Sarah Palin: Waterboarding Is How We Baptize Terrorists
So, this happened.
During her Keynote Address at this weekend’s National Rifle Association Convention, Sarah Palin spoke of the benefits of torture:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended the controversial enhanced interrogation technique of waterboarding this weekend, and implied that the practice would still be commonplace “if I were in charge.”
“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”
The remark stands in stark contrast to the opinion of her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The former Republican presidential nominee, who spent more than five years in a prison camp during the Vietnam War, has repeatedly denounced the practice, which he says is torture.
Here’s the video:
As with most things that the former Governor of Alaska has said since she quit her job in the summer of 2009, it may be best to just ignore Palin’s comment. After all, she’s been known to throw similar comments in her speeches over the years, much to the adulation of whatever crowd she happens to be speaking to at the moment. However, this remark stands out for a number of reasons. As the linked article notes, Palin’s gleeful adulation at the prospect of being able to waterboard a few terrorists stands in stark contrast to the position taken by the man who put her on the map politically. John McCain, who himself spent years being tortured by the North Vietnamese, has been very clear in his assessment that waterboarding is torture and that torture is not something that a civilized nation does. One has to wonder what he thinks when he hears Palin say something like this, and whether perhaps he regrets the decision he made that turned Sarah Palin into a household name.
Not surprisingly, Palin’s comments have ignited much comment across the blogosphere. Andrew Sullivan, not surprisingly, is indignant:
A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits. And a former vice-presidential candidate who talks of “baptizing” Muslim terror suspects through waterboarding is handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup on a platter. She disgusts me. And what disgusts me even more is the rank cowardice of so many sane Republicans who for far too long have failed to take her on.
Rod Dreher, meanwhile, objects strongly to Palin evoking baptism in her comment, as does Mollie Hemingway:
This is a perfect example not just of civil religion but also how civil religion harms the church. Civil religion is that folk religion that serves to further advance the cause of the state. Civil religion can include invocations of a generic God at inaugurations and other key events (lately these invocations also acknowledge, showing the power of civil religion, the absence of trust in God as well), oblique or overt religious references by political leaders, exaggerated stories about great leaders, interfaith worship events at times of national crisis (e.g., when Oprah Winfrey led a massive interfaith worship service at Yankee Stadium in the aftermath of 9/11), and so on and so forth.
Civil religion can be a unifying force for political power but it manages to unify, typically, at the expense of orthodox belief.
So it must be noted that, again apart from the debate over such interrogation techniques, waterboarding is the opposite of traditional Christian baptism. It does not work forgiveness of sins. It does not give eternal life in Christ. It is not voluntary.
Finally, Conor Freidersdorf points out why Palin’s comment, and the cheering reception it got from a friendly crowd, matters:
I wouldn’t have subjected readers to this especially inane nostalgia for Bush-era war crimes if not for what it could portend. Palin is a pandering publicity hound. She has a keen sense of what sorts of red meat the GOP base will eat up. For its part, the audience seemed receptive.
So one wonders: If the wrong Republican is elected, or if there is another major terrorist attack, will the United States once again force water into the lungs of captive humans (no ticking time bombs necessary) when they stand accused of terrorism? President Obama has certainly made future torture more likely by ending the practice by executive order rather than legislation, and by refusing to prosecute Bush Administration officials for torture, despite a legal obligation to do so.
Palin’s absurd and sick joke, then, matters because it demonstrates yet again the utter fascination that many on the right have with torture and the extent to which they still haven’t woken up to the fact that much of what was done in our name by the last Republican President was wrong, not just legally but morally. Until they realize that, they’re just going to keep embarrassing themselves.
Not a joke Doug. Not satire, not being facetious nor snarky, not a badly-done metaphor or poor choice of words. Palin spoke how she feels and thinks. Forced baptism was a thing when Christendom was a virtual empire – convert or die. Her faith is Dominionist and it shows in her words and actions. She meant this; the word resonated with her and her audience in a moral and political sense. It had weight.
Being embarrassed first requires feeling shame. Since she feels they’ve done nothing wrong (and are apparently doing the Lord’s work), she’s never feel embarrassed about this.
Well of course. God wants us to torture people.
But, let me guess. If our enemies use torture, they are Godless, barbaric scum. (Sort of like the Japanese officers we executed for water boarding)
Why are you carrying water for this woman? It was not a joke. This is what she really believes. It’s what her followers really believe.
This woman could have been a heartbeat way from the Presidency. Folks like James and (most likely) Doug voted for the party that nominated her to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, on the basis that they just couldn’t vote for a Democrat.
This woman could have been one heartbeat away from the presidency. John McCain will go down in history as one of the greatest falls from grace ever experienced by an American politician. What a self-destruct act.
As for Palin herself, she’s feeding the beast what the beast wants to eat: rage, hate, fear. If you throw in greed and self-pity you have the entire array of Republican emotions.
What’s particularly loathsome about Palin is that she says this stuff to keep her brand fresh, the donations to Sarahpac up, and, possibly, enlarge the audience for her reality shows. Notice how she prefaced the waterboarding/baptism comment with “If I were in charge…”? That’s to raise the hopes of her followers that she’s going to run in 2016. Not going to happen, of course, but if she can con the saps into believing it, her price goes up accordingly.
She’s the political version of a sleazy televangelist.
There is so much wrong here…it’s hard to know where to start.
McCain pimped this woman on the rest of us. For that he, and everyone who supported and voted for her, deserves to be ostracized.
Really she’s just talking smack and aggrandizing herself.
But Dick Cheney actually institutionalized the practice of torture.
And Bush? Well every knows that ol’ George could never say no to Dick.
Yes, damn you Obama for not ending this legislatively!
Yes…because Obama could’ve gotten Republicans to go along, easily.
But you just can’t do that, can you, Doug? I swear, this piece was written for you.
Palin’s remarks of forced baptism contrast to forced conversion in Islam.
If you really want to drive the waterboarded terrorist nuts, tell him he has been mikhvahed and is now Jewish.
Oh, and Doug? Where’s your sense of humor? If you remember (probably not), back in 2009 Barack Obama joked about having the IRS audit his enemies (but he wasn’t joking) and wasn’t joking when he said that doctors were performing unnecessary amputations just for money.
American people continue to be accepting of torture. :angrily: Gee, thanks, antiwar movement!
Of course no outrage over torture by the Chicago and New York PDs
“President Obama has certainly made future torture more likely by ending the practice by executive order rather than legislation, and by refusing to prosecute Bush Administration officials for torture, despite a legal obligation to do so.”
Wow, just wow. Because Obama has super-powers which enable him to pass laws through processes which don’t include getting approval from Congress, I guess.
@CW: I was going to disagree with you, because Judaism doesn’t allow for “trick” conversions — but Islam does. But then I realized — the Muslim terrorist just might think it’s possible, based on his own experiences.
Hmmm… I wonder what she thinks we should do with terrorists who’ve already been baptized because they’re right-wing Christian terrorists?
Oh yeah, those things don’t exist in Palin’s world…
@Jenos Idanian #13: Yeah, the intervening four years since that lovely little piece haven’t rendered it laughable at all.
No, it was pretty obviously a joke. It’s just that her sense of humor (more importantly, her audience’s) is so warped that she can conflate torturing Muslims with baptizing them.
I don’t take every statement she says as an expression of her honest belief, especially since everything I’ve seen of Palin suggests (as michael reynolds and CSK point out) that she knows she’s feeding the base what it wants to hear. That’s her talent. And I don’t know enough about her (and I’d argue anyone who’s only seen her media appearances doesn’t know enough about her) to parse which is honest belief and which is red meat.
So, Freidersdorf has an intellect every bit the equal of Sarah Palin. No wonder the GOP is messed up. Even when they’re right, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
We are so screwed.
I’m sure that the Republican Congress of 1957 might have gone along with Obama on this.
No, it’s not. I’ve done some writing for professional comedians, I know what a joke is.
She employed this as an applause line, which is something different.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Huh. Yeah, you’re gonna have to pull out the evidence Darryl Issa has spent years looking for that simultaneously shows the IRS was targeting conservative groups more than liberal groups within the context of their search, and that shows the Obama White House ordered it done that way. So far it doesn’t exist except inside the fevered imaginations of the always-persecuted conservative.
You mean this? Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a joke at all. Although the context frames “unnecessary amputation” in a different light, what with how he’s talking about improper preventative care for diabetics and all.
These two really weak examples of liberal “joking” are comparative with equating baptism and torture how?
A) Writing for professional comedians means you know what a good joke is. I don’t think anyone here, even Jenos, is claiming it was a good joke.
B) Plenty of jokes can double as applause lines. Watch Bill Maher’s show and you’ll get plenty of examples where the joke is less to make someone laugh and more to get them cheering.
@Tillman: Does it add to the humor when you take into account that Obama overstated the cost of an amputation by at least a factor of 20? And you do realize that Obama was spelling out a financial incentive for doctors to amputate vs. not amputate? I know the guy’s ignorant on economics, but he can’t be THAT ignorant.
And sometimes, jokes are designed to both provoke laughter from one set of viewers and set off another set.
In other words, you just got trolled. She wanted to make the idiots dance to her string-pulling, and you all just jumped up and boogied to her tune.
@Jenos Idanian #13: Well, John McCain WAS trying to put this woman to be his successor if something happened to him.
Wonder how he feels now.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
And you do realize that to believe that’s what he said, it requires you to invent Obama claiming that the family care physician and the surgeon are conspiring to do it so they can milk the family’s finances for reimbursement? Notice how you have to shove words into his mouth for that to make an iota of sense. Especially since the entire speech is about reforming a healthcare system’s priorities, not addressing the criminal conspiracies of doctors to get rich on unnecessary suffering.
First, I think most comedians would agree that there is a provocative element to comedy, but only to set the audience up for a punch line. Most people disagree on how provocative comedy needs to be for the ideal setup, but they definitely aren’t trying to make one set of people laugh and rile up a different set. That’d lower the amount of people laughing in total, and thus lower the amount of money they can make. In a word, it would be idiotic.
Second, I’m aware I’m getting trolled, but not by Palin.
Palin’s nostalgia for torture, and her audience’s embrace of it, is not most frightening thing to come out of the NRA’s annual meeting. That honor is reserved for Wayne LaPierre’s open sedition.
And that’s the exact response of many of her acolytes at Conservatives4Palin:
“I think her speech of last night lets us know that things are going pretty darn well for a Palin candidacy!”
“this speech was by a candidate no doubt about it. I don’t know if you saw reaction to the crowd after she said if I were in charge, IMHO Gov Palin was very pleased with the response she received.”
“Yep, she was on fire! It is as if SHE KNOWS that if she doesn’t lead and seek the presidency that America is going to continue to decline under demo’s OR rino’s as president. My friend, I believe it is GAME ON!”
And thus Palin has ensured another round of checks to SarahPAC, which spent $1.2 million in 2013–only $10,000 of it on candidates. Most of the rest went to fundraising and “consulting.”
Grift away, Mrs. Palin! At least it keeps her out of Alaska.
Uh, did you guys forget that Obama had a Democratic Congress for two years, including a brief filibuster-proof majority? That there were numerous legislators who wanted to pass laws that put much stricter and legally binding restraint on torture? That without such legal binds, the next President can reinstate the torture regime? And did you forget Obama’s nonsense about “looking forward, not backward” when he said he wouldn’t prosecute anyone? That David Margolis reduced the OPR’s conclusion on the torture memos?
Aww, Sarah, you’d have to do two things for that to happen:
1. You’d have to run (and win).
2. You’d have to stay in office.
#1 seems unlikely, and based on previous experience, #2 is not in your nature.
Aside: as it happens, Obama’s amputation point was wrong on a number of levels, least of all being that an amputation is a lot cheaper than a lifetime of diabetic treatment. In fact, almost every study has concluded that while preventative medicine is a good thing and saves lives, it does not save money at all.
Whether he intended his remark to say surgeons were deliberately waiting to cut people’s feet off or not — and I don’t think he did — that’s how a LOT of doctors took it.
Gov. Palin was speaking to the most popular conservative interest group by request. Her comment would be completely unremarkable if spoken by a host or guest on any Fox News program. This is mainstream.
Yeah, but like the hit-and-run driver who just mashed your front end, it makes no difference if you’re scared, a jerk, or clueless – – you still damaged my car.
Gonna have to disagree. No one was supposed to laugh. They were supposed to cheer. A joke, even a dark or tasteless one, is an appeal to one’s sense of humor. She wasn’t trying to be funny but rather tossing meat to the wolves. Poe’s law or Hanlon’s razor only cover so much, you know. She never intended to give them the giggles but get them out of their seats.
Sarah Palin is the female version of Donald Trump. She loves the attention; she loves being on TV; she loves making money off her personality. And I’m sure she, like Trump, will make a lot of noise about running. And, like Trump, she will never do it. Because she would never survive a real look into her history or beliefs (assuming she has any).
First, let us not forget that said brief majority accounted for only 72 days in total (thanks to a combination of the legal battles to delay Frankin’s seating and Kennedy’s and Byrd’s illnesses).
Still, to your point, the failure to pass torture reform falls at the feet of the more conservative Democrats who were not prepared to act on this matter. The only way the legislation could have been passed would have been whipping everyone into near lockstep on the issue.
Hopefully a few Republicans could have been picked up — though we also need to remember that this was also at the same time that Mitch McConnell swore to make Obama a one term president. So cooperation wasn’t in the cards. And considering that the one Republican who could have potentially helped raise support had just lost the Presidential election, its hard to see him getting behind this one during the “magic window.”
Could Obama have worked harder? Probably. But I don’t think this would have ever happened during that particular period.
What’s unfortunate is that the Republican Establishment still continues to treat both of them with an air of “seriousness”
I think Ms. Palin has officially jumped the shark. Whatever faint, minute possibility she had of ever projecting political gravitas has been totally evaporated by this statement.
And it’s not like she even has the brains or inclination of a Robespierre. This is just whooping up the rubes so they’ll send her more ca$h.
As has often been stated re Orly Taitz: “that Paypal button won’t push itself, you know!”
So that’s Sistah Sarah, Taitz-ward Bound.
I think Hanlon’s razor covers this. Malice and evil, to me, require thought. My impression from her evaporation back in 2008 was that she didn’t bother with it. You can be talented at manipulating crowds into adoring you and giving you money without ever needing to think about it. It’s an instinct that she has.
Malice and evil also require some form of consequence above offending people with better taste.
Hope springs eternal in the sucker’s breast, doesn’t it? I look at C4P every once in a while, and I’m constantly aghast at the things people there say. One of them has apparently devoted a blog to analyzing every single sentence in “Going Rogue,” which apparently furnishes wisdom surpassing that of Plato and Aristotle.
I’ve never before seen the kind of worship–and it is that–accorded to her by her followers. It’s frightening.
Most people suffering from type 2 diabetes (the majority of diabetes cases) don’t need a “lifetime of diabetic treatment”. Most patients who have type 2 diabetes develop it past age 40. With dieting and regular exercise, most cases of type 2 diabetes can be treated pretty well without medicine.
How, exactly, is the occasional doctor visit (“preventative medicine”) more expensive than cutting off people’s feet and toes, not to mention the other problems which can develop such as eye damage, heart disease, etc.?
And Obama’s point in the video was exactly correct: if Medicaid/Medicare and insurance companies won’t reimburse doctors for additional time they spend counseling patients on nutritional education and exercise, how much time are they going to spend doing it?
Obama did not even propose legislation to stop torture. With a Democratic majority, right after the previous administration had been rejected in an election, when his opponent in that election was also opposed to torture. I think proposing an anti-torture bill with McCain would have gone a long way.
I think you’re right, and I wish he had demanded that legislation.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Jenos finally shows up…just to fawn over the Quitter and Loser that has him so duped.
@Hal_10000: Not to mitigate Obama’s failure to prosecute war crimes/torturers (because that is one of my big problems with his administration), but he came into office at the outset of what looked like the next Great Depression at the time.
And while proposing it with McCain would have been an excellent move, I don’t think McCain had a lot of clout with his party right after losing an election.
@Hal_10000 & @michael reynolds:
I agree that I too wish he had proposed legislation.
That said, I think we need to remember the following incident from the first five month’s of Obama’s term:
The anti-torture order was signed on the same day that Obama ordered the shut down of Guantanamo. The subsequent failure on the Guantanamo effort (in which his own party almost completely abandoned him) had, I suspect, a huge effect on Obama’s beliefs about his chances of getting an anti-torture law through. Further, I think strategically, they might have been concerned that an epic fail of an anti-torture law in 2009, like the one experienced over Guantanamo, could have threatened the eventual passing of the law down the line.
Additionally, this was still during his early presidency where he had a tendency to over rely on the Legislative branch to do their work with little guidance.
None of this excuses him. But it does go a long way to at least explaining why he might have chickened out.
@Hal_10000: @michael reynolds: @Matt Bernius:
I think proposing legislation would have inevitably led to calls for the prosecution of War Crimes…which I’m all in favor of but which, clearly, Obama wanted to avoid.
A long knock-down dragged out partisan fight over a moral issue, against a party that has no morals, is not what the country needed; there were other much greater priorities.
I’d just as see Cheney behind bars with all his cronies. But the stimulus and health care reform are better.
“Uh, did you guys forget that Obama had a Democratic Congress for two years, including a brief filibuster-proof majority? That there were numerous legislators who wanted to pass laws that put much stricter and legally binding restraint on torture?”
And there were many legislators (including a number of Democrats and independents caucusing with Democrats, especially Lieberman) who were not willing to do so.
I don’t think he “chickened out” so much as realized that he needed to pick his battles. Did he want his Presidency to accomplish something? Or did he want it to get sucked down into a partisan civil war? At that time, there was a large segment of our population (47%?) that was in no way, shape, or form ready to deal with the excesses of the Bush Admin. Considering where we are now politically, I would say that Obama was right.
Could he have done more about torture? I suppose so, but would it have done any good? I doubt it. Remember, when Bush decided to torture, we already had laws against torture. Didn’t stop him.
My only question is why you waste perfectly good white space on this mindless woman.
Well it did draw Jenis out of the woodwork.
Not sure if he’s commented since he was made a fool over Benghazi.
McCain is useless.
Period, full stop.
And I daresay Palin has more support among the American people, than does Obama, if the recent approval ratings are to be believed. (This mornings report had Obamas approval rating at 41%)
@Matt Bernius: @OzarkHillbilly: It’s been my opinion for a very long time that no President will ever seek prosecution of a prior President for actions taken in his capacity as Chief Executive. They simply will not limit their own options, or decrease the power of the office, by doing so.
I may be proven wrong at some point in the future, but if Obama wouldn’t bring action against Bush for what the latter authorized…that point would seem to be very far in the future indeed.
Let’s not knock Sarah Palin. She’s going to be mentioned in textbooks long after any of us are remembered, if only for demonstrating that even in democracies, a certain percentage of the citizens are natural born monarchists.
I am one of the 41% who could be persuaded to support the “baptism” of Sarah Palin.
I daresay you’d be better off comparing Obama to another politician, and not a character played by Sarah Palin on TV
There is no doubt the her combination of ignorance, laziness, and opportunism appeals to some folks.
that was funny, c’mon. that she’s a lightening rod for liberals still is even funnier.
Let’s say it’s April 5th, 1968, and you and I are having a discussion somewhere in Mississippi. I start talking about “Coretta King, the black widow.”
Am I telling a joke? If called on it, I would probably say yes. But in reality, it is hate speech with a patina of humor. Calling it a “joke” is a coward’s escape hatch in case a quick walk back becomes necessary.
Every time a prominent figure on the right gets caught saying something really vile, “Geeze, it was only a joke” gets trotted out. I’m surprised anyone still falls for it.
And Palins is???
Yes…she made torture a Christian value … But really it’s just liberal obsession.
Is the problem that she used this as an applause line, or that people actually applauded it? I’m actually okay with people having guns, but not THESE people. They’re disgusting excuses for humans.
This is what comes from possessing that perfect storm of being both brainless and soulless.
Sarah “Let’s water board people and call it a religious experience” Palin was the perfect running mate for Mr. “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb … Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain.
A bunch of people have pointed out Obama did not have the power to get a new law passed. But there’s a bigger problem with what Freidersdorf said. Passing a new anti-torture law would have been not just unnecessary but also wrong. OzarkHillbilly explained why:
Exactly. There was no need for a new law. Passing a new law would have confused people by creating the impression that torture was not already illegal. A perverse consequence of such a new law is that it would be easier to argue that Bush’s torture was legal.
Torture has been quite illegal for a long time, and that’s why Freidersdorf is correct to blame Obama for “refusing to prosecute Bush Administration officials for torture, despite a legal obligation to do so.”
Palin’s arrogance and ignorance is so appalling. As much as all decent people abhor terrorists, including the vast majority of worldwide Muslims, Palin’s statements suggest a Christian-majority society contempt and dismissal for the Muslim faith, which I think is absolutely a terrible message to send. Thank goodness that she left political office after one of the shortest political careers ever, and isn’t making such arrogant and ignorant proclamations as this as an elected official of any substance, instead of just being some crank statements standing on a soapbox. Statements such as this aren’t even comedy or jokes to most people, but an ignorant proclamation of prejudice towards those of the Muslim faith, and deeply disrespectful to that faith.
Hey Captain America – why don’t you tell us a bit about your service record, then you can get back to trashing vets.
It amazes me that Sarah Palin still has an audience after displaying her ignorance since 2008.
Could it be because we can always use a good laugh even when it’s one of nervous relief that she never became Vice President?
I also love how a government that tries to enforce court orders against a scofflaw rancher is a government that is too powerful and a threat to liberty. True patriots must defend Bundy’s right to be a freeloader. Likewise for the right to not photograph a gay wedding, and the right to not pay for health insurance that covers contraception. Stand up for freedom from government tyranny! On the other hand, a government with the power to torture is not too powerful and not a threat to liberty.
GOP rhetoric has so many contradictions that even the contradictions have contradictions.
You’re acting like we can’t condemn people for horrible jokes, or that what she said being a joke somehow lessens how disturbing it is. If anything, it makes it more disturbing that this can be used as a joke with the audience she’s courting.
I’m calling it a joke because I don’t think she honestly believes waterboarding equates to baptism. To think she honestly believes that is to buy into the caricature she’s selling to her audience.
@Franklin: This. It’s not her saying it that’s the problem; it’s the people responding to it affirmatively.
@Hal_10000: “Uh, did you guys forget that Obama had a Democratic Congress for two years, including a brief filibuster-proof majority? That there were numerous legislators ”
Please have a carbon-based friend explain ‘Blue Dog Democrat’ to you.
ah n, that was only for about 5 months, Norm Coleman’s challenge keep Al Franken from being seated for one and the Kennedy, Scot Brown transition.
5 months with a filibuster-proof majority, and recall that said majority included Joe Lieberman and a number of other “hawkish” or “centrist” democrats. Combine that with lockstep opposition from the GOP, and you aren’t gonna get very far. This is also relevant to any analysis of the PPACA – it was an extremely close-run thing for similar reasons.
I would have preferred there had been a real accounting re: torture. But come the hell on. That was never a serious option. The entire GOP and its media organs would have screamed “political witch hunt!” and at least half the country would’ve bought it, including large #s of Democrats. As others have pointed out, the attempt to close Gitmo is illustrative. A large % of the political class wet their pants in terror after 9/11 (which is one way of pointing out that 9/11 was at least a partial success) – quite possibly moreso than the general public (which also included a lot of very scared people).
So yeah, Obama “chickened out” or “sold out” or whatever. The kinder interpretation is that he recognized a losing battle and chose not to fight it, as he had other things he wanted to get done.
This does not exactly excuse Obama for not doing a better job – this is one of my frustrations with his Presidency. It explains, rather than excuses.
As for Palin: she is who we thought and said she was, way back in 2008. A nasty piece of work, pandering to some of the worst impulses of folks on the Right. She’s made a nice living of it.
I don’t think she does either. But I do think she is just fine with torture. I also think that saying something that you don’t really believe to fire up an audience equals a joke. She is tossing red meat to the wolves, not making a funny.
Bringing Baptism into a discussion is just bizarre. I am fairly certain that Jesus would not approve of torture.