Bigger Problems with Palin’s New Book

November 20th, 2010 at 9:09 am David Frum | 137 Comments |

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Palin, p. 108:

“But from what I’ve read, family life at the time of the founding was a lot like family life for Americans today: full of challenges, sure, but also full of simple pleasures.”

For the 1 in 6 Americans who were held as slaves in 1790 – often unable to marry legally, and always liable to be sold and separated from spouses or children – family life was quite a lot different at the time of the founding than it is today.

A would-be president should remember that part of the American story too.

UPDATE: Some commenters ask, in effect, “must we mention slavery every time we talk about the Founders?” I don’t say so at all. I don’t call for national self-flagellation or self-disparagement. Slavery was a blot on the young Republic, but there was much more about the new nation that was unblotted. Lincoln could call America the last best hope of earth in December 1862, even as slavery persisted through much of the national territory.

What I meant to note about Sarah Palin’s stray remark was this:

Unlike the long passage in praise of Booker T. Washington that occurs elsewhere in the book, Palin’s throwaway remark about the Founders and the family has the ring of something the candidate herself dictated or remarked. It takes us inside her head, shows us something of her vision of the nation’s past.

For example: some might look back at the family life of the Founding Era and be more impressed by differences than similarities. What did it do to family life to have very high rates of child mortality? Abraham Lincoln lost his mother at age 9 and lost three of his four children before their 18th birthdays. Those were not unusual experiences. What did they do to people?

But put that all to one side. The point of my little post was just this: Palin’s remark was the remark of somebody who looked back at the 1790s and saw only … white people. But America in 1790 was a country with a black population almost twice as big, relative to overall population, as it is today. In South Carolina, blacks outnumbered whites. Even in the North, blacks were held to slavery: New York for example did not abolish slavery until the 1820s.

Contra to what one reader said, these black people were indeed “Americans.” They lacked the rights of citizenship, but they were tallied by the Census and they counted toward representation in Congress and the Electoral College under the 3/5 clause of the Constitution. Had the presidential election of 1800 been held according to the simple rule of one “citizen,” one vote, John Adams would very likely have crushed Thomas Jefferson in a landslide. Instead Jefferson prevailed in the Electoral College 73-65 because of the slave-inflated clout of the southern states.

I’m not saying that a present-day American must endlessly beat her chest about these ancient historical facts. But I am saying, that if your mental imagination could contain these facts, you would not have written or spoken the sentence I quoted. And the fact that she (apparently) did write or say it, indicates that these facts are absent from her imagination.

And that’s interesting because Palin is a candidate who habitually qualifies some Americans but not others as “real Americans.” That subdivision is a crucial element of her mental architecture, maybe the single most important element of her mental architecture. As I’ve written before, it’s that mental architecture that those who dislike Palin most dislike about her. Often and repeatedly, she writes huge numbers of people out of the American story. In that one throw-away sentence, she did it again.

It’s not a big deal in itself. But it reveals something, and not for the first time or the second time or the third time even. And it’s that something that her words reveal that is a very big deal indeed.

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137 Comments so far ↓

  • TerryF98

    I find it interesting that we have 3 pages of argument about something that was not even conceived or written by Paling but by one of her ghost writers.

    She herself does not have the intellect to write anything apart from on twitter where the 40 characters does actually encompass her abilities.

  • nhthinker

    rbottoms,

    So what’s the verdict on nooses?
    Only appropriate for the slave-owners of yesteryear that had “legal” papers? Or should the nooses be for pimps that make slaves out of prostitutes by using violence instead of “legal” papers?

    We’ve heard Easton’s answer, but you seem to be pregnantly quiet on the subject.
    Is there a moral difference based on the gender or the count of slaves in question?

  • TJ Parker

    Hey, the Bible says that I can marry my slave girl, as long as she’s at least 12 years old. And if I choose, I can sell my daughter into slavery, as long as she’s at least 12 years old. I don’t want any of you left-wing socialist Nazis walking over my God-given rights.

  • anniemargret

    narcissa: The only thing I disagreed with your analysis is that your called her the Governor. I don’t think going 2 1/2 years into a term and then quitting to write books and Tweet constitutes governor. Mini-gov maybe.

    Other than that, I agree with you. I have long thought that Palin likes to tease around the edges without getting her feet totally wet. Like Limbaugh they stay just inside the boundaries of overt racism, while surrounding themselves with those that think like that.

    Anyone can do a google search. Do one with Palin and racists and video and see what you get. Why would racists find it comfortable to go to Palin’s speeches? She has done enough taunting to make millions believe that Obama is ‘The Other’, un-American, or worse, a terrorist. And she knows exactly what she’s doing.

    As the old saying goes….:show me who your friends are and I will show you who you are. “

  • moderategoper

    Sarah Palin vs. Thomas Jefferson (Actual Founding Father)

    Another problem for Sarah Palin is her insistence that “the real America” only includes religious people like herself. Many of her followers learn their American history from the pseudo historian “David Barton” the founder of Wall Builders, who argues that America was founded by Christians for Christians, and that we are a Christian nation with laws that are founded on Biblical law. Senator Sam Brownback praised Barton’s work for providing “the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today—bringing God back into the public square.

    All this despite the overwhelming evidence that some of the more prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical or vocal about their opposition to organized religion. Thomas Jefferson thought the Bible, and the traditional Christian interpretation of the Bible, was so wrong, that he wrote his own interpretation.

    http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/2006/05/founding-fathers-were-not-christians.html

  • MSheridan

    rbottoms, I think you may have misunderstood my post, which was not intended as a defense of slavery or slave owners. First, you don’t have to convince me that slavery was inherently evil. It was and remains the greatest blot on our nation’s history. Those centuries of misery and abuse were not wiped clean with the Civil War. I do not claim and never have claimed that the ownership of slaves was morally neutral, or anything other than evil. Indeed, I think I said as much. Second, I did not mean to excuse slaveowners of any moral onus simply because they were following societal norms. If the norms of society are themselves evil, then following them is likewise.

    My point was that very few people are of a piece. The slaveholders were degraded by their condition, but not all slaveowners were wholly bad. We can judge them for their actions, and in fact I do, but when doing so it is well to keep in mind that our current society is very far from perfect. If our great-grandchildren are appalled at our generation’s casual attitudes regarding pollution (and the very greenest of us generate tons of it over a lifetime), anthropogenic species extinction, factory farm conditions for meat animals, or the fact that many of our consumer goods still have slavery or near-slavery involved at some point in the production process, will it be fair of them to judge us harshly? Probably so, but I would hope that they would also remember to leave us our humanity and remember that those evils were not the sum total of our moral being.

  • CD-Host

    Another problem for Sarah Palin is her insistence that “the real America” only includes religious people like herself.

    And where does one find this “insistence”? Can we get a direct quote? The strongest quote I could find of anything of the sort in the McCain campaign wasn’t from her and was quite a bit weaker than the claim,
    Rep. Robin Hayes, “Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” or “Western Pennsylvania is the most God-loving, most patriotic part of America.”

    Why put words in her mouth? For example to use your unrelated theme about Dominionism (something Palin has incidentally explicitly rejected), when asked to identify her favorite founding father, she choose “Washington” who while private about his religious beliefs refused to take communion which is a rather strong sign of dissatisfaction.

  • CD-Host

    MSheridan —
    Absolutely agree. Our progeny especially as we get more temporally distant will judge us harshly for things that we had an untroubled acceptance of. And your list of examples are all good. We have developed a taste in commerce, in war and in agriculture for subsidized indirect cruelty. A system where we maximize the the amount of cruelty while minimizing our direct knowledge of it, were we aggressively fund cruelty but make sure to leave our conscience untroubled.

  • Xunzi Washington

    CD –

    I’m only able to give a fast reply to the first 1/2 of the first reply you gave (have to get ready for work). Later tonight I’ll come back to reply to the rest.

    Let me pull from the other thread a question. Do you know why people from small towns are don’t like city folk? What IYO is the genesis of the friction?

    Oh, geez, who knows — this is a complicated sociological phenomenon and its been around for a long time. One thing I will say, that I do tend to see, is this: city folks (in general) don’t hate country folks, they see them as base, or common. Small town folks (in general) seem to hate city folks, though. It’s not about city-folks being base, it’s about something different. Some of that is due to the fact that country folks know city folks think they are base, and they resent it. But that’s not the whole story, and anyone who says so is fooling themselves. There’s a way of life that is hated as well – some of it attaching to ‘city life’ and some to ‘city people’. It’s amoral, non-religious, a sign of societal decay, people are arrogant and mean, cold, etc. The list could go on.

    Let me be clear. I don’t think he needs to be beaten either. He’s arguably the best president we’ve had in my life all things considered. My essential feeling is he knows the right thing to do and then does 35% of that. He’s a moderate man what would be well suited to a moderate environment with a supportive congress. McCain’s comment that while he admired FDR he temperamentally is Hoover, is right, and its hard to run against your temperament. Jimmy Carter, who didn’t give a damn what democrats in congress thought much less Republicans might have been a far better president in this environment.

    Thanks for clearing that up, I wasn’t sure what your general thinking was on the issue. I tend to agree with the analysis of Obama. I’m not sure he isn’t up to the task of the situation (more the political landscape, not the material situation), but so far he has not shown that he is.

    My point is that I don’t see any moderate men better than he, so I’d like the choice on November 2012 to me a non-moderate.

    I get it – I see where you’re coming from. Again, and I think this might come down to anger level. I think I’m more open to the fact that a second-term Obama would be different from a first-term Obama. On the one hand, it could be the case that the economy begins to turn, in which case (IMO) much of the gas will be let out of the Tea Party balloon, and Republicans will become more interested in governing than in throwing meat to angry constituents. On the other hand, Obama can, in a sense, be less cautious in his own style.

    OK we agree. And what I’m saying is I don’t think Obama is capable of doing that long pass. He goes for the running play even when its 4th and 13.

    I think I would tend to agree with that. Now, of course, as I suggested before, it also depends on why you are throwing that pass. I could see a Hail Mary as laudable in some cases. If you’re going to get sacked, you better think out of the box. I am open to there being political versions of this. At the same time, with Palin, I do see it as a pass meant to ensure power/money. I don’t see much laudable in that.

    I think it has to do with education and social class. You really learned a lot of conversation skills from your parents you didn’t realize. Maybe because I’ve dealt with working class kids in education I’m don’t conflate social class with education with intelligence. The other thing is that liberals don’t speak Republican. She uses a lot of metaphor and imagery in her speech that I think goes right over the heads of many of her critics because they don’t come from her culture. You point those out and the assumption is she can’t possibly mean them because she stupid as exemplified by the way she can’t speak…

    Two issues here. First, I’m not conflating them — I agree that she is not a stupid person (unlike many others who see drool running down her chin). She knows how to communicate to who is aims to communicate to. I also know full well the kinds of imagery and metaphor that country folks hear that others don’t hear (part of which is religious, part not). Second, although I do think her conversation style grates on my ears, it’s not because I grew up differently. I grew up very poor in a family of uneducated people (I’m the first to go to college. My mother, by the way, who is poor and uneducated, despises Palin; my aunt, who is quite wealthy and educated, adores her). When I say that she’s said stupid things, I meant content-wise, not delivery wise. There’s a difference between what you know and how you express what you know. I’m entirely open to holding my nose on delivery if the content appears knowledgeable. Hers comes up sorely lacking. I could point to numerous examples, but I’m sure you know them.

    More later (likely tonight), need to head out to work. Thanks for continuing!

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    The editor’s attitude toward SP is odd. There are probably 5 separate posts right now about her on this site. The earlier snooty post about how SP’s complaint about Gawker was silly has seen no retraction after a court ordered Gawker to stop. What we get is only a new story about the court order. So what’s up? If you think SP is such a loser, why bother wasting your precious editorial space and time on her unless to attract blog hits? Why not just come out and do a thorough piece on what you really think about her rather than all this nonsense? My speculation is that you don’t think she is a loser. Quite the contrary, you seem to think she is very possibly the next winner of the WH.

  • narcissa

    Dear Annie Margret,

    I don’t like calling her Gov. either but it is my understanding that having been one we must call her Gov. instead of Mrs. I think Spitzer is referred to as Gov. Spitzer? I don’t want to muddy my arguments with that kind of disrespect (the way people did with Sen. Clinton). Of course, if any one can clarify this matter that would be great. Must we call people Gov. who haven’t finished their first term?

  • narcissa

    “For myself, though, I think it’s a mistake of epic proportions to divide people into “good” and “evil” categories.”

    I don’t disagree with this advice, but the problem with rehabilitating slave owners, is that the classic argument used to justify themselves is that there were “good masters’, therefore slavery was not so bad. From that stems the argument, that Northern factory owners were worse….

    Sure there were less brutal masters, but not many. Most plantation owners used overseers to redirect the rage of the slaves. The overseers would be truly brutal, the slaves complained, the overseer was replaced six months later, another one was hired.

    Also, putting aside the fundamental attack on person hood that is being owned, most people don’t realize just how bad the material conditions of slaves. The food was basically salt pork and sorgum/ corn meal. Vegetables were only available if slaves grew it themselves on plots they could only attend on sunday. You got one set of clothes a year and haven’t we all seen the slave cabins? Slaves on sugar plantations died early. Cotton’s labor requirements were a little more spread out but still very hard work. Work that started very early and lasted all your life. This was not comparable to the role of landlords to their yeomen tenants in England. So the plantation owners had room for comparison. They fell short.

    Additionally, the plantation class worked very hard to preserve its way of life, and stranglehold on the Southern economic system. They forced states which had stopped practicing slavery to collude in it (Dred Scott) or even accept it (Slave State vrs. Non) Georgia went so far as to go to war with Florida because too many slaves were escaping into the swamps. And of course, they took the country to war because they were losing political power, causing the unnecessary deaths of many people, few of whom would benefit from the system. Most of the redneck boys who went to fight for the Confederacy would have benefitted greatly from the end of slavery. (Lest we forget, they were called red necks because they worked the land themselves, and thus got a red neck from the sun. How could small freeholders like that compete against large land grants and free labor?) I think, frankly, that the Plantation class has been given too much consideration. No doubt many had the making of decent people but they turned away from decency and we have the right to judge them for that.

    But as for Jefferson, let us remember that if he had his way, slavery would have been banned in 1776. He objected to the institution, and no doubt feared its hold on those who practiced it. Cold turkey is the only way to break an addiction for most, and Jefferson was no exception. He was always broke and no doubt never felt secure enough to compete against the plantation system paying his employees. Then, of course, his beloved wife dies and soon her young half-sister appears as someone he has complete power over. The real problem with Jefferson is that we didn’t listen to him in the first place.

  • CD-Host

    think I’m more open to the fact that a second-term Obama would be different from a first-term Obama. On the one hand, it could be the case that the economy begins to turn, in which case (IMO) much of the gas will be let out of the Tea Party balloon, and Republicans will become more interested in governing than in throwing meat to angry constituents.

    I think so too. But it won’t help much. The bottom 80% has been deliberately impoverished to drive income up the ladder. How does the “economy improving” do much for that. And now the that’s narrowing to the bottom 95%. The economy is stagnating because of impoverishment so the wealthy are turning on looting the less wealthy. That’s the cycle Obama needs to break and I don’t see that happening by accident for him.

    When I say that she’s said stupid things, I meant content-wise, not delivery wise. There’s a difference between what you know and how you express what you know. I’m entirely open to holding my nose on delivery if the content appears knowledgeable. Hers comes up sorely lacking. I could point to numerous examples, but I’m sure you know them.

    I agree. But content is easy to teach. Delivery is a gift. She has the hard part down, down better than any other politician out there. For example her debates with Obama took 18% off the popularity of healthcare. That is unheard of it American politics. 1.8% would be a tremendous accomplishment. The best politicians move maybe 4% in a quarter on an economic issue. 18%… George Bush with a full press propaganda machine and the support of the opposition party had to intimidate the CIA to lie and couldn’t move 18% of the population on a major issue.

    I though her speech was one of the worst presentations of QOL and public medicine I’d ever heard in my life. And then 18%…. well I guess I was wrong.

  • MSheridan

    @narcissa,“For myself, though, I think it’s a mistake of epic proportions to divide people into “good” and “evil” categories.”

    I don’t disagree with this advice, but the problem with rehabilitating slave owners, is that the classic argument used to justify themselves is that there were “good masters’, therefore slavery was not so bad. From that stems the argument, that Northern factory owners were worse….

    Sure there were less brutal masters, but not many. Most plantation owners used overseers to redirect the rage of the slaves. The overseers would be truly brutal, the slaves complained, the overseer was replaced six months later, another one was hired.

    I don’t wish to “rehabilitate” slave owners, or any other group of people who have committed grievous sins. What I would like to see is more recognition that, as Abraham Lincoln said in one of his debates with Stephen Douglas:They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses North and South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides, who would not hold slaves under any circumstances; and others who would gladly introduce slavery anew, if it were out of existence. We know that some Southern men do free their slaves, go North, and become tiptop Abolitionists; while some Northern ones go South, and become most cruel slave-masters.It is perfectly justifiable to indict the majority of slaveowners who did not free their slaves–that would have been the good and moral thing to do and they didn’t do it. We can truthfully say we are now better than they in that we do not own slaves. But the credit for that fact does not lay primarily with us and any opprobrium we lay on them, however well-deserved, should take that into account. To treat all of them as irredeemably and wholly evil is to deny the conflicting impulses toward right and wrong that lay within all men and women.

    I have no family interest in defending slavery. Those of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War fought and sometimes died in the Union cause. I traced my roots back over 300 years before I found a slaveowner and I wasn’t at all happy to find him. I am descended from an Irish girl he literally bought for two hogsheads of tobacco from an English trading ship that had stolen her from her home. But evil as slavery is and was and despite the fact that it degraded the character of all those who “owned” other people, it didn’t make every one of them an inhuman monster. I really don’t think saying so counts as an attempt at rehabilitation.

  • S.L. Toddard

    For the 1 in 6 Americans who were held as slaves in 1790 – often unable to marry legally, and always liable to be sold and separated from spouses or children – family life was quite a lot different at the time of the founding than it is today

    Actually Dave there were no American slaves in the U.S. in 1790 – only African ones, who were not recognized as “American” in any sense of the word. In fact, the Constitution guaranteed that Americans could not be slaves. Score one for Palin.

    If David Frum (a Canadian) were familiar with American history, his lecturing to our countrymen would be merely boorish. That he is actually more ignorant than Queen Ignoramus Sarah Palin makes his lecturing perverse and comical.

    GO BACK TO CANADA DAVID – WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE.

  • MSheridan

    @S.L.,

    Saying that slaves were not recognized as Americans at the time, even if it were true, is completely irrelevant now. We certainly recognize them as Americans, looking back. Further, the now infamous (usually for the wrong reasons) “three fifths clause” of the United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3) may not have recognized them as citizens, but it did recognize them as Americans:

    “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

    Representation in Congress is not based, and never was, on non-Americans.

  • S.L. Toddard

    Sorry MSheridan – I misread your quote the first time. Please show me where in that quote the Constitution recognizes African slaves as “Americans”?

    And that’s leaving aside your erroneous assertion that “We certainly recognize them as Americans, looking back”. If we were to project our own definitions backward in time as you propose, the slaves would be recognized not as Americans, but as African-Americans, members of an ethnic group separate and distinct from Americans.

  • MSheridan

    S.L.,

    I erroneously bolded the wrong section of text in the quote. When I looked at the finished post, I fixed it, but was too late for you to see it before you responded.

    As for the other thing, those people who hyphenate their ethnicity don’t distinguish themselves as non-Americans. For instance, Antonin Scalia is frequently referred to as an “Italian-American,” and I’ve never seen anyone claim he is not American. In my own city, there is a social club for Italian-Americans, but I don’t believe there is any widespread belief that it is an un-American enterprise.

  • S.L. Toddard

    As for the other thing, those people who hyphenate their ethnicity don’t distinguish themselves as non-Americans. For instance, Antonin Scalia is frequently referred to as an “Italian-American,” and I’ve never seen anyone claim he is not American. In my own city, there is a social club for Italian-Americans, but I don’t believe there is any widespread belief that it is an un-American enterprise.

    “Italian-Americans” are distinct from the historic American people. That is why they employ that qualifier. That is not to say that, over time, as the descendants of Italian immigrants lose the attributes that make them distinct from actual Americans, that they do not assimilate and fully become Americans. But as far as ethnic groups go, either one is an Italian-American and is ethnically distinct from an American, or one is an American of Italian descent who still employs the qualifier out of habit though it is no longer necessary or applicable, as that person is in no way distinct from an actual American. African-Americans do not lose that qualifier – they embrace it, and generally consider themselves a distinct ethnicity. Just ask them.

    That being said, the Constitution disallowed slavery for the American people, ergo slaves at the time were not part of the American people.

  • MSheridan

    S.L.,

    My understanding (which is probably incomplete and may be partially incorrect) is that the African-American label was originally adopted by people who objected to the term black because it was a racial (not racist) label. They were attempting to substitute a term that asserted both pride in their roots and their American status, while still recognizing the difference that everyone encountering them automatically noted. We do not note the ethnicity of light-skinned Americans whose ancestors have been here for a while on first meeting them. They all get lumped into the “white” category, a category that darker-skinned people are permanently barred from, even if most of their ancestors were from Europe. We do not live in a color-blind world and attempts to pretend we do are futile. Who has not been annoyed by newspaper accounts of some suspect at large that describe clothes worn but not skin color? At this point in time, there is still no self-applied label universally accepted by all Americans of African descent. African-American, person of color, black are all used by some to try to capture the identity that their differing pigmentation causes them to fall into, whatever their wishes.

    My own ancestry ranges exclusively over Western Europe (aside from one possible Hungarian Romany woman in the early 17th century), but if I had a parent, grandparent, or possibly even great grandparent who was black, then all of the rest would be ignored by people when describing me. I wouldn’t choose African-American as a label myself, but really, most non-national labels are relatively useless. Very few people are so dark that “black” is even vaguely accurate and I’ve met “black” people who were lighter than some “white” people I know. Most “Caucasians” have no ancestors from the Caucasus.

    If the term African-American seems a bit awkward, I think that’s because the whole subject is awkward and not one we find it easy to talk about without stirring up resentment.

  • VACon

    Oh brother. With due respect sir, just call her a racist and be done with it. Don’t use weasel words to stop just short. When you say it “reveals something” in the same post where you remark that she’s mentally incapable of seeing 18th century black people as “real Americans”, it’s acutely obvious what you want to say. If you want to go there, go there and then stand by it. If you don’t, refrain from these insinuations.

    Still waiting to see whether this site will be for something or just against assorted things and people, incidentally. I say this as someone who isn’t a Palin supporter.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    nhthinker: “Are you actually to argue that there is another explanation of Frum’s writings OTHER than what I’ve highlighted in bold???? If so, then please elaborate a realistic alternative explanation of Frum writings.”

    That’s exactly what I’m arguing. As I said in my post, “he’s pointing out how invisible so many large swaths of this country are to her and how she doesn’t consider anyone not part of her own cloth to be a real American. That shows she’s very ignorant and narrow-minded, but not necessarily racist, although she may be that as well.”

    His statements do not patently accuse her of being a racist, yet you’ve read his mind and concluded that’s what he’s trying to do. We don’t know that’s what he’s trying to do and his words don’t inescapably lead to that conclusion. They just as plausibly lead to the conclusion I’ve described above. Yet, you’ve chosen to quickly conclude that he’s called a racist merely because he’s pointed out that she has ignored a large minority group.

  • nhthinker

    Spartacus,

    If you call a person ignorant and making decisions that contain prejudices for people that are of the same racial makeup of the person you are calling ignorant…
    You ARE identifying that person as racist! You might excuse their lack of experience as somewhat mitigating, but you still are are identifying that person as using race based prejudice. I.e., a racist. You might think they could learn not to be racist, but your explanation is still an implicit acusation of racial prejudice.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    nhthinker: “If you call a person ignorant and making decisions that contain prejudices for people that are of the same racial makeup of the person you are calling ignorant…You ARE identifying that person as racist!”

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this sentence. What do you mean by “making decisions that contain prejudices for people that are of the same racial makeup of the person you are calling ignorant” and what statements by Frum actually did this?

  • nhthinker

    Spartacus,

    “But from what I’ve read, family life at the time of the founding was a lot like family life for Americans today: full of challenges, sure, but also full of simple pleasures.”

    There were broken families: widows, orphans, lost boys, etc, as well at the time of the founding.
    The best family life is what Palin was trying to draw attention to: families facing challenges together and full of simple pleasures. She was not saying there weren’t broken or stressed families.

    Frum decided to make it racial. And then pointed to another article where he had made it racial.
    Please… your defense of Frum’s as not casting aspersions that are primarily racially based has become more than tenuous- they now border on ludicrous.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    nhthinker: “Frum decided to make it racial.”

    Well this is where you run into trouble. Because Frum raised the issue of race, you believe he’s called her a racist. He didn’t call her a racist; he pointed out her oversight of a large racial group. This doesn’t mean she’s a racist, although she may be. It does, however, indicate she’s not conscientious about that racial group’s part in history. That’s ignorant, but not necessarily racist.

    You, however, see that Frum brought up the issue of race and simply concluded that he’s called her a racist. This is rather Pavlovian.

  • nhthinker

    Spartacus,

    Yes or no- Did he or did he not bring up race and muse about Palin not thinking about African-Americans?
    That made the conversation a discussion of the possibility of her being intentionally or unintentionally racist.

    Yes or no- Did he or did he not bring up past patterns he noticed about Jews and Palin?
    That extended the conversation as a discussion of the possibility of her being intentionally or unintentionally racist.

    Even a fifth grader can comprehend the implicit questions raised about whether Palin is racist from the content of the article.

    Your assertion that there is a plausible alternative explanation of the article has repeatedly shown to be been shown to be without merit.

    —-
    Let’s put it to the peanut gallery. Does anyone besides Spartacus hold that it is realistically plausible that Frum was not intentionally trying to raise questions as to whether Palin was a racist or had racist tendencies (even if it was racism just based on ignorance)?

  • CD-Host

    nhthinker –
    Let’s put it to the peanut gallery.
    I made the same claim you did. Which is why I started with the defense that his post was racist in essentially the same way. I agree with your argument, the link to articles about “line drawing” and Jews is such a strong piece of evidence about how he interprets her world view. So agree with you.

  • MSheridan

    I believe Sarah Palin quite deliberately stirs up racial animus, regardless of whatever her personal feelings about race are. As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough to give her the racist label.

    However, with that being said, I not only think that this particular piece is weak–building a case out of “one throw-away sentence” (Frum’s own phrase) from a ghostwritten book–but think nhthinker has a valid point that Frum is trying to have it both ways, accusing her without coming right out and saying the word.

  • Xunzi Washington

    CD

    I feel like I am pasting a reply into a long conversation on a totally different subject (racism). Anyway, and picking up where I left off:

    And her barbs have been devastating. Dan Rather this morning commented that “How’s that hopey changy thing working out for ya’” might have taken 4% off Obama’s approval ratings. Which for a political speech is frankly record setting. Or her giving congress the OK to be obstruct with “We aren’t the party of no, we are the party of Hell NO!” Those are some of the most effective political lines of my life by any objective measure.

    Well sure, but when you say “she knows how to talk to people X” that can mean two things: she’s good at the rhetoric governing X or she can talk substance. In this case, we’re talking complete rhetoric. It’s a measure of anger, I’m not sure what else because it doesn’t actually say anything else.

    I disagree. Think about the diversity within the Tea Party movement.
    1) Traditional Christian conservatives
    2) Disaffected working class
    3) John Birch society
    4) Patriot movement
    5) members of various right wing religious cults Two things here. First, (1), (3), (4) and (5) are not that diverse a bunch of folks at all. (2) can introduce diversity, but it can overlap with that collective set as well. This hardly strikes me as a broad diversity. But beyond that – I wasn’t talking about the Tee Party, but Palin herself. She appears to me to be a person who, by character, has little curiosity. What did she say when she was Gov. of Alaska – something like “I don’t think about national issues”. She tried later to make it seem as if it was a ‘I meant I was too busy too” but c’mon, that’s BS. I’m a very busy guy, but I’m reasonably informed because I’m curious about these issues and I care about them.

    etc… She’s working with an extensive diversity in her coalition everyday. The same way a democratic leader who was coming from the hard left would have to pull together Peta, earth first and code pink who don’t actually agree on much.

    I would not call them diverse either, CD. These are in-house distinctions, hardly out-of-house differences. Animal rights activists and radical ecologists agree on many, many things. One may disagree with the other over the status of a tree, and whether it has intrinsic worth, but this is clearly in-house distinction. They are in the same umbrella.

    See above. She changed on TARP for the reason she dropped all her McCain positions.

    We’re at loggerheads over political strategies here and whether it is okay to flip flop on major positions for merely politically expedient reasons. So I’ll just push the two larger point: (1) on such a major position, a politician owes people an explanation of her position change (one that will not be forthcoming), and (2) even if she was consistently against TARP (which she wasn’t), again I would like to know from her why – what are her reasons for being against it, given the very possible catastrophe that would follow? I’m willing to bet that then — and even now — she couldn’t give a clear answer. That is bothersome.

    I don’t think she’s being flippant. Remember John McCain, was one of the people who had worked very effectively in the 1990s to drive Buchanan Brigades (which would have included Councilman Palin) into the fringes of the party and out of “respectable” GOP position. 2 years later Buchanan’s ideas are mainstream and discussed openly.

    How does this make Palin not flippant?

    No and I don’t think its important. Details of policy quickly go over the president’s head. Where exactly they draw the line differs. Cheney or Obama being intelligent and detail oriented are able to dig another level or two. But I don’t see how that does much.

    Presidents are not economists. That’s why they have experts that work with them. We can agree to this. However, some presidents can drill down a few more levels down, some can drill down one level further, some can’t drill any further down. Some aren’t interested in drilling down.

    I’m sure Obama can drill pretty far down, at least as far as time allows him to. I’m also confident he wants to drill down. I don’t know how far Palin can drill down, but mostly this is because I see no interest in drilling down — into much of anything. Once again, this is my worry – she seems genuinely incurious and seems, like W, to actually abhor detail and the resulting ambiguities that can follow. When you are dealing with a near global financial meltdown, I’d prefer to have people at the helm not who are economics experts, but who care enough about the issues themselves to drill as far as they can.

    Why? The people who were for it didn’t understand what they were talking about either. It only passed the house because the Senate allowed the house to go nuts with $100b in earmarks. Barney Frank was the only elected official I felt genuinely understood the program. And I have serious questions about our regulatory framework from a math perspective, that there is no way to deal with.

    Even if I agreed, this would be a different point. Whether few people actually got it is a separate point from whether people should get it — or whether they should show the desire to drill. Hell — I don’t get it (not fully). But if I were the President, I would drill as far as I could. That’s my job, as I have to make the decision.

    This was a problem outside the normal realm of experience of our political leaders so they deferred to wall street. Palin would have referred to fringe economists like Peter Schiff (candidate for senate from Connecticut on the Tea Party) who I think also understood it. Wall Street would have been livid but honestly Schiff would have done a better job than Geithner, who IMHO didn’t really understand it.

    Again, maybe she would have done just that. But this is like saying — and I hate to use this metaphor — what if a monkey deferred to Schiff, the monkey would have done the right thing. This is not getting to my main concern here, which is about Palin, not about whether she would or would not have had better people around her (which, incidenntally, she couldn’t possibly choose with any degree of know-how, given her lack of understanding and incuriosity yet again).

    Let me comment I disagree strongly here. I don’t think things have actually changed as much as people think they have. Its one of my vestiges of having been a conservative. I see the world of the past as alive and vibrant and don’t see their problems as nearly as distent. “Things are more complex now” is just as likely to be wrong as right. Many things are less complex now.

    As a general statement, I don’t disagree. We share more in common with Romans than differ from them. The past is not as different as people say. What I meant was something specific — the capacity to cause suffering – if the US melted down – would be greater. Putting someone in charge of a nuclear button is different. And so on.

    There is no constitution right to be paid to petition congress. Further its inner state trade so congress can regulate. Further there are strong bribery statutes…. I think its easy.

    You know that no explicit constitutional right doesn’t equal no constitutional right. This is not as straightforward as you are making it seem here.

    I think you meant you disagreed with (b). In which case I understand and don’t disagree with you necessarily. Though she’s changing my opinion on this. The point in dispute was whether you could be a populist and be anti-regulation. A theory of regulation from a libertarian perspective is another big topic.

    Indeed! Honestly, though, when we cut through the brush, we get to the real points, I think. You’ve argued that you are a liberal Democrat (with conservative intuitions, as per the comments above?). Now clearly, if I may, you are willing to take the hit on her social conservativism (however extreme, we can put this aside). Which means that you are banking on some kind of left oriented economics.

    What is that economics? Here’s what I see Palin saying (no detail, mind you, just slogans):

    1) tax cuts (ALL of them)
    2) deregulation (of all kinds)

    Tell me where (1) and (2) differ from the standard Republican-conservative line. There’s no out of the box anything here. This is just standard right wing. Now if you’ve changed your mind and you are no longer a liberal Democrat, that’s fine, then at least I’d see what’s up here. But you argue that you are in favor of restoring the common good, and are in favor of Keynes, but yet here all I see is further benefit to corporations and to the rich. Unless — you have shifted your view to classic Milton Friedman, and you’ve convinced yourself of very non-left views on economic policy. In which case — you’d just be a conservative with perhaps some left oriented social views, but you’re willing to let them go for the sake of economics.

    Well you know Nadar as her VP would be one of the things she does to pick up the hard left. It depends if she is willing to really go for it and build a populist party and outflank Obama or if she just wants to lose to him by playing it safe.

    That would be stunning. I must admit I’d be flabbergasted!

    Thanks again for the replies!

  • Xunzi Washington

    CD –

    Some quick notes on your reply to my other reply:

    X: I think I’m more open to the fact that a second-term Obama would be different from a first-term Obama. On the one hand, it could be the case that the economy begins to turn, in which case (IMO) much of the gas will be let out of the Tea Party balloon, and Republicans will become more interested in governing than in throwing meat to angry constituents.

    I think so too. But it won’t help much. The bottom 80% has been deliberately impoverished to drive income up the ladder. How does the “economy improving” do much for that. And now the that’s narrowing to the bottom 95%. The economy is stagnating because of impoverishment so the wealthy are turning on looting the less wealthy. That’s the cycle Obama needs to break and I don’t see that happening by accident for him.

    “Economy improving” will not fix the structural problems in our economy vis-a-vis class stratification. But that wasn’t my point – I was simply suggesting that it would give Obama leverage.

    X: When I say that she’s said stupid things, I meant content-wise, not delivery wise. There’s a difference between what you know and how you express what you know. I’m entirely open to holding my nose on delivery if the content appears knowledgeable. Hers comes up sorely lacking. I could point to numerous examples, but I’m sure you know them.

    CD: I agree. But content is easy to teach. Delivery is a gift. She has the hard part down, down better than any other politician out there. For example her debates with Obama took 18% off the popularity of healthcare. That is unheard of it American politics. 1.8% would be a tremendous accomplishment. The best politicians move maybe 4% in a quarter on an economic issue. 18%… George Bush with a full press propaganda machine and the support of the opposition party had to intimidate the CIA to lie and couldn’t move 18% of the population on a major issue.

    Content is easy to teach to someone who cares about content. She’s had years now to hone her content. She seems to have no interest in it. What’s scary is that as long as the economy is in the tank, politically she’s right. What’s the point of content when you can stoke resentment at no cost? Think of health care: did she understand it? No. But yet voters were angry, and when voters are angry, if you are a good preacher (in delivery) it doesn’t matter what you know or don’t know. And if you are incurious, you won’t try to know more because you yourself don’t really care.

    I though her speech was one of the worst presentations of QOL and public medicine I’d ever heard in my life. And then 18%…. well I guess I was wrong.

    Probably because you were listening to the content.

    Also, another question, on Palinomics (if I may): what is Palin going to do when she has to discuss the resource checks that Alaskans get from their collective stake in the oil of the state? How is she going to explain that in a way that appeals to the Tea Party? Now, again, it could not matter — they are angry, so they don’t care. She could say that God said to do it, and if they are angry enough they’ll say “Hells Yeah”. But what if the economy does start to improve, and people actually start listening to what she is saying.

    What explanation is she going to give, and how will this play out, moving forward? Will Exxon owe all US citizens a check? Will the coal mining industry have to start writing checks? What’s her philosophical position here? Hardly libertarian, or at least it doesn’t come out of any Nozick or Locke theory I’ve ever read.

  • CD-Host

    Xunzi –

    Good responses we are actually down to a small number of issues.

    Let me give you a worse example of TARP, earmarks. Sarah Palin is a strong proearmaker her whole career. She’s always advocated for local rep control, the avoidance of powerful central washington lobbying. Not only that she lobbied for and worked hard for earmarked projects and has a long record of this being her primary focus in relationship to the federal government.

    John McCain has a long history of being an anti-earmarker seeing them as a source of a lot of the fiscal corruption in Washington. So he decided to make earmarks the center of his economic program, which is silly. What could she have done? How does she handle that situation? Disagree with him on his #1 economic priority publicly? John McCain’s campaign was terrible and put her in god awful situations because he didn’t bother to do any kind of coordination with her on policy, no one disputes this even Steve Schmidt agrees these conversations never happened. I give her a pass on anything McCain made her say, he put her in impossible situations on policy. This case i think is a little easier because we don’t have to mind read about what she really thought at the time.

    : she’s good at the rhetoric governing X or she can talk substance. In this case, we’re talking complete rhetoric. It’s a measure of anger,

    I disagree. Lets rephrase them into intellectual:
    – We should not fear being labeled obstructionist but rather embrace it as a strategy. Run on obstructing the Obama agenda. If the voters like his programs we’ll lose anyway.

    – Obama’s theory of transformational politics ignored the actual reality of American demographics. His policies aren’t unpopular because people don’t understand them, they are unpopular because people do understand them. Are you as voters ready to reject this transformational paradigm and adopt a practical time tested set of policies “common sense conservatism”?

    Yes I think those are policy statements they are just anger. She is requesting specific actions.

    These are in-house distinctions, not diverse…

    Well then its an unfair criteria. She’s never run a national campaign. She’s running in a primary she doesn’t have to reach out to independents until after the convention. The typical “swing to the middle” though in her case that’s not what I think she’s going to do.

    I’d prefer to have people at the helm not who are economics experts, but who care enough about the issues themselves to drill as far as they can.

    I would too. As an intellectual it is disconcerting to believe that knowledge and ideas are unimportant to a national leader or worse yet a distraction. I am also however am empiricist. The evidence of a correlation between interest in ideas and effectiveness in policy is pretty slim. Bill Clinton best ideas never got implemented, he ended up being a skilled editor of Newt Gingrich’s policies. Carter got overwhelmed by digging into detail. Nixon had a tremendous background knowledge and understand yet his inability to communicate and lead forced his to be an extremely destructive president. George W Bush was a moron and might have been the most transformational president of my lifetime, making major shifts in policy I’m not sure he even understood.

    Etc… The evidence seems to point to it not really mattering too much what a president thinks. In general staff determines policy and the president themselves is just a sales person building a national consensus for their staff’s policies. Depressing but true.

    what is Palin going to do when she has to discuss the resource checks that Alaskans get from their collective stake in the oil of the state? How is she going to explain that in a way that appeals to the Tea Party?

    The idea of taxing corporation with high usage fees? That’s in the constitution the Tea Party might be thrilled with that sort of tax rather than the corporate income tax. If you mean distributing the goods to the people, she’s a populist. She can sell equi-distribution of public goods they are opposed to redistribution of private but may not understand its the same thing.

    I’ll hit populism in the next response.

  • CD-Host

    Indeed! Honestly, though, when we cut through the brush, we get to the real points,

    Well the first point is that she could be a populist president she has it in her. Now lets get to how populism works. Populism is a conservative acknowledgement that societal structures have failed. Believing that anarchy is the likely result of a loss of legitimacy populists recreate the government on a footing that has the support of the masses. In a very public way they rebuild a social contract.

    The steps for a populist party are:

    1) Creation
    2) Pull people in from the non political right
    3) Build a broad base of support on the right
    4) Ally itself with the hard left

    Creation in this case was 2 steps
    a) The 2007 creation of the Tea Party movement as part of the Ron Paul campaign
    b) A broadly funded campaign of popular protest in opposition to Obama’s economic agenda

    At this point Sarah Palin started getting involved pulling in people that were not part of the political right. The John Birch society, patriot groups, oath keepers, reptillian believers, LaRoucians. They attached themselves to the Tea Party and started these large protests.

    For the last few years that fringe group has been expanding and taking over the Republican party. That’s the 3rd stage and the one we are in. Building up a large right wing contingent that wants radical change.

    The fourth stage starts by noticing that moderates hate moderate change and the other group that wants radical change is the hard left. And this is where populist parties break from right wing parties. They encourage the driving out of moderates and start targeting the hard left. Their goal is to reorient the politics into
    change party vs. statuesque party rather than left right.

    So what is happening is that moderate Republicans are being alienated by the Tea Party. They feel closer to the Democrats and are reachable. To reach them Obama moves right further alienating his already exposed left flank. If she can successfully make the case to the left that Obama is nothing more than a kindler gentler George Bush we now have a populist party and politics in America reorients. As an aside even if this fails IMHO its still a good thing since by dropping the economic moderates it moves the Republican party closer to being a social conservative / economically liberal party which IMHO is a far better fit for the electorate.

    And yes to do that reach to the left you have to be willing to do some radical things. But the left is very frustrated and very ignored. They are tired of being taken for granted and furious with Obama for having wasted his opportunity in 2009. And they are going to face the same decision left wingers alway face with populist parties. Do they achieve their political program at the cost of putting someone they see as a evil demagogue in power or do they side with corrupt moderates and make policy sacrifices? And when they decide yes, they can get a Andrew Jackson who crushed the American oligarchy and made the US the most democratic country on the planet or a Juan Peron who started to create decent conditions for the Argentine poor and drove the British out.

    Populism only works when large numbers of people are willing to make the passing play, to use your analogy.

    Which means that you are banking on some kind of left oriented economics.

    What is that economics? Here’s what I see Palin saying (no detail, mind you, just slogans):

    1) tax cuts (ALL of them)
    2) deregulation (of all kinds)

    Tell me where (1) and (2) differ from the standard Republican-conservative line.

    They don’t differ. I do not think they will Palin’s policies by November 2012 when I have to decide to vote for her or Obama. If they are she’s failed as a populist and loses the election to Obama. In the case of Mussolini his rebuilding of the social compact was a “go back to Rome”, with its authoritarian past. In the case of Palin she’s pushing a “lets go back to the 18th century” with its highly deregulated and liberal past. The 3 corner hats, neo confederate economics, fife and drum groups…. I think her history is that she is an economic populist, she doesn’t have strong economic positions and will follow the natural flow of growing her movement. As we talked about in Alaska she was a huge redistributionist.

    This 4 step process is one of the least dark. There are better ones. Like Pelosi realizes that the Democrats can split the Tea Party off from the Republicans and focus on an alliance. And Pelosi becomes the populist leader (whom I think you would be much more comfortable).

    Remember there really are only 3 strategies for the Republicans and all of them are good in terms of making America a healthier place politically.

    1) A socially conservative / economically liberal party, the democratic party of 1963. That’s something the country needs. Then the Republicans become the old fashioned Dems. The Dems are the old fashioned Republicans, a socially moderate / economically moderate party. Because demographically there a very large number of social conservatives and economic liberals, a very large number of moderates on those two axis and not many opposed this way we can go back to having a much more sane politics. The vast majority of people will fall into one of the two parties easily and not have to constantly flip back and forth.

    2) A populist party. A marriage between most of the extremes in the US on both the left and right. Something like a Peronist party for the USA.

    3) Economic moderate / socially moderate running against the economically liberal party

    I see Sarah advancing any of those 3. In 2012 she is the only candidate who could pull off (2). She is also the candidate most likely to run on purely social issues while just agreeing with Pelosi/Obama on economic issues and create (1). Finally she could totally flame out, lose 100 house seats and 40 states the Democrats get a huge mandate move left and the Republicans can recapture the center that is now unoccupied by Obama who doesn’t have to worry about re-election but can focus on making history with a progressive congress. Which is a quick road to (3).

    I’m hard pressed to see why anyone would want Romney when you can have a win-win-win situation with Palin. What is the upside of Romney?

  • nhthinker

    Unless economic conditions magically change drastically, a successful populist candidate will need to be for less fed spending on: bankers, military-industrial complex and for less fed spending on inefficient government workers. Palin’s past support for fed policy/TARP and neo-con policy as well as her support for earmarks for AK could dramatic limit her appeal to independents.

    Palin’s flip-flopping ends up looking a lot like Romney’s flip-flopping but she has done several things that make her much more of a politician of the people: e.g., firing the governor’s chef- raising a large family including Trig, having her reality TV show showing her doing working-class past-times. Pictures of Reagan chopping wood should not be underestimated.
    Romney has a serious problem- He exudes nobility – and not in a way that appeals to the masses. Scott Brown knew he might have the same nobility problem and immunized himself with a high mileage pickup truck that he drove all over MA.

    Going to the pub for a beer with nose-in-the-air Romney or Gore or Obama does not seem to appeal to people in the same way Bush or Palin or Reagan could do.

    Does a good populist have to have an accessible sense of humor?

    There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.
    Andrew Jackson

  • CD-Host

    Xunzi I figure you’ve stopped responding. If you do post a link back here to an active thread or on my blog.

  • ladyruth54

    Petty article from a petty man. Aren’t there real problems or issues you could write about?

  • ShrewdGentleman

    Frum’s Quote: “But I am saying, that if your mental imagination could contain these facts, you would not have written or spoken the sentence I quoted. And the fact that she (apparently) did write or say it, indicates that these facts are absent from her imagination.”

    In other words: If she was smart, she wouldn’t have said that. She said that, therefore she ain’t smart. A good example of denying the consequent and a perfectly valid argument. Similar to: If it’s snowing outside, then it is cold outside. It’s not cold outside, therefore it’s not snowing. However, just because an argument is valid, doesn’t mean it’s sound. And your argument isn’t sound because your premise “she wouldn’t have written that” is 1) your opinion, 2) rooted in your biased view of her, and 3) suffers from the same “apparent” mental shortcomings of which you accuse her (considering only one or two aspects of life in those times.)

    Since your second premise is absurd, your argument is unsound and fails to convince me and anyone else with enough mental imagination to contain these facts of logic and reasoning.