Thursday, October 2, 2008

Punching Judy

In fairness to Sarah Palin*, whose ignorance of the Supreme Court's history I somewhat unfairly overstated previously, the question she actually got from Katie Couric was not the easiest question in the history of stump-the-candidate questions [transcript]:

COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are--those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know--going through the history of America, there would be others but--

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I could think of--of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
It's more difficult, I grant, to come up with rulings with which you disagree than merely to come up with rulings.

With all that said, Palin still shows gross incompetence here, notwithstanding Ross Douthat's damnation-by-faint-praise / pox-on-both-their-houses apologetic hybrid:
Palin is holding up a mirror to the rest of the political world, and revealing how the mix of talking points, bluster, obfuscation and BS that nearly all national politicians traffic in as a matter of course sounds when it's filtered through someone who isn't practiced in it, and isn't ready for the spotlight. [emphasis mine]
Douthat misses the fact that there are ready possibilities between encyclopedic knowledge and blustery obfuscation.

One could fairly expect a candidate facing this question to frankly acknowledge an inability to recite case names before listing off significant rulings that have roiled and divided the nation over the years. It's easy to think of numerous such rulings that should be close to mind for any right-wing culture warrior worth her salt, to wit: rulings concerning affirmative action, taking the Bible out of classrooms, limiting public displays of religious symbols, enforcing bussing, removing creationism from science classes, decriminalizing gay sex, stopping the death penalty, granting rights to the accused, protecting endangered species, acknowledging rights of Gitmo detainees, etc.

Insofar as anyone has been able to divine a sound reason why John McCain selected Sarah Palin, it owes to her bona fides as a Christianist nutter who can rally the knuckle-dragging GOP base, and they are definitionally obsessed with judicial rulings in general, and the Supreme Court's rulings in particular. I do think she's one of them, but it seems obvious that she is an exceptionally dotty one of them. And that's saying a lot.

I do not claim that I would have been impressed with such an answer; I am not claiming I would have been praising her acumen, much less agreeing with her. But her real-time answer gives the impression of someone not even capable of playing the Judy of far-right outrage to the Punch of "liberal judicial activism."

She can't even identify the issues. Pathetic.

* Check it out! This is my first post of this entire month addressing Sarah Palin, and we're already only hours away from the third day of the month!

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