Blasphemy

“Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

St. Joan of the Tundra

Now, I’m not a Christian. So if Sarah Palin wants to associate a war crime with a Christian sacrament, it’s really no skin off my nose.

But if I were a Christian, I’d be pretty damned angry about this. It will be interesting to see whether any of the praying-aloud-in-the-marketplace-so-as-to-be-seen-of-men crowd has any problem with it.

Update I’m happy to see that one politically conservative Lutheran agrees with me.

Second update Rod Dreher is on the same page. I said “blasphemy;” he says “sacrilege.” Maybe it’s both; if not, I’m happy to defer to the expert.

Like Charles Krauthammer on the Bundy affair, Dreher is really hot under the collar:

Man, the 12 minute speech Sarah Palin gave to the NRA convention is awful. It’s just witless, red-meat blathering, delivered in that nasal whine of hers that makes it sound like she’s chewing wads of tinfoil. For people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.

I recall that the Terri Schiavo affair peeled some reality-based conservative and libertarian folks off the GOP bandwagon: not because the issue was so important in itself, but because the unreason and contempt for law the right-to-lifers displayed woke some people up to the fundamental bogisity of Karl Rove Republicanism. (If John Ellis Bush does run for President, I hope we will hear a lot about his role in that comedy of cruelty.)  

At some point, you say, “Wait a minute! If that’s what the people I’m with are saying, what am I doing with them?” (The day Lyndon Johnson, my political hero, said that voting for Gene McCarthy was unpatriotic because it would make the leadership in Hanoi happy was the day I started wearing a McCarthy button.)

It would be too much to hope that the combination of the Bundy debacle and Palin’s rant might similarly awaken any substantial number of the remaining GOP faithful, but this stuff has to hurt anyone with any intellectual self-respect who’s trying to hang on to both that self-respect and his Red Team membership. And the howls from the NRA crowd just make it that much worse.  

Third update Patrick Brennan at National Review says ” barbarism,” and offers a full-throated denunciation of torture from a Catholic perspective. Looks as if Gov. Half-Term isn’t entirely useless after all; she seems to have the capacity to focus some conservative minds.

I can’t say how happy it makes me to find myself on the same side as some Red Team thinkers on this question. Now if there were only a single GOP politician prepared to annoy the Palinites …

 

Legacy

So Gingrich and Romney are fighting over which one is the true heir of Ronald Reagan. (And Sarah Palin thinks the Romneyites and the media are being mean to poor widdle Newtie.) Seems to me that depends on which aspect of the Reagan legacy you’re counting.

If you liked the idea of running a cocaine-dealing operation out of the White House basement, then Romney the CEO should be the better bet. But if what you really admire is selling weapons to Iran to finance an illegal war in Nicaragua, that’s the kind of hare-brained scheme that comes naturally to Gingrich but would never occur to Romney.

But the real essence of Reagan, it seems to me, was his post-modernism. Remember the woman who bought an orange with Food Stamps and a bottle of vodka with the change? Utterly impossible, of course. But that didn’t matter to Reagan; it was a good line, and he read it well, and its truth-value was utterly irrelevant.

In that regard, Romney wins the Reagan Look-Alike Contest hands-down. Gingrich tells his share of whoppers, but you get the sense (at least I do) that he knows he’s lying, and feels slightly bad about it. Romney, like Reagan, seems to regard politics as a truth-free zone, where you can say “I approve this message” one day and claim you never heard it the next, without even blushing.