Friday, July 2, 2004

BARNSTORMING

So he's published in the NYT. Beyond that there's no empirical proof David Brooks can write.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 2, 2004 at 4:00 AM

YOU'VE GOTTA HAVE FAITH? New York Times “political columnist” David Brooks began his June 22 column “A Matter of Faith” oddly, but innocently enough. Brooks: When Bill Clinton was 8, he started taking himself to church. When he was 10, he publicly committed himself to Jesus. As a boy, he begged his Sunday school teacher to take him to see Billy Graham. And as anybody watching his book rollout knows, he still exudes religiosity. He gave Dan Rather a tour of his Little Rock church, and talked about praying in good times and bad. Wow! Brooks the befuddled is expressing genuine admiration for the Clenis? There has GOT to be a catch. More than any other leading Democrat, Bill Clinton understands the role religion actually plays in modern politics. Presuming, of course, Jimmy Carter is too old and irrelevant to be a “leading Democrat.” [Clinton] knows Americans want to be able to see their leaders' faith. A recent Pew survey showed that for every American who thinks politicians should talk less about religion, there are two Americans who believe politicians should talk more. Ah-Hah! There is mischief afoot after all! Let’s watch in awesome wonder as Brooks, an able architect of intellectual dishonesty, builds his mighty cathedral made of straw. Two out of three Americans think our politicians should talk more about God-stuff do they? Well naturally it follows that Democrats Ñand specifically POTUS wannabe John KerryÑ should spend less time discussing the issues of governance and TESTIFY like it was judgment day. Christ on skates. Clinton seems to understand, as many Democrats do not, that a politician's faith isn't just about litmus test issues like abortion or gay marriage. Many people just want to know that their leader, like them, is in the fellowship of believers. Their president doesn't have to be a saint, but he does have to be a pilgrim. He does have to be engaged, as they are, in a personal voyage toward God. Whoa there, Dave ol’ buddy, maybe you need to step away from the grape Kool-Aid. Politics is like showbizÑsureÑthere’s going to be some razzle dazzle to keep the idiots engaged. But where is all this cult-think coming from, dude? Oh Dave, poor Dave, have you been moonlighting over at the Moonie Times? [Clinton] understood that if Democrats are not seen as religious, they will be seen as secular Ivy League liberals, and they will lose. Yale, It’s widely known, has a special clause allowing it to secede from the Ivy League retroactively whenever conservative alums like George W. Bush come into power. History will now report that while Bush was at Yale they were part of the Big 10. A recent Time magazine survey revealed that only 7 percent of Americans feel that Kerry is a man of strong religious faith. That's a catastrophic number. Catastrophic Foxxy Loxxy, positively eschatological! We must run and tell the King! That number should be the first thing Kerry strategists think about when they wake up in the morning and it should be the last thing on their lips when they go to sleep at night. Unless they want to pray to Jesus (or John Ashcroft, I get confused) for strength and guidance. They should be doing everything they can to change that perception, because unless more people get a sense of Kerry's faith, they will feel no bond with him and they will be loath to trust him with their voteÉ Yet his campaign does nothing. Kerry talks about jobs one week and the minimum wage the next, going about his wonky way, each day as secular as the last. Kerry would rather empower the weak than talk about how Christ said we should empower the weak. God have mercy on his wonky, secular soul. Of course Kerry has been talking quite a bit about faith lately. “The scriptures say, ‘what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” Big John declared. “When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?” “[John Kerry’s comment] was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack,” said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt. Ain’t that the pot calling the crack-rock dope? But back to God’s man at the Times. Can't the Democratic strategists read the data? Religious involvement is a much, much more powerful predictor of how someone will vote than income, education, gender or any other social and demographic category save race. And, in case you haven’t heard Christians are the new, new, new NegroEs, forever doing battle with “the man” just to catch an even break. That’s why only a white Christian man who prays to in public can ever be elected President of the United States. Like the religious right in the Republican Party, the members of the secular left are interested primarily in social issues. What unites them more than anything else is a strong antipathy to pro-lifers and fundamentalists? According toÉ??? While 75 percent of Americans feel little or no hostility to fundamentalists, people in this group are far more hostile to them than to other traditional Democratic b?te noires, the rich or big business. Sourced to thirteen 13-year old girls perhaps??? They don't like to see their politicians meddling with religion in any way. Because of the Constitution maybe? Just as Republicans have to appeal to religious conservatives but move beyond them, Democrats have to appeal to the secular left but also build a bridge to religious moderates. Well, yeahÉ Bill Clinton did this. John Kerry hasn't. Thirteen 13-year-old girls agree. If you want to know why Kerry is still roughly even with Bush in the polls, even though Bush has had the worst year of any president since Nixon in 1973 or L.B.J. in 1968, this is one big reason. Except that Kerry’s mostly ahead of an incumbent who is drawing open comparisons to failed Presidents like Nixon who resigned in disgrace, and Johnson who didn’t run for a second term. And Kerry hasn’t even named a running mate. The moral of this little screed: A heroic punditry red-flags the red herrings. A heroic punditry doesn’t beg for artifice and hollow populist pandering. The Times must be proud.

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