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Give Me Character Over IQ Any Day

November 30, 2009


Oftentimes, I draw political lessons from one of my favorite movies, Mel Gibson's "Braveheart." In one particularly poignant scene, the protagonist, Scottish hero William Wallace, is exhausted from fighting the forces of England's brutal monarch, Edward the Longshanks, which continue to occupy and oppress Scotland. Wallace has distinguished himself time and again on the battlefield as fearless, honorable and zealous for the cause of freedom, and he is ready to deploy with his men for another attack, this time against the northern English city of York. He is talking to the Scottish nobles, who are trying to convince him to compromise with their enemy.

"I will invade England and defeat the English on their own ground," Wallace defiantly declares.

"Invade? That's impossible," says one of the scoffing nobles.

"Why?" Wallace asks. "Why is that impossible? You're so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshanks table that you've missed your God-given right to something better. There is a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it."

In the next scene, Wallace is talking to Robert the Bruce, the rightful heir to the Scottish throne, who admires Wallace's courage and passion, but cannot bring himself to admit it publicly. "Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country," Wallace tells him, "but men don't follow titles, they follow courage. Now, our people know you. Noble and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to freedom, they'd follow you. And so would I."

Robert's father, a leper secretly living in the tower of the castle, tells his son, "It is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble." When Robert objects to his father's plan to betray Wallace to gain favor with Longshanks, he says, "I know it is hard. Being a leader is."

To place all this in modern political perspective, Barack Obama is Longshanks; Robert the Bruce and the other "nobles" represent every Republican politician for whom pragmatism has paralyzed his ability to do the right thing; the rotting leper who values lands, title and position more than character is the Republican Party hierarchy who would rather toil in the useless minority than to fight for freedom.

And William Wallace?

The only leader on the scene with the passion, the integrity, the character and the intestinal fortitude to fill that role right now is — a woman. While Barack the Longshanks is doing all he can to steal our liberty, and Robert the Gingrich is betraying the principles that once made him noble, and Olympia the Leper is telling us to compromise on every principle handed to us by the blood of our Founders, Sarah Palin alone seems to be asking why it is that we are selling our birthright for a bowl of gruel.

It remains to be seen whether this upbeat, gutsy woman, who has been underestimated at every point in her steady rise through the political ranks, will decide to take on the most daunting task in the world — becoming President of the United States — but one thing is clear. She will be a formidable candidate should she choose to run.

What kind of person has the guts to face what she did last year and come back for more? Perhaps someone who saw the hope in the eyes of the throngs that cheered her on the campaign trail. Perhaps someone who has the integrity to continue honoring the sacrifice of the man who put her on the ticket last year, despite the fact that he let his campaign operatives snipe at her in the media like the childish fools they are. Perhaps someone who may not possess Barack Obama's IQ, but who has more character in her trigger finger than he will ever have in his whole being. That's my kind of president.

Copyright ©2009 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.

 


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