Tuesday, June 05, 2007
  CNN's "debate"

I started out trying to make notes on this one but quickly got bored and disgusted. It was just a rerun of the MSNBC "debate".

Wolf asked a few real questions for the sake of form, and cut off the answers ruthlessly.

Wolf was only interested in asking one question, and he repeated it endlessly with slight variations: "All right, you miserable pack of bigoted homophobic Nazi homophobic Neanderthal homophobic cross-burning homophobic racist homophobic sexist homophobic Fascist homophobes, just tell me when you're going to stop dragging Matthew Shepard in chains behind your pickup truck, you unspeakable homophobic Bible-fucking homophobic CHRISTIANS!!!! And if you can't hear me over the sound of the chains, I'll say it even louder!!!!!!!!!!!"

Most of the brand-R candidates just stood back and let Wolf spit and screech; quite properly didn't want to get within slavering range of this rabid canine.

The only thing I find worthy of comment was a subtle error ... and I do think it was a plain error, not a clever twist ... by the leftist commentator Jeffrey Toobin after the spitting and spewing was over.

Toobin commented on Mitt's method of selling the idea of a Mormon President versus JFK's way of selling a Catholic President in 1960. According to Toobin, JFK emphasized the absolute separation of church and state, and reassured voters that he would observe that separation rigorously. Mitt is taking an opposite approach, emphasizing the idea that every President is shaped by his faith, and reassuring voters that the LDS approach to America is no different from the Protestant or Catholic approach.

The Kennedy part sounded historically wrong, because I know that "separation" was a more recent idea. It wasn't really part of the national vocabulary until the Supremes prohibited school prayer in 1962.

So I looked it up. Here's a passage from JFK's speech to the Southern Baptist Convention, which seems to be the basic statement of his selling points:

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 election: the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers only ninety miles off the coast of Florida -- the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power -- the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor's bills, the families forced to give up their farms -- an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues -- for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier.


Note: it's modern Leftists who are trying to make hunger, doctor's bills and slums into religious questions. Every one of today's Brand-D candidates has said something about those problems being "moral issues" or the "basis of my faith family".

But because I am a Catholic and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured -- perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again -- not what kind of church I believe in for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in.

Sounds quite a bit like Romney's approach so far.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference -- and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

Here's the core. From the phrasing, JFK is not saying that he goes along with an existing common idea. He's proposing a new idea. And despite the carefully balanced wording, what he's really saying to the Baptists is that he will keep the government separate from Catholicism. At that time, "church schools" were exclusively Catholic schools, and Protestant ministers were not yet in the habit of jumping into politics. Protestant schools and Baptist participation in politics came later, as a reaction to the total separation that began in '62.

Now I find myself asking if the Supremes were essentially carrying out JFK's campaign promise when they prohibited school prayer in '62. Probably not; I think most of those judges were appointed by Roosevelt or Eisenhower.

= = = = =

Later: Rush made an excellent point in discussing the "inquisition", something I should have thought of. Wolf's ruthless cutoff of all real answers was not a Law of Nature or even a legislated law; it was just Leninist bullying with no real authority. The candidates were perfectly free to override Wolf instead of meekly giving in; and Rudy did override the cutoffs when he decided an answer was important. In fact, a complete insurrection would have been more fun and more informative than letting Wolf get away with his bullying.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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