In an excellent critique of Gov. Palin's stumble following Charlie Gibson's question about the Bush Doctrine, James Fallows provides the basic formula for the current crop of hard right conservatives and religious right believers in America. Episcopalians would call this the three-legged-stool of fundamentalism.
- Lack of curiosity
Palin's and Bush's "ignorances" are equal to each other and analogous to those of any "believer" who doesn't know how the collection of writings called the Bible came together, for instance. In both political and religious veins the result is a fallacy of "unitary" authority. Loyalty, sincerity and zeal replace wisdom and knowledge as first requirements for membership. One rises to ceremonial leadership by exposing their own emptiness. (Don't forget who really pulls the strings.)
It takes about one second of inspection to recognize fundamentalism's lack of curiosity. It has all kinds of expressions . One is the striking similarity between fundies disdain for an "educated clergy" and the folksiness of Bush and Palin.
Check here and click on the FAQ link (you'll need a flash player) to marvel at what Palin's church's Masters Commission graduates call a curriculum. NO Greek, NO Hebrew, NO documentary hypothesis, NO historic criticism, NO multiple translations, NO church history. Yet from this training are sent men into their version of ordained leadership. I can't find any evidence that women graduates are allowed the same authority status. Apparently, study is not meant to cultivate or even allow curiosity but to limit it to a pre-ordained simplification that is repeated in a one size fits all mantra. In this world Palin's folksiness becomes MC Crew with spray paint and laptops.
Fallow's three part formula becomes a three cornered web as "Decisiveness" describes the balancing between real experience and doctrine. It is an imitation of resolve which "doesn't blink." It answers back before the questions are finished with a mantra or a snicker. It maintains the ignorance so important to daily management in a world that once expected and in some more liberal circles still expects knowledge and wisdom of its leaders. Decisiveness asserts itself before all the answers are in, holding at bay the curiosity that is so cumbersome and even dangerous to the unitary character of authority. In the end both fundies and conservatives have to keep repeating themselves whether what they are saying is true or makes any sense at all.