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The Next Time Someone Derides or Challenges You to Defend Sarah Palin

You might ask how the character and judgment of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee compare to that of the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Discussions - 38 Comments

I'm sorry. I consider myself to be a good and reasonable conservative man... but as far as their respective parties could tell, you have to side with the dems. Palin was exciting for a while, but she wasn't vetted enough. At least Edwards spoke in sentences.

How is that Edwards vetting working out?

You're completely right, it didn't work out either. But the democrats don't look quite as ridiculous for picking an adulterer as the GOP does for picking the all-around embarrassing Palin. I thought this was common knowledge.

Houston, I see your point, but I don't think Palin looks even a bit more absurd than Edwards as a potential V.P. They both had thin resumes when they were picked. Palin had been a small town mayor and was in the midst of her first term as governor. Edwards had served one term (and was as best I could tell a nonentity) in the Senate. Neither was, in the final analysis as asset in the general election - we can disagree about why. Both of their post VP run careers seem to have been defined by pr disasters (Edwards' worse than Palin's). That Edwards is more smooth talking, while being a hollow man and weasel makes him perhaps more creepy, but not less embarrassing.

Houston, we have a problem. The Democrats didn't merely pick an adulterer. They picked an empty suit who presented his devotion to a wife who was bravely battling terminal cancer as a big reason to treat the prospect of Pres. Edwards seriously and respectfully. All the time he and his wife were presenting this image to voters, donors, campaign workers and journalists, Edwards was lying, lying, lying about his life, and disparaging everyone who told or tried to determine the truth as the real liars. Many Democrats did such a good job of vetting John Edwards that his nomination and election in 2008 were entirely plausible outcomes. Before listening to long lectures from Democrats on the unsuitability of Sarah Palin for high office, I would like to hear a little bit about the collective wisdom of a political party that was prepared, twice, to treat John Edwards as a worthy candidate, and felt no apparent urgency about scrutinizing the twerp beneath the haircut.

whoring around on his terminally ill wife.

So we're talking about McCain now?

Though it must be said that Sarah Palin is preferable to John Edwards is very, very low praise. My liberal friends shudder with loathing at the mention of his name. Voegeli is right that our political culture has not come to terms with how close (not alot of votes in Ohio) Edwards came to being VP. I remember the Robert Shrum quote about Edwards exploiting his son's death during his meeting with John Kerry. The news about Edwards's affair also casts a new light on his exploitation of his wife's sickness and their relationship during the 2008 campaign. Those two things point to more than adultery, but to someone who is a totally untrustworthy to-the-bone creep. But he talks nice.

Thanks for that, Matt, although, technically she was just seriously injured from a car wreck (IIRC), not terminally ill. She was shorter (after reconstructive surgeries) and gained weight, so McCain traded her in for a newer, younger model, a wealthy gal with connections. But it's okay, because he was in Vietnam (it's like a Free Pass for all sorts of things!).

I believe it was Newt Gingrich - the once and future king of the GOP - who was whoring around on his terminally ill wife.

"The lapse in time between John McCain's return home and the 2d of the two trial separations he had with the first Mrs. McCain was (if I am not mistaken) six or seven years."

That's really beside the point, though.

McCain cheated on his wife (apparently more than once, if McCain's use of the plural "dalliances" is accurate) and was engaged to Cindy before his divorce from his first wife had even been finalized.

Really, this is old news - read all about it here.

Do note these quotes from the article, though:

McCain writes: "Sound marriages can be hard to recover after great time and distance have separated husband and wife. We are different people when we reunite. But my marriage's collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam, and I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the war. The blame was entirely mine."


"In one of the few public comments she has made about the marriage, Carol McCain -- now 70 and living quietly in retirement in Virginia Beach -- told Timberg in 1995: "The breakup of our marriage was not caused by my accident or Vietnam or any of those things. I don't know that it might not have happened if John had never been gone. I attribute it more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do to anything else."

"....After leaving the hospital weighing 80 pounds, Carol gradually regained her strength. But the combined effect of prolonged inactivity and nearly two dozen surgeries distorted what had been her model's figure. When McCain returned home, the Long Tall Sally of his imagination was four inches shorter, heavier and moved about only with the aid of a wheelchair or crutches."

Now, Pete, just what was the point of your remarks?

What is the point of any of these remarks? "My Bible-thumping, media dolt of a candidate is better than your adulterous liar of a candidate." Wow. Sounds like an RNC 2010 platform to me. At least he wasn't molesting a Congressional paige or tapping feet with the guy in the next stall.

Edwards might be a bad guy, but his isn't the party of traditional family values, heterosexual marriage only, and abstinence only education. Anyone will look bad when caught in an affair (especially when your wife is dying). Republicans look really bad when they're compromising their preachy principles by sleeping with someone other than their significant other.

AD, I don't know hat you don't get.

Matt, I don't think that "don't cheat on your dying wife and then use your relationship with your dying wife as a selling point in your presidential campaign" is strictly a Republican value or a tough one to live up to.

And I thing you have your paige scandals mixed up. Foley did not have sex with any paiges that I know of. It was Democratic congressman Gerry Studds who had sex with a minor congressional paige.

And I don't know how the contrast between McCain's brutal (though arguably self-serving)account of his first marriage's failure during the 2008 campaign and Edwards' dishonesty works in any way to Edwards' favor or
McCain's discredit.

in #15 I meant to add how McCain took full responsibility for his marriage's failure

I'm sorry, Pete. You're right. Foley only sent them suggestive messages when they were 16 or so. He had sex with them after (that is, right after) they turned 18.

If you think Edwards' campaign was all about his dying wife, then I don't think you paying very good attention. Sure - the media loved that stuff, but I think you're overhyping how central it was to his platform.

Matt, I don't see that trying to measure how "central" to his campaign (semi-central?) the John and Elizabeth story was (and they did play it up)changes how creepy Edwards was and is given what we now know.

And I really did think you were confused about the Studds scandal (whose facts matched what you wrote) and the Foley scandal.

Ummm. No. That is the Foley scandal. The difference is that Studds only had one lover. Foley had a few. And if we're keeping score, Dan Crane was censored at the same time Studds was for pretty much the exact same thing.

You've been watching too much Fox News.

Matt, no. Studds had sex with a minor (Crane too) and I do not know of Foley doing so as you admit in an earlier comment.

You're right. Foley just had sex with a few young adults he solicited as minors. So who wins the slimeball game?

Although in Florida the age of consent on the internet is 21. So, I guess technically, Foley could be considered a sexual predator in his (and my) state.

"And I don't know how the contrast between McCain's brutal (though arguably self-serving)account of his first marriage's failure during the 2008 campaign and Edwards' dishonesty works in any way to Edwards' favor or McCain's discredit... McCain took full responsibility for his marriage's failure."

Obviously, Edwards has also taken full responsibility for his cheating (watch the interview/read the transcript - he goes on and on about his own incredibly poor judgment) - and, in contrast to McCain (at least thus far), his marriage is still intact. In any case, if the Dems did wrong by not vetting Edwards for adultery, why wasn't the GOP wrong for rejecting McCain for well-established past adultery (and divorce, too - if that is supposed to disqualify one for office (is it? should it?)). Should the vetting process actually involve the party following potential candidates around like National Enquirer "reporters" and setting up hidden cams in closets, under beds, and in the candidates' bathrooms? Classy!

Also, everyone, the young assistants who work in Congressional offices are pages (not paiges).

Craig, do you mean the interview in which Edwards lied about being the father of the child, and the timeline of the affair? Yeah, brutal honesty that. As for vetting, most media outlets held off on publishing the stories about the Edwards affair. By contrast, the the New York Times couldn't bother checking whether Palin really had been a member of of the Alaska Independence Party before running the story, as well as a story that implied that McCain was having an affair with a lobbyist.

Matt, none of that changes that your original post about "molesting" fits Studds (and Crane, who actually had sex with minors) better than Foley.

Is it just me, or has Palin escaped this quarreling unscathed?!

The next time someone derides or challenges you to defend Sarah Palin...

So, is that intro a concession that Sarah Palin is, at least to some extent, a real conservative?

Because during the last year or two I've noticed that a lot of conservatives who were big fans, promoters, and boosters of Dubya The Conservative have slyly, subtly shifted (like a hydrostatic transmission on a lawn mower!) into the defense that Dubya wasn't a real, true conservative.

As it stands now, it looks like your best (sole?) defense of her is that she probably hasn't cheated on Todd. Wow. That's a powerful point in her favor.

I think I'd prefer Dubya's foreign policy to Obama's -- I don't know what others would say about that. As for the scrutiny over torture that seems to have disappeared with the shift in political winds, Bruce Thornton is a writer I like on the subject. Here is something he puts very well:

"Some may argue that our strength lies in our principles such as the rule of law and a preference for reasoned discussion over force. Indeed it does — but only when it is clear that our power lies behind our principles, that we believe in them ardently enough to use force not for territory or wealth, but to strengthen our principles and defend our security when we have determined they have been attacked. But to think that those principles and beliefs can stand on their own without being guaranteed by force is delusional, for the simple reason that most of our adversaries do not believe in the same principles. To our enemies, those principles are not self-evidently the best way to live, and so our adversaries must be compelled to respect these principles with deeds rather than words. The prestige of our principles depends on the prestige of our power."

The Bush administration knew how to work within the constraints of politics. His bailout I'm sure had a lot to do with the transferring of power, and while his deficits were not every conservative's dream, I think there was good reason for it. Of course, that has a lot to do with your take on the wars.

I think it is a mistake on the other hand to say that Palin and Bush are the same sort of creature.

Yeah. If you have to defend Palin by pointing at Edwards, you're not in good shape.

As AD pointed out, not being a total weasel (Edwards' transgressions go beyond cheating on his wife) is only one advantage that Palin has over Edwards - though a big one. It is low praise to be sure, but found him a credible VP or President look pretty silly when the look down on Palin.

The source of Edwards' wealth, "awards won as a medical malpractice and personal-injury attorney," means he benefits from the misfortunes from others. He played his politics that way, too. Find a victim and exploit him. Therein is the political sleaze. In his medical malpractice suits he won millions for his clients, but "Edwards did receive the standard one-third plus expenses fee typical of contingency cases." which means he took a huge chunk of the money. Why doesn't this seem to bother Democrats? The guy is a walking advertisement for medical malpractice tort reform. He even sued the Red Cross. There is a deep pocket defendant for you.

What has Sarah Palin done that is comparable?

Not "from others", but "of others". Sorry.

Because during the last year or two I've noticed that a lot of conservatives who were big fans, promoters, and boosters of Dubya The Conservative have slyly, subtly shifted (like a hydrostatic transmission on a lawn mower!) into the defense that Dubya wasn't a real, true conservative.

That was true long before the election. In fact, I'm told Dick Cheney has a book coming out in which he slams the former president for just that. There were many of us in 2004 who weren't at all excited about Bush, but simply preferred him to the appalling John Kerry.

If Dick Cheney who served at least 8 years with Bush(and was part of his original campaign and responsible for vetting the VP, for which he did a good job and picked himself.) If Dick Cheney is going to come out against Bush as not conservative enough then you have a whole host of problems related to this issue.

But when it comes time to pick a VP all presidential candidates who have won the party nomination should pick someone who is loyal.

McCain should have picked Lieberman, and tried to gain conservative credentials by flying back to Washington and rallying against the bailout, or in simply acknowledging the disjunction, and suggesting that politics can't easily be boiled down to conservative/liberal. I am not sure if he didn't do the right thing, in voteing for the original bailout, but that was certainly a strange moment in his campaign begging for some clarity and ripe for a maverick style bold move.

In any case Cheney picked himself, perhaps to steer Bush towards true conservatism.(of course to be clear Bush origionally campaigned against interventionism, so that is certainly something Cheney might have fixed if the events that followed weren't in fact much larger vectors than players and ideology.)

In any case comment 32 is problematic on many levels and therefore reading Cheney's book should be interesting.

In Craig Scanlon, John Edwards has found one more American who is easily seduced. Scanlon is impressed that "Edwards has also taken full responsibility for his cheating (watch the interview/read the transcript - he goes on and on about his own incredibly poor judgment)." The transcript does help us understand the depths of Edwards' responsibility and contrition, especially the part where he says that the allegation that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's daughter is, "Not true. Published in a supermarket tabloid. That is absolutely not true," because, "I know that it's not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events, so I know it's not possible." The millworker's son who made his fortune as an aggressive, incisive trial attorney is remarkably uncurious about some basic facts concerning the child he couldn't have fathered, such as whether the baby's mother is receiving financial support. and if so from whom, and whether a former worker on his presidential campaign truthfully or dishonestly claimed paternity.

So, "full responsibility" in this case means "much less than full responsibility" - abandoning those lies you told over and over in the past that have become completely untenable, but repeating the lies you have told over and over in the past that you hope might never be disproven. Given the well-established gullibility of Democratic partisans and journalists, it's entirely plausible that John Edwards still hoped, in August 2008, that his fallback set of lies might hold up, and enable him to be considered for a Cabinet position in an Obama administration. (The talk after Edwards endorsed Obama toward the end of the primaries was that "Attorney General Edwards" or "Sec. of Health and Human Services Edwards" had a nice ring to it.)

The many responses to the two-line blog post that got this food-fight started have mostly taken the form of saying, "No, you're the ones who are living in glass houses and throwing stones." Look, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go into the election with the slate of candidates you have. Neither party lives in a glass house, because neither party has a slate of candidates whose private lives are devoid of big mistakes. I'm trying to make two points. First, what John Edwards did was several orders of magnitude creepier than the unusual politician's hypocrisy about adultery. To be one of the leading candidates for the most visible office in the world, to spend more than a year going around the country urging anyone who will listen to judge your fitness for that office by considering your devotion to your cancer-stricken wife with whom you have shared the sorrow of burying a child, while you are having an affair with a woman on your campaign's payroll, is brazen, reckless and pathological. The sexual misconduct is a small part of the pattern of behavior that shows Edwards to be unfit for office. Second, it would be nice to hear one Democrat admit that it was a huge mistake to let Edwards, in 2004 and again in 2008, get so close to the Oval Office. The party that was impressed by this hologram, including John Kerry in 2004 who selected Edwards to be a heartbeat away, made a massive misjudgment - and hectors Republicans about the politicians on our team who don't measure up as though that misjudgment didn't happen and doesn't matter.

The many responses to the two-line blog post that got this food-fight started have mostly taken the form of saying, "No, you're the ones who are living in glass houses and throwing stones."

No. The "food-fight" got started because someone posted a stupid blog-post on NLT which told people to defend Palin by pointing to Edwards. Rather than maybe suggest a better way to pick Vice-Presidents (so as to avoid dumb-asses and sleaze balls) or talk about Palin's merits (which Art Deco covered - he should also include her disbelief of evolution, love of assault weapons, and ability to speak in tongues as well though), you wanted to play the finger-pointing game.

No one will ever let Edwards be a viable candidate for office again. Hopefully the same will go for that crazy, Bible-thumping pitbull with lip-stick, "our Sarah". She's proof that you don't have to be a sleaze-bucket to be unfit for public office.

You might make an effort to have a nuanced thought every once in a while.

Yeah, I save those for real-time.

You sound like one helluva Palin supporter, Art. I suppose attempting to convince you of how silly it is to teach children "both sides" of biology? Maybe we should also teach them that perhaps Aliens from Dimension Q created us as well, and then let them decide.

The tolerance I have for religious belief stops at the public sphere. I think that Palin is a zealot and would do what she thought her god wanted before she would do what might be beneficial for society. Isn't this the point of Abrahamic-style faith (something Pentecostal congregations emphasize)? God can't fit into our own moral preconceptions, so to judge his will is arrogant and ill-conceived. I don't want someone like that running the country and, thankfully, I think most people were put off by her religiosity. While most Americans identify with Christianity, it's good to know that most prefer their presidents and congressmen to talk the talk but not actually buy into the literal narrative of the Good Word.

But you remember me while you read "Teaching Tolerance." As if my opinion could even come within an arm's length of Christianity's moral and ideological absolutism.

"In Craig Scanlon, John Edwards has found one more American who is easily seduced. Scanlon is impressed that "Edwards has also taken full responsibility for his cheating..."

I never said nor implied that I was or am "impressed" with anything about Edwards. Just that he took responsibility for his cheating - as did, apparently, McCain. My question was about the discrepancy in the notion of vetting. McCain, a candidate for the self-proclaimed party of moral values, had already shown his character record with admitted "dalliances" and divorce under less than clean-cut circumstances. We'll see what happens with the issue of any possible "love child." Surely it complicates matters that another man had already claimed paternity. But no, I'm not impressed with Edwards, and to say I was "seduced" by him is lame and absurd.

"It does not seem to sink in to your head, or Pete's head, or Craig Scanlon's head that screwing around on a woman with terminal cancer is indicative of anything especially gross. It is."

What are you talking about? I freely concede that it's gross (although the idea that it's somehow MORE gross when your wife is ill - what if she's got a broken leg? Or Alzheimer's? - eludes me to some extent). He's certainly been a bad husband. But I think his policy ideas were better than those of McCain, who also cheated on his wife. But since you mentioned the whole thing about screwing around on a woman with cancer, I hope you'll keep that in mind should...

Newt Gingrich rear his fat head in a run for office again.

"Gingrich married his second wife, Marianne Ginther, months after he divorced Battley in 1981. According to Battley, Gingrich discussed divorce terms with her while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery."

and from his Wiki page:

"She had undergone uterine cancer surgery during the successful 1978 campaign, which Gingrich referenced in speeches. Eighteen months later, they separated. While in the hospital recovering from another uterine operation, according to his friend Lee Howell, "Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of 'out of it,' and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it." According to Howell, friends in her church had to raise money for her and her daughters. Later, Jackie went to court for adequate support, before they divorced. In his financial statement, Gingrich reported providing $400 per month, plus $40 in allowances for his daughters. Gingrich said he was unable to afford more. The same financial statement listed his expenditures for "food/dry cleaning etc. (one person)" as $400."

Is that impressive?

"That having been said, I cannot figure why you would favor Edwards as a candidate."

Oh geeeez.... where or when did I say I'd favor Edwards as a candidate? Had the election come down to Edwards Vs. McCain, okay, yes. But Dems in general, and Edwards specifically, are hardly my FIRST CHOICE.

Of the '08 Dem primary field, Edwards ranked about 4th, maybe 5th for me...

And yes, their policy ideas and proposals rank much higher for me than their marital histories do. If you're defending McCain, I presume the same holds for you.

Matt: I always find it interesting that you are able to work in this revulsion to fundamentalists in any given setting. While I really do respect your thoughts, I think I understand a little bit more why you threw Kierkegaard at me a couple weeks ago: he is unequivocally against the idea that one can ever know God's will.

But to take Christianity seriously (and I am not going to say whether or not I believe Palin does; the fact is I know little about her), it has to, I think, involve Providence. There are traditions that Christians really do (and rightly should)take as evidence of God's will, whether it is Scripture itself -- whatever -- and as AD points out, these are so watered down that they don't threaten your public sphere in a fraction of the ways that you'd like to imagine. Revelation is where it gets scary, fast. I don't want to say that our politics is 'beyond' that, because it would be wrong to say so on several levels; I also think that true revelation would manifest itself in ways we just flat out wouldn't consider harmful.

Is there Scripture that condemns such hubris as say, Palin touting a pipeline's construction as God's will? Sure -- I think the book of Job even refers to we mere mortals as maggots, creatures of the lowest order completely incompetent.

But on the other hand there are books like Jonah, whose characters are so keenly aware of God's will that they find themselves in a dilemma with temporal justice: can we love as well as Him?

Now am I saying I want someone who thinks God breathes life into their public actions running the country? No -- but I do believe that the moral order shapes the people and not vice versa. I understand that you could go about attacking that in any number of ways, but it would first be honorable to recognize that if we could conceive of a public figure who considered Providence that they probably wouldn't be a shabby statesman, that they would as Lincoln said be controlled by events; it would guide them, not they it. But, how often does that happen?

I can't believe this blatant appeal to tribalism drew so much energy. If you name is not Todd Palin or whatever, who cares?

Say the words "Sarah Palin" and watch the liberals flipped out. It is immensely amusing...

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