Category Archives: Sarah Palin

Preoccupation with Palin

Monday, July 13, 2009

How desperate can the media be that this morning’s Today show* allocated an entire segment, not just to the subject of why Governor Palin resigned – which is old news already – but to a live, in-studio interview with Levi Johnston to find out what the biological, but otherwise absentee father of her daughter’s child thinks about it?

Not to be critical of Mr. Johnston, far from it, but he’s hardly a reliable, unbiased source on the subject. Does anyone really care what he thinks? (By the way, that question – “Does anyone really care what he thinks?” – is the one that usually occurs to me whenever I hear someone interviewing Karl Rove, so Levi shouldn’t think I’m singling him out.)

Once again it raises an interesting question about the news: Is it the chicken or the egg? Is it that people care so much about Sarah Palin – who I like for the freshness she brings to politics – or is it that people in the media is fixated on her story for reasons having to do with their own points of view?

The media is supposed to tell the stories of our time in proportion, not just to levels of public interest, but to their importance which, admittedly, is hard to judge. What they’re not supposed to do is make the news, advertently interjecting their own opinions by virtue of what and how they present it. Keep us informed, to be sure, but do it objectively.

Today’s media, television news in particular, is so all pervasive, so constantly on in the background, that it’s hard for editors and reporters to tell any story without allowing the process to be influenced by their own thinking. Every decision they make, however grand, subtle or even subconscious, counts. Air time is everything. The nuances and duration of exposure can be career making or breaking. Add to the inherent power of electronic media the demands of competition and profit-making, it’s a miracle the media isn’t completely out of control.

One thing’s for sure, it can’t be easy being a journalist nowadays.

*See the video
“Fame went to Palin’s head,” Levi Johnston says
.

-wf


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Sarah Palin: The double standard strikes again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The sound of her voice had barely faded before some media pundits were criticizing Sarah Palin for resigning as Governor to, let’s all agree, run for President. “The nerve of her cheating the people of Alaska by not even finishing her first term in that office,” was the gist of what some of them are saying.

I, for one, will leave it up to the people of Alaska to draw their own conclusions and speak for themselves. I certainly don’t pretend to know what they’re thinking.

In the meantime, will someone please remind these same critics that Governor Palin will have served longer as Governor – and accomplished a great deal more in the process – when she resigns than Senator Barack Obama had served before he started running in earnest for President.

At least Governor Palin has the integrity and class not to impose her campaign for higher office on the people of Alaska by giving them less than the 100% of her time they deserve and for which they elected her.

I don’t know yet if I would ever vote for Sarah Palin to be President, but I certainly want to encourage her to run.

-wf


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Palin, Letterman and the Double Standard

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I’m not sure what’s more offensive, Mr. Letterman’s reprehensible sense of comedy and poor excuse for an apology, or the double standard that has plagued Governor Palin since her introduction to national politics. If Letterman’s comments had been about President Obama’s children, CBS corporate would have apologized for him, his contract would be in jeopardy, and I doubt his studio and TV audiences would have found his remarks as humorous. Mr. Letterman owes the Palin family a proper apology. In the meantime, I’m watching Conan O’Brien.

-wf


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The “Double Standard” Complaint of Sarah Palin

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I’m a big fan of Sarah Palin. I like her, and respect what’s she’s accomplished, personally, politically and for the people of Alaska. I don’t live in Alaska, but wouldn’t mind her replacing the governor of my own state.

In an interview, portions of which I saw on yesterday’s news, Governor Palin commented about the unfairness of how the media went after her appearance in ways they never would have done to her male counterparts. She’s right. They did. It’s also true that they would have been less discriminatory in their questions and comments had she been a Washington insider and/or less attractive – closer, in other words, to the standard for women in politics which most mainstream media find acceptable.

I think she’s right, and that the behavior of the media is wrong, but there’s a related counter-point which always goes unsaid, until now. (You can thank me later.)

Many women have been brought up and conditioned to think they look better wearing makeup, high heels, an interesting “do,” and more elaborate professional clothing. And to be honest, I was raised to believe that, too. Men, on the other hand, don’t do that, don’t think that way for the most part. Some do, of course, but most of us don’t. Whether or not women look better coloring their faces, standing on their toes or spending significant time and money preparing their hair which might be put to more productive use isn’t the point. If you’re a woman and you want to do those things because you believe it’s good for your self-image, career, whatever, that’s entirely up to you. But if that is what you choose to do, be aware that it gives many men, and probably more than a few women, the sense that you believe those accoutrements are an important element of how you define yourself – when, in fact, that may not be why you want to be hired or elected.

Although it’s been a while, I’ve been around women who would go braless to make a statement which was popular at the time, but not dream of giving up their lipstick and eyeliner. However interesting the look, I remember asking myself then, and now, what was the point they were trying to make?

If you’re a woman and you’re going to wear makeup, etc., which your male counterparts do not, it’s your right, but don’t be surprised if you’re viewed and treated differently because you do. There’s a double standard, all right, and it’s wrong, but most women continue to do little or nothing to discourage it.

We just elected a black man President because most of us don’t care about the color of his skin – or what he, himself, described, as “Alfred E. Newman ears.” I don’t think he wears makeup, at least not in the ordinary course of business. I’m pretty sure that’s his own hair which he spends little or no time preparing, and the heels on his ordinary shoes are minimal. A similar day may come soon, I hope, for women when most of us have stopped considering their appearance as relevant, and focus instead upon their abilities and experience. It’s something they have to believe, too, and probably first, before the rest of us get the point. Personally, I can’t wait.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, it wasn’t that the Republicans spent all that money on Governor Palin’s wardrobe that bothered me so much, as it was that they thought she needed to look better, and that she was, at least tacitly, conceding the point by not opposing it. In retrospect, do his managers think that, if only they had spent more money on Senator McCain’s clothes, he might have won?


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On Behalf of John McCain: “Thank you, Tina Fey.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

If ever there was a reason to vote for John McCain, it is the prospect of four or more years of watching the brilliant Tina Fey play Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself…

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton Joint Appearance on SNL

-wf


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God: The 800 Pound Gorilla in the Debate on Abortion Rights

“Can there be any greater test of the principle of the separation of church and state other than in the mind of a true believer elected to high office?”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This posting isn’t about what you or I think about abortion rights. It’s not about whether you believe in a woman’s right to choose or if you are “pro-life.” It’s about why the disagreement is so profound and politically difficult to resolve. And yes, it’s about who we should elect to be President and Vice President – if this were the only issue that mattered, which it’s not.

We all know the debate is inherently intense by virtue of what’s on the line. This isn’t some City Council hearing about the wisdom of alternate street parking. No, this is about nothing less than life itself. We have debates about life all the time, about the war in Iraq, for example, and countless other instances when our involvement, or lack of it, may have caused or prevented the deaths of innocent people. We are a nation which, in some states, still sanctions execution to punish people convicted of certain crimes. We’re used to making these most adult of all decisions, it’s just that abortion – for those who believe that life begins at conception – involves the termination, some would say “murder,” of the most innocent of our species.

Presumably, we all believe that life is precious and must be protected. And so it follows that, if you believe that life begins at conception, and from then on deserves the same rights to life as all born individuals, then the circumstances of conception must be irrelevant. Rape, for example, cannot be an exception to the rule, cannot be an excuse to allow life to be aborted. The potential for birth defects can’t make any difference. Least of all, relatively mundane concerns about the future effects upon the living – “She’s too young to have a baby,” for example. – can’t possibly be a factor. In fact, there can be no exception other than the health of the mother, in which case the pro-life advocate has the most difficult of choices to make.

Because the debate is about life, it has a profound problem with reciprocity. While one side can tolerate its opponent’s point of view, the reverse isn’t true. For a right to choose person to tell a pro-life person, that, “…not having an abortion is your right, but what I do is up to me,” doesn’t work. A pro-life advocate can’t give you the right to terminate a pregnancy any more easily than you could give your neighbor permission to kill someone at his or her discretion.

Unfortunately, if these considerations I’ve just mentioned weren’t serious enough, there’s another factor complicating the abortion rights debate.

For the purposes of this discussion we’re having, I’m going to divide the population of people who have opinions about abortion rights into three categories: Those whose religion takes no position on the issue. (Atheists would fall in this first group.) Those whose religion takes a position which the individual considers advisory, not compulsory. And those whose religions are pro-life, and who are bound by that doctrine. These are the people, in this latter group, who I call “true believers.” It’s a caption that is in no way meant to be critical or demeaning, but only to emphasize that theirs is a faith-based commitment to this particular view. The problem is that, for true believers, this isn’t just an argument between them and advocates of a woman’s right to choose. True believers have God on their side.

After all, if what you believe is the word of your God tells you that life begins at conception and abortion is wrong, well then, to convince you otherwise is tantamount to arguing that your God doesn’t know what it’s talking about, that your faith is in error. That you might tolerate others acting in contradiction to your faith on this most serious of issues is to challenge your relationship with the God in which you believe. Mind you, I’m not trying to be the least bit cute here. Think about it. Consider what the pro-choice advocate is asking of the true believer who is pro-life.

What do you do if you’re, let’s say, President of the United States, contemplating a lifetime appointment, or two, to the Supreme Court? Your God tells you abortion is wrong, while a majority of the citizens who elected you are pro-choice. Sure, appointments to the Supreme Court need to be approved by the Senate, by a simple majority of only 100 men and women representing various personal and electorate points of view, but the nominees come from The Oval Office. Can there be any greater test of the principle of the separation of church and state other than in the mind of a true believer elected to high office?

We are a nation that believes in religious freedom, and in a government that answers to the people. Technically, the religious beliefs of our elected government leaders, whether in the Congress or the White House, shouldn’t make any difference.

This blog is about words, creative, true, and opinionated words, including words like, “And to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God…” and “In God we trust.” They’re words I’ve never taken too seriously, but lately I’ve begun to wonder. Will a President McCain or Palin answer to the people in the debate between pro-choice and pro-life points of view, or to a higher authority? It’s a question both sides of that debate have every right to ask. It’s not what the candidates believe that concerns me, it’s who they perceive to be the authority they serve.


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Banning Books: The Hypocrisy of Criticizing Sarah Palin

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There is a famous story attributed to the late playwright, George Bernard Shaw. The gist of the tale is that Shaw approaches a woman at a party and offers her 10,000 pounds sterling – Shaw was Irish. – if she’ll sleep with him. She thinks about it and agrees, to which Shaw, sensing he may have overpaid, asks the question again, but this time for a price of only 10 pounds. Insulted, the woman rejects this second offer outright, saying something to the effect, “What do you take me for?” to which Shaw responds, “We’ve already established what you are, ma’am. Now we’re just haggling over the price.” With luck, you’ll understand the relevance of this story to the point I’m about to make.

Among the criticisms of Governor Palin is the assertion that she once asked a local librarian in the small town where she (Governor Palin) was Mayor how one might go about banning books that library had in its collection. No books were ever banned, nor did then Mayor Palin make any such request, but the question about procedure – according to an article in the September 15 edition of Time magazine and factcheck.org on September 8 – was asked. The question I have is whether we have the right to attack Governor Palin for asking it. Is it wrong to want to ban books from a public or school library?

If someone walks up to me and asks the unqualified question, “Are you in favor of banning books,” my response is a resounding, “Of course not.” (That’s my response, not necessarily yours.) As a matter of general principle, I might explain indignantly, “Are you kidding? I find all forms censorship to be abhorrent, an affront to the core concepts of a free society on which our democracy is based!” But then, I don’t really mean that. That’s just the college boy liberal in me talking.

Sure, I’m adamantly opposed to government or other censorship of our access to information. I believe emphatically in the essential importance of a free press, broadly defined to include other sources of information, including libraries and the Internet. But am I or are we, collectively, really opposed to all forms of censorship? Of course not. Censorship, whether self-imposed or by law, is everywhere in our lives.

We censor television, relegating more explicit, more adult materials to the later hours, allowing limited access cable television to be less inhibited in its choice of subject matter and presentation than the broadcast networks.

We provide ratings for movies to help parents censor what their children see.

We use software to block what our children can watch on TV and discover on the Internet.

In fact, protecting our children is one of the most profound and extensive uses of censorship in our society – unless, of course, you only meant the definition of “censorship” to pertain to adults, to our citizens who are old enough to vote.

Let’s be honest about it. Are there no books, the contents of which you would prefer were not readily accessible to your children at your public or their school library? Don’t try to think of specific titles. This isn’t a test. Think hypothetically about books with certain explicit sexual, violent, philosophical or other materials and messages you find objectionable and inappropriate for children of a certain age. (For that matter, do you really want adults having unfettered access to instructions for building and deploying bombs or chemical and biological weapons?) Get over your aversion to the general concept of “banning books.” Books are just a form of information, like other media including television, the Internet and movies. If it makes sense to censor one or more of these media, why not the others? Why not books?

When you think about it, we’re all like the woman in Shaw’s story when it comes to censorship. We all do it. The only thing we’re quibbling about is where we draw the line – and in that debate Sarah Palin’s opinion deserves the same respect as yours and mine.


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