Slower down the mountain

Several years ago, I was somewhere in Colorado (more than likely Copper or Breckenridge) and standing at the bottom of a run with several friends. We stood in the mountain air and worked on getting some oxygen back in our system. After we’d caught our breath, we looked around and realized we were one person short.

“Where’s Su?” somebody asked.

Uncle Brian (not really our uncle, but really named Brian) snorted. “Su is slow. She has to stop and hug the trees on the way down.”

That was the dynamic in my college years. I surrounded myself with hippies, unabashed conservatives, punks, stoners, anarchists, Vegans, carnivores, rednecks and just about every other kind of world view that I could. Su and Uncle Brian were on opposite ends of the spectrum, but still managed a mutual respect and love that would seem impossible in today’s polarized political environment. I like it that way. When my friends can engage in spirited but respectful debate, I feel like I’m in the right place.

This is why I’m feeling no small amount of guilt about the level of vehemence I’ve built up for Sarah Palin.

Heavens, I want to respect her for the reality TV star she is. I want to tip my hat and say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” I want to build the kind of deference I should for a woman who will eventually campaign to be my President. But, for the love of a good view of Russia, it’s really hard to find a dram of respect for someone who posts the following on Twitter.

Copenhgen=arrogance of man2think we can change nature’s ways.MUST b good stewards of God’s earth,but arrogant&naive2say man overpwers nature

Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges.R duty2responsbly devlop resorces4humankind/not pollute&destroy;but cant alter naturl chng

And this woman wants to be my latex salesman.

See, my job here is to listen and respect the opinion of the opposition. That’s what I want people to do when people of my ilk speak, and so I really should return the respect. However, when somebody asserts that it is “arrogant&naive2say man overpwers nature,” I can’t just smile and say, “Well, isn’t that cute!”

Take a look at the L.A. skyline on a summer day. Look at the overfished oceans, fish species in trouble, and potential change to the undersea ecosystem. Look at the clear-cut rain forests that now serve as pasture land for McDonalds cows. I’m no “Save the Whales” guy, but it seems pretty clear to me that man pretty much makes nature its bitch on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a great theologian or scientist to recognize that without man’s intervention, nature would be acting a lot different today. The real debate should not be whether humankind can affect nature, but rather how big the impact is.

Ms. Palin would have us believe that nature shouldn’t worry at all about those nukes she can see in Russia from her front doorstep. She sets up a straw man and suggests environmentalists are trying to alter natural change, when in fact the earth-saving people she paints with such disdain are actually trying to protect the earth from unnatural change. Palin’s understanding of “ions” (yes, IONS) of climate change doesn’t take into account the obvious and undeniable damage humans do to earth every day. We’re a messy, disrespectful, selfish species. If the media ends up turning Palin and her ions into the next GOP heroes, there will at some point be an opposing candidate who finds himself in a Jon Lovitz cum Michael Dukakis “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy” moment.

That is a long way of saying that the earth may abide, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t leaving behind something fairly unfortunate and alliterative in our own sandbox.

Best I can tell, Palin has found what she believes to be a great base of people who don’t believe climate change is real. Unlike Plain, I respect those people. There are decent arguments out there that suggest that climate-change research has political and profit motives. Further, the zeal with which ol’ Al Gore has made hay with his movie really turns off the people who see him as a straggler from an administration they’d rather forget. I understand there are people who believe saving jobs and keeping taxes as low as possible are better than making an effort to stop reckless pollution. I may not agree with those people, but at least their arguments are honest and sincere.

Palin’s misguided pandering should be insulting to the people she is trying to impress with her 140-character screeds on Twitter. Her straw men, ampersands, and golly-gee wisdom from the snow pack misdirect a a debate that is really important, no matter what side you’re on.

Listen, I’m not yet all that impressed with the people I’ve chosen to represent me in Washington. So far, the people who should be fighting the good fight for we of the bleeding hearts are doing everything they can to alienate their base. It’s unfortunate and will probably send me screaming for a cabin in Idaho before it’s all said and done. So, y’all can make fun of me all you like for believing in hope and change. That said, you’ll have to excuse me if I glaze over and sigh when you tell me madam Palin is your woman.

Or, in a language you might understand: “u-wud-B-bttr-off-w/-ParisHilton as ur Prez. Least she noz watz hot.”

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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17 Responses

  1. G-Rob says:

    I voted for Palin.

  2. KenP says:

    I will admit to joining G-Rob. It wasn’t with great gusto but the ticket has two parts. The Biden didn’t add a lot to the other ticket. I’d call it a wash.

    You’re raising two young people. Maybe global warming will impact their lives. Another impact may as well be the crushing debt we’re headed toward. Worst evil? I don’t know and neither do the climate crowd.

    I do know that Obama’s Cap N Trade program will even impact an aged me if it happens. The battle in Copenhagen was for US $$$ for underdeveloped countries — like China??? Amusing that.

    I could go on but won’t change anyone’s mind. Have a good one!

  3. Chilly says:

    I have been trying to put a finger on why I have such a negative visceral feeling every time I see that woman. I think I’ll spend some time in your tubes working it out.

    I’m sure she’d be a real hoot to get a drink with. But even with that she isn’t that bright, you know, in a book learnin’ sense. She isn’t a nimble speaker. Her ideology is stodgy and repressed. But it’s really more than that, as I just described 3/4 of Congress. She is a shameless self promoter in the worst possible way. She’s a hypocrite (the abstinence one really sticks in my craw). She wielded her power in the most egregious manner whilst mayor and governess. Mostly though its the holding out her family for political gain and lambasting anyone that dare call them into question. They are either in or out, but cannot straddle.

    I think it boils down to my gut says “evil” and I have to go with my gut. My gut also says feed me from time to time. If you’ve seen me, you know I don’t disobey the gut.

  4. CJ says:

    KenP: G-Rob was kidding. He’s got “I Love Obama” tatooed on his ass.

    Otis: Really? A Sarah Palin riff? I can’t believe you fell into the trap. Oh… and a study released today says Scoop is worse for the environment than an SUV.

  5. otis says:

    CJ–There was a Palin trap? I’m trapped and I don’t even know it?

  6. CJ says:

    Otis: Who do you know that says Palin is their woman? I guess I’m just so amused at all of the Obama fans out there who can’t help but write/talk about Sarah Palin.

  7. The Wife says:

    I’m just glad you caught the “ions” thing . . . I’m a totally spelling snob, and that one kicked her down the totem pole . . .

    It’s probably a “mute” point . . . 🙂

  8. Dr. Chako says:

    You got any room in that Idaho cabin for a disenfranchised conservative? I can sleep under the porch…


  9. Aaron says:

    I’m going to start of by saying I am relatively conservative, but think Palin is an idiot. Second, I would love to see a decentralized solar/wind power grid on every persons house with nuclear/natrual gas central back up grid for security, fiscal, and environmental reasons. However, I think it was Tina Faye and not Palin that mentioned seeing Russia from her house. Funny as hell, but not a part of the down home Palin charm.

  10. otis says:

    Aaron…’twas close. Direct quote:

    “They’re our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska”

    And you’re a credit to conservatives, but I think you already knew I thought that.

  11. StB says:

    To an extent, it looks to me like you are confusing pollution with supposed climate change. Smog in L.A. is pollution, something that conservatives agree should be lowered. I am a skeptic of global warming. The earth has been through many warming and cooling periods beyon what man has recorded. Our existence on this rock is minimal in its history.. Selfish, but minimal.

  12. Aaron says:

    Well I stand corrected. If she is on the ticket next time I may have to support the libertarian party. What the hell, small government and pot for all.

  13. otis says:

    StB–not confusing the two, really. Just thought it was funny she said man can’t overpower nature. I’m not 100% sold on climate change either, but I am a big believer in doing all we can to avoid the potential reality by making sure we are as responsible as possible with how we treat the earth.

  14. MGM says:

    I don’t understand why people call Palin a hypocrite for supporting abstinence. So her daughter got knocked up. I don’t support the use of recreational drugs, but if one of my kids decides to try them out some day, I don’t think that will make me a hypocrite over the issue.

    I’m not going to say anything else about Palin here, but I will point out(just in case the obvious isn’t screaming loudly enough) that being “well spoken” certainly doesn’t necessarily make a person an effective leader. And “well spoken” leaders sometimes have really inane ideas as well, they just coat them with some of that “smooth magic” to make them sound really good and slide down easier, and some “hope-filled” people lap it up before they realize what they’ve just eaten…and that what they thought they were getting wasn’t what they got at all.

    Just sayin’.

  15. MGM says:

    Oh yeah, and I’ve lived in North Idaho and spent lots of time on the sides of deserted mountains. It’s a real dream of mine to build a cabin in the middle of nowhere and disappear from the rat race and “civilization” of this country. I’d go in a heartbeat. As time passes, it certainly looks like more and more like a reasonable choice.

  16. I am a conservative. I didn’t vote for McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden – I voted for Ron Paul. I think our current administration is …, and I think Palin is a nut job.

    The Cap & Trade program scares me to death, frankly much of what is going on in Washington these days scares me to death.

    I too dream of a cabin in the Idaho or Montana wilderness, and you can come stay with us anytime.

  17. Su says:

    Just catching up on your blog- Always like to make it into one of your posts. It usually brings back some good memories. I wish we were all back up there on that mountain – skiing down. We need to get the group together again……