Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Americans Still Need to Know the Truth About Sarah Palin

I have no wish to be flogging the proverbial dead horse, but I am distressed and angered by the way we are hearing things about Sarah Palin that we should have known before—in scraps of rumor and innuendo, and tidbits of information from “sources who wish to remain anonymous.”

There are three good reasons why we still need to know the truth about Sarah Palin, and only one of them is her apparent wish to remain a presence in our national political arena. We need to know also because we’ll be unable to get past this wretched episode until we know the actual facts rather than the rumors; and we need to know because the time has finally come, has it not, for us to arrive at some clarity about ourselves—who we really are, and what it is about us that allows us to be content with lies, deceptions, cover-ups and the transparently false claims of shameless sales pitches.

The questions about Sarah Palin are both serious and abundant. Why have we never learned the truth about the method of her selection, as one who might well inherit the mantle of the President? Why was she never exposed to a serious, sustained interview or press conference? Is she really as dangerously ignorant of national and world affairs as those tidbits of information would suggest? About the office for which she was chosen? About the Constitution of the country she presumed herself qualified to serve? Why were her medical records kept secret? What did a young and healthy woman have to hide? Is there truth to the rumors about a past abortion? About the parenthood of her Down syndrome child? Has she lied to the electorate about those very issues the she trumpeted so wildly?

There are those who say we should allow the whole McCain/Palin candidacy to slip into a forgettable past. If we do, we are like those abused wives who prefer to remain in denial of their husband’s exploitation in order to maintain the peace. We are addicts of denial. As that hoary chestnut has it, those who fail to understand their history are condemned to repeat it. Because the Palin episode is not just about Palin. For too many years now, we Americans have swallowed lie after lie from those we elect to high office. We have allowed ourselves to be fooled and manipulated by those in power, we have failed notably to demand the truth because we are too lazy or too fearful to be able to handle it. The Bush administration was but the latest, albeit the worst example of this abject abdication of responsibility. What an irony, that the current occupant of the White House should appear between its noble columns yesterday to announce to the press that the election of Obama was a tribute to the democracy he has loudly touted to the rest of the world, while making a mockery of it here at home. I have written before that democracy depends on the education of those who vote. It also depends on transparency and truth, without which we lack the knowledge on which to base our vote.

But the problem goes deeper and is more systemic even than our electoral choices. To really understand who we are, as a people, we should examine the ways in which we allow ourselves to be manipulated and lied to in every aspect of our lives—by supposed spiritual leaders as well as by those who wish to sell us their shoddy, often unneeded goods and products. Here in California, to take but one example, what does it say about us as a people that we allow a handful of religious extremists and the money they control to pervert our human compassion for each other and our sense of fairness. So much for the Golden Rule, when we do unto others what we would certainly not wish to have done to us.

From the Buddhist view, then, we should perhaps treat Sarah Palin as a gift—one whose potential is to teach us more about ourselves than we might wish to know. We should demand to know the truth, not to invade her privacy or subject her to further torture, but because without it we are suborning our own desperate need for some real honesty about who we are, and the changes we might need to make in our lives if we are ever to return to the path laid out by those wise people who devised this country’s constitution, and the implicit promise that we do, yes, still hold out to the world. This, as I see it, is the “change” of which Obama spoke so eloquently and so often. It’s not the superficial ones that are important—how to better my own little life and improve my standard of living. It’s the great inner change of a renewed hunger for, and dedication to the truth. I deeply hope that this was what I heard him talk about.


thailandchani said...

I have no doubt that Sarah Palin was not fun to work with. Understatement, I know.

Truthfully though, I do have a problem with "anonymous" sources who make "anonymous" allegations about personal behavior.

I'm not defending SP at all. My guess is that she probably is temperamental and demanding.

Still... all the "anonymous" stuff makes it sound like gossip to me.. which is the flip side of the same coin.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful -- yes yes yes. Could not agree more.

PeterAtLarge said...

Chani, I want to agree with you about the private stuff. But Palin's private stuff could have become, if she were to have been elected, extremely public. Which is why we needed to know who she is. I'm not interested in gossip, and regret that's how it's coming out. I AM interested in the intellectual abilities, the character and the truthfulness of a vice-presidential candidate. I don't think we came anywhere close in Palin's case: she was hidden from us--partly by the campaign, partly by her own obfuscations. If we never know the truth, it will remain buried, and we will have shown ourselves complicit in our own deception.

Bodhipaksa said...

I was aghast at how quickly the matter of her pregnancy with Trig was dropped. The rumor of course was that the child was her daughter's and that Sarah had faked a pregnancy to cover for her. One of the pieces of evidence of this was Palin giving a speech after her water broke, choosing to fly 8 hours to Alaska in labor without informing the cabin crew of her condition (and with none of them noticing she was in labor), and then making another long journey by car to hospital once she reached Alaska. Accepting that she wasn't faking a pregnancy, this was extremely reckless behavior for a woman who supposedly is "pro-life" and who is carrying a child with developmental abnormalities. What kind of judgment does this show?

The matter was dropped as soon as it was announced that Bristol was pregnant and had been since just prior to the birth of Trig. That news certainly scotched the rumor of the faked pregnancy but shouldn't have erased the question of Palin's judgment. Now I know that pregnancy is a very personal issue but her behavior, as described, strikes me as bizarre and dangerous. I'm puzzled why public discussion seemed to cease almost immediately.

roger said...

we may not get the truth from anonymous sources, of which we should always be suspicious. and what was that "revelation" about her appearing in a towel? even if true, the revelation speaks more to the truly sleazy nature of the sources.

we should indeed press for more info.

Gary said...

Mrs McImpailem couldn't lead a row row of ducks down the garden path. Her lame stream of unconscious answers to questions my 12 and 11 year
old boys knew the answers to like "What is the responsibility of the VP and what daily papers do you read?" are evidence that goldfish swim deeper that her
thoughts. She is going to have a strange winter exile in Alaska.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your plea for us to finally begin to know ourselves is well-taken. It didn't occur to me that you took "anonymous sources" seriously because if they are not brave enough to reveal themselves, they should not be believed.

But there is ample known evidence of Sarah Palin's utter inadequacy to run a country. It sounds as if she hasn't even run her state very well.

I, too, wondered why the rumors about her Down Syndrome child died so quickly, and why her daughter's present pregnancy was said to have begun, coincidentally, right before Trig was born.

Her long flight to Alaska in hard labor was also suspicious, especially since nobody even noticed that she was pregnant.

I am sick of being lied to and conned by those in positions of power. It is not only wrong, it is demeaning that they think so little of the American people and our ability to forgive them and each other for our human foibles.

PalinBaby Question said...

Here are two websites that are gathering information about the still-open question of who are Trig Palin's parents:

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the referral. I hope others will take note. And I do believe that this transcends the "personal attack."