OxBlog

Monday, January 29, 2007

# Posted 7:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP HIGHLIGHTS: There's been no round-up for a couple of weeks because of the technical problems I was having. But taking that time off gave me a chance to rethink the whole idea. Grades were fun at the beginning, but now they don't seem to provide much value-added. And one-sentence summaries often take up space without providing content

Instead, I thought I'd post some of the highlights from each week's broadcasts. That way, anyone can engage the topic, rather than just those who saw the show or listened to the podcast. Will anyone be disappointed by this change? As far as I know, NJ from NYC is the only one who has ever expressed much affection for the round-up format. So with apologies to him, let's go to highlight #1. Here's Tim Russert talking to Arkansas governor and 2008 contender Mike Huckabee (photo above):
MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you a couple things that you said earlier in your political career. “Huckabee ... explained why he left pastoring for politics. ‘I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.’” And then this: “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.” Would you, as president, consider America a Christian nation and try to lead it as—into a situation as being a more Christian nation?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think it’s dangerous to say that we are a nation that ought to be pushed into a Christian faith by its leaders. However, I make no apology for my faith. My faith explains me. It means that I believe that we’re all frail, it means that we’re all fragile, that all of us have faults, none of us are perfect, that all of us need redemption. We are a nation of faith. It doesn’t necessarily have to be mine. But we are a nation that believes that faith is an important part of describing who we are, and our generosity, and our sense of optimism and hope. That does describe me.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say...

GOV. HUCKABEE: I’m appalled, Tim, when someone says, “Tell me about your faith,” and they say, “Oh, my faith doesn’t influence my public policy.” Because when someone says that, it’s as if they’re saying, “My faith isn’t significant, it’s not authentic, it’s not so consequential that it affects me.” Well, truthfully my faith does affect me. But it doesn’t make me think I’m better than someone, it makes me know that I’m not as good as I really need to be.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say “take this nation back for Christ,” what does that say to Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists? What...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I think I—I’d probably phrase it a little differently today. But I don’t want to make people think that I’m going to replace the Capitol dome with a steeple or change the legislative sessions for prayer meetings. What it does mean is that people of faith do need to exercise their sense of responsibility toward education, toward health, toward the environment. All of those issues, for me, are driven by my sense that this is a wonderful world that God’s made, we’re responsible for taking care of it. We’re responsible for being responsible managers and stewards of it. I think that’s what faith ought to do in our lives if we’re in public service.
I'd say that Russert was doing his best to help Huckabee establish his credibility with Christian conservatives. With Romney hurting on that front, such help is especially valuable.

As a matter of substance, I think the quotation in boldface above perfectly captures the way that many Americans want their elected officials to talk about faith. We protect the separation of church and state by granting no special privileges to any faith, not by checking our values at the door.

This approach clearly raises the question of whether a religious majority might impose its will on a secular minority. However, the Bill of Rights provides all of us with strong protection on that front.

In contrast, advocates of separation faith from policy have to answer the question that conservatives love to ask: Was it wrong for Martin Luther King Jr. to draw on his Christian faith to inspire the civil rights movement?

Sometimes, religious values will have a polarizing effect on politics. Yet values are indispensable to democratic deliberation. If, as Huckabee says, we use our faith not to condemn others but to challenge ourselves, religious values can have a more positive influence on politics.

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Comments:
re: Iran

(http://paxononymous.typepad.com/paxononymous/2007/01/013007_iplicati.html)
 
In contrast, advocates of separation faith from policy have to answer the question that conservatives love to ask: Was it wrong for Martin Luther King Jr. to draw on his Christian faith to inspire the civil rights movement?

Religious conservatives love to ask that because it conflicts with the thinking of that certain breed of leftist who doesn't trust ANY religious influence on politics. (Of course, MLK addressed culture as a whole, and not just politics.) This logical error lies in the tendency to equate faith with irrationality.

If that were true, all political thought is irrational, since all political thought is rooted in belief - the belief in an established pecking order of who or what should or should not be valued. All political arguments boil down to whether A is worth more than B.

Of course religion is going to shape politics, just as secular belief does. Predicting how a certain religion will do so is tricky. That's especially true of Christianity; its founder's sole political philosophy was "don't steal," and was illustrated with a few concrete examples, and Christians disagree on the remainder of that principle's scope.

“Huckabee ... explained why he left pastoring for politics. ‘I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer.

At face value, this statement gives me the impression that Huckabee thinks government is too involved in trying to give us "better answers" - too involved in our personal lives.
 
MR. RUSSERT: "Wayne Dumond...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...a rapist who was convicted, sentenced in Arkansas, the parole board voted not to parole him in September of—in August of ‘96. You announced that you were going to commute his sentence, and then the parole board reversed course and agreed to parole him, and you supported their decision to parole. He was, was freed, left the state, killed and raped someone else in Missouri. Do you regret supporting that parole?"

Where do Republicans get these guys?
 
I was also not impressed with Huckabee. He seemed to start of strong, but then go down in flames quickly. Here's the exact moment I decided against voting for Huckabee:

MR. RUSSERT: And if need be, because of the war in Iraq, because of the deficit, because of health care, because of infrastructure, would you keep raising federal taxes on the table?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don’t think taxes is, is really where we need to go. It’s not that our taxes are too low, it’s that our spending is too high. Arthur Godfrey once said that “I’m proud to pay taxes in American, but I could be just as proud for about half the money.” I think that the real issue is getting our spending under control, making our priorities where they work for the American people.

MR. RUSSERT: So “read my lips, no new taxes”?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think you got to be very careful. I, I wouldn’t propose any new taxes. I wouldn’t support any. But if we’re in a situation where we are in a different level of war, where there is no other option, I think that it’s a very dangerous position to make pledges that are outside the most important pledge you make, and that is the oath you take to uphold the Constitution and protect the people of the United States.

No new taxes is an easy and simple pledge to take. In fact I'd argue it's a whole hell of a lot easier to promise no new taxes than "No new spending."
 
If the goal is resonate with GOP primary voters, Huckabee obviously knows how to sound a lot of the right notes. But while comments on MTP like "I don't think being pro-life ends at birth," echoing Ted Kennedy's canard, are fine to say after you've locked up the nomination, they're discordant now. There are better ways to segue from "I'm pro-life" to something akin to seamless garment arguments that make mainstream, family-oriented or "Sam's Club" religious conservatives happy. He has some high-priced pollster like Dick Dresner. They should drill him on this if he wants to win. After 15 years of watching Huckster, I keep expecting him to develop something closer to perfect pitch, but it never happens. I suspect Brownback will occupy the rhetorical space Huckabee's trying to and do it better. Just a hunch.
 
I should have said Barney Frank, not Ted Kennedy.
 
What we need to remember is that we are all made up with different beliefs and faiths. But I firmly believe that an end to world hunger is in line with all faiths- especially because it will benefit everyone on earth. And ot only costs a mere $19 billion annually according to the Borgen Project.
 
David Your posts have become too frequent and far too long for busy readers
 
My apologies. May I recommend USA Today as an alternative to OxBlog?
 
David, if I wanted a patheticly truncated synopsis that relies on boldly coloured graphics to capture the attention of the "reader". Then I'd read USA today. I personally prefer to get personalized viewpoints and analysis to bolster my comprehension of current affairs. Keep doing what you're doing. I'm sure the silent majority of your readers appreciates it.
 
I believe Mr. Rawls had something to say in regards to that little MLK trope you keep misapplying.

We would do well to reread Political Liberalism.
 
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