Politics Wednesday – So Long, Mr. Santorum, and Good Riddance

I actually respect the public reason given for why Rick Santorum quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Parents need to be with a child they know will never make it to adolescence, not to mention adulthood. I respect him for wanting to make his ill child’s life full and happy for however long she will be with that family. There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to lose a child, and knowing since her birth that you were going to lose her, that your time with her would be short, is unfathomable.

I won’t even mention the months the family has been on the campaign trail, other, home-schooled children in tow, while Bella remained at home in the care of others.

Well, you knew the snark had to come in an some point.

In truth, campaigns are exhausting and debilitating for not just the candidate, and Bella was better off at home and not exposed to those rigors.

I don’t respect what’s probably the reason behind Santorum’s “suspension of my campaign,” which is that he was about to be rejected again by his home state. Rick, nobody thinks well of a quitter, especially one who quits when he knows he’s going to lose. Just a few weeks ago, he had a commanding lead over Willard Mitt Romney, a lead significant enough to encourage him to stay in the race and prolong it. As Republicans began to accept The Inevitable Romney, that lead shrank, then Santorum lagged behind Romney. Despite that hard shell of sanctimonious judging Santorum surrounds himself with, that had to hurt.

Of course, Santorum’s exit just encourages Newt Gingrich, who has vowed to stay in until Tampa, though what good it will do him is beyond me. Oh, wait. It’s no longer a campaign. It’s an extended book-selling, picture-with-Newt-and-Callista-selling tour, funded by people deluded enough to think Gingrich cares about them.

Ron Paul is still just your eccentric grandfather you wish you could relegate to a locked room in the house where no one can hear his backwards, racist ranting and worship of Ayn Rand. (Didja figure out why his senator son’s first name is Rand?)

And now we have the Inevitable Mitt, who stayed in his place in line, dutifully, like most Republicans, and waited his turn. Some people think this Republican penchant for “bide your time, and it’ll be your go” is somehow orderly and logical. At one time it was, but when the Republican Party was co-opted by first the pro-lifers (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) then by the wiggy Tea Party, from your perspective in line, you decide you have to lurch right as well. That’s why we got to hear Romney say he’s always been a “severe Republican.” No, Mitt, you haven’t. You were indistinguishable in some areas from a liberal Democrat, except for the whole Bain Capital, make a gazillion dollars and hide it in off-shore accounts thing.

Democrats are more like a pinball machine–bouncing from the likes of Carter to Dukakis to Mondale to Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama. Republicans always sneered at the disorganization (their term) of the Democratic Party, but from chaos we got President Obama, and that’s enough for me and a lot of like-minded people.

Over the weekend, when rumors of Santorum’s exit stirred, someone suggested that he should wait as all good Republicans do because in “eight years” he’ll still be younger than Romney is now. (The pundit’s assumption was that we’d have two Romney terms–fat chance of that.) After eight years, what will an older, more judgemental, more self-righteous Santorum look like? I shudder to think–except that he’ll have morphed into some Gollum-like creature no one can stomach, and that’ll be a good thing.

So, Republican Party, how’s that whole inevitability thing working for ya?

My thoughts go out to little Bella Santorum, that she may have a happy life without pain or suffering. She is the best of them.

Politics Wednesday – No Religious Test

The right wing nut jobs always fall back on the Constitution to bolster their specious arguments. Some, in fact, consider it handed down from God, though the word “god” appears nowhere in it. You’d think God would have cleared up any future debate about the alleged sanctity of the Constitution by dropping his name a time or two.

Unless you’re a constitutional lawyer (like President Obama) or a nerdy political scientist (like Rachel Maddow), you’ve probably never delved past the Constitution’s Preamble (“We the People…”) or the Bill of Rights. There is an obscure clause–obscure only the the RWNJ’s chose to ignore it–about something called “a religious test.” The Founding Fathers, believe it or not, were fed up with Anglicans’ having a chokehold on political jobs. Anglicanism was the State religion of England, after all. Virginia’s statute on religious freedom, written by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, was to support Baptist congregations the state’s Anglican-laden government had thrown into jail for not being Anglican.

The Founders embraced that Jeffersonian principle of freedom of religion in the First Amendment, but they also wanted to make certain that no single religion would dominate the government they were creating. Tucked away in Article VI, paragraph 3, is this gem:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required [emphasis added] as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

I’ve blogged about this before, when a poll showed one in five Republicans believed President Obama was a Muslim. Somehow, in their minds, that deemed him ineligible to be President because he wasn’t Christian. Certain evangelicals make the same argument today about Willard Romney’s Mormonism, but Article VI applies in his case as well. We had the argument fifty years ago when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, ran for President. The argument then was his top allegiance was to the Pope, not to the Constitution.

The fact that the Founders put the religious test prohibition in the main body of the Constitution testifies to the importance in which they held. They truly envisioned an egalitarian society (for landed, white men, of course; unfortunately, they were men of their time) and wanted to make certain there was no Anglican takeover of the newly minted U.S. Government.

Because the economy is clawing its way from the abyss the Republicans put it in, and on President Obama’s watch, the RWNJ’s have to disinter the rotting corpse of The Question of the President’s Religion. Franklin Graham, an apple that fell miles from the tree, did a rant this week about being born Muslim. If your father is Muslim (the President’s father was), when you’re born, you’re a Muslim. Franklin, who, as a missionary evangelical, preaches the only way you can be saved is by converting to Christianity, apparently feels that’s not the case when the son of a Muslim accepts Christ as his personal savior, gets married in a Christian ceremony, and talks about his Christian faith far more often than I like. Franklin must think “Muslim blood” is really powerful, if his God’s omnipotence can’t overcome it.

And I say, if that’s true, if a parent’s religion makes you that religion at birth, so what? Much like Romney’s Mormonism, a person’s religion–or lack thereof–cannot disqualify them from office.

Oh my Holy Lord, you say, that means a Devil Worshiper could become President!

Technically, yes, but Devil Worshipers don’t have much interest in politics, I would think. Selling their souls and pleasing their Dark Lord are probably more important to them.

Oh my Holy Lord, you again say, that means a, gasp, atheist could become President!

Indeed. You’ve already had a couple of those. They’re called Deists, the “religion” of many of the Founding Fathers, several of whom became President. Trust me, if you’d called Jefferson a Christian, he would have brought out his copy of “Jefferson’s Bible” and showed you where he’d removed all reference to myth. It was a very slim volume.

We have to stop judging people by their religion or their lack of religion. I’ve known some theists who were the vilest human beings you’d ever not want to meet, and I’ve known atheists who were the kindest, most “christian” people I’ve ever known. And vice versa, of course. We need to assess our Presidents and Presidential candidates on their merits, their position on issues, and not how or whom they worship.

Franklin Graham needs to come to grips with the fact he’ll never be his father, who is a humble and forgiving man who acknowledged the times he was wrong, like about segregation. Re-bury that question of the President’s religion and focus on jobs, the economy, the environment, equal rights–you know, things “We the People” are concerned about.

—————

For a good understanding of just what four, key Founding Fathers believed or didn’t, read Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty by Steven Waldman. It will change your mind, if it’s open, about several Founders and clear the RWNJ mythology away from history.

Politics Wednesday 2

Yet another serendipitous day for political blogging–the morning after New Hampshire.

This “first in the nation” primary has always had a dampening effect on the momentum of a presumed front-runner–Johnson in 1968, Muskie in 1972, and, most recently–until yesterday, that is–Barack Obama in 2008. In the days before the primary, Obama had what appeared to be a solid lead; then, Hillary Clinton showed the rest of the world what I knew all along–she’s a human being. I’ll disclaim here and tell you I was a Clinton supporter right up until Obama won the nomination, and then I was an Obama supporter, and you won’t find a more stolid one than I. I fully understood what Obama’s election meant to African Americans: It was how I would have felt about Hillary Clinton’s election.

But I digress.

Last night’s NH primary seemed like a step closer to a coronation–the Republicans like those, I think because they haven’t given up visions of empires and emperors. In fact, I can see Romney as Napoleon, impatiently snatching the crown from the cardinal and placing it on his own head. Actually, he’s done it already. He’s been running for President for the best part of eight years, and he figures he deserves the nomination. He’s earned it with that square jaw and photogenic family, not one of whom has served his or her country in any way except as campaign props.

That Ron Paul polled in the 20th Percentile in the “Live Free or Die” state shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The tiny ray of hope for the Republican Party was Jon Huntsman, who surged to a decent third-place showing. I thought his put-down of Romney’s sneering disrespect of Huntsman’s service as Ambassador to China was perfect–“I will always put my country first.” What a breath of fresh air in a party whose “leaders” put their wallets or their presumed social and political status first.

Santorum and Perry are off the radar, unless the uber-conservative South Carolinian and Floridian voters can give them a little altitude. Gingrich is in limbo, teetering between falling off the radar and presenting a serious challenge to Romney in the South. Wherever he ends up, I’m sure Callista will be standing there, hair and make-up perfect, that eerie smile fixed on her face.

The predominant thread among pundits–and in the exit poll results from NH–is that Romney is the “most electable,” the one who can beat President Obama. But here’s a photo I found yesterday on AddictingInfo.org that tells me the President may be harder to beat than the Repubs think. Can you imagine Mitt Romney in this picture?

Politics Wednesday

It was coincidence that my writing work plan sets Wednesday as politics blogging day, and the first such blog of 2012 comes the morning after the Iowa Caucuses. Coincidental but serendipitous. That throwback to the days of smoke-filled rooms, the caucus, left plenty to talk about.

First, Willard M. Romney got a win he can’t really puff his chest up about, and he appeared to be somewhat muted on the Wednesday morning gabfests. I believe that eight-vote margin is one of the smallest in election history, especially for a national office. The other bad news Romney has to take away from this is that, after essentially four years of campaigning, he won the same percentage of Iowa Caucus votes as he did in 2008. On paper, it’s a victory, but it must leave the taste of ash in Romney’s mouth.

Though he came in second, Rick Santorum is the real winner. He did in a few weeks what Romney took four years to accomplish–get twenty-five percent of the votes. A month ago, Santorum was in the low double digits, and he gained a lot of ground and even led by more than 100 votes on occasion throughout the evening. Of course, he gained that ground by appealing to the basest instincts of the white voter–by fronting that stereotype that black people don’t want to work and by doing his best imitation of Tim Tebow without bending a knee.

Ron Paul. What more can be said about him? He wants you to have the right to drink raw milk if you want. I grew up on a farm. I’ve drunk raw milk, and, Mr. Paul, you don’t want to know the crap (literally) that’s in raw milk. Paul wants to withdraw within our borders, have no foreign entanglements, and let everyone within those borders fend for themselves. He’s no fan of Lincoln because Lincoln got us into an unnecessary war. WTF? I say that a lot about Ron Paul. Yes, he’s grandfatherly. Yes, he sounds like the eccentric uncle who only comes to visit on holidays and upsets everyone, but one-fifth of the Iowa voters like his vision for America. And that’s scary.

And, can you imagine, Newt Gingrich got relegated to a somewhat distant fourth place? How dare they? How dare they ignore someone of his self-declared intellect? But you just wait. He’s not going negative. He’s just going to tell the truth. (Cheers and applause) His truth, of course, which is somewhat detached from our everyday reality. As a former federal employee, I remember Newt’s fit of pique when he and other members of Congress had to exit Air Force One from the rear stairs–he shut the government down because President Clinton wouldn’t acknowledge Gingrich’s odd notion he was the co-President, not Hillary. His suck-up to Santorum and his “watch out, I’m coming to get you” riff to Romney was pure, nasty Newt.

The Village of Texas is getting its other idiot back. How nice for them. It’s hard to believe there is actually a Texas politician who can make W look like a Rhodes Scholar, but, good old Rick, he proved there was. Perry brought nothing original to this campaign, and it serves no point to waste any more blog space on him.

I wonder how Michelle Bachmann feels this morning after all that praying for a miracle from the entity she knows makes miracles. I guess she didn’t pray hard enough because the miracle didn’t happen. She essentially came in dead last, since Huntsman, Cain, Roehmer, and “No Preference” together garnered less than one percent of the votes, and none of them campaigned in Iowa. As of this writing, she has canceled her trip to South Carolina for that upcoming primary and will hold a press conference later today. At least I won’t have to listen to her carping about being disrespected because she was a woman. The hypocrisy of someone who has done all she could to reverse or disdain the accomplishments of the women’s movement who then uses sexism as an excuse for her personal shortcomings just astounds me. I hope she’s back in Minnesota for good.

The real winner in my opinion–and others more knowledgeable than I agree–is, ultimately, President Obama. Many people think Romney is the “most electable” Republican choice when paired against the President. I think the square jaw and the whitener-enhanced smile only go so far, especially for someone whose profession was to shut down companies and move jobs overseas, for which he received tremendous remuneration. When it comes down to the person who represents my values, it’s President Obama. Mind you, I’d like to have a talk with him about a few things, but the hope and the change still do it for me.

Here’s the most telling thing. If you haven’t noticed, none of the candidates refer to the President by his title–it’s Obama or Barack Obama. Now, trust me, I had trouble uttering the words “President” and “Bush” together, but I always tried to say “The President.” (Or President Shrub when I was really pissed.) This refusal to acknowledge the President’s status is indicative of a privileged (because they’re white) section of society–they just can’t wrap their heads around the reality of someone in the White House who is not white.

What I took away from the Iowa spectacle was a post-caucus interview with a white man in his fifties. When asked why he voted for Romney, he said, “He’s the best one to beat [slight hesitation and the beginning of a sneer] Mister Obama.”

That says it all. Unfortunately.

———–
Writing Work Schedule update:

Monday afternoon:

  • Edited the review for Linkage: The Narrows of Time Series (Volume 1) and sent interview questions to the author
  • Drafted a review of Loki and Sigyn: A Love Story
Tuesday:
  • Morning: edited a short story called “The Drink” and sent it to an on-line critique group I’m in (got very constructive comments so far)
  • Afternoon: pulled out my 2009 NaNoWriMo manuscript and reviewed it to see if, with a few name changes, it could be a good candidate for a Kindle Publication
Wednesday:
  • Morning: Blog on politics (see above)
  • To do for the afternoon: work on editing/revising a novel (depends on how tired and sore I am from coughing)