Palin’s Haiti Trip Fraught With Religious and Political Baggage
Sarah Palin spent her weekend in Haiti, where she embarked on a two-day tour of the earthquake-ravaged nation, hosted all the while by Evangelical Rev. Franklin Graham. If Palin thinks the trip, followed by Fox News cameras, will bolster her foreign policy credentials, she’s wrong.
Palin has grown more vocal about potentially running for the White House in 2012, most recently telling Barbara Walters, “I will run for president if I believe that I have the best shot to win the race.” That said, many political observers see this “tightly guarded” expedition to Haiti as an opportunity for the former governor to build up some “foreign policy” experience ahead of a possible campaign, and such speculation only grew when Palin’s team confirmed she’s also considering jaunts to Britain and Israel.
If this Haiti trip is indeed the kick-off to a politically motivated world tour, Palin made a serious misstep by mixing it up with the Evangelical group Samaritan’s Purse.
Run by Rev. Graham, son of Evangelical big wig Billy Graham, Samaritan’s Purse dedicates itself to “providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.” Whether it’s fulfilled that mission remains open for debate.
Samaritan’s Purse, which dropped over $260 million in program expenses in 2008, was accused in 1994 of spending lavishly on its staff while ignoring cholera victims in Rwanda. Later, in 2001, the group came under fire for making El Salvador’s earthquake victims attend prayer meetings, ‘The Guardian’ reports.
The group’s reliance on proselytization, rather than actual assistance, calls Palin’s commitment to universal freedoms, including religion, into question. And Graham, the group’s president, only complicates matters.
Graham’s just as fiery as his father, and regularly makes the news rounds with his patently right wing claims, such as his assertions that President Obama “was born a Muslim,” the far left “hate God,” and that Islam is “wicked and evil,” a comment that led the Pentagon to disinvite him from a prayer day event.
And you can be sure Graham has plenty to say about the gays, who he claims “sin against God,” and whom he believes don’t deserve to serve openly in the Armed Services, despite Pentagon findings that say otherwise.
What will leaders in Palin’s next possible destinations, Israel and Britain, both of which allow gay and lesbians soldiers to serve openly, say about her palling around with an unabashed zealot?
The biggest obstacle to Palin’s international reputation, however, may be Palin herself. By granting media access only to Fox News’s Greta van Susteren, it’s clear the “Mama Grizzly” hopes to paint as flattering a picture as possible.
But any glossy image Palin and her colleagues create will only illuminate the “humanitarian” trip’s less savory details, like the fact that few Haitians had ever heard of Palin, or that the politico had her hair done, as seen above, before walking among the masses.
In that light, Palin’s visit becomes less diplomatic and more opportunistic—an unholy error when trying to prove one’s self on the international stage.