In Sarah Palin’s opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, she has revealed, once more, why she must never serve as president of the United States.
We are a nation at war. And the president is the commander-in-chief, a job that requires cold--sometimes cruel--calculation of the national interest, and a rigid sense of discipline. The United States is a superpower, with economic and military interests that govern the future of millions of lives, and fortunes. The decisions made in the Oval Office are truly momentous. They demand the strongest character.
Especially in wartime--and we will soon enter the 10th year of the war that began at ground zero--reason must overrule self-indulgent emotionalism, and the lure of following one’s “feelings.”
But Palin is nothing if not about “feeling.” She appeals not to logic, but emotion. To the gut, not the brain. She is one self-indulgent and excitable woman. And in her histrionics over the construction of an Islamic cultural center, two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, she has demonstrated, once again, why she is unsuited for high office.
“Doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland?” Palin asked those fellow Americans who pause at her readiness to blame all of Islam for the act of a relatively few crazed extremists.
No, it doesn’t. I have lived a long life in the company of Iranian-Americans and Turkish-Americans and Egyptian-Americans and other U.S. Muslims, whose right to build a community center, including a mosque, in Manhattan was ably guaranteed by guys named Madison and Jefferson and Washington in the Bill of Rights. I have an intellect, and can make the distinction between Osama bin Laden and the rest of Islam.
It may feeeel good to Palin and her followers to focus hate and resentment against the Muslim world. But to kiss off freedom of religion for America’s Muslims is to kiss off freedom of religion for evangelical Christians, Jews, Catholics, and other believers. And once you start down that road, folks, you can kiss off your right to bear arms, to a free press, and to trial by jury as well. Because so many, many times, the difficult applications of these rights doesn’t feeeel good.
Palin’s politics of grievance is especially ill-suited for wartime. Wars are won by cruel and calculating bastards like FDR who, if he was around today, would tell us that we will win this war against Muslim terrorists by isolating them, and by enlisting the help of the more-than-a-billion other Muslims in the world who don’t share such hateful beliefs. Presidents Bush and Obama recognized this immediately. Do you think our drones would have such success against al Qaeda leaders in southwest Asia without the help of the Pakistani military, intelligence services, and their sources?
But Palin suggests that we take a feel-good route--painting all Muslims as hateful extremists--that guarantees we lose this war. She seems intent on demonstrating that we Americans are the clueless and oppressive cultural, military, and economic imperialists that al Qaeda says we are.
Sarah Palin cannot make the distinction between feeeeling good, and thinking smart. Or maybe she knows the difference and is undermining the war effort for her own selfish ambitions. Either way, she must never be president.