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You are welcome to admire Sarah Palin as a role model according to whatever parameters of character you value, but her measure along the qualifications to serve as president falls very far to the low end of the scale. And parameters of character are but a small (though important) subset of these qualifications.

Would anyone install a developmentally disabled person as president? I don’t think so, but this extreme example simply illustrates the importance of an ability to evaluate and make these kinds of judgments. People who are aggravated by Palin are aggravated because there are some who cannot exercise intelligence or good judgment in determining that she is woefully unqualified to serve as president and they dismiss their own lack of good judgment as somehow upholding Christian values. And her whole attempt at a candidacy exploits this misconceived notion.

“Thou shalt not judge” would be better expressed as “Thou shalt not condemn,” for you make judgments every day when you walk across the street; the ability to judge is what makes us human – it’s perhaps the single hallmark characteristic of humanity – and we make serious mistakes by conflating all of the variations of the word’s definition. Judging and evaluating a person’s fitness for the presidency is arguably our most critical judgment as citizens.

People get frustrated and attack Palin’s character. Then others – the good Christians – rush to her defense. And her hopes for a presidential bid depend on this. It is scary to imagine (but I think unlikely) that she could be elected by a sympathy vote, but that’s all part of politics. Perhaps good advice is to stick to pointing out that big elephant that can get missed: that she is vastly unqualified as presidential material (so any discussion of her character is only inconsequential water cooler chat).

R. Slay, Missoula

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