Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eva Gabor comes to the White House?

The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts published a column this past weekend in which he implores Sarah Palin to run for President. Ordinarily I find Pitts provocative and well worth reading. This column left me with a pain in the pit of my stomach. Entitled “Dear Sarah: Say it is so, run for president,” Pitts argues that a Palin candidacy “ would force upon this country a desperately needed moment of truth. It would require us to finally decide what kind of America we want to be.”

Pitts concludes his column by saying:

[T]his is not a clash of ideologies, but a clash between intelligence and its opposite. And I am tired of being asked to pretend stupid is a virtue. That's why I'd welcome the moment of truth your campaign would bring. It would force us to decide once and for all whether we are permanently committed to the path of ignorance, of birthers, truthers and tea party incoherence you represent, or whether we will at last turn back from the cliff toward which we race. If the latter, wonderful, God bless America. If the former, well, some of us can finally quit hoping the nation will return to its senses and plan accordingly. Either way, we need to know, and your candidacy would tell us.

You can read the whole column here:

I’ve heard this argument made by a number of people. I think most of them have a higher assessment of the American people today than I have.

I thought things could not get worse after Ronald Reagan. America elected a rather superficial ideologue actor who could readily remember and repeat the lines of some fairly decent speech writers but his policies were a disaster at home and abroad (having spent a good bit of time in Central America to survey the damage). It took the next two presidents to repair the damage.

Then came George Bush. I never thought a man with inordinate ambition, maximum unearned privilege, very little talent and little but contempt for anyone outside his immediate circle of family could ever reside in the White House. I never thought the American people could vote for someone so lacking in substance, particularly not for president. But they did. King George the Unready managed to make me pine for the good ole days of Ronald Reagan before his path of destruction was through. I pity Mr. Obama his job of cleaning up the disaster left behind.

I do not think Americans are a particularly stupid lot, which is why the possibility of having Sarah Palin reflect us as a people as our national leader is so troubling. But I do think we are an intellectually lazy bunch. As a people we tend to be ambivalent about education at best and our educational spending and testing driven curricula reflects that. We tend to avoid deep and critical thinking as a rule and the passive “entertainment” we insist we must have at all times reflects that.

That has come to include our news services which have become dominated by a focus on entertainment personalities and the talking head ideologues predominately of the right and far right variety with a few barely left of center folks to allow the networks to pretend there is a modicum of balance. The presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush could only have occurred in an age of media driven entertainment where substance is not valued and critical thought regarding issues is avoided. If anything, the public’s demand for a superficial culture which does not interrupt our spoiled child sense of entitlement has only intensified with the rise of serious problems from recession to global climate change we’d rather not face.

It’s precisely this context into which Sarah Palin as potential presidential candidate steps. And pardon me if I don’t find that possibility terribly exciting. I am not confident about what the American people’s decision about who we want to be as a country will be, a confidence which seems to underlie Mr. Pitts’ challenge here. Moreover, I cannot be as blithe about the possibility that America will choose an incompetent leader at a time when we most need the kind of intellectual, informed and capable leadership we currently have in Mr. Obama. I’m not sure I share his sense of urgency that “we need to know” so we can “finally quit hoping the nation will return to its senses and plan accordingly.”

What’s to plan after the demise of your nation?

This past weekend Jarmo Tarki, a biblical scholar from the Jesus Seminar, was talking about this very subject and said, “The thought of Sarah Palin having the codes for the nuclear bombs is very troubling.” In past years I would have laughed at the outrageous suggestion that someone as poorly qualified and as ideologically addled as Ms. Palin would have ever had a chance at becoming President. Imagine Eva Gabor on Green Acres as President. With the Boomer Generation Ms. Gabor entertained now in positions of power, our Xer children turned off and cynical and our Y children tuned out and distracted, that suggestion becomes distinctly plausible. As Jarmo said, I find that very troubling.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.


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