Posted by mlajoie2 on 11 September, 2008 at 8:48 am. 3 comments already!


In the famous play and movie by Robert Bolt, “A Man for All Seasons”, we are told the inspiring story of Sir Thomas More. (He is ‘Saint Thomas More’ for Catholics. “He was the person of the greatest virtue these islands ever produced,” was the appraisal of the acclaimed Samuel Johnson. Fame also attends him as the humanist intellectual and friend of Erasmus who wrote Utopia.) More is a judge and a public servant who has a large family and a reputation for unusual honesty and self-application. He eventually becomes the number two official leader in the Kingdom, the Lord Chancellor. The tension of the piece lies in his refusal to publicly approve of King Henry VIII’s divorce and marriage to Anne Boleyn and the King’s break with the Catholic Church. This leads to More’s martyrdom. His devotion to conscience and ethics through all of this has provoked admiration from observers of every stripe, and rightly so.

In one key scene near the beginning, More, the judge, receives the gift of a cup as he is exiting the court to go home. He carries it absent-mindedly, a fact which comes to the attention of the office-monger Richard Rich. On the boat ride home, it is brought to More’s attention that the giver of the cup had a case in his court, opening the possibility it might be a bribe. Within a split second of hearing this news, Sir Thomas unhesitatingly dumps the expensive cup into the river.

Later, near the end of the play, at his trial for treason, the treacherous Judas figure, Richard Rich, attempts to make something of More’s cup, twisting the facts to imply that this man most famous for his honesty and probity had intended to take a bribe. More makes mincemeat of the whole smear by pointing out that not only was there no evidence he kept the cup but he ruled against the woman by whom he was supposedly influenced. [Rich later stole More’s head from his shoulders by outright lying under oath about his statements.]

Among the avalanche of ‘scandals’ thrown against the brass wall which is Sarah Palin, there is one which struck me as more legitimate. A ‘boatload’ of the others have been retracted or proven false almost as soon as they have arisen. However, the word has been trumpeted that Palin was “for ‘the Bridge To Nowhere’ before she was against it.” That would be troubling, if true. But I soon thought of St. Thomas More.

With More, much of the smear campaign did not ring true because he already had a record and a reputation as being unusually, notably honest. Most of the charges fell apart at his trial, despite the most powerful forces being arrayed against him. The cup charge seemed pretty bad at first. But, in the end, it became clear that More had simply gone down that road for a while, ignorant of the implications, and had dropped it as soon as he knew what was going on.

Palin has demonstrated through an undeniable pattern that she is a cost-cutter and a promoter of government ethics. Even most of her enemies concede as much. This ‘outlier’ of an ethics ‘poll’ strikes an impartial observer as suspicious immediately. It doesn’t fit the pattern. It seems like a proverbial straw being grasped at. After reading about the whole affair, it seems to me that we have a similar situation to More’s cup.

Palin has never said she was against the IDEA of a bridge there. (She has actually done a lot for the infrastructure of Alaska by the way.) In her speech, she said, “If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves.” That does not contradict the fact that she openly talked about the idea. Why not? Why not check it out and see if it’s feasible? Isn’t that what thorough executives do? She was not AGAINST the IDEA of having a bridge, at first. However, the undeniable fact remains that when Stevens’ federal earmark was brought to her for action, SHE SHOT IT DOWN (a fact Alaska Democrats tried to expunge from the State web site). The Cup ended up in the river. The Bridge never got there. That is the bottom line for this whole affair. She recognized it for the boondoggle it was, and dropped it like a hot potato; at some point, she also saw the IDEA itself was not going to be fiscally feasible and opted for a ferry instead.

Palin, unlike Obama, has a record and a reputation for actually doing things in terms of ethics and change. This is so true that she is being considered, rightly, I think, for the second highest office in the land, just as St. Thomas More was. Neither would have been considered if not for this.

The smear involving More’s Cup led to nowhere. It sunk without the support of a pattern. The enemies of Palin are trying to get across a solitary, contrived point that I believe will crumble and will lead nowhere. This is a Bridge idea that they will not be able to get across to anyone in the end because it cannot be sustained without a ‘suspension’ of belief. In fact, I think they will cross under that Bridge when it falls down.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x