Sarah Palin's Nutty Creationism

Should the press boycott Palin? The more important question: Do they have the capacity to do so?

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Famed curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens confesses that, in his never-ending quest as a contrarian, he misjudged Sarah Palin when "rather feebly" giving her the benefit of a doubt last summer.

Writing for Slate, the repentant Hitchens is now urging his media brethren to boycott coverage of Palin in the final days of the 2008 campaign until she agrees to hold a full-scale press conference.

It is a provocative, albeit fantastical, suggestion. The political press corps couldn't organize a well-run baby shower, much less a boycott of a national political figure.

Still, I particularly like his dissection of Palin's stance on the wisdom of teaching creationism alongside evolution in the schools.

I've touched on the Fred-Flintstone-was-alive-at-the-same-time-as-dino issue before. Here is the Hitchens take:

The problem with Gov. Palin is not that she lacks experience. It's that she quite plainly lacks intellectual curiosity. It is not snobbish to harbor grave doubts about somebody who seems uninterested in reading for pleasure or recreation and whose only interest in her local public library is sniffing round its shelves for books that ought to be removed for expressing impure ideas.

Nor is it snobbish, let alone sexist, to express doubts about someone who, as late as March 2007, could tell Alaska Business Monthly, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place." This statement deserves to be called mindless, because, first, it is made up of stale and received and overheard bits and bobs from everyday media babble and, second, because you cannot really coherently say that you support both the administration and an "exit plan."

The same vaguely cunning wish to have everything both ways is to be found in her suggestion that both evolution and creationism be taught in our schools. In one way, this seems fair enough—if the Scopes trial is taught in history class, then the views of William Jennings Bryan and those of Clarence Darrow and H.L. Mencken must necessarily be given equal time. But that is not the same as saying that classes in biology or geology be diluted by instruction in what is laughably called "intelligent design." It would be like giving equal time to alchemy and astrology. "You know, don't be afraid of information," as she so winningly phrased it in a gubernatorial debate. "Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

I would like to ask her whether by this she means that creationism ought to be given equal time in science classes. And I have a follow-up: How many years old does the Republican nominee for the vice presidency of the United States believe the Earth to be?

There are several other questions I would like to ask her, as, no doubt, would you. Lots of luck with that, because it seems that the Grand Old Party intends to go all the way to Election Day without exposing the No. 2 person on its ticket—the person who would become chief executive if President John McCain succumbed to illness—to a press conference.

Lots of luck, indeed.