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November 2008

The Palin Phenomenon


“I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?” - Sarah Palin
“Look, I got two daughters - 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” - Barack Obama


With the world economy collapsing like a board of dominoes, these two contrasting statements will seem irrelevant to many American voters. Yet the truly cosmic life and death battle they neatly reflect speaks to the heart of all our Western dysfunction and chaos, of which the financial meltdown is merely one frightening symptom.

The Issue

The accumulation of personal sins committed and institutionalised by politicians and the "money changers," this seismic event is set to take a devastating toll on all those human rights we hear so much about, like employment and family life. But as things unravel, we should pray that the suffering masses finally see beyond financial black holes and government bailouts to the bottom-line: the seething contradiction of Western societies which parrot such rights while denying the right to life, "the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights" [John Paul II, Christifidelis Laici].

It is this diabolic hypocrisy, lived out amid the billion dollar bloodletting of the government sponsored abortion franchise, which has deadened the collective conscience of nations and rendered the "common good" - not to say "liberty", "equality" and "fraternity" - utterly meaningless. Indeed, it was the elemental rupture of human solidarity in the womb that led Mother Teresa to warn that "The fruit of abortion is nuclear war." In other words, the materialistic self-serving which defines the Culture of Death breeds universal despair leading to self-annihilation: the suicidal impulse of the mother grieving her aborted child writ large in world affairs.

Calling for Catholics in his Lancaster diocese to support pro-life politicians, Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue recently alluded to the ugly human face of this despair on British streets awash with unspeakable violence: "For 41 years we've lived in a state-sponsored culture of death that has killed five million children, and we're now surprised that some of the surviving children have turned out violent with no regard for the sanctity of life."

At root, the abyss of global insolvency is just another manifestation of this dark and coarsened conscience on the same godless path to self-destruction.

Bucking the depressing downward spiral, enter one Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate whose sudden appearance on the political stage has electrified pro-lifers the world over. Her enlightened conscience shines through the above comment in reference to her six month old baby boy, who she knew from pre-natal testing would be born with Down's syndrome. Embracing all life as a gift from God to be valued and cherished, her statement is irreconcilable with the materialistic view espoused by Democratic presidential candidate Obama while promoting contraceptive sex-education in schools. He presents life as a disposable product to be jettisoned at one's convenience - much like the 90 per cent of American Down's babies butchered in utero for possessing an "extra chromosome" which would "punish" their parents.

It is a measure of recent ecclesiastical progress that instead of rushing to undermine Palin's message by mocking her pro-life supporters as "single issue" voters, many prelates have finally accepted them as the "crucial issue" voters they always were. Abandoning their corrosive "seamless garment" mentality which placed abortion on a par with other social justice concerns, bishops have released statements urging the Catholic electorate to make the pro-life cause its first priority. The bishops of New York reminded their flock that the destruction of 50 million children and the injury of countless millions of women eclipses any other political issue. "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all," they wrote. "To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office."

Spelling out precisely what that means, former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was named prefect of the Vatican's Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in June, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that the Democratic Party risked "transforming itself definitively into a party of death for its decisions on bioethical issues."

Widespread conservative misgivings about John McCain and his problematic support for embryonic stem cell research notwithstanding (a self-contradictory position since he believes that "life begins at conception"), a strong Republican Party pro-life platform energised and guaranteed by Governor Palin provides an acceptable alternative for Catholics on the overriding issue of the day.

Even arch-liberals view abortion as the defining controversy this time around. Ed Koch, the former Mayor of New York, opines that "the outcome of the presidential election will depend not on the economy, not on the Iraq war, not on the price of gasoline or the issue of national health insurance, but on the issue of the right to abortion. The next president will make the appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. John McCain has pledged to appoint Justices who support the right-to-life concept. Barack Obama has made clear he will only appoint Justices who will protect the right of choice for those choosing an abortion."

If Koch is right and the economic crisis does not trump everything else, the Catholic vote will be more decisive than ever. Since 1972 every White House winner has carried a majority of the Catholic vote. In 1992, for instance, Bill Clinton won with only 43 percent of the overall vote by carrying heavily Catholic states in the Northeast and Midwest. If the 2008 race is as closely contested as the 2004 election, it is these so-called Rust Belt states which will again prove decisive. Unfortunately for Obama, however, the younger cafeteria Catholics who voted for Clinton have migrated to economically prosperous states, leaving behind their ageing, practicing Catholic parents who are now disproportionately represented in the Rust Belt. According to liberal political pollster Stanley Greenberg, these Catholics are "those most committed to, and identified with, the Church and most likely to bring their Catholic identity into politics."

This should mean certain defeat for Obama in these pivotal states. He is aggressively pro-abortion; pro-funding of abortion; he voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion; opposed legislation prohibiting taking minors across state lines to procure an abortion; and even opposed giving legal protection to babies who survive an abortion [see article this issue]. He is also eager to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which Cardinal Rigali says "would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years" and establish abortion "as a 'fundamental right' throughout the nine months of pregnancy," forbidding "any law or policy that could 'interfere' with that right or 'discriminate' against it in public funding."

Given this egregious record, we might expect practicing white and Hispanic Catholics elsewhere to follow the Rust Belt and counter the liberal "cafeteria" Catholics, thwarting Obama against all the odds.

The Reaction

Yet beyond the electoral outcome itself is the telling reaction to Palin, whose positive impact and inspirational presence we pray will linger far beyond 4 November and her initial novelty value.

For conservatives she is a gift from God. American clerics in Rome privately labelled her a "dream candidate." This holds true not just in terms of the crucial life issues but also for her political incorrectness and plain-speaking. She has openly denounced homosexual "marriage," the man-made global warming con and other liberal scams, while acting to curb endemic corruption on all sides, both as Mayor of Wasilla and then Governor of Alaska.

We cannot expect a perfect candidate, of course, but Palin is a textbook example of God writing straight with crooked lines. Though a baptised Catholic, during her teenage years she attended a Pentecostal church, Wasilla Assembly of God. In an address she delivered at a School of Ministry graduation service at that church last June, Governor Palin joked that when officials forewarned her to expect the unexpected on her state visits to local churches, she replied: "I grew up with the Wasilla Assembly of God. Nothing freaks me out about the worship service." So it sounds as if we probably cannot blame the Novus Ordo for driving her family from the Church! But whatever the reason for their defection, they were part of the Assembly of God until 2002, and since then Palin has attended the non-Pentecostal Wasilla Bible Church. We can only entrust this courageous and zealous Christian soul to Our Lady and pray for her return to the one true Faith of her baptism.

Perhaps, like so many others, this will come about through a gradual acceptance of Catholic teaching on contraception. As it stands, Palin lists as one of her memberships Feminists for Life, who believe in the provision of affordable birth control as an option for all women to help give them the same economic advantages as men.

There may well be other matters of concern. Not to worry. As Archbishop Burke states, society has few politicians who "are completely coherent with regard to respect for human life, so we (Catholics) try to find those candidates who will most support the restoration and respect for human life in our society. And we continue to work at the same time to encourage all political leaders to promote a civilization of life and help to overcome the culture of death."

As a real and present danger to this wicked culture, Palin evoked explosive, irrational liberal fury. Overnight and single-handedly, through her electrifying address at the Republican convention, she polarised opinion and turned an increasingly one-horse race into a contest. "I'm pro-life," she declared. "I'll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life." Adding: "I believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman."

Thoroughly rattled by her fearless affront to their politically correct hegemony, the fascist Left resorted, per usual, to character assassination.

As if to emphatically underline the malicious levels of liberal media bias explored in our February 2008 edition, a torrent of lies and urban myths about Palin immediately saturated press, TV and internet coverage. Typical of the onslaught was the mocking of her Down's baby, Trig, by comedian Bill Maher who cracked a tasteless "joke" in the monologue of his HBO show. Noting that Palin has five children, he said the infant "has Down syndrome. She had it when she was 43 years old. And it looks a lot like John Edwards [the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential candidate]."

Widely circulated rumours even claimed that Trig was not her son but her grandson - her daughter's illegitimate child! The mainstream media was running so embarrassingly headlong into their reportage on that story that Obama had to make a statement trying to call them off.

The smears escalated as pro-Obama Democrats "airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage" to dig for dirt on the Alaska Governor [Wall Street Journal, 9/9/08]. Among the avalanche of disinformation emerging from this sordid exercise were claims that:

• As mayor of Wasilla, Palin banned nearly 100 books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Harry Potter. (In fact, she never banned any books and Harry Potter had not yet been published when she was in office.)

• Palin fired her public safety commissioner because he would not terminate a trooper who was her former brother-in-law after he had been suspended for five days for misconduct. (In fact, Palin did want the commissioner to fire her former brother-in-law. But extensive emails from Palin and her aides show she was upset with him because he repeatedly defied her instructions on a string of budget requests. He was offered another job but declined to take it.)

• Palin cut funding for special needs education by 62 per cent. (In fact, funding for the programme in question was actually tripled thanks to legislation signed by Palin.)

• Palin wanted Alaska to secede from the U.S. (In fact, a member of the Alaskan Independence Party incorrectly told the New York Times that Palin at one time had been a member. She later recanted this claim and issued a public apology to the governor.)

• Palin left Wasilla residents disenchanted with her. (In fact, in subsequent elections, Wasilla residents voted for Palin by 70 per cent or more.)

• Palin has no experience. (In fact, as reported by Newsmax, not only does Palin have a string of accomplishments to show for her herself but a principled backbone as well. As mayor, she cut property taxes by 75 per cent and reduced her own salary by 10 per cent. After joining the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003, she led an ethics probe of the commission's chairman, Randy Ruedrich, who also was the state Republican chairman. Facing conflict-of-interest-allegations, Ruedrich admitted ethics violations and resigned. Besides opposing the $400 million "Bridge to Nowhere," Palin as governor used her veto power to cut nearly $2 billion from the state budget. She was successful in enacting ethics reform legislation. While pushing to develop more energy resources, she reformed the system for paying Alaskans royalties from oil production. That will enable her to deliver a rebate of $1,200 - in addition to $2,069 in dividends - to each resident of the state.)

Her Christian faith, of course, was especially lampooned (an all too easy target, unfortunately, given the contradictions and absurdities of sola scriptura Protestantism) and she was attacked as a wacko fundamentalist who doesn't believe in evolution (never mind that polls repeatedly show that most Americans don't believe in it, either; a 2006 CBS poll finding just 13 per cent of Americans accepting scientific evolution, with most believing life was created and guided by God.)

On and on it went. US Weekly magazine, whose cover story featured Palin and the headline "Babies, Lies & Scandal", was asked by Fox News to identify any "lies" Palin had uttered. It's Senior Editor Bradley Jacobs could not offer any. Meanwhile, minor controversies in Alaska were elevated to national "scandals". The abovementioned firing of her brother-in-law, for example, who allegedly Tasered his 10-year-old son and threatened Palin's father, has been elevated to an international human-rights case.

Even more shockingly, and unbeknownst to just about everyone, her first televised interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC, for which performance she was widely criticised, was also heavily doctored. Hollywood reporter James Hirsen saw the transcripts of both the entire interview and the broadcast version. He explained to online Newsmax TV that whereas Obama demanded "no edits" of his interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox, the McCain campaign did not make the same demand, trusting ABC and Gibson. For their trouble, the transcripts viewed by Hirshen revealed that "Palin answers were edited out and other answers substituted in. There are nuanced answers and portions that are inexplicably removed, all of which arguable make Palin look worse not better. Very powerful, positive answers that the American people would want to hear - struck! For no reason that we can understand."

He continued: "I think with an interview this important, to edit out substance, that's a breach of ethics. I happen to teach the subject of media ethics to undergraduates and it's amazing that we live in a moment in time where we're seeing the New York Times retract stories, the Atlantic Monthly apologise for photos and ABC editing answers of an interview subject this important. This is very troubling and I think the American people are seeing a pattern. It's creating a credibility gap between the Fourth Estate and the population. And it's not healthy for our country. We really need to have some credible places to get our information."

Hirshen also described the "fear, loathing and hatred for Sarah Palin" in Hollywood. "The amazing message coming from celebrities is that 'We don't know this woman but we're scared of her and hate her'."

In the end, the Republicans were forced to launched a Palin Truth Squad to counter all the attacks against Palin, her family, her friends and her record. Indeed, the bias became so outrageous that even some in the offending mainstream media took note. NBC News, once considered the gold standard of US broadcast news, is so closely associated with the Obama campaign that it actually replaced veteran news anchors for the two conventions with Democratic pundits Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. But its slanted coverage of Palin and the Republicans became such an embarrassment that it removed both Olbermann and Matthews.

John McCain's senior policy adviser, Nancy Pfotenhauer, told Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler that journalists appear to believe every word of the latest scurrilous tales on the Internet concerning Sarah Palin. "You wouldn't believe the things I've been asked off camera by mainstream reporters," she said. "I'll say, 'There's no factual basis in that.' And they present it as if, 'We all know it's true.' And it colours their entire line of questioning. They are issues regarding the parentage of Governor Palin's children, issues involving how she had gotten into office, issues involving basic competency."

Since the McCain campaign tracks the blogosphere it knows the sources of the rumours and myths. Pfotenhauer said: "I'm thinking, 'Are you actually believing what you're reading here, with not a shred of factual evidence behind it?' It's the virulence and the lack of evidentiary basis for what is going on that is astounding, and the wholehearted acceptance of these horrible things as true. They want to believe these things, regardless of the fact that there is no evidence to support them."

They want to believe these things because the fascist Left has been outmanoeuvred and hoisted on its own PC petard by Sarah Palin. Whereas John McCain only endangers a Democrat electoral victory, Palin poses an existential threat to the radical feminist core of the liberal consensus. As a friend observed:

First Hilary being gazumped by a real live black guy; and then the black guy being gazumped by a woman that looks and acts like a Stepford Wife whose chip has been reprogrammed. Mrs Todd Palin is significant in the culture wars because she is living proof that the hegemonic cultural view in the American media is wrong. That there are pretty, conservative women who sleep with their husbands and don't regard abortion as the natural option. And that they can get selected to be Vice President (perhaps). That's not the way Hollywood presents the world. Hillary seems like an object lesson in how not to be a woman; and Sarah Palin seems like the better model. Of course, there is some hypocrisy from the right on women's role as exemplified in this case [i.e. a working mother of five fully engaged in high office]; but one must fight fire with fire. A female conservative politician makes sense when women politicians are in fashion.

Former Clinton adviser and shrewd political pundit Dick Morris has variously described Palin as "impressively well informed", "a breath of incredible fresh air" and "kind of like a British politician, who uses humour and sarcasm, wit and sass in a charming way to attack her opponent." He explained that the Left simply cannot sit back "and watch the feminist movement's impetus for greater female political participation and empowerment 'hijacked' by a pro-life woman who espouses traditional values. They must obliterate her." Even through vicious and sexist onslaughts "that would normally make a feminist angry and a Democrat blush."

Hence all the hysterics. "South Carolina's Democratic Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler (wife of a national party chairman), said that the only qualification Palin had for vice president was that she hadn't had an abortion," writes Morris. "Tabloids are digging up dirt on Palin's children. And liberal bloggers have suggested that Palin would neglect her children if she were elected (while the Democratic candidate has young children at home, too). That liberals would resort to such blatant sexism shows their desperation."

Moreover, this ideological panic, compounded by anti-Americanism, is reverberating among liberal elites worldwide, as Australian journalist Janet Albrechsten noted in the Wall St. Journal of 11 September:

Blinded by their anti-American prejudices, progressives outside the U.S. mistakenly treat Mrs. Palin as a country hick who has simply roused evangelicals and gun-loving and hunting Republicans. They miss the significance of her nomination. The Governor from Alaska is attracting so much positive attention outside the beltway of American politics - and indeed 10,000 miles away, where ordinary Australians are cheering her on even as their elites pour scorn on her - because she is the real thing. She is a sassy, happy, straight-talking mother of five who has succeeded, not through affirmative action programs or family connections, but through sheer dint of hard work and conviction politics. If Australia's left-wing elites don't understand Mrs. Palin's attraction to middle America it's because they don't or won't ever understand middle America.

Unfazed by all the fuss, Palin has simply upped the ante. She is attacking Obama for his unapologetic Marxist/terrorist links and his astronomic tax and spend programme in an attempt to focus attention on his murky background, dissembling, lies, complete lack of political achievement and, as author Brad O'Leary puts it, The Audacity of Deceit which defines his candidacy.

With the Obama-obsessed media unwilling to allow this open discussion, however, the most extreme socialist candidate in American history (he would have terrified Solzhenitsyn!) looks likely to get away with it. Yet while his welcome defeat would be a great victory for all Americans, born and unborn, even an Obama presidency has an upside. For it would not only allow the Republicans time to clean house and reappraise their problematic Neocon legacy/hegemony, it would also protect Sarah Palin from four possibly compromising years under globalist insider John McCain, thus allowing her to re-emerge untainted as a pro-life presidential candidate in her own right.

In a world going to hell in a handcart - utterly devoid of principled Christian leadership and dependent for financial survival on the same godless elites who bled it dry - that is a 2012 prospect to savour, whatever the outcome on November 4.

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