Dem Candidates1: Hillary and Barack


eRobin started something in the Comments to my criticism of SNL’s recent parody of her:

Here’s the bottom line on Hillary Clinton: We on the left are all supposed to get over how much we hate her politics b/c we want a Dem to get elected. Where is the outcry to have her give up her presidential aspirations and accept the fact that she is nothing but a distraction and an easy target? Where is her committment to getting a Dem elected?

When I said she had real vulnerabilities the SNL skit ignored in favor of going after made-up ones, that’s the sort of thing I was thinking about. She’s ambitious, not all that competent, rigid, and her public personna is real like the animatronic Abe Lincoln at Disneyworld is the one who wrote the Gettysburg Address. The real problem, though, is that she isn’t a liberal or even a Democrat. She’s a moderate conservative with mild liberal tendencies she usually manages to ignore. She would have been right at home in the GOP of Bob Michel and Howard Baker. And she’s got her head so far up the DLC’s ass that she spits corporate donor cards.

hillaryobama.jpgFrom what you say, I take it the DLC is already pushing their “we have to nominate somebody electable” meme and she’s trying to position herself to fit in. That’s how we got Kerry, and it was Terry MacAuliffe and company whose “advice” killed Al Gore’s campaign before it even got started. The election would never have been close enough to steal if it hadn’t been for the DLC.

Frankly, I’m having the same difficulty with Obama. He’s a magnificent orator, he looks good on tv, he can draw crowds like a rock star, and mostly he says the right things, but he’s a DLC Poster Boy. He’s careful not to say anything that’s going to piss off corporate America and endanger those contributions. I think he’s more of a Dem than Hillary, but how much more and how real it is is still a mystery.

More troubling than that is Obama’s tie-in with Mara Vanderslice and Eric Sapp as “consultants” on his upcoming campaign, both of whom are acolytes of Sojourner‘s Jim Wallis, and both of whom are telling Dem candidates to blur the line of church-state separation. Obama, for instance, had this to say in a speech in front of Wallis’ group, “Call to Renewal”.

At the same time, he said, “Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square.”

As a result, “I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.”

These are straight religious-right talking points, as Fred Clarkson points out.

Obama and Jim Wallis before him are wrong to scapegoat “secularists” for the problems mainstream Christians and others have had in finding their voices. They are also wrong to allege that non-religious people are somehow chasing religious expression from public life. It is long past time to call a halt to this nonsense. Let’s start today.

But before we abandon, and begin to more formally oppose the frame, here is how it works: The religious right frames much of how they view politics in America as a struggle in America between Christianity and secular humanism; between faith and no faith; between religiosity and secularism. The words differ a bit depending on who is doing the talking, but the the frame is always the same. Indeed, it has been one of the central features of the religious right’s rise to power for decades and has been articulated by every major leader from Jerry Falwell to Sun Myung Moon.

Here’s an example of Wallis using that “frame” in an interview with Mother Jones two years ago:

I think people who are religious or, say, even spiritual, have not felt like there’s much of a home on the Left. That’s at least a huge political concern. Even those who aren’t religious need to respect people of faith.

The assumption here is that of the frame: the left doesn’t respect religion. That’s nonsense, of course. Here’s Clarkson again, responding to Obama’s comment.

I am not aware of anyone being asked leave their faith at the door of public life. Are there a few cranky atheists out there who oppose all religiosity, particularly in politicians and public life? Well sure, so what else is new? But there is no evidence that anyone is making any actual headway in reducing religiosity in America. Nevertheless, the influence of Wallis shows in Obama’s speech.

I have the same trouble with Edwards but he seems to know where the line is and so far has been clear that he doesn’t intend to cross it. Still, this “put religion back into politics so we can get elected” shit skirts too many Xtian fundamentalist talking points too closely for real comfort, and the Sapp/Vanderslice team being brought in at the behest of the DLC gives me the shivers. They’re using arguments that come straight from the right-wing theocrats who want to erase the church-state separation and replace it with Biblical law.

So what have we got in what is right now the top tier of Dem candidates? A corporate enabler and a Xtian fundie enabler.

“Disturbing” is the right word, I’d say.

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