Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Conservatism of Robert W. Tracinski

I haven't followed Robert W. Tracinski's writings in over two years; as he seemed to shift more towards conservative apologia than objective intellectual identification and advocacy, I simply lost my interest in what he had to say. And with the rise of The Objective Standard as the unabashed standard bearer for Objectivist ideas in the printed word, Tracinski's Intellectual Activist strikes me as neither intellectual nor activist, at least not when compared to what it once was at its zenith.

None of this is to say that Tracinski doesn't have his moments or that when he does, that they are not powerful statements of this thinking. For example (and quite by accident), I discovered his most recent essay posted in a political forum for Marine veterans that I frequent. Tracinski's analysis of Barack Obama's acceptance speech was being promoted by the conservative partisans there as proof of Obama's villainy (and I use "partisan" here as an understated term to describe the typical actors in this forum and the caliber of the discussion that they engender). Nevertheless, as I read Tracinski's essay, I too thought it was a compelling dissection of the dishonest rhetorical gimmicks and subterfuge Obama employed in his speech. That is, until Tracinski undercut his argument and betrayed the value of his analyses. He wrote:

It has been almost half a century since the left's ideas have had such an intelligent, charismatic, and appealing advocate. [Obama] is now preparing to lead the left's effort to reconstitute itself in the first serious way since the Fall of Communism. He must be defeated.

Obama's acceptance speech is likely to be effective, and we should expect him to have a solid "bounce" in the polls now that the convention is over. But there is a way to defeat Obama. His whole campaign is a beautifully presented illusion, and the way to defeat it is to keep hammering on the difference between illusion and reality. [italics mine]
I don't think the post-convention bounce played out for Obama quite like Tracinski had predicted, but that's small change compared to his ultimate thesis. If Barack Obama "must be defeated" this fall as Tracinski writes, that means that the implicit answer to Barack Obama must be John McCain. That was certainly how Tracinski's article was being interpreted by the Marine veterans I observed discussing it.

Yet what about the appalling difference between McCain's sundry illusions and reality? As bad as a potential Obama administration would be, it is a stretch to argue that a McCain administration would be much better. As most Objectivists are all too aware, the current crop of Republicans are primarily animated by mysticism, pragmatism, the ethics of altruism and in McCain's particular case, a heavy dose of environmentalism. To the degree that the Republicans support limited government and the free market, their support is superficial and will almost always be undercut by their core ideology. As they are animated today, the Republicans will never be able to bring us closer to Atlantis, that vision of reason, individualism and capitalism that Ayn Rand so brilliantly justified and dramatized in her writing.

So while John McCain might not raise taxes (with a heavy emphasis on the word "might"), it is unlikely that he will do much to lower deficit spending, which is nothing more that taxes deferred to a latter date. And while McCain may continue the war (if we even dare to call whatever it is we are doing in the Middle East a proper "war"), it is unlikely that he will appropriately identify militant Islamist regimes as America's enemy and press for their capitulation. Furthermore, as McCain's recent vice presidential pick of Alaskan governor (and fundamentalist Christian) Sarah Palin signals, McCain is willing to form strategic alliances with Evangelical Christians in order to secure political power. And while Obama has his own religious demons to contend with (such as his bigoted and raving anti-American ex-pastor whose sermons Obama was all too willing to sit though), Obama's religious background serves to discredit him, while McCain's recent moves are intended as a pragmatic effort to strengthen his chances of wining in November.

Moreover, if Obama is elected president, the Republicans will have no choice but to engage in some well-deserved soul-searching as they work to counter his administration, much like they did after the first George Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992. In contrast, a Republican victory will only encourage the ideological status quo within the party (a status quo, lest we forget, that brought America a half-war, a new prescription coverage entitlement for seniors, faith-based initiatives, an expansion of the size of government unrivaled by any Democratic administration in recent years, a pathetically weak dollar, the return of inflation and that all but gleefully excludes people inspired to political action by Ayn Rand's ideas). While I see Obama as a weak one-term president, I see McCain as a potentially strong two-term president, complete with an evangelical Christian sitting a heartbeat away from the presidency.

I recognize that some may think that I am not being fair to John McCain or his brand of Republicanism and that he is far more closely associated with a proper view of American government than Barack Obama. In answer, I am reminded of the following analyses written about McCain when he first ran for president in 2000:

With his candidacy, John McCain intended to inspire an altruist revival--that is, a renewal of Americans' allegedly flagging willingness to sacrifice their own interest . . . [M]cCain is a consistent altruist. Wherever there is someone in need--whether old or young at home or abroad--he sees a reason to sacrifice the lives of the able.

The idea that the individual has a right to pursue his own happiness and that government exists to protect that right is foreign to Senator McCain. In Vietnam, McCain proved that five-and-a-half years of confinement and savage beating by his captors could not shake his loyalty to the United States of America. Yet today, in his campaign to ennoble American government by suppressing political speech and in his call for Americans to sacrifice themselves at the behest of this allegedly honorable government, John McCain has proven himself a traitor to the American idea. [italics mine]
The source of this moral indictment against John McCain? The April 2000 pages of The Intellectual Activist written by Jack Wakeland and edited by Robert W. Tracinski.

I find it interesting that McCain has been able to rehabilitate himself so completely in the intervening years that he's transformed himself from intellectual traitor to America into the implicit alternative to another such traitor. But as Tracinski himself would say: don't examine a folly; only ask what it accomplishes. I perceive Tracinski's stand as a walk away from objectivity in favor of his becoming yet another conservative spinmeister.

The reality today is that both the political left and the political right are unacceptable to those of us who seek to have our individual rights properly identified and protected. Maybe Tracinski believes that he has compelling arguments why McCain would make a better president than Obama. My view remains that attempting to divine which one of these men is the lesser of two very similar evils (albeit with their somewhat differing emphasis) is a fool's errand, especially given that the fruits of all that effort is worth no more than the chance that it can swing the election. Neither Tracinski nor I are quite that persuasive yet.

Given the state of the culture, the best that any of us can hope to do is to work hard to introduce more people to the ideas necessary to the help them recognize their rights with the consistency that their lives deserve. Saying "vote McCain" and winking at the irrationality of the conservatives (and as you highlight the all-too similar irrationality of the liberals) does not serve that struggle one iota.

On the contrary; if America (and our individual futures as living free beings) are to be secured, it can only come from a fundamental reevaluation of the intellectual landscape. It can only come from people beginning to grasp the radical implication of Ayn Rand's ideas, and not some mealy-mouthed pandering to the political right because you've decided that doing so pays your bills, or whatever excuse Tracinski uses to justify his off-kilter stand.

Update: added clarifying sentence.

27 comments:

Burgess Laughlin said...

Is Tracinski a conservative? A conservative in my vocabulary is defined by four fundamental, guiding ideological values: God, Tradition, Nation, and Family. (As always in society, there are borderline cases, such as non-theistic conservatives, so-called "secular conservatives.")

Whatever disagreements I have with Mr. Tracinski and his associates, I do not see them as qualifying as conservatives, by my definition. Another possibility is "libertarian" or even "classical liberal."

Perhaps other definitions of "conservative" are being used?

Nicholas Provenzo said...

In this context, I am using conservative in its more classical sense; that is, "as an inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order." (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.)

In that regard, I think Mr. Tracinski's tacit support for John McCain fits the bill.

Anonymous said...

Good essay, although I wish you would have said more about the fall of the Intellectual Activist, specifically how Tracinski failed to meet the publishing obligations he had made to the subscribers of his print edition. It seemed he bit off far more than he could chew, and then failed to make good on his earlier promises to his customers.

As a former print subscriber, I found his behavior appalling. I used to enjoy his writing, but I have little tolerance for his mistreatment of me as a customer—and his seeming slide toward what Nicholas properly calls "conservative apologia."

madmax said...

"Conservative Apologist" is an excellent term for Tracinski. His pro-Conservative statements got so bad that I totally wrote him off two years ago. And every time I have read something by Tracinski since then, his pro-Conservative sentiments jump off the page at me. His foreign policy analysis and his analysis of Left-Right issues are basically indistinguishable from other Neo-Conservative hacks.

Another thing I have since noticed is that a few Kelly-ites really like Tracinski and favor him over anything the ARI or the Objective Standard puts out. Bidinotto is one such person. The Kelly-ites are also Conservative Apologists on average so Tracinski's popularity in such circles says something.

Lastly, I have noticed that many Objectivists have either a "pro-Conservative" or "pro-Liberal" slant to their views. A "pro-Liberal" Objectivist commentator would be Scott Holleran. His pro-Liberal views have become almost unreadable. So, to me, it is important to recognize that both Left and Right are enemies of freedom and to not put on the pom-poms and become a cheerleader for any of them.

Steve Rodgers said...

I find it amusing that Robert W. Tracinski thinks that Obama's personality cult is something new on the American scene. Has Tracinski ever heard of Bill Clinton? I also find it amusing that Tracinski is appalled that Obama tries to blend boilerplate from both the left and the right in order to sell himself as a president. Was Tracinski around when Bill Clinton said that era of big government was over, or when George W. Bush called for "compassionate conservatism?" Is he watching the Republican convention? Hell, even on the podium it says "COUNTRY FIRST." What does this guy need to wake up and smell the contradiction?

More than just a conservative, I think Tracinski has become yet another pragmatist, only focused on the short ranged, oblivious to the long term even as he attempts to appeal to it. And what a shame. He coulda had class. He coulda been a contender. He coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what he is.

Anonymous said...

Oh! The insanity of it all!!!

Joseph Kellard said...

Nick,
When I saw the title of this post, I said to myself: “Great, Provenzo read the same Tracinski essay I did and came to the same conclusion!” But, actually, that was not the case.

I thought you had read his essay, “What To Do About Pakistan” at:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/08/what_to_do_about_pakistan.html

After I read that essay last week, after I read all the pragmatic contortions Tracinski goes through regarding how the US should deal the latest Taliban-Al Qaeda alliance in Pakistan (I found it to be terribly weak—a position that seems to say: “The general Objectivist view is impractical, so why should I argue for what should actually be done, even though its true; I have to deal in the current political climate, such as it is, and offer position that fits with it”). After reading that essay, I said to myself: “My God, Tracinski’s foreign policy is completely conservative, now.”

How did Tracinski get there? I haven’t observed his road to conservative pragmatism closely enough to get down to the nitty-gritty details. But, broadly speaking, I can say this: I believe Tracinski’s current positions — at least on foreign policy — has a lot to do with something you, Nick, alluded to at the end of your post: “…some mealy-mouthed pandering to the political right because you've decided that doing so pays your bills, or whatever excuse Tracinski uses to justify his off-kilter stand.”

I stopped subscribing to Tracinski’s TIA Daily, his daily (except on weekends) commentary on news, about a year ago. I stopped, in part, because I could no longer tolerate reading his stand on the “war” in Iraq, an issue that came to dominate his commentary to the point of tediousness. I literally use to skip right over many of those Iraq-related commentaries. The tedium was caused, in part, to his commenting on seemingly every new development by the Bush administration, the enemy, the mainstream media, and his turning it into something of seeming noteworthy/newsworthy importance.

But, to me, many or most of these developments he commented on were nothing fundamentally new or distinct. I think, however, by the nature of his daily news service, he had to start giving a different perspective on news events, to distinguish himself from others—particularly other Objectivists — and to keep the service fresh.

Objectivist commentary on news events, especially on narrow, particular issues such as the war in Iraq, can get pretty tedious, too, if Objectivists are not often making new integrations. That’s not meant as a knock—I just don’t think Objectivism lends itself to *daily* commentary on a *single, narrow* news issue. That’s because Objectivists deal in fundamentals, and so their take on such issues are fundamentally the same, unless they are commenting on some significantly new angle on an issue. Day in and day out of this kind of commentary can become tedious. After I while you find yourself saying: I know already—enough, enough!

That’s what makes the Internet and the various Objectivist blogs you can visit so good. Some bloggers focus on one specific issue, others take on a host of different issues, and you can visit those sites as you wish. When you’re paying good money for an Objectivist news service, but your basically receiving essentially the same commentary on the same issues, day in and day out—despite that the commentator is exceptionally good otherwise—you’re going to get tired of it. I know it did.

A daily news service eventually, in order to keep its readers from growing tired with it, must offer something “new.” And as far as Objectivist commentary is concerned, Tracinski did offer something new—but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily rational. Because of this, at least in part, I believe Tracinski tried to take a different course from other Objectivist commentators, in order to try to distinguish his news service – for example, with his push for “representative government” as a justification of war in Iraq -- and this lead him, eventually, into a very different, even non-Objectivist direction. Remember that one of his series in TIA essentially took on a fundamental part of Objectivism. If I have it correctly, Tracinski said that history is not primarily moved by fundamental philosophical ideas—which is a distinctly non-Objectivist view.

I think it was all down hill for him after that.

I’m glad I got out of my TIA Daily subscription when I did. I still read Tracinski’s article on Real Clear Politics, because he does still, as you say, have his moments. Tracinski was and, to some degree, still is an excellent commentator, with very good insights. But more commentators like him are growing in Objectivist circles (Alex Epstein is one), and now I find myself reading him more to observe how a one-time promising Objectivist commentator has turned into a conservative, in the sense that he is becoming more and more of a pragmatist.

Steve Rodgers said...

I just read Tracinski's essay on Pakistan that Joseph Kellard cited. I agree with Joseph's low appraisal.

And I must add, why is it that an individual who runs a magazine that can't even keep its own print schedule straight nevertheless feels qualified to pontificate on what America ought to do with Pakistan?

Anonymous said...

Madmax wrote:

"A 'pro-Liberal' Objectivist commentator would be Scott Holleran. His pro-Liberal views have become almost unreadable."

Could you provide some concrete examples to support this statement?

Nicholas Provenzo said...

Joseph wrote:

>Objectivist commentary on news events, especially on narrow, particular issues such as the war in Iraq, can get pretty tedious, too, if Objectivists are not often making new integrations. That’s not meant as a knock—I just don’t think Objectivism lends itself to *daily* commentary on a *single, narrow* news issue.

I agree. Analysis of contemporary events that is both philosophic and fresh takes time, if only because that level of analysis requires that the writer illustrate both concrete actions and the larger trends in ideas that drive these actions. When you have to pump out such analysis day after day, I think it's much harder to make new (and in Tracinski's case necessary) connections.

For example, Tracinski's report on Obama's speech (and his subsequent claim that Obama must to be stopped) is incomplete without an examination of McCain's parallel speech tonight. My crystal ball tells me that McCain is going to employ many of the same gimmicks Obama used in his speech and that contrasting the two will tell us more about the effect of pragmatism on American politics than the supposedly vast difference between the right and the left. Yet Tracinski has become such a conservative hack he doesn't even entertain the possibility—and this from a man who had published a report accurately claiming that McCain is guilty of moral treason to Americanism.

Jeff Perren said...

"Moreover, if Obama is elected president, the Republicans will have no choice but to engage in some well-deserved soul-searching as they work to counter his administration, much like they did after the first George Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992."

Unfortunately, there is little evidence in the real world to support this conclusion. Just as one recent example, consider that after having tromped the Republicans in the 2006 Congressional elections, and failed to even approach fulfilling their promises (not surprisingly) about better energy policy or more ethical government, they are still the favorites in the upcoming elections.

If the principle were true, it should apply not just to Presidential elections.

As to the worth of Robert Tracinski's commentary, I disagree 100% with everything that has been said here, most particularly the intimations that he is saying what he does chiefly to get additional income from conservatives.

I find that most Objectivists (admittedly I am not, but neither am I a conservative) apparently have little interest in day-to-day events and prefer to engage more in philosophical analysis, which must necessarily be very thin when it is not informed an immersion in those events.

They also seem to lack a sense of perspective about what can actually be accomplished in an election. To the assertion that there is little difference between Obama and McCain (for whom I have no love) I suggest, paraphrasing Rand not that you check your premises, but that you check the facts.

Respectfully,
Jeff Perren

Anonymous said...

I agree with your position, Nick. After all, which is really more dishonest: to hang out with the likes of William Ayers and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and call for altruism, or to be a decorated war hero who endured gruesome hardship and yet calls for altruism all the same? The fact is they are both vile, but the latter camouflages it better.

madmax said...

"I find that most Objectivists (admittedly I am not, but neither am I a conservative) apparently have little interest in day-to-day events and prefer to engage more in philosophical analysis, which must necessarily be very thin when it is not informed an immersion in those events."

This is pure ad hominem.

There are many Objectivist bloggers that comment on "day-to-day" events; and that's just the bloggers. The claim that Objectivists are not realistic or reality focused is just a rehashing of all the attacks against idealism in general. It sounds like you are a pro-Conservative libertarian with some pre-existing bias against Objectivists that stress the primitive mysticism inherent in the Conservative world view.

It sounds to me like you are making the same mistake that Tracinski is making; ie undervaluing philosophical fundamentals and stressing pragmatism.

Anonymous said...

To respond to Jeff's comments: I wonder if he reads ARI's output regularly. To be sure, there isn't *daily* comment, but it goes far beyond a "thin" philosophical analysis. From what I've seen, it *does* reflect "immersion" in the concretes of our culture, i.e., an intimate familiarity with the specific facts of an issue--but in a proper philosophical context.

That in my view is RT's failure--a wrong conceptualization of the concretes, not "immersion" in the concretes as such. In this sense, I have to disagree slightly with Joesph Kellard: I think Objectivists *can* profitably comment on narrow issues. But they have to do so from a proper philosophical context.

This doesn't mean simply saying, for instance, "Here's the latest news from Iran: the solution is to bomb Iran." One must have something *new* to say, even if it isn't a new *fundamental* point. (Again, I think ARI usually manages to do this.)

Bottom line: RT's failure can't be attributed to his medium--it's his thinking.

Too bad...in many ways, he's a great writer.

Floyd Ferris said...

Robert Tracinski is a master of equivocating between political change and philosophic change. In 2005, it was his "Three Elections" article. (Who now can honestly say the elections in the US, Ukraine, and Iraq "changed the course of history"?) Now we have to defeat Obama lest Communism be reconstituted. In the long term, who is in the White House won't matter. It's the culture's ideas that matter.

It doesn't surprise me that TIA Daily seems to be largely about politics as it seems Tracinski is no longer interested in philosophy. TIA, when Tracinski occasionally chooses to publish it, is almost exclusively on politics and contains almost exclusively articles written by Tracinski (notwithstanding occasional alliances with Jack "I Keep 'Em Clean" Wakeland). But when one equivocates between politics and philosophy, I guess politics must be much more interesting than it is to Objectivists.

As for the print edition of TIA, I don't think the word "failure" is really appropriate. To me, a failure is the result of an accident, an error in thinking, or, at worst, incompetence. Tracinski has certainly failed to publish and has failed his customers, but after something like *four years* of this, I regard his non-publishing as a willful disregard of his obligations to his customers. My evaluation is compounded by his occasional remarks, when he does publish, that while his analysis is indeed a bit late in coming, his gross tardiness is actually to the benefit of his readers(!). The word I use to describe these actions is: dishonest.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

Fine piece. My only comment is that the idea that a Republican loss in November will result in "soul searching" assumes that said soul searching will push them, at least in theory, in a more rational direction, away from altruism, big government, and the "just war" baggage.

This is not necessarily so. You could just as easily end up with a self-criticism session that concluded (wrongly) that the Republicans need to move more to the center, to abandon the "strident" rhetoric of individualism and small government, and to realize the necessity, in our global village, of direct negotiations with everyone, including Iran, Hamas, etc.

Your argument is compelling, but the election is still a crap shoot; no one can predict which outcome would be worse for individualism and capitalism. Bush (father and son) have already done damage such that the general public's idea of a free economy is perfectly consistent (in their eyes) with the policies of the last eight years. I doubt McCain could do much more damage.

I can see being an Objectivist and refusing to vote for McCain; in other words, not voting for either major party. I can see being an Objectivist and (reluctantly) voting for McCain, though obviously not if one accepts the analysis offered in this post.

I cannot see an Objectivist voting for Barack Obama, and I don't believe there's any way in hell Ayn Rand would have.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

Paul Pennyfeather wrote:

>My only comment is that the idea that a Republican loss in November will result in "soul searching" assumes that said soul searching will push them, at least in theory, in a more rational direction, away from altruism, big government, and the "just war" baggage.

I mean to make no such assumptions. If the Republicans win in November, I see little incentive for them to change. If they lose, I see a little bit more of an incentive. Yet if the Republicans are ever going to consistently embrace capitalism, it will take a massive intellectual shift to make that happen. It will take them hearing and embracing Objectivist ideas. It will take us.

So in my view, the lion's share of the work here will be ours, and that's why I find Tracinski's conservative stand so troublesome. My view is that he should know better.

* * *

Jeff Perren wrote:

>I find that most Objectivists (admittedly I am not, but neither am I a conservative) apparently have little interest in day-to-day events and prefer to engage more in philosophical analysis, which must necessarily be very thin when it is not informed an immersion in those events.

Ideas drive history. To not focus on the ideas men hold, how they get these ideas and the larger implication of these ideas is to miss the forest for the trees. I reject that the analyses of most Objectivists is "thin." On the contrary, I think the focus of most Objectivists is right where it needs to be.

>To the assertion that there is little difference between Obama and McCain (for whom I have no love) I suggest, paraphrasing Rand not that you check your premises, but that you check the facts.

On the contrary: there is little practical difference between the ethics of these two candidates as both men share the same moral premise. An evangelical minister asked both candidates what they considered to be America's greatest moral failure. Here are their answers:

Obama said: "Americans' greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me."

McCain said: "America's greatest moral failure has been throughout our existence, perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest."

These positions are not different; they are exactly the same and they both utterly infect each candidate's politics.

Dana H. said...

Here's the comment I posted in reply to Rob's article on RCP:

Yes, Obama is a fraud. But there is no way in hell I will ever vote for McCain. He combines the worst of the religious right and the collectivist left. At least with Obama, we'll only be getting half of that poisonous concoction.

McCain has explicitly attacked free speech in the McCain-Feingold legislation. Bush, not Clinton, gave us expanded socialized medicine. McCain seeks to tax carbon emissions, which will cripple the economy. Of course, Obama supports this too. But if McCain tries to pass carbon emissions restrictions or Medicare expansion, the Democrats in Congress will cheer him and the Republicans won't resist. If Obama tries to do this, at least the Republicans will raise a stink, and there will be some hope of stopping the legislation.

Bottom line: if the Republicans can keep a large enough minority in the Senate to sustain a fillibuster, then an Obama presidency offers more hope for freedom than a McCain presidency.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

>Bottom line: if the Republicans can keep a large enough minority in the Senate to sustain a fillibuster, then an Obama presidency offers more hope for freedom than a McCain presidency.

That's been my thinking too.

J Derks said...

>Yes, Obama is a fraud. But there is no way in hell I will ever vote for McCain. He combines the worst of the religious right and the collectivist left. At least with Obama, we'll only be getting half of that poisonous concoction.

Precisely, Dana H. In addition, there's every reason to regard Obama as being currently less adept (read: dangerous) than McCain in the wielding of political power: while the latter, seasoned politico that he is, might well be "ready on Day One"--the former would, presumably, have to do that pesky on-the-job training (for years, one might hope). And then.... and then, there's the little matter of abortion: whereas Obama apparently "respects" a woman's right to choose, McCain explicitly disavows it--and indeed now has a rather fearsome henchwoman in place who can be trusted to amplify that disavowal, and reinforce it amongst the minions. In fact, in my view, the abortion stance alone disqualifies McCain from any serious consideration as a presidential candidate. Anyone willing to violate a right that fundamental has no notion of what rights are, and certainly cannot be trusted to defend them.

Doc Savage said...

Nicholas Provenzo wrote:
“Obama's religious background serves to discredit him, while McCain's recent moves are intended as a pragmatic effort to strengthen his chances of wining in November.”

It serves to discredit him because of the racist and anti-American aspects of what are preached in his church -- it’s postmodernism from the pulpit – not because of the religious elements. Obama definitely panders to religion himself. In fact, didn’t he support faith based initiatives?

This link shows that he does:
http://pewforum.org/religion08/compare.php?Issue=Faith__Based_Initiatives

So, I don’t see that Obama is only giving half of the poison.

I’m also concerned with the kind of people Obama associates with. He seems to gravitate toward thugs and virulent anti-Americans. This makes me wonder who he’d put in positions of power in government.

Doc Savage said...

"It serves to discredit him because of the racist and anti-American aspects of what are preached in his church -- it’s postmodernism from the pulpit – not because of the religious elements."

Grammar correction:
"aspects of what" in bold above should be "ideas that".

Sorry about that!

Marnee said...

"If Obama tries to do this, at least the Republicans will raise a stink, and there will be some hope of stopping the legislation." -- DH

They will? Really? Maybe there will be some perfunctory complaining on the sidelines but there is no hope for stopping this legislation. None whatsoever. If the local campaigns are any indication, bi-partisan cooperation on all issues is the greatest of all virtues these days. Maybe DH doesnt watch enough TV to notice this?

Lisa said...

I see that the usual orgy of support for the Republicans is in full steam at Betsy's tea club and bath-house. Complete with a positive post about Bidinotto's endorsement of McCain.

Lisa said...

Also, Betsy herself has endorsed Sarah Palin as a passionate valuer and moralist. Woo-hoo!

Jeez... To read her posting on Palin, you'd think Betsy was a frat boy with a crush.

Anonymous said...

Lisa wrote:

>Betsy herself has endorsed Sarah Palin as a passionate valuer and moralist.

Betsy wrote [at FARF]:

>It is tragic that some of [Palin's] values are seriously wrong, but given that she seems to be such a valuer, the odds are they are innocent errors of knowledge.

So Evangelical Christianity is now just an innocent error of knowledge? Ugh.

Dennis C. Hardin, Ph.D. said...

To the extent that Barack Obama’s mantra of “change” can be interpreted as a repudiation of what Republicans like George Bush and Sarah Palin stand for--including religion as the ethical foundation of capitalism—a vote for Obama strikes me as the only rational choice in this election.

Defeat is unlikely to motivate the Republicans to rethink their mystical/altruist premises, but it may prompt them to at least question the political appeal of such “values.” The minimal (and very debatable) pragmatic advantages of voting for McCain over Obama could not possibly justify sending the opposite message of further endorsing religious values. I will hold my nose, but I will vote for Obama.