Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Thought on Sarah Palin, Game Change, and the Mormon Church

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. Bet she wins an Emmy.
Image from Vanity Fair.
It's been a week since HBO's Game Change--you know, the Sarah Palin movie that Sarah Palin didn't like--aired. It was a compelling docudrama that told the story of John McCain's 2008 campaign for President against Barack Obama. Yeah, it didn't go so well.

But that isn't the point of this post. Sarah Palin (played by Julianne Moore) was actually humanized in the film, in both good and bad ways. From the film, it was clear that she's a good mother and wife. She was shown to be driven, enthusiastic, energetic, and a go-getter. But, she was also shown to be profoundly ignorant of basic foreign policy issues and other basic knowledge. She was shown to be somewhat emotionally unstable, belligerent, a giant pain in the ass, and completely unsuited to be one septuagenarian's heart-beat away from the White House.

It was interesting to see how Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) and Nicolle Wallace (Sarah Paulson)--two prominent McCain campaign operatives--dealt with Palin's obvious failings. Wallace grew weary of Palin's abuse, and basically washed her hands of Palin. Schmidt hit upon Palin's strength: acting. Acting like she knows what she's talking about. Give her a script, wind her up, and watch her go. She's a little firecracker!

But Schmidt, Wallace and the rest knew they were dealing with a dangerously incapable candidate. Their biggest issue wasn't the potential problem of an unqualified second-in-command. Their biggest issue was how to camouflage that, well enough to win the election. So, when I watch Wallace and Schmidt on television, confirming, yeah, that's how it all went down. . .well, I'm glad to hear the movie was accurate. But wait! I'm aghast that these people admit what they did!

Typical Mormons. Image from ABC News
It all reminds me of a book called The Mormon Murders by Steven Neifeh. The book recounts the true story of a con-man named Mark Hoffman. He was an antiquities dealer who had the amazing ability to find exceedingly rare Mormon artifacts. He conned the Mormon Church at its highest levels with amateur forgeries (and killed people when he got busted). Those forgeries--believed to be authentic by the church--pointed to the in-authenticity of the church itself.

So, did the church prepare to inform their congregants and potential converts that Joseph Smith was a fraud after all, and that the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was now going to become a secular charity or something? No, no they didn't. They paid Hoffman beau coup bucks to take the documents and hide them away! Let's go over that again: they believed the documents saying the church was a fraud were authentic. And rather than re-assessing the whole religion, they decided to put their fingers in their ears and go, la-la-la!!!

Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but I see the McCain campaign's decision to soldier on, and try to win--despite having knowledge of Palin's disqualifying shortcomings--to be the same kind of willful disregard for the facts. Charging ahead anyway. I find both to be disgusting.

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