Diary

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is wrong about Sarah Palin, religion in public life and just about everything else

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s recent article attacking Sarah Palin in the Washington Post is instructive. It illuminates the ‘big lie’ that Democrats traffic in on a daily basis as well as the ‘huge lie’ they traffic in every election cycle.

The ‘big lie’ that jumps off the page of Townsend’s article is demagoguery. Democrats and liberals use demagoguery as the tactic de jour to frame the political debate in this country.

The classic example is separation of church and state. Democrats want nothing more than the complete extinction of religiosity from the public square.

Townsend refers to her uncle John’s reference to Thomas Jefferson and the “American tradition” that it be essential to keep any semblance of a religious test out of the political realm. Nice try Kathleen, but that straw man is nowhere to be found in Palin’s book.

Palin’s point, obviously too simple to be understood by a mind like Townsend’s, is that a person’s faith, even a politician’s, is a part of who that person is. And, hate it as she and the liberal cadre do, that faith cannot be divorced from the person, no matter the public office he or she holds.

The demagoguery drips off Townsend’s words when after a “careful reading of her book leads me to conclude that Palin wishes for precisely such a (religious) test. And she seems to think that she, and those who think like her, are qualified to judge who would pass and who would not.” It boggles the mind to think how much time it took Townsend to use her X-acto knife to carve enough words from Palin’s book to put that whopper together.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Palin makes no such assertion in her book or anywhere else. However, Townsend is just getting warmed up.

Townsend claims that Palin insists on acting as an authority on a candidate’s faith. After all, Palin had to audacity to suggest that John F. Kennedy failed to tell the country how his faith enriched his life. In fact, JFK went to great lengths to do just the opposite. Palin points out that in Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association he asked the ministers and the country to judge him not by his faith but by his views.

Is it possible that at least one of the ministers in that audience was not humming the theme to Camelot and, perhaps, asked to himself, “Fine, we will judge you on your views, but what core values, morals or, yes, faith helped to shape those views?” That minister would be hung as a religious bigot in Townsend’s world.

Townsend’s argument continues when she quotes her uncle from his Houston speech when he said a president’s religious views should be “neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.” That would be a fine argument…if someone was making it!

Imposition of religious views upon a nation is a serious charge. Imposition of religious views upon an individual, president or not, is also a serious charge. I defy Townsend, or any other liberal, to make a serious case, (that means leaving the demagoguery, personal attacks, and innuendo at home) that Palin or any other person of faith is trying to ‘impose’ their faith on the nation or any individual in politics.

To complete her argument that faith has no place in the public square, Townsend uses Palin’s praise of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who answered a question about his notion of Jesus Christ. Romney answered, “Jesus Christ is the son of God.”

(It is interesting to note that in her article, Townsend uses the following phrase in regard to Romney’s answer, “He answered the question, proclaiming (emphasis added) that “Jesus Christ is the son of God.”” How long will it be before Keith Olberman screams to the world, or both of his viewers, that, “Mitt Romney, according to an article in the Washington Post, proclaims Jesus Christ as the son of God!”)

Palin praised Romney for a “thoughtful speech that eloquently and correctly described the role of faith in American public life.” According to Townsend that thought is beyond the pale and not fit discussion in public. She assumes that Romney was “compelled” to respond to a “misplaced” question about his belief in Jesus.

I realize that my next statement will be redundant for normal Americans, but it begs to be asked. How can one human being be so arrogant? To assume that Romney was “compelled” to do anything and that a question about his view of Jesus Christ is somehow “misplaced” is arrogant but not ignorant. It’s purposeful.

The purpose is to advance the notion among fair-minded Americans that to ask about a candidate’s faith or about his view of religion or about how he or she came to their public views is not in keeping with ‘American tradition’ and out-of-bounds in political discourse.

Limiting the questions people of faith may ask on the public square minimizes the impact those same people will have on political debate. The left is at its best when using this ‘big lie’ tactic. They should be; they’ve had 50 years of practice.

American does not, in fact, have a religious test for political office holders. Office seekers may have faith that moves mountains or no faith at all to qualify for a place on the ballot. Palin, nor anyone else for that matter, is suggesting we have a religious test in order to seek office.

Likewise, America does not require that persons of faith abandon their religious convictions in the evaluation of political candidates. As much as they wish it to be so, liberals cannot substitute a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists for the Constitution. At least as far as the constitution is concerned. The amendment in question says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Isn’t it always that pesky second clause that drives liberal friends nutty?

Congress may not pass a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. That is in the Constitution. Neither does the Constitution inoculate politicians from receiving questions about their faith or any other topic. To be sure, politicians are not compelled to answer any question either. If a politician receives a question that in his or her judgment is inappropriate, it is fully acceptable to leave that question unanswered. Of course Americans still have the right, Townsend and her ilk notwithstanding, to judge the appropriateness of the questions asked of politicians and of the status of their answers.

Finally, Townsend gets hysterical in the defense of the faith of her family. She suggests that her other uncle, Teddy, as well as the rest of the Kennedys were motivated in their political pursuits by their faith. The contradiction here is comical. Sarah Palin is not allowed to express her faith in public discourse, yet Townsend ignores the gin-fueled mumblings of her uncle Teddy, the Kennedy infidelity chromosome and the odd dead girl’s body to declare the Kennedy family’s faith as pure as the wind driven snow.

Townsend has a new book entitled, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Are Mixing God With Politics and Losing Their Way. The point of the book is to continue the effort to drive God out of American politics and to silence people of faith. They advance their agenda by demagogging Sarah Palin. I hope they fail.