Archive for the ‘Sarah Palin’ Tag

Can Sarah Palin Be Ready in Eight Years?

Sarah Palin was not ready to be Vice-President of the United States this year. Yes, she was a spectacular stump speaker; and yes, she unleashed a tidal wave of Republican energy; and yes, she is charismatic, charming, and altogether winsome. But she wasn’t ready for prime time.

To be Vice-President and President you need to be able to think on your feet, to know what is going on in the world, and to appreciate the way the world impacts the nation.

The interview with Katie Couric demonstrated in embarrassing fashion the depth of her ignorance—could not name a single Supreme Court decision except Row v Wade—and how untutored she is as to the nuts and bolds of political leadership—she did not know the McCain record on federal regulation. These are not incidental or secondary issues: for you and me, maybe, but not for a person who wants to succeed to the presidency. They are scandalously serious, and for a candidate for such a high office to dismiss them as irrelevant to the national debate is disrespectful to the public she had hoped to win.

The conversation with Katie was bad, but not nearly as incredulous as the interview with the “President of France.” I sat before the television ten days ago and listened with increased astonishment at the shallowness shown by Sarah. Two radio comedians from Canada—station CKY in Montreal—pretended to be Nicholas Sarkozy and led the would-be Vice President on a wacky verbal goose chase. After more than eight minutes of premeditated prankosity, they came clean and confessed, but not before allowing Sarah Palin to make an absolute fool of herself.

I did not even know at the time all the jokes these two disc jockeys jammed into those eight minutes: like calling French singer Johnny Halladay a special envoy to the United States, or identifying entertainer Stef Carse as the Prime Minister of Canada, or naming regional comedian and radio personality Richard Sirois as the governor of Quebec. But Palin had bragged that her proximity to Canada counted as a significant source of international experience, and to be shown up as ignorant as I am about Canadian political life was, and is, a scandal.

I was incredulous that Palin’s managers could be taken in so easily, that such callers were not vetted more thoroughly—or just to think that the President of France would place a call to Palin. What does this say about the people surrounding her?

I felt sorry for Sarah Palin, even as I shuddered at the combination of naiveté and nerve that powered her push for the White House.

Then the pseudo-Sarkozy said, “You know, from my house I can see Belgium.” It was a public poke at Palin’s claim to see Russia from Alaska. Anybody—surely anybody—knows that a premiere in Paris can not see Brussels; anybody, but Sarah, it seems, and there is no indication she saw it as a red flag, a signal that something is not quite right.

Can this woman be ready in eight years?

She charged that Obama did not have the experience to run for President; but at least he had two Harvard degrees, where they teach you where Paris is in relation to Brussels; and at least he had been the Europe, where his passport was stamped by authentic French officials; and at least he had served in the club of one hundred where important matters of state are customary conversational fare.

If Sarah Palin can spend some time on a few more campuses, and can travel to a continent or two, and can eavesdrop upon the debates of those who know that of which they speak, she just may make it to the center of power and privilege a few years down the road.

But I’m still shaking my head.

The Palin Predicament: Gushee versus Land

Last Monday David Gushee, professor at Mercer University, wrote an article entitled “The Palin Predicament.” It was published in the national newspaper, USA TODAY. He contented that southern evangelicals were culturally conditioned to resist the election of a woman to a place of national power, especially since they routinely deny women places of leadership in their churches.

Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, took sharp exception. He wrote a column for Baptist Press contending that Southern Baptists distinguish between the home and church, on the one hand, and all other places of employment, on the other. Biblical rules of male leadership apply to the congregation and the family, but nowhere else. This frees southern evangelicals, he wrote, to restrict women in the home and church but free them elsewhere.

But he is wrong, and for two reasons.

First, Southern Baptists and other Southern Evangelicals do not limit their restrictions on women to the congregation and the home, as Land contends. In fact, they extend their limitations to every sphere over which they have control. Land could not name one single position of influence and power among Southern Baptists now held by a woman: not leading a Board of Trustees, not directing a seminary or agency, not even convening a gathering or convention.

One SBC seminary recently fired a professor because she was a woman; women, they claimed, are not supposed to teach men. It has been just a couple of years ago that a prominent female preacher who carries the name Graham was disinvited as a speaker to a gathering of preachers solely because she was a woman. And just this month the Baptist book stores removed from their sales rack a magazine published by another denomination that featured a cover story of female pastors. The fact is that the Southern Baptist Convention has both written and unwritten policies against women in charge, and I suspect Dr. Land is simply too embarrassed to admit this.

Second, this restriction of women to second-class status in the church and family shapes what little boys and girls think about their future. If these children grow up seeing males always in charge and females always sitting in silence they learn the cultural lessons. It is no co-incidence that women are rarely elected to public political office in those states dominated by the Southern Baptist Convention. This coheres with data from a 2007 research poll conducted by Baylor University that says 44% of evangelicals believe that men are more suited to political leadership than women.

It seems clear to everyone that if a woman can be vice-president of the United States, she should also be elected vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and if electing a woman as vice-president of the country is to say she is qualified to serve as President of the United States, then it should follow as night follows day that a woman is qualified to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. There certainly are women who are available for such election but I will bet my money that it will never happen, regardless of what Land writes; and this is why Gushee is right and Land is wrong.

But Land could prove his critics wrong by standing at the next annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and nominating a woman as their president. We shall see if he has the conviction and nerve to do it.