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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Iran dominates Republican presidential debate in conservative South Carolina - Times Online
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 05:42 AM
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Oh goody! More extremists lining up to lead people! Woo hoo!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 06:28 AM
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From The New Yorker - Jan. 7, 2008

Out in Iowa, with the bell at last ringing and the combatants charging out of their corners, the Republican card has come down to the Maulin’ Mormon versus the Battlin’ Baptist. Would the Framers be pleased? Doesn’t seem likely, somehow. The deists, freethinkers, and assorted Protestants (plus two Catholics) who drafted the Constitution sternly forbade theological sucker punches—“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” was how they put it—but today’s Republicans make their own rules. Marquess of Queensberry? Not for the new Grand Old Party. (Meanwhile, those groovy Democrats are reprising “The Mod Squad,” with the white guy, the black guy, and the blonde scrambling to see who gets to make the collar.)

The tale of the tape suggests that Mike Huckabee has to be given the edge, religion-wise. He trained at Ouachita Baptist University and turned pro early, pastoring his own church at twenty-four. A mere nine years later, he was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention—half a million strong, a fifth of the state’s population at the time. He may not be a heavyweight these days (he shed a hundred and ten pounds as governor), but if he no longer has the belly he certainly has the fire.

The fire, yes—but, affable fellow that he is, minus the brimstone. Huckabee’s sensational rise has been made possible by his success, so far, at speaking in tongues that evangelicals and non-evangelicals understand differently. “I always tell the story of a lady who asked me, was I a narrow-minded Baptist who thinks only Baptists go to Heaven?” he likes to say. “And I told her, ‘No, ma’am, I’m more narrow than that. I don’t think all the Baptists are going to make it, either.’ ” Does he mean “Let’s not take this eternal damnation stuff so darn seriously”? Or is it “Everybody roasts in Hell except selected evangelicals”? And then there was his instantly famous sound bite at the November 28th YouTube debate, when he was asked where history’s most revered victim of the death penalty would stand on that issue. “Jesus,” Huckabee replied with a rueful smile, “was too smart to ever run for public office.” This was a clever sally, allowing moderates to infer that he, Huckabee, realizes that capital punishment is morally dubious but (like his gubernatorial predecessor Bill Clinton) supports it for prudential political reasons, while assuring his co-religionists that he, Huckabee, is a humble sinner, albeit one on easy terms with the Lord—who will forgive His flock the minor sin of clamoring for the modern equivalent of crucifixion.

Lately, though, Huckabee has been getting his signals mixed, like a man putting letters to his wife and his mistress in the wrong envelopes. A few weeks ago at Liberty University (founder: the late J. Falwell), a student asked him what accounted for his rocketing poll numbers. “There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one,” he said. “It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of five thousand people—and that’s the only way that our campaign could be doing what it’s doing.” To an evangelical ear, that might sound like simple wonderment. But to many other people it sounded like the ravings of someone who thinks God is his precinct captain.

In Mitt Romney’s case, it’s the religion itself that may have a glass jaw. When Mitt’s father, George Romney, a liberal Republican governor of Michigan, ran for President, in 1968, his Mormonism was just another biographical detail. That was before the Party’s firm embrace of “faith” as a mandatory political talking point. It’s no longer clear that the dogmas of whatever sect a candidate happens to be affiliated with can be dismissed as irrelevant to the policies he or she might pursue in office.
And the dogmas of Mitt Romney’s sect are breathtaking. They include these: that in 1827 a young man named Joseph Smith dug up a set of golden plates covered with indecipherable writing; that, with the help of a pair of magic spectacles, he “translated” the plates from an otherwise unknown language (Reformed Egyptian) into an Olde English that reads like an unfunny parody of the King James Bible; that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri; that American Indians descend from Hebrew immigrants; that Jesus reappeared in pre-Columbian America and converted so many people that the result was a series of archeologically unconfirmable wars in which millions died; that while polygamy had divine approval for most of the nineteenth century, God changed his mind in 1890, just in time for Utah to be allowed into the Union; and that God waited until 1978 to reveal that it was O.K. for blacks to be fully paid-up members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

One might ask, What of it? Plenty of religions have curious doctrines. (Several, for example, hold that on Sundays millions of people drink blood and eat flesh.) The Framers knew this was dangerous territory, which was one reason they tried to rule it out of political bounds. And Romney himself warned, in a speech, titled “Faith in America,” that he delivered on December 6th, “There are some who would have a Presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited.”

The weasel word here is “distinctive.” Romney had no problem describing his church’s not-so-distinctive doctrines. “There is one fundamental question,” he continued, as if he were speaking on tax cuts, “about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind.” (But please don’t ask about Jesus’ post-Resurrection travel schedule.) The candidate went on to patronize rival religions, administering quick head pats to Catholicism (“I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass”), evangelicalism (for the “approachability” of its version of God), Pentecostalism (“tenderness of spirit”), Lutheranism (“confident independence”), Judaism (“ancient traditions”), and Islam (“frequent prayer”—a bit feeble, that).

Missing from this litany, of course, was something to the effect of “I appreciate the deep commitment to reason of the agnostics and atheists.” Indeed, the only “religion” that Romney had anything rude to say about was “the religion of secularism.” He pointed scornfully at the “empty” cathedrals of Europe as evidence of “societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer,” adding a little later that “any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty” has “a friend and ally in me.” Take that, NATO. On your knees.

Secularism is not a religion. And it is not true that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom,” as Romney maintained. What freedom, including religious freedom, requires is, precisely, secularism—which is to say, state neutrality in matters of religion. (Nor does religion require freedom, as the European past and the Middle Eastern present demonstrate; religions, plural, do, however.) “Americans do not respect believers of convenience,” Romney thundered in his “faith” speech. “Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.” These were strange observations, coming as they did from a man whose campaign has consisted largely of jettisoning the beliefs he found convenient as a Massachusetts politician but finds highly inconvenient now that he stands to gain the Republican nomination for President. But then those were merely political beliefs.

Touch gloves, Mitt and Mike. And perhaps, if God interests Himself in the minutiae of earthly politics, He’ll arrange a double knockout.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 08:06 AM
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It must be time for the Rapture

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 10:25 AM
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While people are dying, the toads sure know time for having fun!!!

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by drewprof View Post
It must be time for the Rapture


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 11:31 AM
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I am so pleased to see a chunk of the Right is getting behind yet another Politician who lacks a World view, thinks Pickup Truck Bumper sticker slogans make just great foreign policy and seems so willing to build on the failures of the current foreign policies of this Administration.

As a country we know it is important to be strong. But it helps to be strong with brains and a far looking sense of planning.

We all know the guy in high school who was strong but not quite the sharpest knife in the drawer. His strength got him in more trouble than good. He now works at a gas station in Macon. As a Country, we don't need to emulate that guy.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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