October 1, 2008

What's really shocking about Sarah Palin's non-answer

With all the (totally appropriate) jaw-dropping and gleeful snickering over Sarah Palin's inability to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade that she disagrees with, people seem to be overlooking the question before that: "Do you believe there is an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution." Her answer, firm and repeated: "I do."

Uh oh. For more than 30 years, the cornerstone of the pro-life movement's legal (as opposed to moral) argument against Roe has been that the court's decision was "based on a new, previously undefined 'right of privacy' which it 'discovered' in so-called 'emanations' of 'penumbrae' of the Constitution." That's a lot of scare quotes, yet none of them have helped sink the message into Sarah Palin's brain. I had previously suspected that Palin was shaky (to be exceedingly generous) on issues that she didn't care about, like the economy and stuff that happens in other countries, but now it seems like she lacks even rudimentary understanding of the issues that are supposed to be central to her.

Indeed, most serious pro-lifers, faced with Couric's question about other bad rulings could have instantly named at least one: Dred Scott. As Tim Noah pointed out four years ago, "To the Christian right, 'Dred Scott' turns out to be a code word for 'Roe v. Wade.'" Even knowing nothing about the law, or the court, she should at least have been familiar enough with pro-life talking points to come up with that.

I still think Palin could ace an interview about the Bible, but I'm less certain than before.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


By "the Bible," you mean the Jesus part, right? Because I can picture exactly the same "moose-in-the-headlights" reaction to "What books of the Old Testament other than Genesis do you enjoy?"

Actually, that's a gimme: Leviticus.

Trust me, if she knows the Bible, she knows the whole thing. I mean, not the documentary hypothesis, but the text itself.

That's ridiculous. How would she have time for bible study when she's so busy reading all the newspapers?

I noticed that particular trainwreck started with Couric asking where she got her worldview. I thought of this blog.

@Jared. I didn't actually watch the full interview. What was her answer to that question?

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: Iíve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? Iím curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them

That's not gleeful snickering, Daniel. That's nervious laughter. The Right is at its best when its position is indefensible. (See election/re-election of Bush, George W.)

Sorry, Dan. Speaking as someone smack in the middle of conservative legal thought, I'd happily say without flinching that there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution, right there in the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. Even Judge Bork says there's a constitutional right to privacy. The controversy is whether that right is delineated by constitutional text or judges' individual preferences. (No justice in history adheres to an unlimited right of privacy against government intrusion.)

The scare quotes aren't scare quotes, incidentally -- that's an accurate quotation of the rationale of Justice Blackmun, and, as much as anything else, identifies the legitimate dispute over the appropriate role of the judiciary.

@Ted: Y'know, I'm sure Palin was about to say that.

She has the inalienable right to privacy that keeps elites from looking at her, her quoted words, her family, and her record.

Matt Damon got it wrong. Sarah Palin is not material for a bad Disney movie but rather a very sharp Preston Sturges film.

Picture good old Sarah smiling winningly as she nukes Iran, declares martial law and places half the country in internment camps, all for the love of her imaginary friend Jesus and his fantastical father, that invisible fairy tale despot in the sky imagined by primitive desert nomads. The world's teetering on the brink of mass destruction for two generations due to ancient superstitions and hallucinations has made a Sarah Palin an inevitability. She is the perfect package, arriving wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross, driving her kid to hockey practice ...

There's been little done to prevent the Radical National Socialist Republicans from stealing the presidential election yet again. In Palin they have found somebody presenting as dumber than Bush in a calculated move to demoralize thinking people even more.

JD: Palin '012!

BAD = doing nothing about the genocide in Darfur

DESPICABLE = doing nothing about the genocide in Darfur, then claiming in the VP debate that you had

Hey, Richard H, stop comlainin'. She told us up front she wasn't gonna answer the way you or the moderator might want. For example: You wanted facts? Sorry, SOL.

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