Are conservatives deserting Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, on 8 March, 2014. Sarah Palin is facing a backlash over a joke about waterboarding baptisms

Related Stories

Sarah Palin has long been a bete noire of the left, but she has always been able to count support from grass-roots conservatives. At least, until now.

During a speech to members of the National Rifle Association this weekend, Ms Palin cracked a joke that - while being well-received by the crowd - didn't go over as well with many Christian commentators, many of whom considered her an ally.

"They obviously have information on plots to carry out jihad," she said, referring to prisoners. "Oh, but you can't offend them, can't make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptise terrorists."

For The American Conservative's Rod Dreher, Ms Palin's statement is "sacrilegious". He says that those who laughed at the joke should be ashamed of themselves. Baptism, he says, should be about starting a new life, not celebrating torture.

Start Quote

Joking about baptism in the context of this aggressive action suggests that we don't think baptism is as life-giving or important as it is”

End Quote Mollie Hemingway The Federalist

"If I thought that kind of hateful declaration and abuse of the Christian religion was what conservatism stood for, I wouldn't be able to call myself a conservative," he writes.

Dreher isn't the only religious conservative unhappy with Ms Palin's jibe.

Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition says that while it is "suicidal" to try to find tolerance and understanding within those who want to destroy the US, dehumanising the country's enemies is just as bad.

"Like us, our enemies need to accept Jesus and to be baptised by water and the Spirit," he writes. "That is the Christian way, not as Palin would have it, to have our enemies fear a pagan god and have their spirit broken by water."

The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway agrees.

"Joking about baptism in the context of this aggressive action suggests that we don't think baptism is as life-giving or important as it is," she writes.

Hemingway says that while she is a longtime supporter of Ms Palin, these latest remarks cross the line. In her eyes, Ms Palin is using religion for a political endgame, and while this type of "civil religion" definitely unites people politically, it comes at the expense of the church.

Start Quote

The media is finally catching on that it is time to ignore Sarah Palin”

End Quote Jason Easley Politicus USA

The Wonkette's Doktor Zoom lampooned Hemingway's criticisms, poking fun at her for missing the mark on exactly why Ms Palin's comments were inappropriate.

"You just see here, now, Ms Palin, we don't so much mind you sticking it to the godless heathen Muslims, but don't you go joking about the sacraments," he writes.

In fact, he says, it can be difficult to pin down just what is so out of line about Ms Palin's statement.

"We're not sure what the most hilarious part of this line is - the desire to live out [conservative commentator] Ann Coulter's dream of victory through forced conversion, the mistaken belief that torture gets reliable intelligence or the very notion that Sarah Palin will ever be in charge of anything but a third-rate cable TV show," he concludes.

While it is well known that Ms Palin is no longer a real politician, writes Patrick Brennan for National Review, she still stands for a group of people who are serious about the ideas of faith and freedom. He asks why any of her supporters would continue to back her after what she said.

"Torture - waterboarding being something reasonable people may consider to constitute it - is and should be a question of grave moral consequence for Christians, and is for any Catholic familiar with the Catechism," he writes.

By some coincidence, Palin's remarks came just hours before Robert Costa of the Washington Post published an article that outlines the former governor's political decline and the diminishing power her endorsements hold.

"Even as she travels to Iowa and elsewhere to bolster her handpicked candidates," he writes, "her influence in these midterm elections has been eclipsed by a new class of stars and her circle has narrowed, with a handful of aides guiding her and a few allies in Washington beyond a group of backbench troublemakers in Congress."

Ms Palin was part of the trendy 2010 Tea Party movement, he says, but increasingly among her friends in Washington she finds herself in a supporting role.

And for some, including Politicus USA's Jason Easley, it's about time.

"Sarah Palin is the one hit wonder who started out playing arenas, then moved down to the clubs, then moved further down to the county fair circuit," he writes.

"When you stop drawing a crowd on the county fair circuit, it's over. The media is finally catching on that it is time to ignore Sarah Palin."

By Kierran Petersen


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    337. Follow up - Wayne LaPierre (NRA) 'also redirected' to blaming the US mental health industry inadequacy in dealing with the SH armed crazy - 50 million without health insurance (15% of the population) and those with health insurance having to contend with a range of exclusions, co-pays and extra fees that would choke a horse do you think that anyone with a military arsenal would seek help?

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    337. Gabby was shot by a guy with 32 in the clip and was stopped when he had to reload (and was overcome). The NRA, assault weapons ban repeal, and generally crazy people who own high capacity firearms are the Second Amendment landscape - calling Gabby's attacker crazy was a given. Crazy people were responsible for Sandy Hook and Aurora also - the common thread: all were armed to the teeth!

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    @336.Chris A ,
    You know, I thought I remember reading that the mentally unbalanced young man who shot Ms. Giffords was unaware of that political ad. I'm more concerned about our mental health policies & treatment in the US. That has been at the heart of many recent tragedies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    334. Sarah remains a Republican graffiti artist ('Don't retreat, reload"), however, her guerrilla charm got thin with the Gabby Gifford's 'crosshairs': Graffiti has consequences!

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    When you start talking about religion then everyone comes out and either says your not a "good" christian/ muslim/ jew/ baptist/ whatever if you don't follow thier form of that religion. Stop being a hypocrit! People have thier opinion, you don't have to like it or listen to it. I also find it interesting that Joe Carter says his own god is a pagan. So Christianity is now a pagan religion??

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Funny how the good Christians get offended because of the baptism part, but not the reference to torture...

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    For people like Sarah, Christianity is a Club, a Team, an "In-Group". They don't understand the message, only the trappings and social status that comes with it. That's why it's so natural for them to use militaristic violent language when talking about their religion (e.g., Christian Soldiers, etc)

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    26. "This Palin thing is of no interst to us in the UK. Come on Beeb get some relevant messages going."

    It is a HYS Forum that you find under news about America. If you have no Interest then refrain from Having Your Say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Your opinion - you're welcome to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    "suggests that we don't think baptism is as life-giving or important as it is"

    It's not life-giving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    (Pancha Chandra): Sarah Palin is becoming an embarrassment to her Party, followers.It is high time she realizes this. Extremely brazen, she needs to tone down her rhetoric and come to terms with reality. Her star is dimming! Her statements show immaturity, arrogance. She will soon have to eat humble pie! Humility is certainly not one of her strong points. Perhaps she will learn this the hard way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    "If I thought that kind of hateful declaration and abuse of the Christian religion was what conservatism stood for, I wouldn't be able to call myself a conservative,"

    It's inspiring when you see the first signs of the penny dropping. For too long the mean spirited and hate filled have managed to make Christian and Conservative synonymous.
    It's never too late to realise you've been used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    ref #323 Obama served 6 years in the State Senate voting present on most bill, he spent 2 years in the U.s senate with no accomplishments. thenobel committee voted him the prize for their irrational hate of Bush who was far ore wise about the world than Obama or the embers of that body who also have rewarded the prize to racists, terrorists and eco frauds.

  • Comment number 326.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    The most memorable thing about Sarah Palin is . . . , sorry, I forgot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    shes happy just being in the news

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    #318: Obama's serving on the Illinois legislature and serving in the US Senate, not to mention being an Harvard Law School graduate, means nothing to you. I agreed that the Nobel Peace Prize might have been awarded prematurely. The Nobel Committee obviously appreciated Obama's desire to work for peace, talk to US' friends & foes, rather than a Cowboy/Gunboat diplomacy pursued by his predecessor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    @307.Rajiv: There ARE no standards. That's democracy. You get citizenship & you too can run for office. But you are not guaranteed a win. I'd say Palin's precipitous plunge once people got to know her better, speaks well for the electorate and for the long campaign cycle. Had McCain picked Palin in the last week of the campaign, who knows? Doesn't speak well for McCain? That's a different story!

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    316. & 317. Hyperbole, meaningless - reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 'Time':

    "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
    The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say."

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    I am begining to wonder about this latest generation of Americans, "upset over Sarah Palin's Joke"? She to my mind showed more commonsense than the vast majority of idiots currently in Congress. Her political history in Alaska did far more good than previous politicians. Do you think the current US bunch would ever have been able to build America? Hell no! The Comanches would have whipped 'em all.


Page 1 of 17


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.