Two trains of thought have collided recently in my brain: the unrelenting growth of Sarah Palin’s power and influence, and Errol Morris’ chilling documentary on Robert McNamara, entitled The Fog of War. I had to view the film recently for research for my day job, and it’s currently available for free in its entirety (but in crappy quality) at Google Video:
The film begins with the following pronouncement from McNamara:
Any military commander who is honest with himself, or with those he’s speaking to, will admit that he has made mistakes in the application of military power. He’s killed people unnecessarily — his own troops or other troops — through mistakes, through errors of judgment. A hundred, or thousands, or tens of thousands, maybe even a hundred thousand. But, he hasn’t destroyed nations.
And the conventional wisdom is don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from your mistakes. And we all do. Maybe we make the same mistake three times, but hopefully not four or five. They’ll be no learning period with nuclear weapons. You make one mistake and you’re going to destroy nations.
McNamara goes on to say that the way in which nuclear power has been arranged in our world is insanity:
The major lesson of the Cuban missile crisis is this: the indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations. Is it right and proper that today there are 7500 strategic offensive nuclear warheads, of which 2500 are on 15 minute alert, to be launched by the decision of one human being?
What does this have to do with Palin? The woman garners more and more headlines by the day and people just can’t get enough of her. But in the past few months, Republicans – undoubtedly sensing imminent disaster if she receives the nomination – have started to go on the record against her presidential aspirations. Salon has a good rundown of this phenomenon, but I think former Bush speechwriter David Frum puts it best:
Imagine you’re at the circus. On the ground is a poodle performing a stunt. Above the clown’s head, dangling from a thin wire, is a piano. The piano is teetering, tottering, looking as if at any moment it might slip, crash to earth, and crush the dog. Impossible not to watch, right? And that’s the Palin show, only this time with the party of Lincoln as the little dog, and Sarah Palin as the piano.
Speaking of Frum, he’s what got this comparison started in the rickety machine that is my brain, with a tweet he made in response to Palin a few months ago (via Andrew Sullivan):
Forget about any police force: don’t give Sarah Palin the ability to destroy nations! This is the reality we will face if this woman is elected president. At present, she is one of maybe 2-3 people in the Republican party that seems at all positioned to take the nomination. Is it sad that that’s what came to mind while I was watching the movie?