Kathleen Kennedy Townsend debates; Palin cat fights
Brains versus Brawn
The specific argument is about the meaning of John F. Kennedy’s positioning his religious beliefs with his supreme loyalty to the US Constitution. Clearly the Constitution stipulates that there should be no religious test for public office. Palin and her crowd advocate otherwise.
She graduated from The Putney School inVermont and then cum laude from Radcliffe College (later part of Harvard University) in 1974, receiving her bachelor's degree in history and literature. She then studied at the University of New Mexico School of Law, receiving her Juris Doctor degree in 1978. For several years, she worked as an attorney in New Haven, Connecticut while her husband attended Yale Law School.
In 1986, Townsend ran for Congress in Maryland's second Congressional district, losing to Helen Delich Bentley 41% to 59%, thus becoming the first Kennedy to lose a general election. She then went to work for the state government of Maryland, holding numerous government posts including assistant Attorney General. She also served on the State Board of Education, and as a presidential elector in 1992. Following this, she worked for two years in the Clinton administration, as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General.”
“Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, author, speaker, and political news commentator who was the youngest person and the first woman elected Governor of Alaska. She served as governor from 2006 until she resigned in 2009. Chosen by Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain in August 2008 to be his running mate in that year's presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party, as well as the first female vice-presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
On July 3, 2009, Palin announced she would not seek re-election as governor and that she was resigning effective July 26, 2009, eighteen months before the completion of her term. She cited ethics complaints that had been filed following her selection as running mate to John McCain as one of the reasons for her resignation, saying the resulting investigations had affected her ability to govern the state.
After graduating from high school, Palin enrolled at the Hawaiian Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin switched to Hawaii Pacific University for a semester in the fall of 1982 and then North Idaho College in the spring and fall of 1983.[
She attended the University of Idaho in the fall of 1984 and spring of 1985, and attended Matanuska-Susitna College in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in the spring of 1986, receiving her bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in 1987.
“Palin's argument seems to challenge a great American tradition, enshrined in the Constitution, stipulating that there be no religious test for public office. A careful reading of her book leads me to conclude that Palin wishes for precisely such a test. And she seems to think that she, and those who think like her, are qualified to judge who would pass and who would not.”
“Sarah Palin is wrong about John F. Kennedy, religion and politics
By Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Friday, December 3, 2010; 6:00 PM
Sarah Palin has found a new opponent to debate: John F. Kennedy.
In her new book, "America by Heart," Palin objects to my uncle's famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which he challenged the ministers - and the country - to judge him, a Catholic presidential candidate, by his views rather than his faith. "Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president," Kennedy said. "I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic."
Palin writes that when she was growing up, she was taught that Kennedy's speech had "succeeded in the best possible way: It reconciled public service and religion without compromising either." Now, however, she says she has revisited the speech and changed her mind. She finds it "defensive . . . in tone and content" and is upset that Kennedy, rather than presenting a reconciliation of his private faith and his public role, had instead offered an "unequivocal divorce of the two."
Palin's argument seems to challenge a great American tradition, enshrined in the Constitution, stipulating that there be no religious test for public office. A careful reading of her book leads me to conclude that Palin wishes for precisely such a test. And she seems to think that she, and those who think like her, are qualified to judge who would pass and who would not.
If there is no religious test, then there is no need for a candidate's religious affiliation to be "reconciled." My uncle urged that religion be private, removed from politics, because he feared that making faith an arena for public contention would lead American politics into ill-disguised religious warfare, with candidates tempted to use faith to manipulate voters and demean their opponents.
Kennedy cited Thomas Jefferson to argue that, as part of the American tradition, it was essential to keep any semblance of a religious test out of the political realm. Best to judge candidates on their public records, their positions on war and peace, jobs, poverty, and health care. No one, Kennedy pointed out, asked those who died at the Alamo which church they belonged to.
But Palin insists on evaluating and acting as an authority on candidates' faith. She faults Kennedy for not "telling the country how his faith had enriched him." With that line, she proceeds down a path fraught with danger - precisely the path my uncle warned against when he said that a president's religious views should be "neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office."
After all, a candidate's faith will matter most to those who believe that they have the right to serve as arbiters of that faith. Is it worthy? Is it deep? Is it reflected in a certain ideology?
Palin further criticizes Kennedy because, "rather than spelling out how faith groups had provided life-changing services and education to millions of Americans, he repeatedly objected to any government assistance to religious schools." She does not seem to appreciate that Kennedy was courageous in arguing that government funds should not be used in parochial schools, despite the temptation to please his constituents. Many Catholics would have liked the money. But he wisely thought that the use of public dollars in places where nuns explicitly proselytized would be unconstitutional. Tax money should not be used to persuade someone to join a religion.
As a contrast to Kennedy's speech, Palin cites former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's remarks during the 2008 Republican primary campaign, in which he spoke publicly of "how my own faith would inform my presidency, if I were elected." After paying lip service to the separation of church and state, Romney condemned unnamed enemies "intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism."
"There is one fundamental question about which I am often asked," Romney said. "What do I believe about Jesus Christ?" Romney, of course, is a Mormon. He answered the question, proclaiming that "Jesus Christ is the son of God."
Palin praises Romney for delivering a "thoughtful speech that eloquently and correctly described the role of faith in American public life." But if there should be no religious test in politics, then why should a candidate feel compelled to respond to misplaced questions about his belief in Jesus?”