Friday, September 5, 2008

The Sarah Palin Files, Pt. 23

I have to revisit the GOP's condemnation of community organizers on Sarah Palin night, because two days afterward (only one day after I watched her speech), it is still not sitting well with me.

I'm sorry, I can't get over the insult to the workers themselves who are ministering to the downtrodden. Nor can I stomach the outright hypocrisy, which exists on so many levels.

For the second time this week, Time Magazine's Joe Klein nails it:

So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn't know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed--job training, help with housing and so forth--from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work--the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a "task from God.")

This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man's decision "to serve a cause greater than himself," in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate's favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service--the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other--as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.

Perhaps La Pasionaria of the Northern Slope didn't know this when she read the words they gave her. But Giuliani--a profoundly lapsed Catholic, who must have met more than a few religious folk toiling in the inner cities--should have known. ("I don't even know what that is," he sneered.") What a shameful performance.

The conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin is quite the revelation this week - good or bad. But for my money, what about Joe Klein? He has been a man on fire lately.

Anyway, here's some other takes on the pot-shot heard 'round the world:

Rob McKay:

The utter contempt and disdain they showed for Senator Obama's history as a community organizer is something that we all must stand up against. I'm particularly angered by the lies and distortions because my foundation has proudly financed millions of dollars of incredible work by community organizers over the past fifteen years. I was also reminded that the ghosts of Willie Horton and Jesse Helms were on display in the Twin Cities. Make no mistake: inside that convention hall "community organizer" was shorthand for radical, black activist. It's certainly not all community organizers they trivialize and dismiss. What else is the pro-life, creationist, anti-tax, pro-gun movements but the work of Right-wing community organizers? Clearly, Palin is specifically condemning those organizers who work to improve the lives of poor and marginalized Americans.

Jim Wallis (be sure to read the full article, complete with actual responses from community organizers):

Then Wednesday night, I heard Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, say that her experience as “a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” The convention crowd in St. Paul thought that was very funny. But it wasn’t. It was actually quite insulting to the army of community organizers who work in the most challenging places across the country and have such a tremendous impact on the every day lives of millions of people. I guess Sarah Palin and her fellow Republican delegates don’t know much about that. The “actual responsibilities” of community organizers literally provide the practical support, collective strength, and hope for a better future that low-income families need to survive,

Community organizers are now most focused in the faith community, working with tens of thousands of pastors and laypeople in thousands of congregations around the country. Faith-based organizing is the critical factor in many low-income communities in the country’s poorest urban and rural areas, and church leaders are often the biggest supporters of community organizers. And many of them felt deeply offended by Sarah Palin.

Wallis calls for an apology from Palin, but don't hold your breath. She's not allowed to talk to the media (wouldn't want her inexperience to show, after all).

Which is great. She's classless, and gutless.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States of America.

No comments: