The only thing Sarah Palin said in her speech at the Republican National Convention that (allegedly) wasn't scripted was that she's a pit bull wearing lipstick. What an insult to pit bulls! Because they're often raised to be violent, they have an undeserved reputation for bloodthirstiness. Palin was raised that way, too, but at what point should a cruel human know better?
That's the kind of question Matthew Scully used to ask.
He even wrote a book about it five years ago called Dominion: The power of man, the suffering of animals, and the call to mercy. A former editor for The National Review, he wrote Dominion in the middle of a five-year stint as George W. Bush's speechwriter. He also put words in the mouths of Dick Cheney, Bob Dole and Dan Quayle. But with Dominion, Scully tried to prove that he was the rarest of right-wing Republicans: He had a conscience that extended beyond his own pocketbook, family, corporation, party or flag. It included non-human animals.
It's ironic enough, then, that Scully wrote speeches for Cheney, whose hunting prowess became legendary in 2006 when he shot his 75-year-old friend, Texas attorney Harry Whittington, in the face while indulging in the sort of “canned” hunting that Scully derided in his book. In case you didn't know, in canned hunting, animals are raised in cages and then shaken out for the cowardly hunters to take pot shots at, guaranteeing plenty of easy killing. In a 2004 Arizona Republic story, Scully called it Cheney's “blind spot” and argued, “Birds are not skeet. They are living creatures, ‘the fowl of the air,' and it is unkind and dishonorable to treat them this way.” Apparently, blood and dishonor don't rub off on tidy, compartmentalizing speechwriters.
But Palin makes Cheney look like an amateur when it comes to indifference to the suffering of non-humans. And yet Scully returned to right-wing speechwriting to craft her trite, childish monologue and give his conscience a thorough gutting. What happened to the guy who wrote, “There are various reasons the state has an interest in forbidding cruelty, one of which is that cruelty is degrading to human beings” and “The act of cruelty is an intrinsic evil” and “A kindly attitude toward animals is not a subjective sentiment; it is the correct moral response to the objective value of a fellow creature”?
Maybe the money for the gig was just too tempting (any fellow writers out there know what the RNC pays for a speech?), or maybe when he sat down to write the nasty speech, he didn't know who she was. After all, until a couple of weeks ago, nobody else did. The speech certainly didn't play up her disdain for animals. Before he writes another masterpiece of moose pie and spite for her to mouth, Scully should know who she is, and so should you.
Palin is a lifelong animal killer who, according to U.S. News and World Report and The Los Angeles Times, “enjoys” hunting, whose favorite meal is moose stew, who taught her daughter to kill caribou, who has furs on her wall, who supports aerial bear and wolf hunting for bounty and wolf-cub slaughter, who opposed federal laws to protect polar bears and beluga whales and favors unnecessary oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Animals are always expendable when they might interfere with her political interests.
Just look at how she treats her state's wolves. According to journalist Glenn Hurowitz in his Huffington Post exposé on Palin, one of her first acts in office was to offer a $150 bounty for “private hunters [to] take a small plane and chase down wolf packs until they're exhausted and can't move” and then “shoot them from the air or land and execute them at point blank range” and then “strap the wolf to a plane, cut off the wolf's left forearm, and bring it to the state Department of Fish and Game for their cash reward.”
Furthermore, Palin's administration has allowed its “Department of Wildlife Conservation” to enter wolf dens and shoot wolf pups in the head.
And Palin's government spent almost a half-million dollars of taxpayer money on an “education” program to lobby for these inhumane practices.
California Congressman George Miller has introduced legislation that would close the loophole in the Federal Airborne Hunting Act that Palin exploited to get around the prohibition of aerial hunting. I'm assuming Scully isn't writing any speeches for Miller, a Democrat, even though Scully admits, “Conservatives have a way of dismissing the subject [of cruelty to animals], as if where animals are concerned nothing very serious could ever be at stake.”
In Scully's words, “Cruelty to animals is not simply unkind behavior, it is unjust behavior, and the prohibition against it is non-negotiable.” Does he actually believe that he can work to put this cruel woman in power and then talk her out of her cruelty? How is his writing her speech not “negotiating”?
“Little wrongs, when left unattended,” he once wrote, “can grow and spread to become grave wrongs.” True, but a little wrong can also grow and spread to become a grave wrong when a sell-out hypocrite helps lift the little wrong out of relative obscurity and pushes her toward a position of extreme power.