politics, as Chesterton said, is really about drunk men exaggerating things.  It will not be the end of any world if either ticket wins the televised contest in November.  Life will go on in real homes, communities, and churches across the fruited plain.  It is not an exaggeration, however, to suggest that the Palin pick is harmful.  It has lured dissatisfied Christians (evangelicals, Catholics, conservative Lutherans and Calvinists) back to the GOP Roe-reversal delusion—and to an obsession with fruitless national politics in general—and it portends to put in Washington a new convert to perpetual war for Israel and petroleum pipelines and “our values.”

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