Odds & Ends

Mama Grizzly 2016?

From the July-August 2013 issue

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Three cheers for your headlining “Sarah Palin’s Rack” feature article in your May issue—a timely, overdue tribute to, and partial defense of, the most falsely, diabolically maligned and crucified political figure in memory.

As a deeply engrossed student of American historical figures since a young teenager, I feel confident in the accuracy of the following statement: No U.S. politico can match the morality, values, and character (devoutly accepting the unknown future burdens of a God-given Down syndrome baby—aborted by 90 percent of current U.S. pregnant women—even though a very busy 44-year-old governor with four children), the intestinal fortitude, and the independent, tenacious spirit of an outdoorswoman reared in the harsh Alaskan Last Frontier, the dedication and courage of a winning athlete, the success of an industrious co-owner of a thriving local fishery, the executive-legislative experience, and the achievements of a loving, devoted wife, mother, PTA activist, aggressive city councilwoman, mayor, tough, demanding state energy commissioner, and taxpayer-advocate governor of Sarah Palin.

At the time of Palin’s selection as John McCain’s VP choice in 2008, she was the most popular U.S. governor, with an approval rating in the high 80s, a superb executive record and bipartisan accomplishments, and she was projected to win a second term easily. Her extraordinary, charismatic VP acceptance speech won her immediate nationwide celebrity status and esteem, and vaulted the McCain/Palin ticket into a brief 6-point lead over Obama/Biden, which quickly evaporated with the September 2008 economic collapse, the largest factor in the Obama victory.

Despite McCain’s defeat, Sarah Palin’s magnetic personality and wondrous talent at bonding with common folk have won her millions of enduring, intensely loyal, admiring devotees across the U.S. Such political clout was at once apparent to Obama, the Democratic Party, and the liberal media, who then embarked on a contrived scheme to ruin her repute and political figure. Democratic operatives were swiftly dispatched to Alaska to demolish her governorship. Their game plan: 1) file many FOIA requests and frivolous, perfidious ethic violations charges, 2) direct Alaskan Democratic lawmakers to obstruct her legislative agenda, 3) continue voluminous character assassination of Palin and her family. Result: 1) mounting legal defense costs, totaling more than $500,000 for Sarah Palin and $2 million for the state of Alaska, 2) Palin’s previous flourishing governorship “grinding to a halt,” 3) Palin’s resignation in 2009 after concluding—after fervent soul-searching and prayerful reflection—that an unproductive, legally expensive, “lame duck” term wasn’t in the best interests of the citizens of Alaska or her family, regardless of the potential damage to her political future.

Most tragically, Sarah Palin had dutifully sacrificed her outstanding, blooming political career for the benefit of a dull, unexciting McCain. After the widely predicted Obama/Biden victory, the Republican Party and McCain quickly abandoned her to Palin Derangement Syndrome. With great glee, the lapdog media loudly trumpeted Palin’s resignation as proof of her incompetence and dereliction of duty.

To censure Sarah Palin for backing Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle, whose 2010 U.S. senatorial rebuffs cost the Republican Party control of the chamber, was grossly unfair. Both were viable choices whose losses were due more to atrocious misrepresentation of the truth, and, again, character assassinations, than to a few regrettable misstatements. To purposely snub Palin at the 2012 Republican Party Convention was an indefensible insult and an idiotic tactical blunder that certainly contributed to Mitt Romney’s downfall, with tepid conservative support and election turnout. Roger Ailes didn’t “fire” Sarah Palin from Fox News, either. Rather, Palin firmly rejected Ailes’ 2013 stipend offer, which included a major pay cut. The foregoing “PDS” may well have confused and unduly influenced an apathetic, ill-informed general public, thus precluding a future Sarah Palin presidential candidacy, but not a victorious U.S. Senate run in 2014 or 2016 (Alaska, Idaho, Arizona). As a U.S. senator, Palin would soon become a seat of power and influence in government, both federal and state, with progressive repair of her political image and potential for high office (Sarah Palin in 2016 will be a rigorous 52 years old).

If the Republican Party hopes to win the U.S. Senate in 2014, its leadership should be forcefully promoting Palin as a formidable, conservative senatorial candidate, polishing her image, and promulgating her excellent qualifications to the American public. Instead we have pompous analysts, such as Karl Rove, who berate her for resigning as governor. What a naughty, conceited fool!

The nation desperately needs the resurrection of Sarah Palin—thus, my letter. Keep publishing articles such as “Sarah Palin’s Rack.”

Morton D. Willcutts, Jr.
South Dakota


In his fine piece on Margaret Thatcher (“The Thatcher Legacy, TAS, June 2013), Daniel Mandel says that her birthplace, Grantham, has “no connection” to the earldom of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Given the overall conservative and respectful tone of the series, I rather enjoyed thinking that there might in fact be a connection. Then I read Rachel DiCarlo Currie’s article on the series in National Review, where Julian Fellowes is described as “a lifelong Tory.”  

Is Mr. Mandel certain? Is anyone? Has Mr. Fellowes said anything one way or the other? Some investigative journalism is in order here.

Dale E. Elliott 
Champaign, Illinois


As a lifelong fan of Tom Lehrer (“Whatever Happened to Tom Lehrer?” by Gerald Nachman, TAS, April 2013), as well as someone who had the great pleasure of briefly making his acquaintance in the 1970’s, I was initially saddened, but later amused to read that the late Ricardo Montalban threatened to assault Mr. Lehrer over the lyrics of “The Vatican Rag,” believing it mocked Catholic ritual.

I am a theologically conservative, practicing Catholic (and part-time choir director), and can say with certainty that Mr. Montalban, as well as innumerable of my sincere-minded co-religionists, completely miss the point of that delightful ditty.

To truly appreciate “The Vatican Rag,” as well as understand its timely value (as it was written in 1964 or ’65), one must listen carefully to Mr. Lehrer’s introductory remarks to the song (many of his songs had an introductory narrative).

In the mid-1960s, the Second Vatican Council was nearing its conclusion, and one of the constant themes one kept hearing in the news media was that the Church was going to give much greater flexibility in liturgical praxis, especially in the area of liturgical music. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) was decidedly conservative in what “reforms,” if any, were to be considered. It was only the sociopolitically constructed “Spirit of Vatican II” (something totally unrelated to the letter and text of Vatican II) that animated so much rapid change in the immediate post-conciliar period.

Mr. Lehrer, invoking one of the more popular phrases of the day, suggested the Council was attempting to make the Church “more commercial” as a way of broadening its popular appeal, which was believed to be lacking, due in part to its stodgy old conservative image. This is where Mr. Lehrer not only demonstrated his prowess for brilliant satire, but also his prescience regarding the evolution of satire into later realities.

He suggests that if the Church “really wants to sell the product,” they ought to allow some forms of popular music to be adapted to liturgical use, and then presents his “Vatican Rag” as a “modest example” of the idea. In a real sense, Mr. Lehrer was giving us all a foretaste of what was to come about in the succeeding years. The Graduale Romanum was replaced with “people’s song books,” Gregorian chant was replaced by “Kumbaya,” Palestrina was replaced by campfire songs, and pipe organs were discarded and replaced with “praise bands.”

I sincerely challenge any Catholic who lived through the unbelievably rapid devolution, breakdown, and destruction of Catholic liturgical music in the period from 1965 to 1977 to see “The Vatican Rag” as anything but what it really is: prophecy.

As for Mr. Lehrer’s fans never forgiving him for retiring from concertizing, he has astutely observed on several occasions that when satire and reality morph into one, there’s no more work for the satirist to do. Mr. Lehrer’s great musical corpus, as well as almost anything that ever came out of “Monty Python,” could be collected under a single heading that reads: “Here’s where we’re all headed, folks!”

Richard M. Sawicki,
New York, N.Y.

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