Hmm. Maybe a daily Palin update is necessary.

In that:

  • Right about when Joseph Lieberman, rightly known for his pride in his Jewish faith and upbringing, was praising Palin to the skies at the convention, the news started to circulate that Palin had apparently no problem with a speaker at her church — namely one David Brickner, head of Jews for Jesus — a couple of weeks back saying things like this:

    But what we see in Israel, the conflict that is spilled out throughout the Middle East, really which is all about Jerusalem, is an ongoing reflection of the fact that there is judgment. There is judgment that is going on in the land, and that’s the other part of this Jerusalem Dilemma. When Jesus was standing in that temple, He spoke that that judgment was coming, that there’s a reality to the judgment of unbelief. He said “I long to gather you, but…” what? “You were unwilling.” God never forces His way on human beings. And so because Jerusalem was unwilling to receive His grace, judgment was coming. He says, “Look, your house has left you desolate!” What did He mean by that? Remember where He is. He’s standing in the temple there in Jerusalem, the place where God had promised, through Moses,

    “There I will meet with you, there I will hear your prayers, and there I will forgive your sin.”

    And now Jesus in that temple, just before going to the cross, says, ‘From now on this place is desolate.’ And Jesus’ words have echoed down through the centuries. Not a generation after He uttered this promise, Titus and his Roman legions marched into that city and destroyed both the city and the temple. And from that day until this very present there has been no temple, and there is therefore no sacrifice in Judaism. Only we could sacrifice in…the only place was in the temple. And therefore there has been, and there is today, no confidence of atonement, no confidence of forgiveness. If you were to stand outside of a synagogue on the day of atonement and ask those leaving the service, “Did God hear your prayers? Were your sins forgiven on this most holy of all days?” the answer would be, “I hope. I hope, but who can know?” Who indeed but those of us who have come under the wings of the Almighty, who’ve entered into that place of grace where forgiveness is assured for the dilemma of human life. Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real.

    When [Brickner’s son] Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment—you can’t miss it.

    Well that’s…charming. And lest you think I’m misquoting, hey, the full sermon’s right here.

  • “Never mind,” you might say, “is that anywhere as bad as Rev. Wright was for Obama?” (Which misses the point much like the whole question of experience and lack thereof has been torpedoed but let us move on.) Ah well, how about this, courtesy of, unsurprisingly, Andrew Halcro:

    With all the debate surrounding the Bridge to Nowhere earmark, I offer you a campaign photo from 2006 when the Bridge to Nowhere was considered the Bridge to Somewhere by one candidate seeking votes from the people of Ketchikan.

    He goes on to explain the timing of both her support — and then her well-publicized and, I now see more clearly, utterly cynical rejection of said ‘bridge to nowhere.’ The details are there, read them as you like. And the photo, well, John at Balloon Juice has provided a helpful crop:

    She certainly seems happy.

    Cute. Really. In a sick sort of way.

  • Then there’s that whole troopergate thing — Halcro has a new general summary up, as well as a good snark at people who keep missing the opportunity to talk with Wooten directly — and the investigation that’s due to conclude right before the Presidential election and all that. Looks like she’s due to testify soon, or they’d like her to. So much to say, really…but isn’t it odd that that, in part to avoid having to testify, she’s had to file an ethics complaint…against herself?:

    Gov. Sarah Palin wants a state board to review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan — taking the unusual step of making an ethics complaint against herself.

    Her lawyer sent an “ethics disclosure” Monday night to Attorney General Talis Colberg. The governor asked that it go to the three-person Personnel Board as a complaint. While ethics complaints are usually confidential, Palin wants the matter open.

    Under state law, the board must hire an independent counsel for complaints against the governor to determine whether evidence of a violation of the state ethics act exists.

    “Governor Palin believes it will find no conceivable violation of the Ethics Act,” her complaint says. She wants the investigation “to put these matters to rest.”

    Tom Daniel, an Anchorage labor and employment lawyer hired by the board in the Renkes case, took a quick look at Palin’s complaint Tuesday.

    “It appears that the Governor has filed an ethics complaint against herself. … This is very unusual because ethics complaints typically are filed against others,” Daniel wrote in an e-mail responding to a Daily News query.

    Asked whether the personnel board could take the investigation away from the Legislature — as Palin wants to do — Daniel answered: “I’ve never looked at that issue, but I can’t see why filing a complaint with the personnel board would deprive the Legislature of the right to conduct its own investigation.”

    The ethics disclosure echoes points made in a four-page backgrounder on the Wooten matter released by the McCain/Palin campaign. Did Van Flein write the background paper on Wooten for the campaign? He didn’t answer that question when asked in an e-mail Tuesday evening.

    Hmmm.

Now, what haven’t I talked about in this post so far? The answer is obvious. What would I like to direct your attention towards? This post over at the NRO by Byron York, who is one of the few people there who is starting to get openly queasy about a lot of things — which is nice to see, even if he’s looking at it more from a strategic ‘how can we rescue the beloved brand’ perspective more than honest ‘good grief, we’re utterly messed up, aren’t we’ feelings:

How will Palin address the family issues that have arisen since her elevation to the GOP ticket? My source didn’t want to address that — not because Palin isn’t going to do it, but because that’s the kind of thing the campaign wants to leave for the speech itself. Still, my source said, “We said on Monday and Tuesday that this discussion for us is over. We’re asking people to respect their privacy.” Well, they can dream. In any event, the campaign will release excerpts of the speech later today that might give us a hint where that particular issue is going.

On a question that is flying around here in St. Paul: What about the presence of one Levi Johnston, the 18 year-old father of Bristol Palin’s unborn child? At the end of this kind of speech, there is usually a lot of applause, music, and the candidate’s family up on stage. Johnston is in St. Paul, I am told, but there has been no final decision about what he will do tonight.

“This is not an issue that we’re going to act ashamed or scared about,” my source told me. “Despite the media coverage of this, voters still have such a great response to [Sarah Palin]. This just makes her more real.” So, I asked, does that mean Johnston will be on stage with the Palin family? “At this point we don’t know whether he will be up on stage,” I was told. “It remains to be seen. There hasn’t been a decision made yet.”

Perhaps I’m focusing on an irrelevant issue, but the presence, or non-presence, of Johnston on the stage tonight strikes me as important. It’s one thing for delegates to be understanding and compassionate about the fix these two teenagers have gotten themselves into. It’s another to actually celebrate it. And, given what we’ve learned in the last few days, if Johnston is up on stage with his girlfriend and the Palin family, and Republicans are wildly cheering, it will certainly look like they are celebrating this situation.

I don’t usually engage in these scenarios, but I’ll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

That’s already produced some grumbles and complaints on the site and I suspect he’s getting mail too. Probably not as much as David Frum over there, who has been viewing everything with ill-disguised horror. And he’s been pounded for it by a slew of people, and he’s not backing down, to his credit. He’s gotten some positive mail, though, and I’d like to quote from one letter he put up:

The Palin decision effectively torpedoed, as you clearly understand, the best card in John McCain’s hand: namely the popular perception that he put country before party and himself. Basically it made him and the GOP look both irresponsible and deeply unserious, a perception that is only being heightened by the soap opera atmosphere starting to develop around the nominee.

I’m a retired bank exec of moderately Republican views but I’ve become deeply disenchanted with a party that is now dominated by the sort of people who were writing you anguished letters of rebuke. Most of my circle are upper middle class folks, now dismissed as elitists when in fact we are the achievers, the people that basically make the country work. A lot of us with resumes not unlike Barack and Michelle Obama, in fact two of my kids went to the same schools. My family have voted Republican for generations, my Grandfather used to boast he voted for Alf Landon in 1936, so you get the picture. The Republican party as we used to know it has been destroyed by what I’ll call extreme right wing ideology and Rovian tactics that elevate politics above governance with predictably awful results. I’d say my view is widely shared amongst the sort of Republicans with whom I associate. It explains why the party is losing the suburbs generally, states like VA and CO, and only has one congressman, my congressman, in New England. If November does turn into a wipeout I think you’d be well advised to reflect on this and recognize that if the GOP stays in the NRO/Evangelical Christian/far right mode its future is bleak for demographic reasons if none other.

It’s a little too early, way too early, to call GOP apocalypse yet. But the strains, far from being cemented over by this choice, are starting to show.

I predict Palin will make a firecracker of a speech tonight that will be welcomed with huge applause and cheers by the crowd. And I suspect that will be the highlight of her entire time as vice-presidential nominee.

[EDIT: well, I guess we know this much in terms of public image:

Yes, that’s Levi and Bristol in the center, from earlier today. We’ll see about tonight, per York’s post above.]

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They eat their (elephantine) own

There’s a famous definition of conservatism courtesy of one William Buckley, who I am still convinced looks at everything that’s come afterwards and asked himself where he screwed up (and well he should). In the first issue of National Review he published this piece, which included this bit (emphasis mine):

The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.

That key part has been much quoted/parodied/discussed ever since, and deservedly so — it does sum up an attitude and an ideal as pointedly as, say, ‘Workers of the world, unite!,’ and has the advantage of being pithy and brief.

But it’s also defeatist. By its own formulation, all it is doing is calling attention to something which is going to run it over and squash it. Arguably the point was that this was all it could do to begin with — thus my observation at the start, in that whatever Buckley’s obsessive ideals have been and are now, all that yelling back in the mid-1950s didn’t stop history from going forward.

In ways this ties in with my own belief in the fitful, imperfect yet steady enhancement of the American political experiment, its eventual inclusion within the bounds of the Constitution of much more than had initially been planned and/or assumed. This is the kind of talk, I realize, that drives originalists up a wall, but I’ll make no apologies for that; if I may turn the tables of stereotypes on them, too often they make it seem like only the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights counts for anything (and in these curious judicial days, even that latter part seems questionable to them), and my thought is is if they want to rule out the importance of minor things like the amendments that ended slavery and ensured women the right to vote, they have their own problems.

But there’s a larger if extremely obvious point to be made, that the definitions of what is assumed as conservatism, as much as liberalism, changes with time — carrying Buckley’s point back in time, for example, he’s essentially saying that in the 1910s he would have been standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’ at said securing of the right to vote, an attitude which I rather doubt any right-leaning female voter or politico would stand for these days (though I gather Ann Coulter made one of her usual heavy-handed ‘jokes’ about that once, but who cares?).

The idea of evolution, modification and rehoning of views with time and with different circumstances has been much on the mind of the right lately, especially with the defeat of ‘classic’ conservative candidates in the Presidential primaries — someone like David Frum has argued in his book Comeback that the GOP needs to do exactly all that to survive, that the previous coalition and attitudes thereon which reigned in the days of Reagan is spent. That’s one side of the coin but another can be seen in this post from one M. Malkin the other day regarding the California GOP in particular.

Now, said California GOP is a joke. They barely have anyone worth noting on the political scene statewide at this point, and Schwarznegger as governor has always clearly been flying his membership as a flag of convenience. They are still the repository of some horrifying characters and attitudes but that’s been starting to ebb with time, even in a place like OC (though there’s still a long way to go there). But they have dimly recognized that the reason why they’re trudging along and dying by inches is a simple one — they need to grapple with things as they are now, not as they’ve been.

This said, they’re still incompetent — Malkin’s linked pieces about the Michael Kamburowski case shows that it’s the usual story of glad-handing, greased palms and whatnot (and before anyone complains, there’s been plenty of that recently among California Democrats, as anyone following the Fabian Nunez story can point to) — but what really gets her goat is the second piece she discusses where the California GOP is on the verge of refocusing its platform towards a tentative center. And she’s spitting bullets:

Move to the center? Become more like Democrats? Join the global warming fear-mongering crowd? Adopt “centrist” social positions? Marginalize conservatism as “divisive” and “strident?”

Yeah, that’ll boost GOP donations and registrations!

…which is funny, because it might.

Might, I note — I actually agree this isn’t going to immediately turn things around for the GOP here at all. But more importantly there’s a perfect storm brewing in Malkin’s head where she’s facing a practical application of the Frum formula on a major level and the danger is not that it might fail but that it might eventually succeed. If it does — and if it spreads — things could be…amusing. Well, for me at least.

And if history trundles on and leaves a Malkin-style conservatism in the dust in favor of a Frum-like one — well, neither of them are actually all that appealing to me. But a Frum-like one attempts to address a situation as it is rather than a fantasy of what it once was like, and that makes rather more sense to me. Perhaps more will think like that as well. Still, you’d think she wouldn’t complain about ‘marginalizing conservatism as “divisive” and “strident”’ — she’s already done a great job at that. But if you’re yelling ‘Stop’ all the time, who would expect otherwise?

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Is there a caucus today? Who knew?

It’s 2008! The election season can really kick into high!

*echoes, silence*

Now that it’s all finally here, it feels even longer to November than before. Just a personal take on my part, of course, but all the jockeying and last-minute get-out-the-vote dealing for Iowa and hot-on-its-heels New Hampshire has fully settled into somewhere between kabuki and chaos, with the result being a well-orchestrated, every-move-telegraphed entropy.

Stasis, ultimately, is the word here — it’s almost like there’s something waiting to be ridden out, that I can’t quite put my finger on. The acceleration long had been stuck in overdrive so everything just feels like par for the course. The endless amounts of commentary about it all, including my own low-key mutterings, just add to it.

The only thing I’ve read so far today that’s caught my interest is former McCain employee Dan Schnur basically confirming what had long been suspected — namely, Republicans sure like their candidates groomed and handed over on a plate without all that problematic discussion and debate. (Hey, you have a problem with that characterization, talk to Schnur, not me: “…we Republicans have generally been much more hierarchical as we choose our presidential standard-bearers….we’re not very good at chaos.”) I have, needless to say, been delighted over watching various right-leaning types bash each other these last few weeks, because the combination of philosophical tribalism, naked worship of power over all and the realization that each faction’s own pet causes have really only been tolerated at best by everyone else means that the only thing that might bind everyone together is that they hate Hilary Clinton. A stirring call to arms if ever there was one.

The Democrats interest me less in comparison in terms of their own squabbles. Everything about philosophical tribalism et al applies to them, of course, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves (probably even down to the Hilary Clinton thing, unless you’re her) — but there doesn’t seem to be as much in the way of screeching anger and fear at play over there. I’m thinking this is because anyone who identifies themselves as conservative these days realizes that they have a lot more to lose — not merely the White House, but just a lot more in the way of any sort of honest respect from outside observers instead of the usual backpatting and self-congratulation that typifies too much right-wing ‘talk’ these days. This Alicublog post, riffing on a truly strange TCS post that essentially says ‘it’s great to be conservative and stupid, and would we were more so,’ notes that ‘conservatives normally like to brag on their “good arguments.”‘ Very true, and you hear this all the time, implied or directly stated — that they’re more mature, thoughtful, wise.

Regrettably, a good chunk of the past seven years has conclusively demonstrated to a variety of starry-eyed believers — not to mention a good chunk of the apolitical, bored and increasingly irritated public at large — that conservatives in charge of the government are just as venal, short-sighted and irritating as anyone else in charge of the government. Funny thing is, of course, that many conservatives — taking their cue from Edmund Burke, who, in the finest vein of many current right-leaning thinkers, really enjoyed democratic revolutions at a distance but hated it when they started coming closer to home — have always argued that since humanity is mostly a disaster, conservatism is needed to help society from breaking down fully. That they overlook themselves as being complicit in part of the disaster by being human to start with is rather convenient, it must be said.

And so we see it at work, imperfect humans in a tizzy over other imperfect humans, even while they claim they’re all automatically better than the other side. As always, this can and does apply to both major parties. But right now the GOP deals with the greater burden of expectations, having wrapped themselves in an aura that they never really held and don’t automatically deserve. I don’t expect much, frankly — and it’s only January.

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