Saturday, November 7, 2009

Politico Article on Palin's Pro-Life Rally

Jonathan Martin's Politico article on the Milwaukee rally:

Sarah Palin rallied thousands of abortion opponents Friday night with a stark warning that the same philosophy that allows abortion rights could soon be invoked to allow the government to cut off health care for the elderly or children with special needs.
Hmmm, fairly accurate. "Cut off" is a bit strong. What she actually said is that those two groups wouldn't be first in line. Couple the philosophy of utilitarianism with the government having to cut costs (that item is very important) and you could have dire unintended consequences. Right after that she cited the need to slow down and really understand everything that the health care bill will do. Implication: to avoid those unintended consequences.

But we know that that opening statement was just the bait to draw the reader in, so we'll cut Jonathan a break there. Perhaps he will clarify if we keep reading:

Speaking to a fund-raising banquet of Wisconsin Right to Life, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee asserted that if policy-makers don’t believe a child in the womb is valuable, then “perhaps the same mind-set applies to other persons.”

“What may they feel about an elderly person who doesn’t have a whole lot of productive years left,” Palin asked an audience of about 5,000 who paid $30 each to hear her speak in an airplane hangar-like exhibition hall at the Wisconsin state fairgrounds just outside of Milwaukee. “In order to save government money, government health care has to be rationed… [so] than this elderly person that perhaps could be seen as costing taxpayers to pay for a non-productive life? Do you think our elderly will be first in line for limited health care?

And what about the child who perhaps isn’t deemed normal or perfect per someone’s subjective measure of their use or questionable purpose in the eyes of a panel of bureaucrats making our healthcare decisions for us,” she continued.

I don't remember if she actually mentioned rationing; she may have. I do remember that she said the government will have to cut costs. The rest of the above quote is pretty on target. Well, Martin clarified his opening bombshell. Let's continue:

Palin did not expressly raise the prospect of government-mandated “death panels” to determine who lives or dies – the incendiary and inaccurate charge she made over the summer about Democratic health care plans—but repeatedly suggested that liberal social policies could lead to de facto euthanasia.

Her warning was couched in repeated rhetorical questions about what might happen when laws are made by those she portrayed as having an insufficient appreciation for the sanctity of all human life.

“We have to think this through,” she said. “We have to get to the truth of this matter, healthcare reform.”

Martin's right that she never said "death panels," but she said everything but. She basically described or explained the idea behind the "death panel" phrase. And that's all it was, a phrase, a term for what she described in this speech. Too bad Martin doesn't see this. Does he dispute her charges of bad philosophy plus government costs = unintended consequences? If not, why dispute "death panels?" That's what death panels are. If you agree with the definition, why have a problem with the term? Was it incendiary? Oh, yeah. Therefore it was highly successful. But inaccurate? I'd say the concerns are logical. Oh, well, at least he mentioned her comment that we have to think this through, which was the whole point.

The fund-raiser was advertised as closed to media coverage, but at least three reporters, including one from POLITICO, attended simply by purchasing a ticket like other members of the public.

Palin has made few public appearances since resigning as governor in July, sequestering herself to write a much-anticipated book coming out later this month. But a year after the election that made her a global celebrity, her star has dimmed little with those same conservative activists who thronged her campaign rallies in this and other states.

The event made clear that for her ardent supporters she remains more phenomenon than traditional politician.

Not much to disagree with there. I sincerely doubt that only conservative activists thronged her rallies, but that's an old line and not worth discussing here. And not a traditional politician? Amen.

The line to get into the venue here stretched over a half-mile outside the building and a local conservative talk radio station even marked the event by printing t-shirts that welcomed her to the city, noted the date of her appearance and deemed her: “America’s Conservative Conscience.”

The anti-abortion group that hosted the event sought to raise money by including pledge cards on every chair that included an offer to become part of “Sarah’s Rogues” by giving $1,000 to the group in exchange for an autographed copy of her forthcoming memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life."

The line was incredibly long. Thank goodness we got there fairly early. And the radio station truck was giving away those t-shirts. We picked up three. The fundraising part is also true. Nothing skewered in those paragraphs.

The event and the enthusiastic response were a vivid reminder of the following she commands. But her remarks also illuminated the mix of assets and limitations she would possess if she seeks to become a 2012 presidential contender.

Palin had remarks prepared but frequently wandered off-script to make a point, offering audience members a casual “awesome” or “bogus” in discussing otherwise weighty topics.

As in: “It is so bogus that society is sending a message right now and has been for probably the last 40 years that a woman isn’t strong enough or smart enough to be able to pursue an education, a career and her rights and still let her baby live.”

I didn't know using the word "bogus" was a crime. Maybe this is what Palin meant when she said it was hilarious to watch the media's heads spin when she boiled things down to simple truth. And typical to ignore the point she was making, which was right on, to focus on her wording. Priorities, people!

Other Palin touchstones included: praise for the military, jeers for the “the liberal media” and a general manner of speaking that often veered into rhetorical culs-de-sac.

While she drew applause during her remarks, Palin’s extemporaneous and frequently discursive style was such that she never truly roused a true-believing crowd as passionate about the issue at hand as she. Not once during her address did they rise to their feet.

In a closing exhortation, she urged the audience, “Don't ever let anyone to tell you to sit down and shut up.”

She did praise the military in her opening; she also called for any current military or veterans to rise during a moment of silence for the shooting at Fort Hood. I see Martin failed to mention that, but perhaps it was oversight.

As for her rhetorical "culs-de-sacs," there was no teleprompter that I saw. She was reading from notes. Once or twice she lost her place and quickly recovered. Nothing remarkable there.

As for no standing ovations, I don't remember. I thought there was at least one because I remember not being able to rise while I was writing down what she had just said. But upon further reflection, I realized that I could not say for sure. No matter. Enthusiastic applause peppered the speech whether people stood or not. And ovations were definitely there at the beginning and end, so much so that she looked like she was getting impatient.

She looked my way a couple of times - maybe she wasn't looking at me, but I couldn't help but think that she looked a tad disapproving, as if she thought I was a reporter. Maybe I was just imagining things, but it cracked me up anyway. Perhaps Martin was writing things down too and didn't notice his surroundings. And if there wasn't an ovation after every other line, it's because we wanted to hear her speak, not ourselves clap.

She then got a standing ovation from most of the crowd, but a few had begun to leave before she even finished and within seconds of her concluding, scores more got up and put on their jackets as they walked away.
Okay, the reason for this is that there were thousands of people there, it was around 9:00 - 9:30 at night, many people (like me) had driven four or five hours to be there, and we wanted to get out of the parking lot before everybody else did. It had nothing to do with not liking what she had to say, only the realization that with the throng around her there was no chance of seeing her anyway, so you might as well hit the door before everyone else.

The same thing happened all the time in college - everybody bolted for the door to beat the crowd. Sheesh, Martin, give it a rest.

Also, if memory serves, a couple people may have left before she was done (I couldn't see everybody), but where I was, she was done long before anyone started getting up. After her speech, the organizers came on and spoke again, brought out the check, etc.... That's when people started leaving, because they knew it was over.

In addition to the suggestion that government officials would consider hastening the death of the infirm or handicapped, she began her remarks with a puzzling commentary on the design of newly minted dollar coins.

Noting that there had been a lot of “change” of late, Palin recalled a recent conversation with a friend about how the phrase “In God We Trust” had been moved to the edge of the new coins.

“Who calls a shot like that?” she demanded. “Who makes a decision like that?”

She added: “It’s a disturbing trend.”

Unsaid but implied was that the new Democratic White House was behind such a move to secularize the nation’s currency.

But the new coins – concerns over which apparently stemmed from an email chain letter widely circulated among conservatives – were commissioned by the Republican-led Congress in 2005 and approved by President Bush.

Any attempt to accuse the Obama White House of this did not exist. It may have been implied through the "change" thing, but by the time she gotten through her story, all memory of that phrase was gone. My impression is that she was calling out the general trends in Washington, D.C. that have been going on for quite some time. She even mentioned that it didn't seem like that big of a deal. It was just indicative of what's been happening.

Also, I don't know this, but I'm sure Alaska is a little behind in these things, like gold coin circulation among the general populace. And how many people really use those gold dollars anyway? I have two that I threw in my jar a few years ago and haven't looked at them since. I think they're pretty useless. Unless you get those stupid chain e-mail forwards with those things in it (my mom gets them and is forever sharing - I just delete) you're probably going to be out of that loop.

Palin also offered flashes of the traits that endear her to many conservatives.

Offering great personal detail, she relayed the story of how she came to find out that her infant son, Trig, had Down Syndrome. She confessed to being scared and said that she and her husband, Todd, turned to God to prepare them.

After years of advocating against abortion in theory – what she called “preaching to the choir” – Palin said she was presented with the stark reality of what to do with a special-needs baby.

“I am thankful to have been asked to walk the walk,” she said.

True, true, and true.

Palin also included a few less personal, but as compelling, flourishes in her remarks, citing Pope John Paul II (never a bad idea in a heavily-Catholic part of the country), referring to scripture (John 16:13) and noting that such feminist pioneers as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had opposed abortion (she called them “foremothers”).

She also demonstrated a politician’s ability to connect with a local crowd, relating that her grandmother was born in Chippewa Falls, her dad had played high school football with Packers great Jerry Kramer and, with an audience that likely watched a lot of Fox News, noted her relationship with the network’s talk show, Wisconsin native Greta Van Susteren.
Pretty true. She didn't quote John 16:13 in its entirety, just a portion of it relating to truth. Truth, by the way, seemed to be the theme of her speech; the idea that truth would bring change. Just getting the truth out there would change more hearts and minds than legislation ever could. Pope John Paul II was also mentioned because he too fought the utilitarian approach to human life because of his experiences.

Further, Palin talked with ease about the abortion issue, touting polling this year that showed a majority of the country opposing the procedure, recalling successful ad campaigns (“Choose Life”) on the issue and casting her own opposition to it in terms familiar to the movement.

Palin didn’t mention President Obama by name, but did take a shot at him for opposing an abortion-related measure as an Illinois state senator and more than once mocked his catch phrase.

"Let's talk about change we can believe in," Palin said. "Friends, a majority of Americans identify as pro life, and thank God for that."

Pretty accurate.

She reserved her toughest critique for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, eliciting boos from the crowd at the mention of the speaker’s name. Palin urged Pelosi to allow House members to vote on an amendment that would bar any taxpayer funds from being used to fund abortion.

“We need to make sure she hears the message that she will held accountable if she does not let this at least come to a vote of her colleagues so they can have their voice be heard,” Palin said.

Yup. She also praised Democrats who were fighting the funding of abortion on demand through the health care legislation. Go, Blue Dogs! She also called for Pelosi to keep her promises (citing ones previously broken) by at least providing a degree of transparency.

After she concluded her remarks – and presented the organization with an oversized, $1,000 check – Palin signed autographs for some of the few hundred people who surged toward the dais.

Alissa Maerzke, 12 and wearing a “Palin 2012” t-shirt, was elated that she got the former governor’s signature.

After collecting a congratulatory hug from her mom, Maerzke recounted that she asked Palin if she was going to run for president. “She just smiled,” said the girl.

In the line on the way into the event, a gentleman wearing a Harley-Davidson fleece pull-over and jeans joked to his friends that he was going to ask Palin to marry him, summing up his devotion this way: “She thinks like I do, she’s absolutely gorgeous and Democrats are afraid of her – what’s not to like?”

Ditto on the check. As for his personal encounters, I can neither confirm nor deny those remarks:)

Overall analysis: It was a pretty fair rendering except for the standing ovation parts and his misrepresentation of people leaving early. He also could have done without the pot shots over the "death panel" stuff.

And he spelled Trig with two G's, but I corrected it in quoting the article.

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