If the Medium is the Message, Presidential Forum Sending the Wrong Signals
Let's Not Put Pastor Rick and His Pews-Full in Charge of Picking President
August 17, 2008
By: Dave Rogers
Pastor Rick Warren (Center) with presidential candidates McCain and Obama
If, as Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, "the medium is the message," then in our opinion the recent Presidential Forum with Pastor Rick Warren is sending out a scrambled signal.
The message that comes out strong and clear is that the evangelical Christians are again seeking to dominate our national politics.
What would the pundits think if the Archbishop of New York, or the chief rabbi of Chicago, or the Imam of Dearborn was the moderator of a Presidential "forum."
It really wasn't a fair setting, it was an Inquisition by an unrobed zealot seeking to twist the nation's thinking to his own design, and that of his followers.
Now, Pastor Rick and his Saddleback Church folks are certainly good Christians doing charitable deeds. But there is nothing, apparently, non partisan about them when they jam into a megachurch and grill the candidates according to their liking.
"What is the meaning of evil?"
Good Lord, he might as well have asked "what is the meaning of life?"
That was a set-up question giving Capt McCain the opportunity to bluster about killing Osama Bin Laden and to assert "we will defeat it." DEFEAT EVIL! Heavens to Betsy, that sounds like a tall enough order for Superman, or Captain Marvel, let alone an American President.
McCain presumably would be too busy following bin Laden to the gates of hell to have time enough to do much of a job as President.
We've had enough idiotic bluster from the decks of aircraft carriers to last this country until the next millennium. We have expended our money, our troops and our credibility in the world and we need to regroup, not continue to try to be policeman to the universe.
The forum was not without entertainment. It was interesting to hear Mr. McCain tell how he would not have nominated several of the supreme court justices he voted for and to have Mr. Obama throw Justice Clarence Thomas under the bus without a blink as to his race.
But that was pure political theater, and meaningless theater at that.
Again, it opened the door for more ideological pandering by McCain, spouting the party line about appointing judges who "vote according to the Constitution not legislate from the bench."
Legislating from the bench seems to be in vogue for a certain political group if the legislating follows their party line, doesn't it? Take the 2000 decision to skew the election results so a certain George W. Bush won. Was that legislating, or following the Constitution?
As New York Times columnist William Kristol noted, the forum did dramatically show the difference between the candidates: one was a shoot-from-the-hip gunslinger and the other was a thoughtful consensus seeker. Kristol saw out-performing as snappy sound bites ala a Schwarzenegger movie from McCain and dissed Obama for longer, more philosophical answers. You decide who the safest choice is for President in a world exploding with conflict.
The exercise of bringing the Presidential candidates into a megachurch full of posturing pietistic political partisans smacks of something out of the Middle Ages. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, I'm sure, are rolling over in their graves.
The evangelical Christians have manipulated and controlled the American political scene for most of the past 20 years and we have been paying the price in blood.
We can no longer rule the world like a comic book character, or one out of a bad movie. We need to survive in a new technological world, in a new global economic order.
The answer to our survival is not Teddy Roosevelt type bluster, charging up San Juan Hill with nary a sensible thought about why it is happening.
We need to figure out how to make things to sell to the world, not how to make a living by selling houses to each other.
America needs to find itself, to reinvent the American way, to get the money-changers out of the temple and the temple out of the ballot box.
Pastor Rick has made a fortune with his book "A Purpose-Driven Life," and more power to him. But, please, let's not put him in charge of selecting the next President of the United States. Let's not allow his purpose-driven politics to simplify our choice to the one candidate who receives the imprimatur of the evangelical right.
"The BUZZ" - Read Feedback From Readers!
On August 18, 2008
at 11:43 AM
I agree that the presentation was unbalanced in favor of the Christian fundamentalist point of view, and that's okay because both candidates knew ahead of time exactly what tone the questioning would take. Sen. Obama displayed the courage of Daniel in mingling with the Lions and did quite well while Sen. McCain was more comfortable in that setting as one of the Lions.
How about further forums, say one conducted by Rev. T.D. Jakes of Dallas who also has a megachurch. Then move on to another forum conducted by Imam Sayed Hassan Al Quazwini of Dearborn and another by Rabbi Rolando Matalon of Congregatoin B'Nai Jeshurun in New York? By the end of that series, we would have a good view of where these candidates stand on religious-based issues of the three major faiths.
On August 18, 2008
at 04:00 PM
How about a forum conducted by "The Great" Reverend Wright ? That would be interesting!
On August 19, 2008
at 10:58 AM
Right on target, Dave. Somewhere in history I thought we had decided against a State Religion. It seems that the religious right's philosophy is not just the only path to heaven, but also to the Presidentcy. I guess we Presbyterians are just doomed to damnation! ger
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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