The Common Good

Palin Bad for Dialogue

Last Thursday, I wrote about truth-telling and responsibility in the debate over health care, urging an honest and fair debate with good information, not sabotage of reform with half-truths and misinformation.

On Friday, I read a statement from Sarah Palin, first on her Facebook page, then reported by the media:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

I thought I had heard it all, but I couldn't believe what I was reading. The statement is a new low for our political discourse.

Sarah, you're the one who is acting in an "evil" way. After listening to your policy pronouncements during the campaign, many Americans decided, generously, that you weren't ready yet for high political office. Others thought you just weren't very smart. But this statement last week really does clear up the question for me. You are speaking like a demagogue in the worst tradition of those who knowingly distort and deceive, for their own political purposes. You want to stoke people's worst fears and then, hopefully, they will look to someone like you to be their leader. You're not stupid after all. You know that neither President Obama, nor anyone else in this health-care debate, would deny health care for your parents or child, and that none of the ideas being debated would suggest that. But people are confused and concerned, so you see your chance to prey upon their misunderstandings. Politics for people like you is really all about you, your fame and power, and your taste of it during the last election has revealed what kind of politician you truly are.

Please don't invoke your "Christian faith" anymore and embarrass the people of God even further. May your efforts to scare Americans during this important debate fail. May your political future also fail, and may your star fall as fast as it rose just a few months ago -- because we now know who you really are.

Jim Wallis is CEO of Sojourners.

To learn more about health-care reform, click here to visit Sojourners' Health-Care Resources Web page.

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