The Parable of the Doubting Ace

Ace, that sentence from my column . . .

Other media types joined the rush to write Palin’s political obituary, with a Greek chorus of “conservative” commentators transparently eager to agree that her resignation represented proof that Palin is both unelectable to and unfit for higher office.

. . . was a reference to an entire cottage industry of David Gergen types — The Republicans Who Really Matter — who specialize in going on TV to parrot the conventional wisdom of the liberal establishment, in order to foster the appearance of bipartisan agreement. That was written on Sunday, and it wasn’t until Monday afternoon that I extended the reference in a blog post:

Of course, not all the commentators rushing to write finis on Palin’s career were of the Ed Rollins/David Schuster variety. Both Ace and Allahpundit hastened to endorse the pundit consensus.

Which is true. No accusation of mala fides is involved in saying that you “hastened to endorse the pundit consensus” — and that consensus may, after all, be accurate.

It was evidently God’s will that the Internet service provided by my cable company was on the fritz most of Monday, and despite my paying those jackals $90 a month, I couldn’t even get through on the customer-service phones, which beeped a busy signal all day. So it wasn’t until this morning that I was able to catch up with your post about “heretic hunting in the GOP.”

If anyone is hunting heretics or planning an Inquisition, Ace, it’s not me. (I’m not the type who signs petitions.) The problem is that there have been such purges in the past, for which you are not to blame, and the associations of old memories are stirred when we behold this bandwagon rush to declare an end to The Palin Epoch. If even Robert Novak can be tagged an “unpatriotic conservative” for having criticized the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, the conservative movement has problems far more fundamental than a squabble among bloggers.

Are the Palinistas guilty of intolerant “heretic hunting”? Where did they learn that? It is the conservative elite — the National Review crowd — who have developed the “urge to purge” into a cultic religion. If Rich Lowry wasn’t fired after he banned Ann Coulter from NR, he should have been fired after he published Frum’s “Unpatriotic Conservatives.”

This isn’t just about Coulter or Buchanan or any of the other victims of the exclusive cliquishness practiced by Lowry & Co. Rather, it is about elitism, and a certain type of Republican who craves a conservatism that is respectable within elite circles. This manifests a defensive mentality on the part of the GOP elite that one never encounters on the Democratic side of the aisle, where Democrats routinely associate with shady organizations and individuals (ACORN, Bill Ayers, etc.) without fear that such associations will put them beyond the pale of respectability.

Why this fearful insecurity on the part of Republicans? Why are Republicans embarrassed by Sarah Palin in a way that Democrats are not embarrassed by Joe Biden? It is a mystery worth contemplation, but not one I feel like unraveling this morning (having been deprived, by the will of God and my cable TV company, of reliable Internet service for 24 hours).

Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the Ace-o-lanche, however merited. I didn’t mean to attack you. You’re my hero. You are the wind beneath my wings.

To apply some de-fisking, however, you took strong exception to this paragraph:

First, Palin is a Christian who, in the past, has made straightforward reference to the will of God. What she believes — what she must believe — is that if it is God’s will that she become president, she will.

Yes, Ace, she must believe that. This understanding of God’s will is best expressed by Romans 8:28 and Palin is obviously one of these Bible-thumping hayseed holy rollers who take such things seriously. To quote the apostle Paul from another passage, “we see through a glass, darkly” (I Cor. 13:12) and thus our perception of God’s will is imperfect. Yet we may either seek to know God’s will, and to do it, or else go our own way at our peril, in a state of rebellion.

Shortly after Sarah Palin was announced as Crazy Cousin John’s running mate, there erupted a minor furor over a video of Palin’s June 2008 address at Wasilla Assembly of God in which she spoke of God’s will in reference to the war in Iraq. “Lunacy!” screamed the liberals.

Well, what Palin said might seem insane to those who haven’t spent much time in Bible-believing churches, or who didn’t listen closely to what she actually said:

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

And let all the congregation say, “Amen!” Pray for your country, pray for its leaders, pray that when they send our troops into war, it is in accordance with the aims of the Almighty. To say this is not to confuse God’s will with George W. Bush’s will, but rather to hope that the latter is conformed to the former, and that . . . well, God bless America . . . God mend thy every flaw.

It might be that the state of our politics in June 2008 was a flaw that the Almighty wished to mend, and that Barack Obama was the instrument by which He chose to mend it. This is not to imply a divine endorsement of Obama’s political agenda, any more than the Babylonian captivity of Israel was an endorsement of Nebuchadnezzar. Nevertheless, the Bible-believer understands that the pagan Babylonians were an instrument by which God chastised the Chosen People, in accordance with His purpose.

To believe like Sarah Palin believes is to conceive oneself an actor in a play of divine authorship, and the conclusion of that drama is foreknown, because it has been foretold. (Aside: Hunter S. Thompson was a huge fan of the Book of Revelation.) If we are living in the End Times — and I am reasonably confident that Sarah Palin also must believe this — then it was surely no fluke that her name was drawn out of the hat as Crazy Cousin John’s running mate.

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

Evidently, it was not in God’s plan that Crazy Cousin John become president, for which mercy we are grateful. But if you believe like Sarah believes, then her selection as his running mate was no accident. Some purpose was intended, in these prophesied times, if only as a sign to the faithful that we are indeed living in such times.

What troubles me most, right now, is the fear that some idiot will do something nutty out of the belief that his insanity is divine. While I was in Alabama this past weekend — I’ll upload the video of my fireworks show later today, God and the cable company willing — my friend’s father said to me, “Stacy, do you think Obama will be assassinated?”

“God, I certainly hope not,” I answered, profanely. (I believe well enough, I just don’t obey so good.)

Since December, I have said that the Democratic economic agenda will be Obama’s undoing — It Won’t Work because The Fundamentals Still Suck — and any kook terrorist who thinks he needs to intercede in that process will be preventing the revelation of a truth as durable as the gospel: In economic matters, markets work, governments don’t.

This goes back to my dispute with Ryan Sager, who asserted an eternal conflict between libertarians and Bible-thumpers, a conflict I consider false:

Some years ago, I was asked to speak to a Christian homeschooling conference — my wife and I have homeschooled our six children — and during the question-and-answer session after the speech, I faced a question for which I was unprepared.
“How has your Christian faith influenced your political beliefs?”
This stunned me into silence for a second. Then I answered: “Well, I guess it comes down to that part about ‘Thou shalt not steal.'”
From there I proceeded to discuss the basic immorality of the welfare state, how it is wrong for government to take money that one man has worked for and give it to someone who hasn’t earned it. . . .
Such a policy is not merely misguided, it is immoral — indeed, it is sinful, as I told the Christian homeschoolers — and by displaying the spectacle of government engaging daily in legalized theft, the welfare state tends to corrupt the morals of its citizens.

You can read the whole thing, but the point is that those who view Christian belief as incompatible with proper principles of government are mistaken. Both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush have done their part to discredit born-again belief as a guiding force in politics, but God is not to blame for the fact that fools claim to be divinely inspired.

Nor should you, Ace, blame God for any of my foolishness. I am not your enemy, at least not by my own choosing. Right now, the TV in my office — God has granted me cable! –is tuned to MSNBC, which is airing Andrea Mitchell’s ambush interview with Sarah Palin.

There are no accidents. Amen.

UPDATE: Did I say there are no accidents? Andrew Sullivan, Radley Balko and Ross Douthat cage match! If only Conor Friedersdorf would jump in . . .

UPDATE II: On Sully’s assertion of an “absurdly soft” media treatment of Palin, here’s Dan Riehl:

[I]t really does suggest serious emotional issues of some sort. Whatever Sullivan may have been at one point, people who still believe he’s even a semi-honest broker in touch with objective reality are just fooling themselves.
No one in their right mind could possibly conclude the above about the media coverage of Sarah Palin and claim to have a genuine appreciation for an objective political reality. And what’s even more sad is that the web editors of a once prestigious brand like The Atlantic allow it to go on.

I don’t know, Dan. As a matter of New Media “branding,” bugfuck crazy hasn’t hurt me any.

Note the ironic signification of self-awareness. Outlaw!

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