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By Kathleen Parker
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.
Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.
I’m bathing in holy water as I type.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.
But they need those votes!
So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.
Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.
Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.
Here’s the deal, ‘pubbies: Howard Dean was right.
It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.
Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they’ve had something to do with the GOP’s erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.
Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.
With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.
Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She’s not entirely wrong, but she’s also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:
“I’m like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is…. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it’s something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”
Let’s do pray that God shows Alaska’s governor the door.
Meanwhile, it isn’t necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world’s architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.
But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.
Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.
The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won’t get whiter. And the nonreligious won’t get religion through external conversion. It doesn’t work that way.
Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base — or the nation may need a new party.
Christopher Buckley, in an exclusive for The Daily Beast, explains why he left The National Review, the magazine his father founded.
I seem to have picked an apt title for my Daily Beast column, or blog, or whatever it’s called: “What Fresh Hell.” My last posting (if that’s what it’s called) in which I endorsed Obama, has brought about a very heaping helping of fresh hell. In fact, I think it could accurately be called a tsunami.
The mail (as we used to call it in pre-cyber times) at the Beast has been running I’d say at about 7-to-1 in favor. This would seem to indicate that you (the Beast reader) are largely pro-Obama.
As for the mail flooding into National Review Online—that’s been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against. In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless.
Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails.
I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn’t want to put NR in an awkward position.
Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”—the b-word has been much used in all this—my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.
In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president.
Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.
My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)
My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for.
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.
Related: Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama
Source: Daily Beast
Palin doesn’t take kindly to being criticized – she has gone out her way to ruin people who she feels have crossed her ….
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should “off” myself.Those are a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.
Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?
The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I’m familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.
Some of my usual readers feel betrayed because I previously have written favorably of Palin. By changing my mind and saying so, I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican Party — not a “true” conservative.
Obviously, I’m not employed by the GOP. If I were, the party is seriously in arrears. But what is a true conservative? One who doesn’t think or question and who marches in lock step with The Party?
The emotional pitch of many comments suggests an overinvestment in Palin as “one of us.”
Palin’s fans say they like her specifically because she’s an outsider, not part of the Washington club. When she flubs during interviews, they identify with that, too. “You see the lack of polish, we applaud it,” one reader wrote.
Of course, there’s a difference between a lack of polish and a lack of coherence. Some of Palin’s interview responses can’t even be critiqued on their merits because they’re so nonsensical. But even that is someone else’s fault, say Palin supporters. The media make her uncomfortable.
Or, it’s the fault of those slick politicos who are overmanaging her. “Let Sarah be Sarah” has become the latest rallying cry among my colleagues on the right. She’ll be fine if we just leave her alone, they say. Between prayers, I might add.
Not all my mail has been mean-spirited. A fair number of the writers politely expressed disappointment; others, relief and gratitude. Still others offered reasonable arguments aimed at changing my mind. I may yet.
In the meantime, though, I would note that this assault and my decision to write about it aren’t really about me — or even Sarah Palin. The mailbag is about us, our country, and what we really believe.
That we have become a partisan nation is no secret. This week has provided a vivid example of where rabid partisanship leads with the failure of Congress to pass a bailout bill vitally needed to keep our economy from unraveling.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech, blaming the credit crisis on the Bush administration (omitting the Clinton administration’s role in launching the subprime lending debacle). Republicans responded by voting against the bill.
Everyone’s to blame, by the way.
But when you have been in power for eight years – it’s your hands on the wheel – sorry – i.e. that’s the Republicans.
And subprime mortgages will continue – but need to be better regulated – against such things as the lying on the application form – by unscrupulous mortgage brokers – in addition people should be given all the facts about their mortgages – up front – especially where the low interests starters or incentives are concerned.
Such extreme partisanship has a crippling effect on government, which may be desirable at times, but not now. More important in the long term is the less tangible effect of stifling free speech. My mail paints an ugly picture and a bleak future if we do not soon correct ourselves.
The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn’t sound American to me, but Stalin would approve.
Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different from one’s own, we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)
I’m sure it is coincidence that, upon the Palin column’s publication, a conservative organization canceled a speech I was scheduled to deliver in a few days. If I were as paranoid as the conspiracy theorists are, I might wonder whether I was being punished for speaking incorrectly.
Unfortunately, that’s the way one begins to think when party loyalty is given a higher value than loyalty to bedrock principles.
Our day of reckoning may indeed be upon us. Between war and economic collapse, we have enormous challenges. It will take the best of everyone to solve them. That process begins minimally with a commitment to engage in civil discourse and a cease-fire in the war against unwelcome ideas.
In that spirit, may Sarah Palin be fearless in tomorrow’s debate and speak her true mind
Source: Washington Post
WASHINGTON – She burst onto the American political scene as Sarah “The Barracuda” Palin, a confident, moose-hunting, hockey-mom governor whose razor-sharp attacks on Barack Obama, Washington insiders and the U.S. media “elite” helped revive John McCain’s presidential campaign in early September.
But as she prepares for her vice-presidential debate Thursday against Senator Joe Biden, Palin is now fighting to dispel perceptions among some conservatives that she’s quickly becoming a political liability for the Republican candidate.
McCain on Monday dispatched his two most senior aides – campaign manager Rick Davis and strategist Steve Schmidt – to his ranch in Sedona, Ariz., to begin three days of intense coaching with the Alaska governor ahead of her 90-minute showdown with Biden at Washington University in St. Louis.
The decision came amid widespread criticism in the media and – more distressing for McCain – mounting anxiety among Republicans over Palin’s performance during an extended interview last week with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
In its aftermath, Palin’s favourable ratings have fallen and she’s become fodder for withering satire on late-night comedy shows like Saturday Night Live – a fate that has hurt presidential candidates in the past.
“I think that most people looking at Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are nervous, especially Republicans,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Because 90 minutes is a very long time – and you can only talk about gutting a moose once during that debate.”
Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain’s running mate.
In her interview with Couric, Palin offered this explanation of how Alaska’s proximity to Russia enhanced her foreign policy experience.
“It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as (Russian prime minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America,” Palin said. “Where, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there.”
Kathleen Parker, a syndicated conservative commentator, said the interviews showed Palin is “clearly out of her league” and called on her to step aside.
“I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly,” Parker, an early supporter of the governor, wrote in a post-Couric interview column. “I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.”
There is a lively debate among Republicans about whether McCain’s own campaign is partially to blame for Palin’s problems. Advisers have largely shielded her from the media since her breakout performance at the Republican convention, placing extraordinary pressure on the governor in her few high-profile interviews.
The stakes for McCain are high. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll of the U.S. presidential race shows Obama with an eight-point advantage – 50-42 per cent – over McCain.
“I think this debate is more important than most vice-presidential debates usually are because the McCain campaign is swimming upstream,” Jillson said. “They are down in the polls. And if their vice-presidential candidate looks like she is not ready to be president of the United States, should the requirement fall on her, I think people will again look to Obama.”
Biden faces many potential pitfalls himself, including the possibility he might underestimate Palin.
The Delaware senator has made several notable gaffes recently, criticizing one of his campaign’s own anti-McCain ads and flubbing a historical reference to the 1929 stock market crash. He has a reputation for talking too extemporaneously and sounding condescending – which could backfire against Palin.
“If we’re not going to judge Joe by one sound bite, in one interview – which is fair to Joe – and we’re not going to take a mistake that he’s made and say ‘that that’s a death-defying blow,’ let’s don’t do it for her,” Graham said.
To help Biden prepare, Obama’s campaign enlisted Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to act as pre-debate stand-in for Palin.
“How could you lose a debate with Sarah Palin? By running afoul of the gender issues, making women in particular feel as if Sarah Palin was unfairly treated the way some think Hillary Clinton was unfairly treated,” said Jillson. “He’s got to be respectful.”
Source: Canwest News Service
Out of her depths – and possibly dangerously inexperienced if she were replace John McCain for any reason as president.
But it’s the GOP’s campaign – more John McCain’s campaign – and I don’t think anyone will pull him away from his `wittle Sarah. Especially not members of that elitist right wing press – who doesn’t see Sarah Palin as a part of the Washington in crowd or that she never appeared on Meet the Press or those other Sunday Talk Shows. For McCain—of course they will attack her – she’s a Maverick like him – she’s sold a plane on eBay, she’s…….
At least there seems to be a consensus growing that Sarah Palin should not be in the position of the highest office.
Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, admitting that until recently she was a vocal supporter of Sarah Palin, now says the vice presidential nominee should bow out:
Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick — what a difference a financial crisis makes — and a more complicated picture has emerged.
As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.
Parker says her turnaround came from watching Palin in interview. Like other critics, she wasn’t impressed:
Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.
No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.
Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there.
Read it all…