Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Reconciliation of church and state?
February 10, 2008 4:42 AM   Subscribe

I think its time that we joined a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society. Obama on religion and politics. (SLnonYTP)
posted by allkindsoftime (142 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
What I am suggesting is this: secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square.

---

And by the way we need Christians on Capitol Hill, and we need Jews on Capitol Hill, and Muslims on Capitol Hill, when you've got an estate tax that is talking about a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of people who don't need it and who weren't even asking for it, we need an injection of morality into our political debate.

---

It was the fore-bearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religion because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

---

Whatever we once were we are no longer a Christian nation. At least not "just".

posted by allkindsoftime at 5:03 AM on February 10, 2008


Fascinating speech, thank you for posting. Still watching it.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:06 AM on February 10, 2008


allkinds - jinx - I was just watching this.
One thing though: you just couldn't resist reducing it to soundbites, couldya? Why's it I think we'll be seeing that last one, reduced to its middle chunk, misused aplenty in the coming days?
(You can download the 151mb flv here - resuffix it to .flv, watch with vlc or quicktime&perian.)
posted by progosk at 5:20 AM on February 10, 2008


progosk, good point, but this speech is near two years old. That said, as things become more combative in the next six months, the 527's and the spinmeisters will be picking over things like this, looking for things to take out of context.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:24 AM on February 10, 2008


You can do better - aim for beating the link + top 3 comments on Digg. Here's a link to the transcript
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:24 AM on February 10, 2008


"What I am suggesting is this: I am no more principled than any other american 'public servant'. If I need to pander, I'll pander."
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:33 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think its time that we joined a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society.

Maybe I just lack imagination, but I can't think of a context in which this might have been said where I would agree.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:52 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What I am suggesting is this: I am no more principled than any other american 'public servant'. If I need to pander, I'll pander."

Yes, because telling evangelical Christians that they need to be more accepting of other faiths is pandering. And telling secularists, many of whom are Democrats, that they need to get over themselves, is pandering. But then I'm assuming you didn't watch the video.
posted by billysumday at 5:54 AM on February 10, 2008


I can't believe I've just listened to a speech by a politician that both delivers a point of view and does it without dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator.
posted by mattoxic at 5:57 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I've just listened to a speech by a politician that both delivers a point of view and does it without dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator.

It is weird that so successful a politician, whether you like him/her or not, can appear to be an intelligent human being and not a calculating sociopath. This seems to be a large part of Obama's appeal.
posted by billysumday at 6:02 AM on February 10, 2008 [21 favorites]


Does it bother anyone but me that the page title on the linked video is Default Viral Title Player?
posted by Dave Faris at 6:07 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


But then I'm assuming you didn't watch the video.

No, I did. And the underlying subtext in his Alan Keyes anecdote is "oh, I'm a christian, but not one of those christians. I'm totally a christian! All religions are great, but remember, I have faith."

Well, he can stuff Jesus up his butt. Religion has no place in public service, period. He can sleep naked with the famous painting of blond Jesus for all I care, but I don't want to hear about it. And the Constitution is pretty clear that church and government shouldn't mix.

All capitalists are a lousy bunch of crooks.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:14 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does it bother anyone but me that the page title on the linked video is Default Viral Title Player?

It bothers you and exactly one other person. That person lives in a trailer in the desert in New Mexico and has named his shotgun "Veronica".
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 6:17 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley, let's assume that the goal is to have an atheist candidate win the presidency. What do you see as the means to that end? I think adopting "Shove Jesus Up Your Butt" as your campaign slogan is essentially handing the election to the conservative party and specifically the evangelicals. So what's the answer? I see it as a series of small steps, and the first step is having a candidate who can at least start a dialogue between evangelicals and secularists.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 6:23 AM on February 10, 2008


Wow. Soulmates!
posted by Dave Faris at 6:25 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


That person lives in a trailer in the desert in New Mexico and has named his shotgun "Veronica".

And won't vote for Obama.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:25 AM on February 10, 2008


I'm Mayor Curley and I approve this message...

Shove Jesus up your butt!!
All capitalists are a lousy bunch of crooks!

Vote for Curley '08!
posted by billysumday at 6:27 AM on February 10, 2008


Religion has no place in public service, period
Amen.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 6:38 AM on February 10, 2008


Religion has no place in public service, period

Telling me I can't bring my religion into the public square is tantamount to bringing yours in first, and then denying me the same privilege.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:51 AM on February 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Telling me I can't bring my religion into the public square is tantamount to bringing yours in first, and then denying me the same privilege.

Please stop telling secularists that they are a religion. That is stupid, ignorant and disrespectful of their beliefs.
posted by srboisvert at 7:04 AM on February 10, 2008 [15 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I'd damn near memorized the stump speech Obama keeps giving. This Barack back issue was most welcome.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:06 AM on February 10, 2008


Telling me I can't bring my religion into the public square is tantamount to bringing yours in first, and then denying me the same privilege

Secularism is totally a religion, amirite? It's like how how "all people are created equal" is really its own kind of prejudice because you're assuming that someone's equal rather than not. It's just a different kind of assumption! And the civil rights movement just brought in a new form of racism - the belief that no one should be treated specially because of their race is just another way of saying that we should specially treat everyone the same because of their race.
posted by 0xFCAF at 7:12 AM on February 10, 2008 [12 favorites]


Speaking as an atheist, telling someone to cram their religion is often akin to telling them to ignore some other element of their life that they consider central to their identity. Not very useful.

This was a fantastic speech. I'm not generally much of a fan of religion (see above), but it's really nice to see someone speaking about it in terms of "I have these beliefs, but I also realize that others I would be leading don't all share them" instead of in terms of "Let's just put a label on my King James Bible that says 'the law' and remove ourselves from conscious thought until it comes such time to actually read the damn thing."

This will be my third election I vote in, and the first time I vote for a candidate.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:13 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, oh my god, worst analogy ever in my first sentence there. My apologies, everyone.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:13 AM on February 10, 2008


It will be such a joy to have a president whose speeches I can actually listen to.

Obama doesn't seem to ever have presented himself as a "my way or the highway" kind of guy, and it's understandable that some of us who have been kicked around and ignored these last eight years will be looking for a big budget action movie kind of routing of the status quo, but, damn, the guy can speak!
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:31 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't get the whining.. I am a secularist and I think this is a really well-done speech. The point is not religion and public service should necessarily mix, but that religion can provide a moral backbone that should not be written off solely for being bred of religion.

Griping that your particular point of view is unpopular while at the same time bashing the vast majority of points of view in the country is not conducive to establishing a secularist society, not at all. It is petty, it is immature, and it ignores the entire point: which is that liberalism does not actually disagree with Christian tenets.
posted by shownomercy at 7:51 AM on February 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Religion has no place in public service, period.

Speaking as a philosophical Taoist, which is pretty damn close to being a complete atheist, we are informed by our spiritual beliefs, and to pretend to ignore them in the public sphere is to do just that: pretend.

That said, we must take care to not promote one set of spiritual beliefs over another. The First Amendment has two main clauses, after all, and it is a delicate balancing act between the two. Should we legalize murder because the Bible says thou shall not kill?

And that being said, we are far from a good balance. Were I to run for public office, I have no doubt I would be called a weirdo atheist who doesn't believe in One Nation Under God, and I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Jamaica (don't believe in hell) of getting elected.
posted by tommyD at 8:11 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Psst -- tommyD -- it sometimes snows on Blue Mountain. So you have a slight chance of getting elected.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:30 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw this speech yesterday, and was blown away. While I do not share Obama's religious perspective, I do respect where he's coming from, and he clearly respects where I'm coming from (wherever that may be)--and that's what's been missing from public discourse for at least the past 8 years, basic respect for differing perspectives.

After two terms of GWB, the Republican party, and various other loudmouth groups and individuals telling me that I essentially have no social worth or morality if I don't believe their narrowly specific religion, eight years of not even having a seat at the table, it's actually hard for me to believe that a serious candidate for president is even saying things like this.

This is why I think Obama's could be an important presidency: he has a social perspective that is accepting, inclusive, and deeply humanistic, and would apparently restore basic decency to the White House. He also realizes that the way to trump the loudmouth, identity politics of the past couple of decades is not to counter it directly, because to argue against it is to in a way legitimize it; rather, Obama presents a perspective--obvious to any compassionate, reasonable individual--that is more orthogonal, and by doing so he is changing the framing. If you can change the framing, as the modern Republican party knows well, you've likely won the debate before it starts.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:44 AM on February 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


Vote for Curley '08!

Where do I volunteer?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:45 AM on February 10, 2008


I was just thinking we hadn't had an Obama post in a few hours.
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting speech, it's a very complex issue and he did a good job of both not dumbing it down, but also advancing a reasonable point of view. Masterful in the political sense, at least for the 80% of the population that has at least some religious belief.
posted by cell divide at 8:49 AM on February 10, 2008


I was just thinking we hadn't had an Obama post in a few hours.

What? You really want them to go back to posting about Bush every few hours? Would you like to manually adjust your perspective with this pointy stick or shall I?
posted by loquacious at 8:52 AM on February 10, 2008


I choose None of the Above.

If I want breathless Obama hyping, I can go to reddit.
posted by smackfu at 8:55 AM on February 10, 2008


Telling me I can't bring my religion into the public square is tantamount to bringing yours in first, and then denying me the same privilege.

Why stop with religion? Why not extend the same principle to race? That way, when all of us who share a particular racial identity begin to identify our common interests, we can soon put paid to the devious aspirations of those other races.

Or, you know, perhaps there's some greater good in leaving these issues out of public and political life? Something to do with avoiding the tyranny of the majority?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:58 AM on February 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Vote for Curley '08!

Where do I volunteer?


At the Mayor's office, der.
posted by billysumday at 9:03 AM on February 10, 2008


allkindsoftime, thanks for the link. :)
posted by tarheelcoxn at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2008



Mayor Curley writes "What I am suggesting is this: I am no more principled than any other american 'public servant'. If I need to pander, I'll pander."

If pandering is reassuring, if only in words and promises, some people from the fear that you are the "antichrist" , than it seems to me that Obama did good in that speech. It didn't seem to me that, at least in that speech, he promised a ban on abortions, even if he was vague enough not to say what direction would the trillion dollars take : faith based initiatives or state , law driven distribution of services and welfare ? That's quite important to me, because I want a share of that and I wouldn't like to go ask Father Hypocrite for his approval.

The main instrument used by many bible-thumpers is fear : they'd like their flock to think that a leader that doesn't ban abortion by law must be supporting abortion, even if it is clearly a non sequitur : such a leader will probably eat babies with carrots and burn the bible ! The attack on Christians, and all that fearmongering.

Mayor Curley writes "Religion has no place in public service, period. He can sleep naked with the famous painting of blond Jesus for all I care, but I don't want to hear about it."

It not that I would kill to know wheter he is sleeping with sheeps, for all I care, but it's a bit of information about what he is about or could be about in the future. What if we had Rush Limbaugh in charge ? I'd expect a legislation about throwing drug addicts in the river, expect when they use oxycoton or something to that effect. Similarly, if I had an "against-choice" supporter, I'd expect him to put a ban on abortion, which would affect the life of millions of woman, effectively denying them control over part of their life.

What is a little more ambiguous , at least to me, it's the following
But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition
So if I got him right, he's saying that big shots like MLK were not motivated by faith, but used religious language. I don't see how it follows that it is absurd to demand or expect people not to "inject" their morality into debates, possibily meaning that we can't expect people to abide to their own moral code, not even when they work on public policy . I don't expect them to give up their mores , but I would pretend that they didn't partecipate to the voting when the public policy is contrast with their own morality (which sometime could be not possible) nor attempt to impose their own morality anyhow with the force of law, particulary when at the expense of individual independence.
posted by elpapacito at 9:17 AM on February 10, 2008


The only people who would complain about this speech would be fundamentalists and their phobia of ecumenism.

"Under the false pretenses of "love" and "peace," the Ecumenists even promote the union of Christianity with non-Christian religions."

"For this reason, Traditionalist Orthodox Christians condemn Ecumenism as a Pan-heresy (a heresy embracing all heresies), and regard it to be the religion of Antichrist. "
posted by CrazyJoel at 9:18 AM on February 10, 2008


I think adopting "Shove Jesus Up Your Butt" as your campaign slogan is essentially handing the election to the conservative party and specifically the evangelicals. So what's the answer?

My answer is stop pretending that it matters who wins US elections. The real winner is the multinationals who own the government, whether they're propping up a religious candidate or one portraying himself as some sort of progressive. Mammon's paying for all of it, you can feel confident that Mammon will recoup the investment.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:19 AM on February 10, 2008


Yes, get less involved in politics! It doesn't matter, they're both the same candidate!

People were saying that about Gore v. Bush in 2000, and Kerry v. Bush in 2004. I came close to believing that bullshit in 2000, but never again.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:27 AM on February 10, 2008


My answer is stop pretending that it matters who wins US elections. The real winner is the multinationals who own the government, whether they're propping up a religious candidate or one portraying himself as some sort of progressive.

Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that anyone but the Elders of Zion control the puppet strings around here, folks.
posted by billysumday at 9:29 AM on February 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


The point is not religion and public service should necessarily mix, but that religion can provide a moral backbone that should not be written off solely for being bred of religion.

Like many, I strongly object to the idea that only religion produces morality; after all, moral and ethical codes predate most modern religion. If anything [in my view] attempts to create social order, mixed with a human tendency toward animism, created the first religions. It is more than possible to be highly moral without espousing a religious code.

But, that said, what Obama is saying is that for too long, a few monolithic religious perspectives have dominated public discourse. By actually calling for and embracing true pluralism - "Changing the frame" - we would bring religious perspectives into conversation with one another, and showing that the only path to a fair public policy lies in the areas of compromise and agreement that value all perspectives and privilege none.

This is an amazing speech, carrying a message long overlooked. He is recognizing that no amount of stubborn insistence on the part of the non-religious will quash religious perspectives in American politics, because most Americans are religious in some way, and because it generally means something to them. Do you hear the strategy in the speech? Do you hear the insistence that we recognize reality? Do you hear him pointing out that refusal to address the religious is, partly, responsible for the alienation of the Democratic party from many who should, most logically, support its agenda? Do you hear what was, in fact, the very motivation of the founding fathers in crafting a consistutional government - to reduce the impact of personal denominational perspectives in the act of governing, and ground law in reason and the common good?

Transcript here.

Some excerpts I found important:
For some time now there's been plenty of talk among pundits and pollsters that the political divide within this country has fallen sharply along religious lines. In fact, the single biggest gap in party affiiationl among white Americans today is not between men and women, or those who reside in so-called red states and those who reside in blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who don't.

Conservative leaders have been all too happy to exploit this gap, consistently reminding evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about the issues of abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design.

And Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At times, at best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religion altogether, fearful of offending anyone, or say that regardless of our personal beliefs constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst there are some who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word 'Christian' describes one's political opponents, not a people of faith.

Such strategies for avoidance of the issue may work for progressives when our opponent is Alan Keyes. But over the long haul, I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives, in the lives of the American people. I think it's time we joined a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society.....

Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome - others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

In other words, if we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway.

...because I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that.

But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
posted by Miko at 9:31 AM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think it will be interesting to see how badly Obama loses if he gets the nomination. I picture him as something as our Dukakis. Historically, conservative ideologies like Christianity (especially the american sort) go hand in hand with other conservative ideologies like might/money make right and brown people are not so good. Pandering to the self-important American political religious person and NASCAR dad crowd will just mean more votes for Mr. McCain. America is still a seriously conservative place. See the last 8 years for details.

I also am a little amused by the idea of secularists running around and causing problems. The other day I tried to go to church but a bunch of secularists blocked the doorway! The other day I had an appointment for my speeding ticket at a religious court and a bunch of secularlists disbanded the court! Obama thinks this is Turkey.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:32 AM on February 10, 2008


Oh right I forgot, americans are above race and identity politics. We're well-read cosmopolitan people who for some reason couldnt demand war and more Bush for the past 8 years. Maybe it was just a stage. BIG WIN FOR OBAMA PREDICTED.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 AM on February 10, 2008


The Loch Ness Monster: let's assume that the goal is to have an atheist candidate win the presidency

Who is this atheist candidate of whom you speak?
posted by ssg at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2008


damn dirty ape, have you seen the polls? White voters prefer Obama to Clinton in head to head matchups against McCain. I'm sorry that that doesn't fit into your idea that America is a helplessly racist country, but those are the results that have come out of the last two national polls (CNN and Newsweek, I think). Of course you will make the argument that the polls are wrong and that Kerry was ahead in polls, and eventually lost, etc. So what does that say about Clinton? How badly will she be beaten in November if she's already losing to McCain? I don't understand the logic.

And once again, Miko, thanks for your thoughtful post.
posted by billysumday at 9:41 AM on February 10, 2008


I think it will be interesting to see how badly Obama loses if he gets the nomination. I picture him as something as our Dukakis.

I picture you smoking a big rock of crack. Obama may well lose if he gets the nomination, but it sure won't be a Dukakis style loss. Obama's got passionate support, and a lot of it. Dukakis couldn't have inspired anyone to walk across the street.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:42 AM on February 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


religion can provide a moral backbone

Let me rephrase that part of the speech. You, as an atheist, cannot provide "moral backbone".

If atheists don't feel offended by that insinuation, then maybe we do have no backbone.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:43 AM on February 10, 2008


Christianity (especially the american sort) go hand in hand with other conservative ideologies like might/money make right and brown people are not so good. Pandering to the self-important American political religious person and NASCAR dad crowd

See, that's not a great assumption - it's exactly the one that has cost Democrats the last two elections. There are a lot of Christians - let's start with Catholics, many mainstream Protestants like Lutherans and Methodists and UCC, and historically black denominations - who do not embrace wholly conservative views, are not rich and probably never will be, and sometimes are brown people, let alone sometimes don't dislike brown people. To believe otherwise is something of a sheltered perspective. Try dropping into a religious service in your town; see who's there. Listen to what they're talking about at coffee time. As a personal data point, many religious Christians are in my family, and wavered in their vote over the last few years a lot more than I could understand, because they felt more included by the stated (not lived) principles of right-wing politicians than by the left. A lot of impassioned kitchen-table conversations took place over this - despite their commitment to helping the poor, getting national health care, improving the stability of the middle class, ending the war, they couldn't always get beyond the perception, delivered ably by the right, that Democrats looked down on them.

If we continue to accept the conservative arguments that all Christians are white, prejudiced, wealthy, anti-abortion, anti-immigration right-wingers, we'll continue to lose the support of Christians who aren't. Obama is arguing for making an moral appeal to Americans -- activating their personal morals about justice, poverty, charity -- and as part of that appeal, recognizing that morals and religious beliefs are often connected.
posted by Miko at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't understand the logic.

Thats fine but please start practicing saying "President McCain" in the mirror everyday from now till November. Thanks.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:49 AM on February 10, 2008


Miko, youre free to be hopelessly naive as you like. Its just not convincing when talking about the general election.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:49 AM on February 10, 2008


I should clarify a little just so it doesnt look like Im trolling here. In my experience everytime the left goes ga-ga over a candidate for any office claiming that our shared moral and cultural heritage will transcend everyday dirty politics as we know it and will lead into a clear victory and usher in a new age of compassion, acceptance, wealth, and smarts,... well the candidate usually loses and loses badly.

Im just sick of seeing you guys pull out the same old canard everytime and remaining ignorant of how people like Karl Rove win elections. Hint: it has little to do with PC-friendly platitudes about religion and race and appealing to the decency of all people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:54 AM on February 10, 2008


I'd say the 'hopelessly naive' people are the ones who shield themselves from ever talking to anyone whose point of view is a bit different.
Mr. Obama does surprisingly well among evangelical Christians, an important constituency in swing states. For example, Relevant magazine, which caters to young evangelicals, asked its readers: “Who would Jesus vote for?” Mr. Obama was the winner and came out 27 percentage points ahead of Mrs. Clinton.
posted by Miko at 9:55 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Obama's tactics are a lot more strategic - I won't say Rovean, but definitely well thought out - than people give credit for.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2008


damn dirty ape, I guess I'd just like to see some numbers or some facts that back up your claim other than "well Americans don't like no brown folk." The numbers on the ground and the polls just don't bear it out. And yes, if it goes to a brokered convention with Obama leading in delegates and votes, and the superdelegates give the nomination to Hillary, I will certainly start practicing saying "President McCain" in the mirror. Argh. Am I just throwing out more troll bait? Sorry. Anyway, I'm off to volunteer here in my working class post-industrial ethnically white Ohio city for Obama, and expect to meet with hundreds of others as well. And also, great post allkindsoftime - it really is a quality speech.
posted by billysumday at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2008


Im just sick of seeing you guys pull out the same old canard everytime and remaining ignorant of how people like Karl Rove win elections.

Well, the one person I can think of who seems to have taken the Rovian school of campaigning most to heart kinda just got her ass soundly kicked the other night. It could be that this just doesn't work for the left. And considering that one of Rove's biggest victims is now basically the GOP nominee, it may not be working so well for the right anymore, either.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not even going to bother continuing to read this thread. Honestly, you might as well be arguing whether unicorn fur is magical or SUPER-magical. Your massive appeal to the decency of all is the best way to lose an election in the US. Good luck though! Hopefully Obama will continue to serve in the Senate and give these neato speeches.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2008


I'm not even going to bother continuing to read this thread.

AARGH!! I hate facts! Hulk smash! We'll see ya in November, my friend. Hopefully you'll find it in your heart to vote for the brown guy with magical unicorn powers.
posted by billysumday at 10:02 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


...Is this what it sounds like? When apes cry?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:03 AM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, the one person I can think of who seems to have taken the Rovian school of campaigning most to heart kinda just got her ass soundly kicked the other night.

Calling Hilary Rovian is silly. Look at what he did to McCain in 2000 for Rovian.
posted by smackfu at 10:08 AM on February 10, 2008


Miko: showing that the only path to a fair public policy lies in the areas of compromise and agreement that value all perspectives and privilege none

On first reading, that sounds good, but it really doesn't hold up after a little thought. Our policy discussions must privilege reason and facts if we aim to generate fair public policy. If we are willing to give no more value to perspectives based on fact or reason than those based on religion, then I don't see how we are generating fair public policy. Rather, we would be allowing the tyranny of the majority.

He is recognizing that no amount of stubborn insistence on the part of the non-religious will quash religious perspectives in American politics, because most Americans are religious in some way, and because it generally means something to them.

I agree wholeheartedly with you here, but the only response that I can see is to appeal to reason and to hope that those who hold religious beliefs will allow reason to guide their public policy choices and leave religion to guide their personal choices. As in the USA, most people in Canada are religious, but religious discourse in the political sphere is far less central in Canada than it is in the USA. There are a lot of reasons for this difference, but I'd like to think that it shows that reason can appeal to religious voters.
posted by ssg at 10:13 AM on February 10, 2008


Calling Hilary Rovian is silly. Look at what he did to McCain in 2000 for Rovian.

What he did to McCain in 2000 was fucking unconscionable. And he pulled the same shit on Kerry in 2004, putting forth the disgusting insinuation that Kerry had shot himself to get out of Vietnam. A chickenhawk attacking the records of war heroes is low, and definitely lower than HRC has gotten. But the general tactics of character assassination? The racebaiting? Don't kid yourself -- she's been running one sleazy damn campaign, and the "I learned from it YOU!!" culprit here is certainly Rove, et al. Unless I'm seriously forgetting something, this isn't how Bill ran. Not at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:17 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


ssg: I agree with you. If you read the speech or listen to it, you'll see that at the end he does privilege reason as the very common ground that will inevitably emerge from discussions in which a variety of religious and non-religious perspectives are included. Look for the discussion of Abraham.

Again, this is what the writers of the Constitution concluded. Which I know he knows, as a professor of Constitutional law.
posted by Miko at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2008


Ok, I really must go, but one last point about the Rovian tactics thing. What's amazed me about Obama is his really uncanny ability to use nearly everything to his advantage. Smear him as a Muslim? An opportunity for him to talk about his faith and then bringing people together. Paint him as the black candidate? Watch him rack up the endorsements of the whitest politicians we have. He's too inexperienced? Well, he doesn't want to be experienced, because he wants to change Washington! I just don't know how they're going to smear him. They can bring up Rezko, but there's nothing there (so far). Plus, Americans don't really care about stuff like that. The worst they've been able to do is the Muslim stuff, and all it does make the people saying it sound crazy. They can't really insinuate that he's black. Because he's, well, black. They can go after his church, which will just give him another opportunity to reach out to evangelicals. I used to think that the Democrats' mistakes in elections were that they didn't hit back hard against unfair accusations. But Barack's strategy seems to be to absorb the hit, acknowledge it, and use it to express why it actually makes him the better candidate. I mean, c'mon, you have to give the guy credit for coming from nowhere and in the last three/four years coming to dominate the national political stage. He's not like other politicians, people. He may not be any better at governing, but he's certainly better at campaigning.
posted by billysumday at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


But the general tactics of character assassination? The racebaiting?

You think Hilary is racebaiting and assassinating his character? Have we even seen a single negative ad on the air? She has not been running a "sleazy damn campaign", no matter how much of an Obama fan you are.
posted by smackfu at 10:36 AM on February 10, 2008


You think Hilary is racebaiting

Well, I really like Hillary too, and I wouldn't push this point very far, but many people considered her MLK/Johnson comment as racebaiting - it definitely suggested that a black person needed a powerful white person in office to get things done.

I don't think her campaign is particularly sleazy, but I haven't liked seeing her campaign work to change the rules of play in Nevada and Florida.
posted by Miko at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2008


Miko: Sorry if I misread you above. I was addressing your comments rather than Obama's speech, which is significantly less straightforward.

I'm not sure that I find Obama's discussion of Abraham convincing. How we react to one religiously-motivated person is entirely different from how we react to a large group (or even a plurality) of religiously-motivated people. Using the extreme example of Abraham diverts attention from the real issue of how freedoms and rights for those who are not part of a religious majority are maintained in a democracy.

In general, Obama's speech reads more like a neat sidestep of the issue than a delivery of an important message (not that I blame him for taking this approach when addressing a religious group).
posted by ssg at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2008


I'm sorry - I didn't mean the part where he talks about Abraham Lincoln, if that's what you meant by "one religiously motivated person." I meant the part where he talks about the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac:
Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God's test of devotion.

But it's fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.
posted by Miko at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


My answer is stop pretending that it matters who wins US elections. The real winner is the multinationals who own the government

Oh, okay.
posted by spaltavian at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Please stop telling secularists that they are a religion. That is stupid, ignorant and disrespectful of their beliefs.

Ok. I'll stop calling it a religion. Allow me to rephrase my comment in that case.

Telling me I can't bring my religionbelief system into the public square is tantamount to bringing yours in first, and then denying me the same privilege.

Secularists pretending not to be a religion is kind of like the kids in high school who all of a sudden discovered that the coolest thing they could possibly do was to actually pretend they're not in high school. They wanted to be cool so bad that I think at times they actually might have believed they weren't in high school, with the rest of us.

Call it whatever the fuck you want, but I got news for you: you're still in high school.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:53 AM on February 10, 2008


Sheesh. Rovian political tactics are indeed potent, but like all tactics they are not frackin' invincible. Repeated usage eventually leads to reduced effectiveness as the political landscape adapts to and is changed by it. Indeed, as more and more politicos seek to replicate Rove's success, the less and less effective his tactics become. Everyone's getting used to it.

The bile and ill will of the populace is not an unlimited political resource. To believe otherwise is just naive cynicism, as equally foolish as naive optimism.
posted by PsychoKick at 10:54 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I should clarify a little just so it doesnt look like Im trolling here. In my experience everytime the left goes ga-ga over a candidate for any office claiming that our shared moral and cultural heritage will transcend everyday dirty politics as we know it and will lead into a clear victory and usher in a new age of compassion, acceptance, wealth, and smarts,... well the candidate usually loses and loses badly.

damndirtyape, I'm glad you say you're not trolling, because taken at face value, your dismissive, unsubstantiated and unsupported assertions sure do look like trolling. Comments like the above are not only historically incorrect (an idealist has never won office for Democrats? Really? Really?), they mischaracterize what has actually been said in this thread.

Obama is not promising Shangri-La, he is not claiming he will heal all of our wounds; he is simply saying that if people can't get on the same page and actually talk to one another and listen with some mutual respect, then we have no hope of correcting the things that are wrong with the United States. Further, he doesn't claim the he can do it all either--central to his message is empowering all of us to change ourselves. This not only happens to be the only way meaningful change can ever happen (ever try to change a person? futile; people mostly only can change themselves, not others), but is what--according to actual data--many people are hungry for.

I think it's why there has been such a huge turnout for Democratic primaries and caucuses (in many states more than doubling Republican turnout), and I think it's why voters 18-29 are turning out in such huge numbers for Obama's campaign, to vote, work, canvass, etc.--they are in a generation that is hungry for meaning, for something other than selfish consumption, and Obama's calls for all of us to participate in making our country better are clearly resonating loudly.

Now, you think that's pie-in-the-sky bullshit rhetoric, and that it won't translate to votes. But the data so far shows that you're wrong. If you're going to support such a cynical perspective, coupled with such a dismissive attitude, at least do us the courtesy of supporting what you say in some way.

Also, on preview: She has not been running a "sleazy damn campaign", no matter how much of an Obama fan you are.

I recommend today's column from Frank Rich, where he considers exactly that.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:55 AM on February 10, 2008


religion can provide a moral backbone

Let me rephrase that part of the speech. You, as an atheist, cannot provide "moral backbone".

If atheists don't feel offended by that insinuation, then maybe we do have no backbone.
He isn't insinuating that atheists are amoral; in fact, that's a huge part of the speech, that atheists are moral people too.

For some people, religion is the center of their morality. For others, the rational knowledge that it feels good to do good to others is the center of their morality.

Don't be too sensitive.
posted by JDHarper at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2008


Voters on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rightly disappointed by the similarity of the foreign policy positions of the two remaining Democratic Party presidential candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. However, there are still some real discernable differences to be taken into account. Indeed, given the power the United States has in the world, even minimal differences in policies can have a major difference in the lives of millions of people.
posted by homunculus at 11:17 AM on February 10, 2008


She has not been running a "sleazy damn campaign", no matter how much of an Obama fan you are.
Her mischaracterization of Obama's "present" votes in the Illinois legislature was exactly sleazy.

Obama voted "present" instead of "no" for certain anti-choice legislation.

Clinton sent out a mailer about this, claiming he isn't strong on abortion rights.

The then-president of Illinois Planned Parenthood responded that they had specifically asked Obama, and other strong abortion rights legislators, to vote "present" instead of "no". This was to encourage other pro-abortion rights legislators who were in difficult reelection positions to vote "present", and therefore to not feel pressured to vote "yes", for the fundamentally (and intentionally) flawed and politicized anti-abortion legislation that was placed in front of them.

The then-president of Planned Parenthood actually said that Obama was consistently and completely one of their strongest supporters.

Clinton then sent out the mailer again.

There have been other sleazy things the Clinton campaign has done, too. The whole "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina" thing may have been unintentional, but it's hard to believe that when the Clinton campaign responded to the uproar by stating "gee, we didn't mean anything racial by it, but hey, it does seem to have portrayed Obama as the black candidate, which may hurt him nationally!"

And the willful misinterpretation of Obama's Reagan comments, even after Obama explicitly clarified? Repeatedly?

Her campaign is not the sleaziest that I have ever seen. But it's sleazy.
posted by Flunkie at 11:23 AM on February 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


LooseFilter, I recommend never trusting Frank Rich on the topic of the Clintons. Bob Somerby, who wrote the post at that link, isn't my cup of tea, but he's often correct anyway.

Also, as JDHarper points out, "religion can provide" != "religion alone can provide."

As Obama points out, religion motivated, and religious imagery was used to advance, the causes of abolitionism and civil rights. When I first read Obama's speech, I thought that his whole "secularists say there should be no religion in the public square" thing was a straw man. This thread has proven otherwise.

My favorite part of the speech is Obama's frank discussion of his own religion. He was raised with a healthy skepticism of organized religion, and as a choice, not an epiphany, became a Christian, understanding that it didn't mean an end to doubts.

I know it's kind of like the soft bigotry of low expectations, but compare that thoughtful, forthright discussion with the current president's explanation. Bush claimed Jesus Christ as his favorite philosopher in a debate in 2000, "because he changed my heart." When pressed for some sort of explanation as to how, he said, "Well, if they don't know, it's going to be hard to explain. When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the savior, it changes your heart. It changes your life. And that's what happened to me."

This is a refreshingly honest, thoughtful, and reasoned speech.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2008


JDHarper is being kind when he says "don't be too sensitive". Don't be a jerk. He says "can" right there. Let's use standard English here. Is Obama speaking code? Plenty of right-wingers will come right out and say if you're not religious you're immoral. Is the atheist dogma now that religion can't provide a moral background?

I'm a long-time atheist and minority. If someone's religion motivates them to stand out and get firehosed or beaten to support equal rights for all Americans then god bless them. My grandfather lives in a highly depressed neighborhood in St Louis. One of the thriving institutions is the church he's been attending for 50+ years. They do a lot of good for the community. I'm not going to say "where are the atheists", because that's not my point, it's a cultural thing, a cultural institution, if you want to help out your community that church is a great place to do it. There are other alternatives as well. Let a thousand flowers bloom. If I lived out there I'd be thinking about joining the church. If I wanted to help out with the good work they do I don't believe they'd care if I was a believer. I've attended services & it's not like you have to sign anything. They're fun, good music & hell I enjoy the sermon, I don't believe in god but I'm down with a good parable.
posted by Wood at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


There are some brilliant and moving rhetorical moves in that speech. Calling the police on Abraham; the question of whose Christian nation. And the acceptance and incorporation of the doctor's criticism. Thank you for this.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:37 AM on February 10, 2008


ibmcginty: LooseFilter, I recommend never trusting Frank Rich on the topic of the Clintons.

I agree--as a general rule I trust little that the NYT prints these days. But Rich makes some fair points in this column about Clinton's campaign so far.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:37 AM on February 10, 2008


damn dirty ape writes "I think it will be interesting to see how badly Obama loses if he gets the nomination. I picture him as something as our Dukakis. Historically, conservative ideologies like Christianity (especially the american sort) go hand in hand with other conservative ideologies like might/money make right and brown people are not so good. Pandering to the self-important American political religious person and NASCAR dad crowd will just mean more votes for Mr. McCain. America is still a seriously conservative place. See the last 8 years for details."

First of all, that is defeatist. It's important to note that Dukakis wasn't anything but a candidate that the party settled for. They didn't love him, but he was adequate. Obama is a different sort of candidate who has brought a large portion of the disaffected out of the background to find a voice again, which is really where the middle is in the US right now. It's not all the way over to the right. Most people want a candidate with integrity, who is capable of framing the problems we face in a sense of work to be done, rather than rocks to be thrown. The US is conservative, but not nearly as much as we've been lead to believe. Republicans have been able to frame the debate to their advantage using hot-button issues that don't have anything to do with philosophical ideals that comprise the two major belief systems. But people don't really want to hand the nation over to the richest few, and they don't really want to hate each other over contrived issues. Not even the conservatives. I think if you offer a viable candidate of a higher caliber, who can appeal to the higher nature of the middle rather than their base instincts, who is difficult to impugn, then there is a real chance to do something. There is a growing hunger for authenticity and to end divisive politics, which have practically been poisonous in the last seven years.

The only thing Dukakis had going for him was his recent immigrant roots, but it turns out that short Greek men don't make for great candidates on television - not that this is right, but it's reality. I never once saw anyone cry at one of his rallies.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:04 PM on February 10, 2008


In my experience, many religious types feel they can sin all they want, and then ask forgiveness from their god. They may feel guilty about doing unto others as they would not want done to themselves, but they pray and mull over it, maybe chastise themselves a bit, maybe do some hail marys or something... They do what they feel they must to survive, and they rationalize it later.

Religion does not corner the market on morality. Far from it.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:06 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


They do what they feel they must to survive, and they rationalize it later.

Whoa. Generalize much?
posted by LooseFilter at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2008


Who is this atheist candidate of whom you speak?

Politicians are quite often sociopaths. I imagine there have been several atheist presidents - they just kept it a secret while publicly going through the motions.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:10 PM on February 10, 2008


LooseFilter, I'm underwhelmed, upon reading the Rich article. He has 4 or 5 valid points, surrounded by an almost impenetrable wall of scorn, assuming the worst, and refusing to acknowledge, much less consider, counterarguments.

And I'm an Obama supporter, sick to death of the Clintons, predisposed to agree with his point.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:14 PM on February 10, 2008


Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that anyone but the Elders of Zion control the puppet strings around here, folks.

I think it's pretty shitty that you had to resort to Rovian accusations of anti-Semitism to counter the observation that big business owns politicians.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:24 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim: "Politicians are quite often sociopaths. I imagine there have been several atheist presidents - they just kept it a secret while publicly going through the motions."

I suspect that George W. may be close. Based on leaked comments he's made about Evangelicals and the statements of those in the past that he's worked with (cf.), I think it's not hard to imagine that he just pays lip-service to the religious right and secretly mocks them. I think it's quite likely based on the evidence available.

With regards to the ongoing campaign, the more "authentically religious" the candidates get, the more creeped out I -- as a totally faithless secularist -- get. I'm a whole lot more put off by the idea of someone who's actually listening to voices in their head in office, than I am with the idea of someone who just lies and says they're on the Hotline to God in order to get elected. The former is something I'll never understand, while the latter is just politics -- shitty, dishonest politics, but rational, understandable, everyday politics. I like predictability and rationality in my leaders, not 'faith.'

George W. was a terrible president for any number of reasons, but if he really is a closet atheist who managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Evangelicals without actually drinking the Kool Aid, I'll cede him a point. Realpolitik may be ugly, but it's a lot prettier than religion.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:59 PM on February 10, 2008


I think it's pretty shitty that you had to resort to Rovian accusations of anti-Semitism to counter the observation that big business owns politicians.

I'm sorry, did I type Elders of Zion? That's just a macro on my keyboard. I meant the Illuminati.
posted by billysumday at 1:00 PM on February 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Obama brings his religious convictions to his political office on what issue? Health care? If so, the idea that health care is a religious charity issue for the poor is itself a poor argument, ultimately coming from the fatalistic perspective of miracles versus disease. Conservatives are more comfortable blaming victims, not even willing to vaccinate for sexually transmitted disease or help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Universal health care is good for business. Obama is an old moralist in sheep's clothing.
posted by Brian B. at 1:09 PM on February 10, 2008


Brian B. writes "Obama brings his religious convictions to his political office on what issue? Health care? If so, the idea that health care is a religious charity issue for the poor is itself a poor argument, ultimately coming from the fatalistic perspective of miracles versus disease."

OK, point out exactly where you're getting this. Here's the transcript.

"Conservatives are more comfortable blaming victims, not even willing to vaccinate for sexually transmitted disease or help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Universal health care is good for business. Obama is an old moralist in sheep's clothing."

I'm afraid I don't follow you. Where are you getting this?
posted by krinklyfig at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2008


LooseFilter: "Whoa. Generalize much?"

This entire thread is filled with generalizations. Unfair to pick on little old me. Check out Obama over there...

"What I am suggesting is this: secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square."

All secularists are wrong when they ask all believers to leave THEIR religion at the door...

And you're questioning my generalizing judgment? LOL
posted by ZachsMind at 1:19 PM on February 10, 2008


I'm sorry, did I type Elders of Zion? That's just a macro on my keyboard. I meant the Illuminati.

Where's my "troll" macro? I feel the need to find it in order to describe you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 PM on February 10, 2008


Where's my "troll" macro? I feel the need to find it in order to describe you.

I'm a troll because I made a joke about a person who said "The real winner is the multinationals who own the government, whether they're propping up a religious candidate or one portraying himself as some sort of progressive."?

On the internet, no one can see you knowingly smile.
posted by billysumday at 1:42 PM on February 10, 2008



But it's fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham.


stop snitching
posted by eustatic at 1:45 PM on February 10, 2008


Secularists pretending not to be a religion is kind of like the kids in high school who all of a sudden discovered that the coolest thing they could possibly do was to actually pretend they're not in high school. They wanted to be cool so bad that I think at times they actually might have believed they weren't in high school, with the rest of us.

Call it whatever the fuck you want, but I got news for you: you're still in high school.


Thanks for the heads up. I've got Biology now. GTG.
posted by srboisvert at 1:46 PM on February 10, 2008


To wit: pulling out the Elders of Zion card is sort of, like, making fun of rabid anti-Semites in the circles where I roll. But maybe you're joking too, Blazecock. So hard to tell here on these intrawebs.
posted by billysumday at 1:49 PM on February 10, 2008


ZachsMind: All secularists are wrong when they ask all believers to leave THEIR religion at the door...

And you're questioning my generalizing judgment? LOL


I didn't write the quote you're responding to, and haven't made any egregious generalizations in my comments (that I recall--feel free to fact-check me on that).

Generalizations are a necessary though flawed device to enable discussion of complex issues and points-of-view, which is why it's important to be sure that any generalization is both fairly accurate and warranted. Your statement ("They do what they feel they must to survive, and they rationalize it later.") was so completely, hatefully over the top that it deserved to be called out. The question of degree here does matter, and your statement smacks of real bigotry.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:10 PM on February 10, 2008


Also, as a general comment, I notice a false dilemma that often comes up in conversations of this kind, and one that Obama actually addresses head on in this speech: that people are either secular or religious. In reality (in my experience, at least), spirituality and religion--like most human things--falls on a spectrum with militant atheism on one end and rabid fundamentalism on the other. Many people simply do not define all of their lives by their religion or lack thereof, many people have highly individual and unorthodox takes on their beliefs, and I think that conversation that falls into such a false dilemma is ultimately sort of shallow.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I'm a lifelong secularist, and I just donated to Obama's campaign. He might still lose, but I can't be so cynical as to give up, and there's nothing wrong with what he said here. Jimmy Carter has a religious background and draws from it the same way. Same with a lot of my family members, mostly Democrats. From my point of view, he's willing to allow his faith to inform him, but he doesn't expect everyone to believe the way he does, or at all. I see that as a positive, not a dealbreaker. Huckabee is still running, and I find his take on religion a lot more scary. He's a theocrat, straight up, with no apologies. What if he ends up as McCain's VP running against Clinton? I think that has a good chance of turning out real bad.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2008


Miko writes "Christianity (especially the american sort) go hand in hand with other conservative ideologies like might/money make right and brown people are not so good."

That's an inaccurate generalization that may lead to a inaccurate conclusion, such as that almost every christian is an extremist. Apparently, the most vocifeours extremist ones are their self proclaimed, unelected leaders/preachers who, in my opinion, are primarily exploiting part of the needs Obama was referring to, the "need to a meaning of life" or "need for a greater purposes" that some may recognized as Maslow's "need for self actualization" combined with "need to be socially accepted".

That exploitation has the obvious goal of obtaining their consesus, both political and financial. I utterly despise these hypocrites, but I can't help recognizing the efficacy of their methods as they seem to have quite an hold on their followers. One can't just ignore the fact that they are able to direct some votes, but more importantly to suggest some people into focusing their attention on debates such as gay marriage and abortion, which are certainly interesting, but not necessarily the most pressing ones as nobody is being "forced" into behaving in a way that isn't the one dictated by their own beliefs.

Economy seems to be a far more pressing issues such as healthcare and social security, environmental issues and foreign policies.
posted by elpapacito at 2:41 PM on February 10, 2008


Religion can provide a moral backbone or as Obama puts it, we need an injection of morality into our political debate.

"Religion" provides just enough backbone and "morality" to justify genocide too. This idea that we need religious people in government because atheists (or "secularists" or whatever neologism religious freaks in the US are using these days) lack "morality" is nothing but incorrect. Religion justifies evil, full stop. It always has.

We have no "faith based initiatives" in Canada. I consider myself very politically aware, and I had no idea until recently that Stephen Harper, our Conservative (big-C, as in Conservative Party of Canada) Prime Minister, was an Evangelical Christian. It was never mentioned (to my knowledge) in his campaign and was never a matter in debates. Politicians, even conservative ones, don't have to be religious at all (look at Ralph Klein, former premier of Alberta and one of the most loved/reviled conservatives in modern Canadian history: Completely apathetic religiously, and nobody gave a flying fuck, including his own socially-conservative rural base); and if they are, as in Harper's case, nobody HAS to know about it.

Outside the US, that is. And I'm happy not be living in the US anymore and to see Obama without the rose-coloured glasses that so many Americans are (and I'm being more than gentle here). This speech doesn't impress me, because the mere fact that a "liberal" presidential candidate has to spew "I'm a person of faith!" so damn often does not impress me, not even a tiny bit.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:01 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


elpapacito, Miko didn't write that. She was just quoting and refuting it. That was damn dirty ape.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 3:16 PM on February 10, 2008


Miko: We are discussing the same section. The one religiously-motivated person I am speaking about is the biblical Abraham. It is easy for us to oppose Abraham, because pretty much everyone agrees that what he is doing is wrong (because they don't hear the voice of God or what have you). However, the current difficult political issues involve a very large group or a plurality of people who hear, for the most part indirectly though their churches, the voice of God on a particular issue.

So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.

The problem with this statement is that it doesn't address what we should do when a large proportion of people think it is a "common law" that, for example, homosexuality is a wrong. Do we codify as law whatever the majority believes is right? How do we maintain the rights of minority groups? On the other hand, can we, by analogy to the Abraham story, call Child Protective Services if a parent teaches their children that homosexuality is wrong on the theory that it may harm them?

I guess that my reading of this statement is pessimistic (and, I would argue, more likely to be what religious groups hear), while your reading is more optimistic. Unless I'm mistaken, your reading is that we can make fair public policy by relying only on reason and our shared observations of objective reality. From that position, however, it follows that the religious will have to put aside their religious beliefs in the public political sphere.

It may not be intentional, but I think what Obama has said here is quite clever, because it allows for those two interpretations: one to please each side of the debate.
posted by ssg at 3:26 PM on February 10, 2008


All the secularists who are bashing Obama in this thread need to wake up and smell the coffee about Hillary Clinton's religious beliefs. Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, which is one of the most liberal denominations within mainline Protestantism. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is a member of the Fellowship, the secretive evangelical group that was labeled in an exposé by Harper's Magazine as an organization of "America's secret theocrats." According to an article in Atlantic Monthly, after joining the Fellowship, Hillary Clinton also joined several prayer groups within the Senate. Hillary even hired a "faith guru" for her campaign to burnish her religious credentials.

There are two choices here. You can have Obama who talks about religion and faith, but within the context of a discussion about how faith fits into a secular pluralist society. Or you can have Hillary Clinton who seems to embrace a very top-down, secretive, elitist model of faith that mirrors the top-down, secretive nature of her campaign. As an agnostic, I feel more comfortable with the first rather than second.
posted by jonp72 at 3:59 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, Hillary Clinton wouldn't make a terrible president. She would be good. The biggest thing she has going against her is that the right-wing would be so extremely motivated by her nomination, and then her presidency. It isn't fair to her, but it's true-- she's less "electable" because of it. Obama does not have that problem. In fact, independent and conservative voters seem to like him.

In addition to that, he has a couple other perks that I like: He's more liberal than Clinton. He speaks intelligently and he inspires people. He inspires me, at least, and I haven't been inspired by a politician-- well, ever. Gore, after he left office maybe.

As much as I would like to imagine that Obama would ride into office and usher in a new golden era for the United States, I think it's unlikely that will happen. I think his policies will be good in a lot of ways, but in the same ways Clinton's are: health care, education, more progressive taxation, slow withdrawal from Iraq. Neither one of them is going to impose a theocracy on us. Either one of them will be infinitely better for the country than the current administration.

This bickering about which of the two candidates is a fundamentalist bible thumper seems quite silly and counterproductive to me.

The notable difference between their presidencies will be how much vitriol and division each one causes. Clinton, arguably through no fault of her own, has a deficit in this area. She inspires hate in the right wing. I know this first hand, because my conservative family and friends leap out of their seats and pound their fists and raise their voices when her name is mentioned. Obama, on the other hand, has an asset in this area. He speaks intelligently, and well, and inspires people. He seems to be attractive to independents and even some conservatives. People like him. I like him.

I know Hillary is intelligent. When I hear her speak, she leaves me cold. Clintonites, can you point us to any of her speeches which rouse you, which make you feel hopeful about our future, which make you feel proud to be a citizen of the United States? That's what I get from Obama. And I'm wondering whether there's the same thing going on with Clinton and I'm just missing it.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 4:24 PM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I notice a false dilemma that often comes up in conversations of this kind, and one that Obama actually addresses head on in this speech: that people are either secular or religious.

What's more, secular can describe just the political realm. You can favor secular (ie, non-sectarian) governance, while practicing your own religion, in part because that kind of government is less likely to interfere with your private beliefs.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:44 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, Hillary Clinton wouldn't make a terrible president. She would be good. The biggest thing she has going against her is that the right-wing would be so extremely motivated by her nomination,

The biggest thing going against her, in my opinion, is that she's even more bought-and-paid-for than Bill was. And even if her hands aren't completely tied by the favors she owes, she is so risk-averse that she might as well be a Republican.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:44 PM on February 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think what Obama has said here is quite clever, because it allows for those two interpretations: one to please each side of the debate.

I don't know; maybe I am giving it the more optimistic reading, because I think what he's saying is that indeed, when a large group opposes something (say, gay marriage, a subject on which he has applied this reasoning in the past) that another group supports, and both claim moral grounds for supporting it, that both need to meet and seek a solution that represents a path between the opposing views based on fairness, reason, and the common good. That's why he supports civil unions for all people, and marriage ceremonies only within religious denominations. As one example.

In any case, I think that the speech is quite clever, because it amounts to a defense of pluralism and civil government, yet justifies it from within a religious context. I see how he did that, too, and I think it's darned smart as well as respectful and a good way to win elections.
posted by Miko at 4:46 PM on February 10, 2008


she's even more bought-and-paid-for than Bill was

I may be naive for thinking it, but I feel like the 90's were pretty good and I think of Hillary's presidency, if it happens, as being more of that. I can live with that. I think a potato as president would be a relief after the last eight years.

But I think Obama has a chance to be extraordinary.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 4:50 PM on February 10, 2008


she is so risk-averse that she might as well be a Republican

I remain astonished by people who still, even after these past eight years, say that democrats might as well be republicans because they're all the same.

I was thinking recently about how some of our better leaders have come from times of hardship-- Lincoln, the Civil War. FDR, the Great Depression and World War II. Now there's a chance for a great leader to emerge from our hardship. Except in this case our hardship is the Bush presidency.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 5:00 PM on February 10, 2008


TLNM, I didn't say that "there's no difference between the dems and the republicans". But there's far less than there ought to be, especially given the big hint the voters dropped during the mid-terms. Take a look at Matt Taibbi's (yeah, I know, but it's still very worth a read) take on the Dem leadership and the war. If there's even a shred of truth in it (and I think there's more than a shred) it's absolutely chilling.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:11 PM on February 10, 2008


George, agreed, and I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. But I think that several people have said that exact thing in these threads in the past few days: that dems and republicans are the same. I agree wholeheartedly that there is less difference than there should be. If I had my way, we would have fully socialized medicine and education in this country, and a crazy-progressive tax scheme. But that's not going to happen over night. And good lord have the Republicans put us in bad shape. In a very measurable sense with the economy, the deficit, and loss of life in the war, but also in a less-measurable soul-losing sense with torture and losing our standing in the world. I really cannot imagine us being in this mess if the Supreme Court had gone a different way in 2000.

I just read your article and I'm bummed by it. For sure, the Democrats are incompetent, and some of them are evil. Even so, I'll take a Clinton presidency over a Bush presidency every day of week and Twice on Sunday.

So, yes, go Obama. I set up a recurring donation with him about five months ago and if he gets the nomination I'll take to the streets and knock on doors for him. If Clinton gets the nomination I'll cry but I'll still donate to her campaign in October. I doubt I'll hit the streets for her, though.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 5:50 PM on February 10, 2008


In any case, I think that the speech is quite clever, because it amounts to a defense of pluralism and civil government, yet justifies it from within a religious context. I see how he did that, too, and I think it's darned smart as well as respectful and a good way to win elections.

Miko, your comment made me realize what it is fundamentally that I like about Obama, and that none of the remaining candidates have: his ideas are his own; he has a clear and well considered worldview; this informs his principles, and how he determines his political perspectives and policies; he is able to articulate and elaborate those in both the persuasive and policy aspects of public service; etc. but mainly because he clearly thinks--and thinks well--for himself. I have never gotten that sense from either Clinton, or really any major political figure in my lifetime (hm, maybe Jimmy Carter, but I was too young to say).
posted by LooseFilter at 6:01 PM on February 10, 2008


... both claim moral grounds for supporting it, that both need to meet and seek a solution that represents a path between the opposing views based on fairness, reason, and the common good.

Maybe I'm just letting my Canadian bias speak here, but I don't think that compromise is the ideal approach to take if you want to promote and safeguard the rights of minority groups.

That said, Obama seems the most sensible candidate by far and I'd be quite happy to see him win (and I think his problem resolution approach could help in a lot of cases).
posted by ssg at 6:05 PM on February 10, 2008


Let me rephrase that part of the speech. You, as an atheist, cannot provide "moral backbone".

If atheists don't feel offended by that insinuation, then maybe we do have no backbone.


I think his meaning was: "Religion can be used to explain moral ideas to religious people in a way they can feel." I used 'feel' rather then 'understand' because the urge to do the right thing is not a simple rational decision but rather something that people are driven to do. If 90% of the voters out there were atheists, then of course you would only need to make rational and/or empathic arguments for your cause. But making a moral argument from a religious standpoint can help your cause succeed in a largely religious society.
I should clarify a little just so it doesnt look like Im trolling here. In my experience everytime the left goes ga-ga over a candidate for any office claiming that our shared moral and cultural heritage will transcend everyday dirty politics as we know it and will lead into a clear victory and usher in a new age of compassion, acceptance, wealth, and smarts,... well the candidate usually loses and loses badly. --damn dirty ape
When was the last time that happened? I certainly can't remember it ever happening. It certainly wasn't Al Gore or John Kerry, nor was it Dukakis. So who are you talking about?
And it's not like Hillary Clinton is a big winner here. So it appears that you are simply arguing a democratic loss is inevitable.

As far as whether or not Clinton is running a Dirty campaign, my feeling is that she has been. There was a long line of "racially sensitive" comments made by her campaign and people associated with it, up until her SC loss at which point they stopped entirely. If they were all accidental, why would it suddenly stop? And how come neither the Edwards campaign nor any other made similar comments?
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on February 10, 2008


delmoi, I had the experience that ape describes a little bit with Howard Dean. In fact, the 2004 election was exactly that feeling: Go Dean! YAY, DEAN! Oh. I see. Ok, Kerry. Alright, whee, Kerry. Hmm. Go, kerry. What's that? You voted before the war before you voted against it? ok. Whatever you say, kerry. Here's fifty bucks for your campaign. What's this? A glossy photo of you and Edwards holding hands in an awkward, uncomfortable sort of way? Thanks a lot, John Kerry. Oh, you're conceding Ohio without asking for a recount. Ok, I guess. Another four years of Bush. What's that? Habeus Corpus suspended? Ok, Bush. What? You've been torturing people to death? And you're outing our own CIA agents? Hmmm. And now you've bankrupted the country? The dollar is worth fifty cents Canadian? Whatever. I don't care anymore. Does France just let people move in, or what? Wait, what's this guy on tv. Obama? What kind of a crazy name is that? Barack Obama? Ok, whatever. Wait, he's making sense. Hmm. Go, Obama. YAY, OBAMA!
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 7:48 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


As far as whether or not Clinton is running a Dirty campaign, my feeling is that she has been. There was a long line of "racially sensitive" comments made by her campaign and people associated with it, up until her SC loss at which point they stopped entirely. If they were all accidental, why would it suddenly stop? And how come neither the Edwards campaign nor any other made similar comments?


Well, if they were accidental, or even targeting a specific state, you'd expect them to stop. I'm not even curious as to why two campaigns don't say the exact same thing, but as for dirty politics, that's politics.
posted by Brian B. at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2008


"The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:14 PM on February 10, 2008


If anyone's interested, here's the long dormant MeFites for Obama page over at My Obama.
posted by maryh at 10:23 PM on February 10, 2008


I'd say that Kerry was a closer parallel to Dukakis. Which makes Obama...? Anyway, I think that this is a well-thought-out and clear explanation of where Obama stands on the religion issue, which contrasts nicely with Clinton's tendency to hedge and with the clear, forceful, and utterly bugnuts stuff coming from Huckabee.
Incidentally, does anyone know where McCain stands on the religion thing? He's been working hard to burnish his "conservative" credentials throughout the campaign, particularly during these last few weeks, but is it just me or does he seem to ignore the religious angle that Romney and Huckabee were so busy fighting over?
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:13 PM on February 10, 2008


In general, from reading the blogs, the Clinton supporters strike me as small-minded, cynical, conspiratorial and with a dark view of humanity and of the potential of this country to do good. Debbie Downers one and all.

She probably deserves better supporters than that, and if Obama wasn't around, I think her campaign would probably be a bit more sunny and less depressing.

If she wins, it'll be more petty corruption, more selling out of the weak by the powerful, more ill-considered ventures into foreign countries. But at the very least it will be done competently. I'm okay with cynical, corrupt government as long as its executed with competence.

I'd much prefer Obama, though. Because then we'd at least have the chance to reach for greatness instead of settling for mere competence.
posted by empath at 1:05 AM on February 11, 2008


In fact, I'd be rather okay with a McCain administration. At the very least we'd not be torturing people. Or at least not torturing people as much. And that's surely an improvement over the current situation.

It's kind of sad how low my standards have gotten.

But of the three Obama is the one that gives me the warm fuzzies and makes me hope that I don't have to settle.

There, I said it. He's mongering hope and I'm buying it.

Can't wait to vote for him on Tuesday. This is the last time I'm going to suspend my political cynicism and be idealistic. If he loses I'm going to start writing in Cthulhu.
posted by empath at 1:08 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


ethnomethodologist: This speech doesn't impress me, because the mere fact that a "liberal" presidential candidate has to spew "I'm a person of faith!" so damn often does not impress me, not even a tiny bit.

It's true that there are others who, like you, don't consider religion at all when looking at candidates, but they are a minority in the US. Precisely because Canada and the US are drastically different in respect to degree of religiousness in the population, the subject has to be discussed. Religion is not being brought up for no reason.


And I really appreciate this post!--and every person participating.
posted by one teak forest at 1:18 AM on February 11, 2008


(Oh! And if I'm wrong about religiousness in Canada, please do correct me.)
posted by one teak forest at 1:20 AM on February 11, 2008


Okay. (Haha, I keep thinking about this.) Let me rephrase: the person, the personality matters much more in US politics, or at least seems to, than it does in Canada. Religion is (considered here, at least) to be a large part of what makes someone who they are. I guess, I feel that people are here looking for both a leader (and which factors matter varies from person to person) and someone who carries similar views to their own about issues.
posted by one teak forest at 1:32 AM on February 11, 2008


Jerome at MyDD:

Obama's General Election strategy is... ?

I really don't know, do you?

I'm not talking about the national polls either, but how does Barack Obama put together a winning electoral advantage over John McCain?

...But what is Barack Obama's winning coalition of states that puts him over 270 electoral votes? The Obama campaign makes the case:

"On Super Tuesday, in six red states that had primaries or caucuses for both Republicans and Democrats, Obama won and got more votes than the top two Republicans combined. These states - Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and South Carolina - account for a total of 53 Electoral College votes. In Idaho and Kansas, where there was no Republican primary, Obama won at least a three-to-one victory over Clinton."

That's not serious. To quote North Dakota, where a total of 18,000 or so voted in the Democratic caucus, as proof that Obama could win the state is laughable. That sort of logic puts Nebraska, which had a similar total, and voted for Obama, also in the Democratic column for Obama in November.

Seriously, how does Obama get past 270, state by state? Independents you say, then where, which state?


One of the commenterss calls the strategy "delusional," noting:

We lost North Dakota by TWENTY-SEVEN PERCENT in 2000 and 2004. Obama has ZERO chance of winning North Dakota.
We lost Kansas by 20% in 2000 and 15% in 2004. Not gonna happen.
We lost Georgia by 12% in 2000, and the losing percentage went UP in 2004, to 17%. Nope. No way.

posted by mediareport at 7:00 AM on February 11, 2008


I'd much prefer Obama, though. Because then we'd at least have the chance to reach for greatness instead of settling for mere competence.

Speaking of religion and greatness. Obama's mentor/minister praised Louis Farrakhan as "epitomizing greatnesss." Controversy ensued. So much for low standards.
posted by Brian B. at 7:06 AM on February 11, 2008


Good point, Brian B. Of course you fail to say that Obama then came out and said that he disagreed with the decision to honor Farrakhan. Shall we go down the road of guilty by association? I don't think any Clinton supporter would want that.
posted by billysumday at 7:22 AM on February 11, 2008


Roger Cohen, in his Times column: Jews should get over the scaremongering: Obama is no Manchurian.

And from Martin Peretz, editor of the New Republic, Can Friends of Israel - and Jews - Trust Obama?:
Obama's points, which he has made many times, should reassure anyone who is concerned about what his presidency would mean for the security of Israel. And yet many are not reassured. They are alarmed by e-mails, saying that Obama's middle name is Hussein (true, and so what?), that he is a Muslim and not a Christian (untrue, and so what if it was?), that he took the oath of office as a Senator on the Koran rather than the Bible (utterly untrue and, once again, so what?). All these charges have been aired and negated often enough that anyone interested in hearing the truth about them has heard it. But another charge, circulating on the Internet, has not yet been sufficiently refuted. This is that he has advisers on the Middle East who despise Israel.

Let's take one example. There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama's advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama. Obama's Middle East adviser is Dan Shapiro. Malley did, though, work for Bill Clinton. He was deeply involved in the disastrous diplomacy of 2000. Obama at the time was in the Illinois State Senate. So, yes, this is a piece of experience that Obama lacks.
From a Ha'aretz editorial, Obama and the Jewish Question
While Obama was taking advantage of Martin Luther King Day to speak out against anti-Semitism among blacks, Jewish spokesmen were using racist language against him, solely because his father was Muslim. Since it is hard to find so much as a single anti-Jewish statement in Obama's political record, or even support for anti-Israel policies, his defamers base their arguments on the fact that his positions on the Middle East conflict are "leftist" - solely because he rejects the right's positions, which are more acceptable to some Jewish-American leaders.

Obama, Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate John McCain have very similar views on the Middle East, and their Senate votes confirm this...

Racist attacks against a black American candidate could cause Israel and American Jews a great deal of damage - not to mention shame and disgrace. Obama has been forced to defend himself over things such as nonexistent ties with elements hostile to Israel, an appearance at an event at which Edward Said spoke, and praying at one church rather than another.

Great damage has already been caused because Obama announced that an ugly campaign was being waged against him in the Jewish community. That alone ought to be enough at least to make Israel's leaders say something about Jews who preach against anti-Semitism while employing similar tactics against other minorities.
posted by Miko at 8:03 AM on February 11, 2008


"Clearly, it must be possible to bring reason, spirituality, and ethics together in our thinking about the world. This would be the beginning of a rational approach to our deepest personal concerns. It would also be the end of faith." Sam Harris

Somehow, regardless of the eloquence and in many ways, the rationality that Obama brings to the political discourse, I struggle mightily with his acceptance of faith as a viable component of modern politics.
posted by sfts2 at 9:40 AM on February 11, 2008


In general, from reading the blogs, the Clinton supporters strike me as small-minded, cynical, conspiratorial and with a dark view of humanity and of the potential of this country to do good.

Not really making Obama supporters look good here, empath.
posted by smackfu at 10:11 AM on February 11, 2008


She has not been running a "sleazy damn campaign", no matter how much of an Obama fan you are.

How quickly we forget. Two words: Dick Morris. He was Bill's campaign manager, in the exact same position as rove and every bit as sleazy. The only reason Clinton got rid of him was because he got caught sucking on some hookers toes. If Hilary is running on her experience of being the first lady, then she owns this too.

I can't fathom why anyone even slightly on the left thinks Hillary would make a good president. She was the first lady in the most conservative Democratic administration in modern times, whose main achievements were welfare reform, the internet bubble and NAFTA. She has been a mediocre party line senator, who fucked up on the major foreign policy crisis of our time, Iraq, and still refuses to admit going into the war is wrong. Plus she is the least likely Democratic candidate to beat McCain.

Oh, I forgot, republicans were mean to her so we are supposed to vote for her to get back at them. Fucking school yard politics.
posted by afu at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't fathom why anyone even slightly on the left thinks Hillary would make a good president... Oh, I forgot, republicans were mean to her so we are supposed to vote for her to get back at them. Fucking school yard politics.

Wow. Quite an amazing rant. Pretending not to understand why someone else would think that a qualified female and political survivor would make a good president seems to be an example of simple repression (predictably followed by a few random reasons to casually dismiss her). Then you tipped your hand by assigning guilty motives to others. Now we are free to wonder if they are your own. So, you feel that you are supposed to vote for Obama because people were mean to his race?
posted by Brian B. at 5:12 PM on February 11, 2008


Personally, I think Obama can win 48 states in November vs McCain. How is that for a path to victory?
posted by empath at 6:21 PM on February 11, 2008


Wow. Quite an amazing rant. Pretending not to understand why someone else would think that a qualified female and political survivor would make a good president seems to be an example of simple repression

Repression of what, being a misogynist? Where did I ever mention her gender? I guess it is impossible that I actually think she would make a bad president based on her record. Who is assigning guilty motives to others here?

I didn't say I could not understand why anyone would support Hilary, I don't understand why any liberal would support her. It makes perfect sense for a moderate or a conservative to be for her. I oppose Hillary because I do not believe she is qualified. Being a politcal survior in our current political climate means nothing to me. So she was able to win a Senate seat in a liberal state against a week canidate even though the right hates her. Why should that make me vote for her? What has she done while in the senate to make our foreign policy more sane or heal the malaise in our political system?

She is making her campaign all about her "experience," but when I look at that experience all I see is at best a mediocre senate career and a questionable role in the Bill Clinton administration. I don't like either Clinton, like I said above, Bill was way to conservative for me and took the advice of sleazy pollsters like Morris way to easily. If Hillary wants to run as the second coming of Bill, which she is, I don't want any part of it.

Frankly, I dislike Hillary much more than I like Obama. Kucinich was the only one in the race whose views came close to mine, but his campaign was never going any where. I do believe that Obama is the only one in the race with the potential to actually bring about change. But the cynic in me expects to be disappointed.
posted by afu at 11:16 PM on February 11, 2008


I don't like either Clinton, like I said above, Bill was way to conservative for me and took the advice of sleazy pollsters like Morris way to easily.

Morris hates Hillary Clinton, and I can't tell if Morris is sleazy in your context because he hires prostitutes or not. Regardless, what I'm seeing among Obama devotees is a religious style, black and white thinking and blind faith. The left was bound to be infected with those disillusioned by the right wing failure to be sincere about religion, and Huckabee turned out to the real sleazeball by suggesting that they, as religionists, were only holding hands with the Republicans all this time, not pushing their broken car as it really were. The biggest damn lie ever. So they come over to the left with their guilt and passion. The left will spend the next ten years wondering how to get rid of them. The right won't make the same mistake again. Bad timing for the left, during an election where religion wasn't even on the table with McCain. Oddly, the Hispanic vote that Hillary can rely on never felt guilty about race, and they can wait for Obama to get his experience, but Hillary can't wait for March 4th.
posted by Brian B. at 6:42 AM on February 12, 2008


Morris' sleaze was well known long before he hired any prostitutes, Brian B. He was associated with the strategy of "triangulation"-- that is, advocating small-bore policies calculated to tweak Democrats and Republicans. An ok way to keep your approval ratings high, but not exactly an empirically grounded vision for better policy.

Also, I don't think that your criticism of Obama supporters is well-grounded, for the reasons hilzoy spells out here.
For one thing, there are the Super Tuesday exit polls:

"Nearly two-thirds -- 72 percent -- of Democratic voters said they'd be satisfied with Clinton as the nominee, and 71 percent said they'd be happy with Obama."

Or, to put the same point slightly differently:

"Just 49 percent of Democrats who voted for Clinton said they would be satisfied if Obama won, while just 52 percent of Obama voters said they would be satisfied if Clinton won." ...

In any case, when we vote for President, we are not voting for someone's supporters. Even if people who support Obama are doing so in a cultish way -- and I have seen no evidence that they are, though I'm sure that every candidate has some supporters who are cultish or otherwise silly -- that's irrelevant to the choice we face as citizens.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:52 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Morris' sleaze was well known long before he hired any prostitutes, Brian B. He was associated with the strategy of "triangulation"-- that is, advocating small-bore policies calculated to tweak Democrats and Republicans. An ok way to keep your approval ratings high, but not exactly an empirically grounded vision for better policy.

Small-bore polltics is now sleaze on the same level of two-faced paranoia as practiced by Karl Rove? Sounds like some are equating a delicate strategy with sleaze in honor of the bombastic successes of Rove.
posted by Brian B. at 7:00 AM on February 12, 2008


Also, I don't think that your criticism of Obama supporters is well-grounded,

Because you are wrongfully assuming it applies to all of them.
posted by Brian B. at 7:03 AM on February 12, 2008


Brian B.-- I agree with all the facts that Flunkie mentioned above. And I think, whether or not it was approved from above, there was some kind of push from prominent Clinton people to brand Obama as the "black candidate."

But I agree with you that it's not "Rovian." And I think that Obama's Harry-and-Louise-ish flyer is pretty bad, too.

It's fair enough for you to respond to it on this thread, but the fact that "some are equating" Rove and Morris is really not that huge a deal, as hilzoy points out.

Somebody somewhere is always saying or doing something dumb, even in defense of good things. Watch, I'll demonstrate: "the Beatles were only any good because Ringo laid down the phattest beats."
posted by ibmcginty at 7:17 AM on February 12, 2008


Some of the black superdelegates are switching sides to Obama. This one reads like conversion story under pressure. I hope their safety is not the issue. (As with any messiah-cult complex, rabid true believers tend to react with extreme emotions to the naysayers and may hold a grudge for life, precisely because the devotion was not intellectual).
posted by Brian B. at 7:02 PM on February 14, 2008


Civil rights icon reverses pledge to Hillary for the "sense of spirit" in Obama's movement.
posted by Brian B. at 11:34 PM on February 14, 2008


« Older The space shuttle does a back flip...  |  1,780 Cult Movies Online... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments