For the second week in a row, the concerted efforts from the prominent sectors of media to pile on the candidacy of Sarah Palin continues not only unabated but rather intensified, all in the honorable and avowed purpose of “the public’s right” to know about its VP candidates. Though never in the almost 30 years that I have been in this country has such grating scrutiny been so deep and personal. I suspect that before all this is over, count the less than 50 days before the election, this young hapless candidate’s life will have been quartered and filleted to such minute detail that no stone will have been left unturned and not publicly revealed. The revelation of a tanning bed in her mansion is but a tiny sliver of the tip of the iceberg.
The print media, talk radio, both broadcast and cable TV, and the great cloud that is the blogosphere in the WorldWideWeb, all these have floor to ceiling coverage on Palin, majority of them negative, a good number downright malicious, and many it would appear uninhibitedly and without subtlety intended to smear, embarrass and dash that daring lady’s hopes to serve government. Without as much as providing a thin cover for what appears to be a bald-faced disdainful intent to skewer this unknown lady from rural Alaska because she dared to elevate herself as a candidate on the national stage. How dare she do that, came out wailing cries in their hearts from the mostly elitist segments of biased media. For they cannot countenance this bold challenge to their self-proclaimed roles as august gatekeepers of intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom in all things appertaining to politics, economics, civil rights, etc., and yes, even with regard to what hairdo or glasses are appropriate to wear.
Now a columnist from the once-venerable NYT has elevated this shamefaced condescension of her, with intellectual words like “ ultimate sources of wisdom”, “knowledge and experience,” And yes, including the moral intellectual virtue of “prudence”. Pontificating that prudence is acquired only through rigorous experience, and thus by extension, only older and seasoned politicians can govern properly, and definitely not this young upstart from rustic Alaska.
In the first place, the same could also be aptly said of the Democrats’ candidate for president, and maybe even more so. After all, the lady is running for he vice-presidency only. Okay, there is the possibility she gets to sit as president, but isn’t the Speaker of the highly unpopular House, in this instance Rep. Nancy Pelosi, also in line for succession to the presidency in case….? But enough of that.
But mention of the cardinal virtue of PRUDENCE raised my hackles because on the same day I also read a co-blogger’s support of Obama couched in the other cardinal virtues of TEMPERANCE and FORTITUDE. That Obama fares better in intellectual fortitude and emotional temperament. Thus, the only other cardinal virtue left unsaid was JUSTICE.
Now some words about these commendable moral virtues which have now ungainly entered the realm of political discourse.
I do not pretend to know what exactly Mr. Brooks meant when he used the term “prudent”, but I am going to assume it is a description of one who practices prudence.
Prudence is concerned with the right ways to do or perform man’s truly human acts, and those are what we call his free acts. Since free acts emanate from free will, then prudence is dependent on the goodness of the will. It is self-evident then that the ability to act prudently is not dependent on one’s life experiences. But on the will. No amount of experiences can straighten a man whose will is bent askew. One does need to acquire the virtue of prudence, but in other ways not necessarily from experiences. Let me not count the ways for there are many that the Lord has made available.
So who is to say that a younger, less experienced person like a Sarah Palin cannot be sufficiently prudent in the discharge of her duties? It is a bit arrogant to arrogate prudence to the exclusive realm of older and more “seasoned” individuals. Might not these persons be exposed more and thus more susceptible to the wily and corrupting allures while fraternizing and enjoying themselves in the corridors of power, fame, and fortune?
Now a word on FORTITUDE, which essentially is needed to strengthen the appetites or passions in man in pursuing “difficult” good. A man steeped in fortitude is one who has gone through the gauntlet of extreme human suffering and formidable challenges in his life. So which, candidate has any semblance of having gone through extreme physical challenges and still came out of it, fazed, broken, but unbowed?
A man with balanced emotional temperament juggles the virtue of TEMPERANCE in his pursuit of human perfection, trying to curb or rein in at times runaway irascible passions that tend to go awry and get the better of him. Again a man who has exercised inner emotional strength in his conduct with regard to his sense appetites which is naturally askew toward personal gratification and fulfillment.
In fine, if we are earnestly urging voters to judge candidates, or we ourselves judge them, based on these cardinal virtues, at least be aware of the size and markers of the measuring sticks that we are measuring them up or against.