Tag Archives: Bill Maher

Sarah Palin in Iowa

The Des Moines Register reports that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) will visit the state later this month to appear at Iowa Republicans’ annual Reagan Day dinner. Drudge screams the headline: LOOK WHO’S GOING TO IOWA!

Obviously, Palin has been considered a potential contender in 2012 ever since at least the end of the 2008 campaign. I’ve got to say, however, that some of her moves have suggested to me that she’s not serious about being a candidate. Resigning as governor, becoming a tv commentator, and the general, well, un-presidentialness of her overall routine. On the other hand, she’s also come out with a book and been making candidate endorsements, exactly the type of thing a contender would do.

Whether or not Palin runs, the Iowa trip guarantees her one thing, and that is publicity. Buzz. No one ever became president, sold a book or propelled a movement without it. It keeps her in the game, keeps her viable, whether she wants to run, or thinks she may want to run, or doesn’t want to run but simply wants to stay in the game.

Here’s the thing. Palin continues to be a lightening rod. A kind of cultural Rorschach test. She’s going to generate controversy, and I don’t think she particularly minds that. Indeed, sometimes she seems to welcome it. Critics have attempted, at times rather cheaply or unfairly, to make her into a controversial figure, but so it always is in politics.

Through the tremors and aftershocks of the last presidential election, Sarah Palin has revealed social faultlines of the American electorate, and may soon fully reverberate into the nominating base of the Republican Party. My caution to my party is that we must now brace ourselves and be prepared. We will need to do so if we’re to remain a house united, fixed on firm foundations, standing strong now and for the future.

This means we need to actually be thoughtful about who Sarah Palin is, and what she means. Why she has struck a chord. Actually, understanding Sarah Palin and her significance to the GOP requires asking the same five questions in any story: Who, Why, What, Where, and When? I won’t try to answer all of those at the moment, but my guess is that each of them would tell us something interesting.

What I’d simply like to get out there right now is that we’ll need to be mindful of these things as we discuss our nomination process moving forward. With any figure like Sarah Palin, it becomes too easy simply to love her or hate her. To become a fanatic or regard her supporters with contempt. And we need to not do that. We need to be civil and reasonable and producive.

The fact is, even though I’m not a Sarah Palin fan – that is, I don’t favor her for the Republican Party presidential nomination – I recognize what she’s got going for her, and I can understand and empathize with those who support her. That includes a sense of genuine respect for Palin and her supporters. I’ve mentioned before on this blog a few of the things I like about Palin: she is devoted to family, as a wife to her husband and a mother to her five children; she is an energetic and ambitious person, savvy enough to become governor of a consequential state in the union; she clearly has charisma and an outgoing personality that tends toward good cheer and optimism; she also has some sensible positions on some of the political issues of the day, and has been honest, open and resolute in relating those positions to the public.

However, I’ll say again that I do not, under any current circumstance, believe that Sarah Palin is by any means the best qualifed person to lead either the Republican Party or the United States of America. She simply lacks the sort of intellectual formation that I would want to see in a partisan and national leader. I’m not saying she’s unintelligent, but I don’t see a good grasp of the issues or the policy process, or a well cultivated political philosophy. I also simply don’t think she relates well to the broader electorate, and along with some other commentators (Bill Maher, I’m thinking?), I have a problem with some of her rural/small town = “real America” rhetoric (just like I had a problem with John Edwards‘ “two America” thesis).

Again, though, the point right now is that we need to understand this potential candidate and why she may resonate with some voters. Many people simply like Sarah Palin. They relate to her. They can identify with her. She connects with them. She’s one of them. And she is an embodying expression of their values and way of life, or at least a way of life that they can understand and appreciate.  She sticks to her guns on many of the issues that are important to them, which happen to include, well, guns. What else do you hope for in a politician?

Anyway. I’ve gone on too long. But my hope is truly that within the GOP, if Sarah Palin continues to look like a candidate, that we can have a reasonable discussion and not tear each other into shreds over this one personage. People always ask me what I think about Sarah Palin. I always say roughly the same thing: Great woman, not likely a great president. I think at their most honest, both supporters and detractors would have to acknowledge that there’s something to this. Maybe in that sense, Sarah Palin can bring us all together.


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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Conservative Movement, Republican Party

Of bread and circuses, and bicycles

This may be the only time I’ve agreed twice in one week with columnists for The Kansas City Star. In the first instance it was Jason Whitlock for his insightful critique of caustic comedian Bill Maher. Now, I’ve got to second the sentiment of editorial columnist Barb Shelly.

She questions why former Governor Matt Blunt and some other Republicans (Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is the first to come to mind)  are dismayed by the cancellation of the Tour of Missouri. In each of the three years since its debut, the state has sponsored and promoted the five day, five hundred mile bicycle race as part of a public-private partnership. This week, organizers canceled the event because tourism officials would not allocate $1 million in public financing.

Why is the state of Missouri involved with bike races anyway? I never quite understood the justification, particularly coming from Republicans. How could some of the same people who had the wisdom and courage to scale back a sprawling, costly entitlement program like Medicaid then push to spend taxpayer dollars on this athletic and entertainment event?

I’m not saying politics weren’t involved with this decision. The speculation of course has been that Gov. Jay Nixon wanted to strip a feather from the cap of his political rival, Lt. Gov. Kinder. That’s a realistic interpretation of recent events, though at some point it’s irrelevant. Missouri faces serious budget issues, and no program or expenditure – even relatively small ones like the Tour of Missouri – should escape examination. As for the politics,  I’d like to think Peter Kinder could hang his hat on a few other issues to get elected governor.

The implications of funding such an event go beyond the event itself or this year’s state budget. Here’s the kicker: If the state should fund this sort of spectacle, what shouldn’t it fund? Like it or not, that is one messages sent by support for this event. In time, it becomes increasingly difficult to argue with credibility and resonance that a state that throws circuses should not also buy bread.

Republicans must remind themselves of this fact the next time they are tempted to indulge another “Tour of Missouri,” whatever it may be.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous

Whitlock on Maher

Jason Whitlock – whom I don’t always agree with but so often makes it interesting – takes Bill Maher to task in The Kansas City Star today for the comedian’s unreasonably caustic  attitude towards faith and the faithful.  I’ve got to say, I really appreciate Whitlock speaking out on this issue.  Whitlock actually counts himself among the fans of Maher, so his criticism carries special significance.

Last Sunday, Dave Cover, senior pastor at The Crossing Church in Columbia, Missouri, spoke on a similar topic, regarding the fundamentalism of some of the new atheists such as Maher. He noted that religious fundamentalists of any stripe seek to expel and ridicule, thereby shutting down serious conversational exchange. You can find a podcast on the church website, linked to above.


Filed under General & Miscellaneous

Bill Maher: Stupid.

Usually I refrain from name calling, but would it be okay to call Bill Maher stupid? He writes a piece describing the stupidity of Americans, saying this is the reason they should sit down and shut up (I’m barely paraphrasing there) on health care.

Yes, Bill, it’s true that some folks are uneducated, or that the public by and large on certain issues just isn’t well informed at all. Absolutely true. And that’s in part why we have representative government.

But these folks you are bashing for not knowing who America fought in the Revolutionary War, or thinking the sun revolves around the earth….do you think they’re the ones protesting Obama’s health care plans?

I doubt it. But nice try. No, Bill, these folks you talk about in your column are probably your people, in all likelihood. They’re the type of people who would believe, for instance, that your show Politically Incorrect…..was actually politically incorrect, instead of a pantheon to all things PC.

The folks protesting at town hall events in many cases seem to know more than their elected officials about health care legislation being considered. The lawmakers are the ones who haven’t even read they bill. So who are you calling stupid?


Filed under General & Miscellaneous