Steve Chapman

Her chief gripe, though, is that federal agents read the alleged Christmas bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, his Miranda rights shortly after his arrest, at which point, she claims, he "lawyered up and invoked our U.S. constitutional right to remain silent."

Not for long, he didn't. The FBI says Abdulmutallab provided a wealth of useful information under questioning after he got a lawyer. For that matter, as FBI Director Robert Mueller and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said last week, he is still being interrogated.

But facts have never been Palin's strong suit. Nor do they matter, because what infuriates her is the mere idea that constitutional protections would apply to "a terrorist who hates our Constitution and tries to destroy our Constitution."

This is not some bizarre paradox. Lots of people who despise our Constitution -- Nazis, communists, Klansmen, Alaska secessionists -- enjoy its protections. Does she think the Bill of Rights should apply only to people who share her views?

That would not leave much of the document she and the tea partiers claim to revere.

Besides, Obama didn't invent the heretical notion of accepting limits on the government's latitude with jihadists. The Bush administration turned hundreds of terrorism cases over to the federal courts, without audible complaint from the right. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution extends even to accused foreign terrorists held at Guantanamo.

The advantage of having a former law professor in the Oval Office is that he doesn't have to be tutored in such elementary realities. But Palin evinces a bitter resentment of any information that contradicts her blind faith in a benevolent, all-powerful security regime. She's more than willing to trade liberty for safety.

That went over conspicuously well in Nashville, where tea partiers cheered a leader who places excessive trust in government, disdains constitutional freedoms and promotes a cult of personality. So remind me: What is it they don't like about Barack Obama?

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

©Creators Syndicate