Monday, September 8, 2008

Kooky Cookie

Rod Dreher has been saying it thoughtfully and better than I can - while he still cannot bring himself to support mccain/PALIN, he knows for certain that he is disturbed mightily by her unkind reception by the mainstream media and many of Obama's surrogates in the "blogosphere."

I'm pretty much in the same boat - I don't think I can pull the lever for someone who seems too eager sometimes to start another war, but I absolutely despise the condescension of the coverage of Sarah. I am certain I am not alone, and it will be the height of irony if the Democrats lose an election that they should run away with if they STILL can't overcome their kneejerk elitism and not-so-subtle derision of the ordinary Americans they claim to want to help.

To wit: I was just watching CNN, which ran a piece on Palin's religion, showing a clip of her prayer in which she hopes that our leaders are doing God's will in prosecuting the war in Iraq.

Notice that she does not exclaim, "Let us defeat the infidel in accord with God's Will!!!" Rather, she humbly prays in the hopes that our leaders are correctly discerning the will of God in sending our young men and women in harm's way.

The reporter concluded the report NOT by pointing out this fact, but by making sure we know that "many people are concerned that a Vice-President Palin will bring religion into her political decisionmaking."

I wonder what reporters in 1862 made of this crazy statement:

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.

Yea, that was one kook, that Abraham Lincoln. Trying to discern God's will, and humbly acknowledging his uncertainty. Just like that wacko Sarah Palin, praying that our leaders have striven to understand the will of God. Better that we simply assert human will as we wish...


Anonymous said...

First of all, I think that Right and Left alike would agree that the people who run CNN, MSNBC, and the other MSM are idiots. Second, calling the netroots bloggers "Obama surrogates" is a bit like calling Rush Limbaugh a "McCain surrogate." It's just flatly false.

As far as I can tell, the Obama campaign has confined its criticisms of Sarah Palin to her record as mayor and governor, and to her positions on issues. In fact, Obama criticized netroots bloggers and the media alike for going after her family.

I think you're pointing the finger at the wrong culprits.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that this Abe Lincoln quote justifies a contemporary blending of religion and politics. That statement was made when American belief in the Protestant Christian version of God wasn't questioned (at least not vocally) and thus was not the touchy statement it is today. To make such a comment now carries an entirely different set of assumptions-- and intentions-- and I think it's downright irresponsible for a candidate in 2008 to wave her religion around for the sole purpose of polarizing the electorate.

Furthermore, the God-fearing side of me is offended by Palin's gall--who are *any* of us to claim to have God's endorsement of our policy views? It's creepy if she believes it and dishonest if she's simply pandering to Conservative Christian voters. At least Abe knew that difference!

Molly said...

Well, I don't think pre-vice presidential race prayers for God's wisdom in the midst of war can be called pandering, but I agree with Anonymous 1's dispute with your choice here to equate media/bloggers with the Obama campaign.

I would also ask: in your view, should Sarah Palin get by with no criticism? I'm not talking about criticism her family. I think she's an incredible, admirable woman who lives her faith and is sharp and promising. But I also think it's disconcerting that she's not responding to legitimate questions about her political views. Her silence encourages idiotic media outfits like MSNBC to go searching for stuff like what you posted.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to learn that those crazy Pentecostals pray for their leaders, and that their leaders' actions will be in accordance with God's will. Thankfully, all those other Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians don't pray for their lead - oh, wait. ... never mind.

That CNN story demonstrated how completely out of touch the elite media is with the rest of the country. Having both attended "elite" schools and been raised in a pretty standard evangelical Christian home, I have some personal experience in both worlds, but it continues to amaze me the way the press -- and elite culture generally -- freaks out that someone might actually take the Scriptures seriously -- at least if that someone is both culturally conservative and in a position of political leadership.

I'm not normally one of those "left-wing media bias" conservatives, nor am I particularly favorable to the Republican party for the reasons you and Rod Dreher have well articulated, but the reaction to the Palin nomination has made me much more likely to entertain the "bias" argument. The best I can come up with is that Palin represents the first real, tangible threat to a Democratic win in November, and because her personal biography fails to fit neatly into the usual identity politics categories, the press, and Democratic-leaning elites more generally, have no idea what to do with her other than vent their spleens. Said venting simply magnifies the political problem they face and results in polls like the one in today's Post showing a complete (and rather shocking) flip-flop in white women's support for the presidential candidates.

Anonymous said...

You say you can't support someone eager to start another war. Are you referring to Obama who wants to invade Pakistan? Or both Obama and McCain who want a troop "surge" in Afghanistan? Is there another presidential candidate I don't know about?

Anonymous said...

I do wonder about Lincoln's discussion of God's will in the quote you cite. Although he senses great mystery and enigma, he also hints at an understanding of Providence: "I am almost ready to say that this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet."

What is so interesting is how this was being said by a human person with real power to stop the War Between the States. Some could even argue that War would never have been waged if Lincoln had not been so "confident" in his fairly controversial nationalist theory of Union. So, here we have a man, who had the power not to have initiated the war or (by altering his Constitutional theory and heart) stop the war from continuing for another two years, saying that the war continues because God wills it. Is this not a dangerous rationalization for perpetuating human carnage? Did God really will for 600+ thousand Americans to die over an extremely controverisal theory of Union?

Additional questions can be raised. How could the true purpose of the war have really been about demonstating that (as he said at Gettysburg) "the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth" when successful Southern secession would have entailed the launching of two American federal unions based on republican principles? For that matter, what "nation" born in "liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal" was Lincoln even connoting? It could not have been one started "Four score and seven years ago" (i.e., 1776) because this was actually the launch-year for the thirteen separate "Free and Indepndent States" who did not even enter into a legal compact until 1781 when the Articles of Confederation were finally enacted.

As always, fine rhetoric cannot errase or alter real history, and it is always our responsibility to distinguish between the two.

Robert said...

Couple of thoughts:

I grew up in the Pentecostal world and, until my recent conversion to Orthodoxy, strongly identified with it. The language of Palin's prayer here is certainly familiar, and folks are foolishly silly to be shocked by people not being bland secularists outside of their secular roles, but there is some reason for scrutiny. The Pentecostal/Charismatic belief in the ability of every believer, individually, to discern and even proclaim the will of God often makes the character of this type of prayer somewhat different than similar prayers said by other Christians and churches. This clip is fairly clear as to our Iraq policy not necessarily being synonymous with the will of God but other of her prayers I've seen (especially the one about the oil pipeline) are much less clear in that distinction.

" will be the height of irony if the Democrats lose an election that they should run away with if they STILL can't overcome their kneejerk elitism and not-so-subtle derision of the ordinary Americans they claim to want to help."

You're right, but the dynamic confuses me. Those I know who are most offended by the derision shown toward Palin have Coulter and Savage books (and worse) at home on the bookshelf. Why has a strategy of open hostility bordering on hate-mongering been electorally successful for the GOP while this suddenly unsubtle derision by Dems is a potential deal-breaker for them (assuming it's the mythical "middle" that decides elections - I get the tribalism angle)?