In light of the comments and responses to my WND piece on Sarah Palin’s resignation, I think some further observations and reflections are in order.
First it’s important to remind everyone that I have never accepted the notion that Palin somehow represents adherence to the moral principles of republican, constitutional government. In a WND article right after McCain selected her as his running mate (Gov. Sarah Palin: Unequally yoked), I gave the reasons why. Later, when Charles Gibson asked her about Roe v. Wade she declared “I think that states should be able to decide that issue.” In reaction, I wrote another article (Sarah Palin: Already compromised?) in which I observed that “Palin is being touted as an unequivocally pro-life politician…Her words suggest that, on the contrary, she regards the issue of respect for innocent life as a matter of personal opinion rather than public principle….” I went on to point out that “making a pro-life icon of someone who takes this falsified “states’ rights” position and who, at the same time, relegates her pro-life views to the status of “personal opinion”, places the pro-life movement firmly on the path of self-destruction.” I cautioned that “If the issue of respect for innocent human life is simply a matter of “personal opinion,” what justifies government interference (at any level) in the personal decision of the woman carrying the child, or the parents who provided the genetic material from which its life derives?…Where no overriding public interest can be ascertained, the state cannot impose its moral opinions upon individuals without infringing the freedom of conscientious decision essential for the free exercise of religion (which is also counted among our unalienable rights.)”
In these past writings, as in the latest one, I have tried to reason clearly and carefully about the issues of public principle and policy raised by Sarah Palin’s words and actions. Unfortunately, both Palin’s fans and the leftist media hacks who act as her detractors have focused on her personal life. The fans want people to accept her loving commitment to her Down syndrome child as conclusive evidence that she is a pro-life champion. Her detractors snipe about her temperament, or make reprehensible so-called jokes about her family members, trying with ridicule and character assassination to manipulate public opinion against her. Meanwhile, her fans respond as if these rabid attacks conclusively prove that she is the conservative champion of principled morality they so desperately want her to be.
Unfortunately, as I argued in the articles cited above, ugly media attacks don’t’ alter the facts that show, logically and conclusively, that she is not such a champion.
Now I find readers like David, who left a comment on this site, declaring his view that my latest piece “is what I would expect from the mudslinging left.” This reaction exposes the insidious nature of this whole contrived situation. Once we accept “personal” matters (of action or opinion) as the basis for our support or rejection of political leaders, anyone who opposes them can be accused of mudslinging and slander, even when their opposition is based on careful reasoning about public policy and constitutional principle.
Like so much else going on in our public discussion these days, this makes fear rather than truth the standard of our public discourse. In my case it would be fear of being unfairly attacked as an un-Christian replicant of the left-wing character assassins. This reminds me of what liberal blacks have tried for years to do on account of my rejection of their leftist cant on welfare issues. In both cases my response must be the same, precisely because of Christ’s example. I will try to follow what careful and conscientious reasoning from right principle leads me to believe is true. I will leave in God’s hands the integrity of my identity. In the end, he knows the right name for me and will recognize me for what I am.
I could of course simply say nothing as others promote Palin as a representative of the constituency of moral principle. Unfortunately, when she proves inadequate to the task, human vanity will lead many to doubt the viability of the moral cause, rather than their own lack of discernment about the flaws in her public policy stances on the key moral issues. Such doubters will sow confusion and demoralization in the ranks of moral conservatives. This may in fact be the result intended by some of those who helped promote Palin to national prominence, though they tacitly despise the moral constituency she is supposed to represent. By speaking out, will people like me help to mitigate this bad result? Will our warnings prevent well intentioned people from relying too much upon a false hope? If so, it’s worth the risk of being unpopular with Palin fans who insist that reasonable criticism of her public policy views and actions is no different than the partisan media’s malevolent personal attacks.