10/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Democracy in Peril

Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's choice for vice president is an abomination, even if that truth has been obscured by mainstream media too frightened to offend with the obvious. The conclusion that Palin is incompetent, and a choice grossly inappropriate for the national stage, has nothing to do with gender. But her gender has prevented close scrutiny for fear of charges of sexism. Calling any attacks on Palin's abilities to serve as vice president as sexist would be like calling a choice of a ten year old child to the job as ageist. She is simply not qualified. Leading the free world, and commanding the most powerful military in human history, is not a prize won in a church raffle. She is no more prepared to serve the highest office of the land than you, me or your neighbor. That she can be taken seriously as competent to have her hand on the button is a symptom of a democracy in decline. That she is a woman is completely irrelevant to this fact that Palin is an amateur in a game demanding professionalism.

Palin is an extremist with no experience beyond leading a state with a population the size of a small city. But Palin's obvious deficits in foreign policy experience, her extreme views on abortion, her false credentials as a fiscal conservative, and her growing entanglement of corruption are not even the most dangerous inadequacies. What truly is frightening about the Republican nominee for the vice presidency is her religious zealotry far beyond the bounds of mainstream American thought. Palin is a direct and immediate threat to separation of church and state, a consequence of her own views and those of her supporters.

For many evangelicals on the far right, Palin is a second coming. According to Jim Bramlett, former vice president of the Christian Broadcasting Network, "Sarah is that standard God has raised up to stop the flood. She has the anointing." Republican candidates are not chosen by the people, they are selected by God. We are moving ever closer to the model of a theocracy even as we fight that form of government in the Middle East. We are becoming the enemy we seek to defeat. Palin is evidence of that sad development.

Thomas Muthee, a visiting pastor to Palin's church in Wasilla, Alaska, implored Jesus to protect Palin from "the spirit of witchcraft." He did this with some authority based on his reported success in saving his home town, Kiambu, Kenya, in the name of Jesus by defeating a local witch with the colorful name of Mama Jane. Remember, Palin is one weak heartbeat away from the nuclear trigger, and we are talking witchcraft here. Perhaps, her supporters might say, she cannot be responsible for the views of her supporters. That might be a viable argument if Palin's own views did not reflect this same submission to a god with a particularly specific agenda to support her ambitions. Palin, after all, actually said about a proposed $30 billion gas pipeline in Alaska, "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that."

Palin's interview with Katie Couric confirmed what we feared following her dismal performance in her discussion with Charlie. Her answers are Bush-league. Her response to the question about the proposed $700 billion bailout: "The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this proposal. They're not waiting to see what Barack Obama is going to do. Is he going to do this and see what way the political wind's blowing? They're waiting to see if John McCain will be able to see these amendments implemented in Paulson's proposal." When challenged on the absurdity of that claim, Palin emphasized McCain's long track record of trying to reform Wall Street and impose stricter regulations on the financial market. After one non-answer, Couric came back again and asked for specific actions McCain has taken along these lines in 35 years in the Senate, noting that in his position on Commerce Committee that he "has almost always sided with less regulation, not more." Palin said, "I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you."

In that same interview, Palin went on to claim foreign policy experience gained by her proximity to Russia. "It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state."

Can anybody listen to that and not be embarrassed? Let's just be honest; that response is skin-crawling creepy.

We are witnessing the responses of a dangerous lightweight relying on divine guidance, not the voice of a leader who can guide this country through perilous times of financial collapse, terrorism and global environmental challenges. We must do better if we are to survive as a nation