Does Europe Find Sarah Palin Bewitching?

The impact of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s recent interview with CBS’ Katie Couric – widely considered to have been a disaster, even within GOP ranks – seems not yet to have been felt over on this side of the Atlantic. (Or – who knows? – perhaps some of those answers she gave that were judged incoherent at the time actually do make some sense when translated into other languages.) Rather, judging from the weight of press coverage, the media over here is fascinated instead with the YouTube video recently unearthed showing her in 2005 at the church she attended, Wasilla Assembly of God, standing by the pulpit to be blessed against “witchcraft” by a visiting Kenyan pastor named Thomas Muthee – a few months before she went on to win the Alaska governorship.

Black magic will not threaten Mrs. Palin is the headline of the leading Polish daily Rzeczpospolita (no byline given) although the brief article (but with embedded YouTube video included at bottom) goes on to note that Palin was christened a Catholic, but stopped attending Mass in 2002. It also records a McCain campaign spokeswoman’s claim that Palin now attends a variety of churches and does not consider herself as a Pentecostalist – i.e. the Christian sect that goes in for this sort of invocation against “black magic.”

Poland is of course a rather religious country itself, of the Roman Catholic variety, so you could rest assured that, if there was any Catholic connection in Palin’s religious past, in the pages of Rzeczpospolita it would be brought to light. However, it’s rather doubtful that Poles’ religious sympathies would naturally extend all the way to “black magic” considerations.

France is rather less religious, of course, stretching all the way back to the Revolution, and the conservative newsmagazine Le Point recently not only offered up the news of this latest wrinkle in the Palin personality (also with the embedded video, of course; the article is entitled Look – When Sarah Palin is blessed by a “witch-hunter”), but expands the context here a bit by citing a couple of other instances when the Alaska governor’s religious beliefs strayed uncomfortably close to public policy. There was her appearance of last June at another church – it’s unlikely that it was the same one, as we can also see this episode in a second embedded YouTube video – proclaiming that the American mission in Iraq was one from God. And she has described the gas-pipeline she wants built from Alaska similarly, as expressing the will of God.

The Le Point writer, Ségolène de Larquier, doesn’t bother to add any comment of her own – other than perhaps the first line in her headline (but remember that editors write headlines), namely REGARDEZ (all-caps also in the original), or “Hey, take a look at this!” But little of that is needed; these episodes speak for themselves, and for a French audience, even of the right-wing, they clearly would prompt amazed fascination – perhaps in the same manner as would various bizarre customs of native New Guinea tribes – were this not a serious international political matter. As such, they must be alarming.

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