Palin’s Pluck and Pragmatism
It is clear that the press wants their man Barack Obama to win–and as a result, they have obscured rather than illuminated our attempt to make an objective assessment of who Sarah Palin is, how she thinks, and what she stands for. And as I have pointed out, the worst consequence of this transparent bias may turn out to be that the press has destroyed the credibility it would need to make valid criticisms of Palin. But there is enough information available to begin making our own independent assessment of Palin, using the bits and pieces we can discern through this veil of press partisanship. To do this, let’s move past irrelevant details of her biography and past the debatable elements in her record. Let’s look at what we can find out about Sarah Palin’s ideas and principles. The upshot of most of the smears targeting Palin is that she is a religious zealot. But we now know that she didn’t try to ban books at Wasilla’s public library, she didn’t try to mandate the teaching of creationism in public schools, and she does not, so far as anyone knows, actually think that dinosaurs are “lizards of Satan.” The one clear indication we have as to the degree of her religious commitment is the fact that she is opposed to abortion in all cases, making an exception only to protect the life of the mother. And we know she means it because she chose to give birth to her youngest child even though she knew from genetic testing that it would have Down Syndrome, a severe form of mental retardation.
The Great Confidence Game
WASHINGTON — It’s doubtful that former Princeton University economist Ben Bernanke and ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson imagined what awaited them when they took charge of the Fed and the Treasury in 2006. Since then, they have put their agencies on a wartime footing, trying to avert the financial equivalent of an army’s collapse. As in war, there have been repeated surprises. As in war, the responses have involved much improvisation — for instance, the $85 billion rescue of American International Group (AIG). But last week their hastily built defenses seemed threatened, and so Paulson proposed a radical solution of having the government buy vast amounts of distressed debt to shore up the financial system. It’s all about confidence, stupid. Every financial system depends on trust. People have to believe that the institutions they deal with will perform as expected. We are in a crisis because financial managers — the people who run banks, investment banks, hedge funds — have lost that trust. Banks recoil from lending to each other; investors retreat. The ultimate horror is a financial panic. Paulson aims to avoid that.