Thursday, September 04, 2008

Give me a Constitutional law prof any day

Sarah Palin sure knows how to deliver a speech, but are we willing to look at the content embedded in her rousing delivery?

Palin may be no Dick Cheney in that she's less likely to be a behind-the-scenes puppetmaster than he has been for the past eight years, but Palin does pull McCain toward the dark side in several ways.

I focused in on two things Palin said. First, she mocked Barack Obama for wanting to read terror detainees their rights. She had quite a lighthearted take on the fact that Bush-Cheney have been willing to make an unconstitutional grab for power, and have wanted to deny detainees basic legal rights including habeas corpus, a foundation of English Common Law even older than the U. S. Constitution. Palin may be eager to dehumanize detainees, but what would she say to the more than 400 men who were released from Guantanamo without being charged, often after years of detention?

Habeas corpus may sound like an arcane legal principle, but I encourage you to listen to the award-winning episode of This American Life, "Habeas Schmabeas 2007," that explains it really skillfully--what it is and why it matters to all of us.

Palin's attitude in her speech last night ties in with disturbing recent development of McCain voting in favor of waterboarding, the interrogation procedure that most people agree is torture. McCain was the last person most people thought would approve the use of torture, but it looks like we can't count on that.

(Another show to listen to: the Fresh Air interview with investigative journalist Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side who explains that the U. S. harsh interrogation techniques were derived from outdated tortuous interrogation methods originally designed primarily to extract FALSE confessions from prisoners.)

Second, Palin slammed Obama for not using the word "victory" when talking about the Iraq War. You know who else doesn't use the word victory when talking about the war? General David Petraus, who is in charge of the whole U. S. military action. Personally, I respect Petraeus, whom I believe is doing his best to find resolution to the tragic, incredibly complex situation that has resulted from the U. S. invasion of Iraq. Steve Coll discusses "The General's Dilemma" in his profile of Petraus in the September 8 issue of The New Yorker.

I would hope that most thinking people would realize by now that ending the conflict in Iraq is not about declaring victory. You can't win an occupation.

I happen to think that Barack Obama is an extraordinary candidate, but even if he was just okay, I'd support him because of his expertise as a Constitutional Law professor. After the past eight years, it would be a welcome relief to have a President who respects the Constitution, rather than constantly trying to find ways to undermine it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heart you Amy. After 40 minutes of culture war, you're still my gal.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Well said...

10:28 AM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Thanks, Karen and Amy. I really had to get that Palin post off my chest, and now I need to get back to my own work. My book manuscript is due in 12 days, and it's time to push to the finish line. The election will go on without me obsessing over it, but my book won't. So my blog over the next two weeks will be back to Mojo Mom basics.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hi, Amy. I really love reading your blog and listening to your podcasts. I agree with you here. I could go on but I also have work to do today!

I am in the Triangle area and have an awesome book club! I would be interested in selecting Mojo Mom and inviting you to a meeting after the new edition comes out.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Michael Tiemann said...

Right on! This would make a great op-ed commentary in any journal, from the New York Times to

11:01 AM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

@Liz, thanks for the invitation. Your book club's website is amazing. I would love to come speak to you next spring. Please email me at and we can talk off the blog.

11:32 AM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Hat tip to PunditMom for pointing me to Gloria Steinem's excellent Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times this morning:

Palin: wrong woman, wrong message

11:44 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

Glad you liked Gloria's op-ed. You make some amazing points about Palin's speech, one's that aren't really being focused on elsewhere.

And, hey, I'm sure Palin thinks we don't really need that pesky old Constitution anyway!

12:37 PM  
Blogger Fiesty Charlie said...

Standing ovation for you! Seriously, well put...

Is it OK if I link you?

12:46 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

This is excellent. I actually heard Petraeus say in an interview that he never uses "Victory." It's just so hard to fight back even with all these great facts; they will be an enormous help! Am linking to you.

12:49 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Wow, thanks to everyone for all your comments. Your responses have me fired up. Please link away if you like what I had to say.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

My husband and I actually looked at each other open-mouthed after her "quip" about reading rights. Did she really say what I thought she said, he asked? Yeah, I think so, I replied. Neither of us could believe it. Palin had just dismissed the Constitution and the Supreme Court with an airy wave. Oh, what a SILLY little requirement THAT is.

Unbelievable. I don't know whether to blame her, her speechwriters or McCain--or all of the above.

I'm sorry, she is SCARY.

3:42 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

@Karen, Yes, that is why my jaw totally hit the ground when the CNN commentators instantly went in to "she hit a grand slam" the second the speech was over.

I thought, she just tossed the Constitution into the shredder and you call that a grand slam?

I am so glad I am not the only one who felt that way!

3:49 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Yet another good reason to support Obama - thank you for this post. I worry about Bush's disregard for the Constitution, and I fear McCain's would be worse.

10:59 AM  

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