March 12, 2010

"See, for example, the words of former Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska: 'If [the Pledge] was good enough for the founding fathers, its [sic] good enough for me....'"

Those words appear in Palin's Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire, Eagle Forum Alaska, July 31, 2006. In his dissenting opinion in the new 9th Circuit case upholding the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, Judge Reinhardt cited Palin's words in a footnote in support of the proposition that "some individuals" don't know their history:
For many Americans, the current version of the Pledge is the only version they have ever known. Some individuals not familiar with our political history may even be under the impression that its language dates back to the founding fathers.
Orin Kerr sees the hand of a smartass clerk:
I think it’s notable when a federal court of appeals judge with a well-established political view picks up a meme from political blogs and pokes fun at a politician on the other side in a pretty gratuitous way. It also screams “law clerk idea.” If you don’t think that’s notable, then I suppose we’ll just have to disagree.
A Kerr commenters defends Palin. DrGrishka says:
Reinhardt’s citation is misleading. The question to which Sarah Palin responded read:
11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
The answer was
Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance
It could be that she gave a stupid answer in which the “it” referred to the Pledge itself. That would be historically inaccurate. But the “it” could have just as easily referred to the phrase “under G-d.” If so, the answer would be completely plausible as founding fathers used such phrases all the time.
And Palin's task at hand was to be an effective political candidate, and that is not about parsing the question and saying the most technically correct thing. People who assume they are smarter than Palin need to perceive the contextual dimension of intelligence. Are you smart at doing the thing you are currently trying to do or smart in the abstract? Because life is not in the abstract, and the people who are smartest in the abstract are not the ones who win political power. Reinhardt/his law clerk was overconfident, perhaps, in his own intelligence and failed to pay attention to the context in which he was operating, a judicial opinion. Fortunately, the political process is pretty good at filtering out individuals afflicted with this form of stupidity. But if they have life tenure, as judges do, we are stuck with it. And yet, Reinhardt needed votes too, and here we see he is writing in dissent, having lost.

Another commenter, footnoter, says:
What a sad reflection on Reinhardt. When a judge gets to doing this, it’s past time to hang up the spurs.
On the topic of a 133-page dissent with its own table of contents, on a rather simple issue, I’m reminded of EZ Rider’s dictum: “simple arguments are winning arguments; convoluted arguments are sleeping pills on paper. . . . when judges see a lot of words they immediately think: LOSER, LOSER. You might as well write it in big bold letters on the cover of your brief”
[I]magine if Judge Bybee or Justice Scalia said “we have 50 states– a fact unknown to some Americans in power” with a footnote saying “see, e.g., President Obama’s remarks he had visited ’57 states.’”
What if the other side had done the equivalent? That question pops up so often these days.

61 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The Saracuda strikes again. She is right and still she leaves open a temptation to attack her statement as wrong...only to be vindicated in the end. I thought only Limbaugh knew how to use that trick.

Lynne said...

Many years ago an elderly minister told me this story:

When he was a little boy, he was asked to memorize the pledge of allegiance in school. He wasn't quite old enough to read all the big words yet; he just learned it off by heart.

For years afterward, he honestly believed it said, "One nation, and a dirigible- with liberty and justice for all."

Not entirely on point with the post, but I just love that story.

Turtledove said...

How about if the media devoted as much energy to analyzing what Biden and Obama say.

Seven Machos said...

Why on earth would you attach Sarah Palin in an appeal about the Pledge of Allegiance? What do you hope to gain except for showing what an ephemeral tool you are?

Seven Machos said...

Lynne -- When I hear an announcer on sports television say "brought to you by," I still hear "brock-u-by."

I thought ""brock-u-by" was a verb for a long time as a kid.

madawaskan said...

A couple of points-

the truth is always simpler.

A lot of very smart people lack "people skills".

And what the hell, let me bring this back to Obama.


Obama changes his mind, or that's the appearance.

He seems hard to predict, nuanced and how he will really follow through is a guess a lot of the time.

Think about how American citizens are having trouble with that.

Now think about in the area of foreign diplomacy?

The trouble with reading Obama increases exponentially.

Being unpredictable get's you what?

The unpredictable.

In foreign affairs that's a recipe for disaster.

kent said...

How about if the media devoted as much energy to analyzing what Biden and Obama say.

Barack'N'Biden: the Terrance and Phillip of modern American politics.

Blue@9 said...

What if the other side had done the equivalent? That question pops up so often these days.

This has long been my measuring stick for determining whether a person's partisan blinders are on.

Bryan C said...

It's pretty clear that the original question is asking specifically about the appropriateness of the phrase "Under God". And that Palin's "it" refers to that phrase, and not to the Pledge itself.

That said, she has hordes of detractors who's idea of verifying a quote is re-reading the transcript of that SNL skit. So she has no room to be sloppy.

MadisonMan said...

What if the other side had done the equivalent? That question pops up so often these days.

Indeed. See the comment at 11:53.

TMink said...

She will always be attacked because she is part of a movement in this country to bring people back to God. Our apostacy is the cause of our ills. That and other sins of a nation.

Trey

AF said...

"And Palin's task at hand was to be an effective political candidate, and that is not about parsing the question and saying the most technically correct thing."

To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, I'm very happy just to let you say that.

Alex said...

I'm sorry but anyone too dumb to know that the pledge came about in the 1950s rather then the 1780s isn't qualified to be dogcatcher, much less President.

Seven Machos said...

Alex swings and misses in a limp way.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

AA said: "People who assume they are smarter than Palin need to perceive the contextual dimension of intelligence"

It seems to me that people who think they are smarter than Ms. Palin often go around making statements that are either extremely stupid or intentional misrepresentations, like misunderstanding the word "it" here or attributing quotes from a late night variety show to Ms. Palin.

- Lyssa

Alex said...

Princess Sarah should stick to caribou or whatever.

AJ Lynch said...

Libs just can't control the smug.

Seven Machos said...

Lyssa -- It's Friday morning. Get to work!

lyssalovelyredhead said...

It's not morning here, Seven! (Plus things are slow today)

victoria said...

"Under God" out!!!!

Only added in the '50's as a result of the "Red Scare". Out out out

Vicki from Pasadena

Seven Machos said...

The Pledge was also written by an avowed socialist.

Strange times these.

Lem said...

What if the other side had done the equivalent? That question pops up so often these days.

Voting for something b4 you vote against it has already been done.

What we need now is a vote contradicting the laws of physics.
Pass a "fix" on something that doesn't exist yet.

I dont think even Microsoft has tried that.

themightypuck said...

The pledge is pretty terrible and "under God" was a pretty terrible addition and Reinhart made a pretty terrible fool of himself dragging Palin into his dissent. Although I suppose you can forgive him a bit insofar as I expect one gets to be a bit more free from and editorial in a dissent.

Trooper York said...

Typical of a Braves fan not to know the last two words of the National Anthem:

PLAY BALL!

buster said...

Alex said:

"I'm sorry but anyone too dumb to know that the pledge came about in the 1950s rather then the 1780s isn't qualified to be dogcatcher, much less President."

The words "under God" were added in the 1950s. The pledge itself is much older.

No wonder Alex is such a lousy dogcatcher.

Daniel said...

Are you smart at doing the thing you are currently trying to do or smart in the abstract?

Sarah Palin at one point was trying to be governor of Alaska. By this definition, she obviously wasn't smart when doing the thing she was trying to do then.

To a different point: It matters if political leaders misstate history, particularly when they take something from the 1950s and say that it's always been. For instance, many people think that the 1950s represent some sort of natural state in American family life -- men were men, women supported the family, everyone was prosperous. Yet blacks were excluded from this, and even for middle class whites it existed only for a brief time (how many dual income households were there in, say, New York, early 1900s? A lot.) It's important to correct people who see recent cultural changes as something more permanent and historically grounded than they are.

traditionalguy said...

Trooper...I love you for being you; and also I am glad that you hate the Mets too. Are those guys paid to lose, or do they lose because they hate the media in NYC so much that they refuse to win for them? The Braves have a hot new right field prospect, actually from Atlanta, named Jason Heyward. He is 20 years old and only 2 years out of High scool, but he hits 460' homers and line drives that threaten the infielder's lives. Play Ball!

edutcher said...

They don't call it the Ninth Circus for nothing.

Alex said...

I'm sorry but anyone too dumb to know that the pledge came about in the 1950s rather then the 1780s isn't qualified to be dogcatcher, much less President.

Miss Sarah is only referring to the concept of religious freedom, much on the minds of the people who wrote the Constitution, as the '45 Rising and the whole issue of the Anglican Establishment (as in 'establishment of religion') was in the living memory of many of them.

The pledge was written in 1892. Obviously, she's more qualified than you.

Trooper York said...

Hey I hear that guy is the real deal.

The Met's will never win until they get rid of Freddie Coupon and get a real owner.

traditionalguy said...

The Pledge was written to satisfy the instincts of the men, then in their 50s ,who had fought for the GAR and saw children being taught new stuff that ignored the focus of the old men's adventures and victory from 1861 thru 1865. They wanted a military loyalty group oath that the USA was forever to be indivisable, and they got it.To the extent God gets a shout out from that generation, refer to the Battle Hymn of the Republic that won the battle of the war songs hands down over Dixie.

c3 said...

With Alex's and Victoria's comments indicative of not reading the gist of the post, just the tag line.

And with the usual conservative comments about how much smarter, more successful etc. Palin is

And with the episodic comment about how the mere mention of her name ...

I'm wondering if we can create a kind of "social hyperlink". Can we just insert the hyperlink anytime the word "Palin" is spoken? In doing so we all would know that the link with take us to all of the liberal meme's regarding Ms. Palin, all the conservative defenses of the Gov and all the independent head-scratching as to the whole sorted mess.

Because everytime I see that word I think Uh ohh, here we go again

Richard Dolan said...

I suppose Reinhardt deserved the grief he will get for his silly footnote. But look at it from the perspective of a circuit court judge and his clerk. All they get to do is read briefs, write memos, fuss with the other judges/clerks about opinions, try to put together a majority, blah blah blah.

It's an endless round of tedium. Yes, it's also a powerful job, but the day-to-day reality is deadly dull. It's understandable, if not excusable, that they'd try to lighten it up a bit with a little fun. Too bad they embarrassed themselves in the process.

A.W. said...

Wow, Palin derangement syndrome invades the judiciary.

It was grossly unprofessional of him.

But bluntly the majority opinion sucked. i mean i concurred, but it sucked. and it was unprofessional in terms of presentation.

victoria said...

Back off, dust bunny. You do your pledge, not interference from me. Praying? Heck, I went to Catholic Schools as did my daughter, I have no problem with prayer, in private schools. In public schools, moment of silence is ok, praying to the big guy, not ok. Not everyone believes, actually 2/3 of the world does not. Muslims, Hindu's, Buddhist's, don't diss them. In a private, religious based school that is an understanding from the moment you enter the school. Cool. Not in a public school.

Now my exposure to public school is limited, middle school and my senior year of high school only, and that was in the '60's. And these were schools in small towns, Davis, Ca and Lake Forest, Ill.

I still stand and still say the Pledge. But, I would prefer if the cold war words were removed. Personal preference.

Vicki

A.W. said...

Personally as far as the issue is concerned, i consider this a deminimis issue. That is legalese for "the objectors need to get a life." Newdow in particular.

But I would pose this question to those who object to the pledge. could we subsitute it for the declaration of independance:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

And if not, why not?

And if so, how would you distinguish it from the under God language?

Dave said...

Outrageous!

Hazy Dave said...

"Back off, dust bunny."

Ah, hah hah hah hah.

Ah Pooh said...

I wonder what is intelligence, what does an I.Q. test measure. Studies done by Dr. David McClelland calls into question what we mean by he/she is really smart.

Matt said...

MadisonMan: "There's the endowed by their Creator line, and trusting in Divine Providence and God's Laws in the Declaration, but nothing about God in the Constitution."

This is actually one of my favorite "bar bet" trick questions. God is in fact mentioned in the Constitution:

"Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth."

I know, I know, but it might get you a free beer.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Back off, dust bunny."

Ah, hah hah hah hah.

Raaaawwwrr

Joe said...

Forget "under God", the entire concept of making a daily pledge in unison bugged me so much in High School that I stopped saying it and haven't bothered with it since. It still creeps me out.

Irene said...

"Only added in the '50's as a result of the 'Red Scare'. Out out out"

"But, I would prefer if the cold war words were removed."

******************

For those of us who are *fortunate* to live in this country because our parents fled the USSR, the "Red Scare" is no fiction.

Go to bed. Imagine, as you turn out the lights, what it's like to wonder when the knock will come at the door. Fall asleep as though you hear the sound of a Siberia-bound truck throttling outside your window.

You'll appreciate "cold war words" more once you've lived under a communist regime.

raf said...

I learned the pledge by rote recitiation in school before the words "under God" were added. Having internalized the rhythm of the recital, the added words always jarred my sensibility. Of course, I say them. It is still a social courtesy in any environment where you are invited to recite it. Those who take offense are giving it more meaning than those who mindlessly recite. If it were a "loyalty oath" along the lines of such things in other historical countries (and as the writer may have intended) I would have reservations, but I do not perceive it that way. Of course, since I once took an oath to "...support and defend the Constitution..." it may just be that such an oath is unnecessary for me.

wv:groakers. Descriptive of much of those who vigorously protest against things which could just be ignored, if they only would.

@AW: I like to use that extract from the Declaration when I am in a position where I feel I should respond to query about my political beliefs. Most folks don't recognize them.

Craig said...

I thought ""brock-u-by" was a verb for a long time as a kid.

When I was little, I thought it was sort of braggy to have a massive Christian burial.

Sean McCray said...

some people would defend sarah palin is she said "the earth is flat" they would explain why thats not a sign of her lack of intelligence. Palin is NO reagan!

Matt said...

The difference between Obama's comment about 57 states and Palin's comment about the Pledge and the Founding fathers is not similar at all.
Obama very well knows there are 50 states. He made a misstatement, which happens on the campaign trail. Palin, on the other hand, DID NOT KNOW the history of the Pledge. That is a BIG difference. [She may know now.]

Politicians make mistakes all the time and often get flogged for it. But no one for a minute thinks he really believes there are 57 states. With Palin it could be conceivable that she knew the history of the Pledge but just made a mistake on a questionaire. But I am guessing not.

But, yeah, the judge should not have made a footnote about Palin - who is a footnote politician.

edutcher said...

Irene said...

"Only added in the '50's as a result of the 'Red Scare'. Out out out"

"But, I would prefer if the cold war words were removed."

******************

For those of us who are *fortunate* to live in this country because our parents fled the USSR, the "Red Scare" is no fiction.

Go to bed. Imagine, as you turn out the lights, what it's like to wonder when the knock will come at the door. Fall asleep as though you hear the sound of a Siberia-bound truck throttling outside your window.

You'll appreciate "cold war words" more once you've lived under a communist regime.


The Lefties love the idea it was just a "scare". No, the Commies were taking up where Hitler and Tojo left off and, as we have been seeing that last year, they've come too damned close for comfort.

Irene, it's always been a source of interest to me that the people who love this country the most are the ones who came here one jump ahead of a czar, Kaiser, Fuhrer, Duce, king. or emperor. They've always been the best Americans because they appreciate what this country is.

Glad you made it.

Matt said...

The difference between Obama's comment about 57 states and Palin's comment about the Pledge and the Founding fathers is not similar at all.
Obama very well knows there are 50 states. He made a misstatement, which happens on the campaign trail. Palin, on the other hand, DID NOT KNOW the history of the Pledge. That is a BIG difference. [She may know now.]


I hate to stick up for Barry, but what he said was an obvious slip due to being tired (unless, of course, it was another corpseman thing). The quote goes, "We've been to 57 states, we have one more to go and they won't let me go to Alaska or Hawaii". Presumably, he meant to say 47, but my nephew and I are waiting for a chance to do a history project called, "The 60 states of Barack Obama".

WV "equal" A real, everyday word. Whoda thunk?

Matt said...

edutcher

Thanks for agreeing about the Obama slip vs Palin one.

Anyway, I have to disagree with your comment about the 'best Americans'. That is getting close to Palin's 'real Americans' comment. We are all pretty good Americans regardless of political persuasion. [And BTW I have known a good number of Eastern Europeans who think the GOP is nuts].

Also being critical of the insertion of the phrase 'under God' due to the Red scare [and it is commonly called the 'Red scare'] is not the same as somehow excusing Stalin's crimes nor of being a communist. They are completely different trains of thought. The bottom line was Congress added the words as a sort of week-kneed reaction against communism as a way to bolster Americans about what made us more human than the communists. But you don't have to be of any particular political persuasion to realize it was sort of a toothless gesture. I mean, acknowledging God in a pledge hardly makes a country more civil – as we see every day in countries where people are killing each other because of religious disagreements and intolerance.

Synova said...

I don't believe that a single person who says they object to the "under God" part would promote the pledge without it.

Saying pledges at all isn't a comfortable thing for Americans... saying that there is just this one thing that is the problem isn't telling the truth.

Objectively, though, the pledge has value with or without "under God". I like the "under God" part because it specifically asserts that the State is subordinate. It is vitally important that the State is subordinate and even if kids never think about that, it's there.

So are other very good things... the "liberty and justice for all" part. It doesn't matter if kids think about that. It becomes part of their reality and assumptions about what is and is supposed to be. When life doesn't line up with that there is a gut understanding that something is wrong and something needs to be fixed.

It paints an ideal picture and people need an ideal picture to compare to reality.

It's important.

Mark said...

Synova, well stated.

Fred4Pres said...

Don't count on any fairness from Andrew Sullivan and those other "haters". The pledge including the phrase "...under God" dates to the 1950s, but the founding fathers did use the phrase "Under God" all the time, even the deists.

From Inwood said...

If these Palin, er, faux pas, here, no less something taken out of context from a speech, are so important, how come every faux pas of Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, or for that matter assorted Kennedys are unimportant? Could it be that those guys have a (D) after their names?

[T]hose on the left are moralists, smarter people who pass up their own personal agendas to help the community. They think of society, not self, and so when they err, they do it under stress, in accidental fashion, and with no lasting significance — not like their selfish Neanderthal cousin conservatives, for whom transgression is a valuable window into their flawed souls. Bushisms became a media pastime, but no one suggests that a president who says Cinco de Quatro, or 57 states, or references the “Austrian” language is a Dan Quayle wrestling with potato. VDH 1/12/10

Or a Pres who confuses King Henry VIII with King Arthur.

And a judge who confuses "its" & "it's".

Fr Martin Fox said...

I'd prefer to pledge "to the Republic, and to the Constitution, on which it stands..."

Duscany said...

A.W.: "Wow, Palin derangement syndrome invades the judiciary."

Hey, that's pretty funny.

From Inwood said...

Um, Fr. F

Not enough. You must make that

"I'd prefer to pledge "to the Republic, and to the Constitution, as correctly interpreted by wise, progressive judges, on which it stands..."

From Inwood said...

Redraft of a Volohk comment:

This is something like the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

The quote was originally intended to validate the Major premise of a syllogism:

Major Premise: Palin thinks the Pledge of Allegiance with the reference to the Deity dates from the time of the founding fathers

Minor Premise: The Pledge of Allegiance dates from the 1890s & the reference to the Deity to the 1950s.

QED Palin is ahistorical & stupid.

When it was pointed out that what she said could just as easily be interpreted as an accurate understanding of the Founders’ religiosity (i.e., the existence of an alternative invalidating the Major Premise), another commenter, failing Logic 101, double downed & argued that that because Palin is stupid, she therefore thinks the Pledge dates from the 18th Century.

BTW, I stand corrected. Apparently Palin herself used "its" incorrectly.

Larry Sheldon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Sheldon said...

Come on folks. We are talking about lawyers here.

Some voted for Obama because he is the saviour or something.

Some sit on the Ninth Circuit bench.

Stupidity runs in the guild.

Not big deal.

Palin was asked about a phrase. She answered it referring to the phrase.

The Ninth Circuit noticed the phrase in a case before it.

Asking them to think it through is asking a bit much, don't you think?

Hmmmm. There is that word "think" again. May be not.

Ask me about the disclaimer in a book containing this disclaimer:

"This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed... since this book was written before allowing them to read this work."

Larry Sheldon said...

On the front cover, above an image of the Great Seal of the United States of America are the words:

"The Constitution

The Declaration of Independence...

And

The Articles of Confederation"

Larry Sheldon said...

I wonder if Lynne's minister learned the Sunday School song about the funny bear named Gladly.

ken in sc said...

The 'red scare' was not in the 50s. It was in the 20s, right after the Russian Revolution. It was under the Wilson administration and involved the Palmer raids in which U.S. Attorney General Palmer conducted massive arrests of people suspected of being communists. The 50s were the time of the Korean War and the cold war. Those wars were real. I remember them.