Romney and the religion question…

Toby Harnden, formerly of this Northern Ireland parish has an interesting religious angle on the Primary races in the US just now. Mitt Romney, one of the serious contenders for the Republican candidacy for the presidency is running into serious flak, this time because of his religion. He’s a Mormon: a religion with nearly 13 million members with many of their recent converts coming from the Bible Belt of the southern states. Nominally a secular republic, it is hard to exaggerate the importance of private belief when it comes to candidates for public office in the US. Few atheists dare wear their non believing hearts on their sleeves.

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  • wild turkey

    ‘Few atheists dare wear their non believing hearts on their sleeves. ‘

    Well it wasn’t always that way Mick.

    One of the Bush Administration’s favorite lies is the whopper about America having been founded on Christian principles. The United States was founded not on Christian principles but on Enlightenment ones. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent.

    The written Constitution makes no mention whatever of God. The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate, in spite of Alexander Hamilton’s flippant responses when asked about it: According to one account, he said that the new nation was not in need of “foreign aid”; according to another, he simply said “we forgot.”

    In the eighty-five essays that make up The Federalist, God is mentioned only twice (both times by Madison, who uses the word, as Gore Vidal has remarked, in the “only Heaven knows” sense). In the Declaration of Independence, He gets two brief nods: a reference to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and the famous line about men being “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

    More blatant official references to a deity date from long after the founding period: “In God We Trust” did not appear on our coinage until the Civil War, and “under God” was introduced into the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy hysteria in 1954.

    The Founding Fathers were not religious men, and they fought hard to erect, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “a wall of separation between church and state.” John Adams opined that if they were not restrained by legal measures, Puritans–the fundamentalists of their day–would “whip and crop, and pillory and roast.” Benjamin Franklin was the oldest of the Founding Fathers. He was well aware of the Machiavellian principle that if one aspires to influence the masses, one must at least profess religious sentiments. Regarding the pious hypocrites who attempt to control nations Franklin said, “A man compounded of law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion and then destroy them under color of law

    The three accomplishments Thomas Jefferson was proudest of–those that he requested be put on his tombstone–were the founding of the University of Virginia and the authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The latter was a truly radical document that would eventually influence the separation of church and state in the US Constitution; when it was passed by the Virginia legislature in 1786, Jefferson rejoiced that there was finally “freedom for the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammeden, the Hindu and infidel of every denomination”–His respect for the sensibilities of the “infidel” would be political suicide today

    There is an immense difference between respect for majority beliefs and manipulating and pandering to the bigotry, prejudice and millennial fantasies of Christian extremists. Though for public consumption the Founding Fathers identified themselves as Christians, they were, at least by today’s standards, remarkably honest about their misgivings when it came to theological doctrine, and religion in general came very low on the list of their concerns and priorities–always excepting, that is, their determination to keep the new nation free from bondage to its rule.

  • wild turkey, here’s a letter from Knoxville, TN, in 1804. There was a degree of religious fervour at that time and place.

  • KieranJ

    The problem isn’t religion. It’s the fact that Mormonism is considered a sect, not a religion, by the Roman Catholic Church and most other mainstream Protestant denominations.

  • Bob From Boston

    ‘wild turkey’
    ‘One of the Bush Administration’s favorite lies is the whopper about America having been founded on Christian principles.’
    You Bush Derangement Syndrome types have shifted into the pathetic mode, and are viewed by the mainstream US, as the useful idiots that you prove yourself to be, time and again. The US is a majority Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Mitt is a good man and quite capable of becoming a great president. Get another tune to play…

  • Somewhere around the house/in a box in the attic/garage I have a paper-back script of Gore Vidal’s 1960 play, The Best Man. Others may recall the 1964 filmed version, which I recall seeing, on its first run, in one of the O’Connell Street cinemas.

    The plot involves five men (this is 1960, after all) competing for the Party’s nomination at the Convention. The leading contenders are William Russell (Henry Fonda in the movie) and Joe Cantwell (played by Cliff Robinson). Russell is the East Coast intellectual with principles, largely based on Adlai Stevenson: his extra-marital involvements have alienated his wife, whom he now needs back on the scene for a veneer of respectability. Cantwell is the machine politician, a Nixonian conniver, with a marvellous scene. As he drives the LA boulevard he flicks a pack of index-cards, listing the Convention delegates: “Buy him… burn him.”. In retrospect, Vidal seems to be depicting the two sides of John Kennedy.

    Both men have skeletons in the cupboard (mental illness and homosexuality). Both men need the endorsement of the aging President Art Hockstader (a hybrid of Eisenhower and Truman, and an Oscar-nominated rôle for Lee Tracey). It is suggested that Ronald Reagan was rejected for this part, on the grounds he lacked gravitas and “that presidential look”.

    The point of this long, boring perambulation is the scene in which Russell approaches Hochstader. Hochstader presses Russell on his religious observance. Russell admits agnosticism. Hochstader has the devastating line which I remember as: “Son, when I went into politics, you poured God over everything, like tomato ketchup.”

    Not much has changed, which is why the play seems regularly to be revived, on or off Broadway, in Election years. A review of the 2000 revival hailed the performance of Christine Ebersole:

    Her bellwether take on the scheming wife of Senator Cantwell is an ingenious blend of Pat Nixon’s studied looks, Lady Bird Johnson’s disarming delivery, Nancy Reagan’s rapacious loyalty and Hillary Clinton’s chilling ambition.

    Hey! I do believe I’ve finally cracked hyperlinks! So an old dog can learn new tricks.

  • Maybe I’m being extremely dim here, but I am not seeing a link to a piece by someone called Toby Harden and therefore I’m not picking up anything approaching an interesting religious angle!! ?

  • Scrap that. I hadn’t checked out the 2nd link.

  • nmc

    You Bush Derangement Syndrome types have shifted into the pathetic mode, and are viewed by the mainstream US, as the useful idiots

    lol rofl.

    Check out this less than useful idiot:

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_w_bush#2007

    He’s so incisive (when he doesn’t mean to be):

    “Sometimes we must fight terror with tyranny”

    Check out his good work:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/env_co2_emi-environment-co2-emissions

    And more:

    http://www.unknownnews.net/casualties.html

  • Bob From Boston

    nmc

    See my previous post.
    tsk, tsk….

  • Now look what you’ve made me do … second serious typo in a week. For “Cliff Robinson” in previous post, read “Cliff Robertson”. D’oh!

    It totally defies comprehension how my subconscious mind connected the name “Robinson” with a depiction of a conniving, ambitious, ruthless double-dealer.

  • wild turkey

    Bobby in Boston

    I appeal to the evidence, you can appeal to, uh, beliefs and myth.

    On the phrase ‘useful idiots’ am not sure if are unintentionally referring to the mainstream american news media, or what it panders to.

    Mitt a great president..hmm just like he was a great govenor of Massachusetts? Or is it he has a great deal of personal wealth to squander on a presidential bid.

    ‘Bush derangement syndrome’? One of the banal cliches over here is yanks don’t do subtle irony. You’ve proved them wrong buddy.

    Maybe that was you I saw walking with Mitt down Beacon Hill as the sun sets over Back Bay.

    Thanks Bobby, you’ve brightened up a dull and gray Belfast afternoon.

  • Bob From Boston

    subtle irony ?
    Hmmmmm….
    The trouble with you BDS types is that you refer to evidence that supports your opinions. I, otoh look at ALL the evidence and draw an informed conclusion.
    I don’t waste my time going back and forth with you knuckleheads….
    Btw BUSH ISN’T RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN THE US.
    Start slagging China for their wonderful enviromental record, or you could blame Bush for that problem as well……
    prat

  • nmc

    Start slagging China for their wonderful enviromental record, or you could blame Bush for that problem as well.

    Funny you should say, because with a population of over 1.3 billion (compared to the US population of 303 million) they produce a third less CO2. If they produced the same amount of pollution per head population as the US we’d be at gas mark 4 about now.

    Btw BUSH ISN’T RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN THE US.

    A fact that everyone in Europe is aware of. Funny story, I met an American tourist in a Belfast bar around St. Patrick’s day I think it was 2004. We got talking politics (something I didn’t want to do – we were in a bar on castle Street and the guy wanted to talk about Robert McCartney, I tried to dissuade him but he went for it anyway) and I asked him who he would be voting for in the US election.

    Al Gore he replied, to which the three or four people involved in the chat burst out laughing, as Gore had been running in the previous election.

  • wild turkey

    Malcolm

    Reagan didn’t get the Russell (ie Adlai Stevenson) role in the Broadway production

    Ronald Reagan, came close to playing Russell on Broadway. Mr. Vidal rejected that casting suggestion from the producers, and the part went to Melvyn Douglas. ”I’m responsible for Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Vidal whispered, as the rehearsal continued. ”I turned him down for the part. They came to me and said, ‘What about Ronald Reagan?’ I said, ‘He is good, but I don’t think he’d be credible as a presidential candidate.’ I have always thought that if I had cast him, Melvyn Douglas would have become president. It’s been on my conscience ever since.”

    Bobby. Your astute political analysis is exceeded only be your penetrating assessments of character. Whatever.

  • Rory

    Mitt Romney for president? I don’t think so. What American (apart from Mormons) would trust a man who won’t drink coffee or coke? The US system is clear on this – a Mormon may run for the presidency – he just may not win it.

  • Bob From Boston

    Funny you should say, because with a population of over 1.3 billion (compared to the US population of 303 million) they produce a third less CO2. If they produced the same amount of pollution per head population as the US we’d be at gas mark 4 about now.

    Source please….

  • steve

    Americans put on their religion like some people wear a suit. They wear it on their sleeve with out actually believing like all those silly dam ribbons and wristbands they are always wearing.

    The fact that Mitt wears a funny coloured ribbon marks him as different and therefore unsuitable to lead the herd

  • Bob From Boston

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jun/19/china.usnews

    4 seconds….
    Thats all on this one for me…back to your BDS opium dens with you..

  • wild turkey@ 04:57 PM:

    Nice! Can you cite a source for that Melvyn Douglas/Ronald Reagan story, please?

    The trouble (for me) with items like this is I become obsessive. I hadn’t thought much about The Best Man for some time. Now it’s one of those irritating persistent thoughts. I’ve just realised, for example, how closely Vidal linked to JFK.

    Hugh D. Auchincloss (i.e. Standard Oil, so we can also draw a line to the Rockefellers and Bushes) had a second marriage to Nina Gore Vidal, and so became step-father to our lad. Auchinloss’s third marriage was to Janet Lee Bouvier, and so also became step-father to Jackie O.

    To make the East Coast political scene even smaller, I see that one of the Auchincloss-Lee Bouvier daughters dated a young John Kerry (mother a Forbes, his second marriage to a Heinz).

    Who needs religion when you’ve got family? And money? In which latter case, perhaps we should be watching self-made ($11.5B+) but Bostonian Bloomberg, despite the New Year’s Eve denial (and, anyway, for my next paragraph, I need Jewish representation).

    Now let’s see: that throws in a Methodist married to a louche Southern Baptist (Hillary); an indefinable liberal “Christian” who was registered as a Muslim at one of his schools (Obama); a Mormon married to the daughter of an opponent of organised religion (Romney); tub-thumping Baptists (Paul and Huckabee); Romanists (Richardson, Biden and thrice-married Giuliani) … It surely cannot get weirder, and all compatible with the First Amendment (“no law respecting an establishment of religion”), too.

  • wild turkey@ 04:57 PM: (revisited)
    I’ve now sourced your Melvyn Douglas/Ronald Reagan story.

    Thanks for the steer.

  • wild turkey

    malcolm

    well done.

    FYI.

    The two Vidal memoirs; Palimpest and the recently published Point to Point Navigation, are worth a read.

    Palimpest deals with the incestuous East Coast Establishment, Jack Kennedy and also The Best Man.

  • wild turkey @ 08:01 PM:

    I had a Vidal reading-spree some years back: yomped through the historical novels in sequence, a couple of books of essays … then took a break which has lasted to the present day. I feel a re-visit coming on, and will take on board your hints. Again, thanks.

    On the back of Palimpsest, there was a heavy biography of Vidal about eight or ten years ago (by Fred Caplan, who has also done Carlyle, Dickens, and Henry James: some sort of pattern there, I feel). It reminded me of how much of a Zelig or Gump Vidal has been. Who else could provide a link between such a diversity of political and literary personalities? — Amelia Earhart (through his father); Clark Gable (through his mother); Mussolini; Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt canvassing for him; Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; the Peggy Guggenheim set; a punch-up with Norman Mailer with Jackie O cheering them on … etc.

    If I was really trying, I suppose I could find a tenuous link of “on-topic” relevance in Vidal’s exposing of double-standards, perhaps in Myron where he substituted the names of the Supreme Court for obscenities. But it all seems too much like work.

  • Danny O’Connor

    America was founded largely on freemasonry as the founding fathers were mostly masons.Mormons are no more dangerous than masons.Judge for yourself how dangerous the masons , bilderbergers skull and bones etc..are for yourselves.

  • Harry Flashman

    *Americans put on their religion like some people wear a suit. They wear it on their sleeve with out actually believing like all those silly dam ribbons and wristbands they are always wearing.*

    Yes, not like us terribly enlightened people in Northern Ireland who’d never dream of wearing our religions as primary identifiers, eh?

    Christ, the adolescent anti-Americanism of Norn Iron’s permanently undergraduate political “thinkers” never ceases to amaze me.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Harry
    Some of us are just as opposed to American imperialism as we are to British imperialism

  • Danny O’Connor @ 12:41 AM:

    … the masons , bilderbergers skull and bones etc.

    Ah! at last! The true and unabashed paranoiac! And, let’s not omit that all-embracing “etc.”, in case there’s something still to emerge from the woodpile!

    Allow me to assure Mr O’Connor, and all others similarly afflicted, that the Illuminatus! trilogy (or wherever else they acquired their dementia) is just a druggy fantasy, amusing, entertaining, but ultimately as reliable as any other surrealism. The bogey-man is not coming to get them, so keep taking the medication. It’s all “fnord” (look it up!)

    Meanwhile, back this side of the curtain, let’s stick to what we know.

    Yes, there were freemasons among the Founding Fathers:

    Eight of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence: Ben Franklin, John Hancock, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Robert Treat Payne, Richard Stockton, George Walton, and William Whipple.

    Nine of the 40 who signed the Constitution: Gunning Bedford, Jr, John Blair, David Brearly, Jacob Broom, Daniel Carrol, John Dickinson, Ben Franklin, Rufus King, and George Washington.

    There are two names there which stand out: Franklin and Washington. Let me focus on their “freemasonry”.

    Washington was a deist, according to his friend Dr Abercrombie, but nothing in his writing explains the nature of his belief, except that anyone “ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” I see little wrong, or conspiratorial, in regarding personal faith as an intensely-private matter.

    With Franklin, we have explicit evidence:

    “My parents had given me betimes religions impressions, and I received from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism. But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself.

    “. . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a through Deist.”

    All this implies that, numerically, an Ulster origin is more significant to being an American Revolutionary than being a freemason. In passing, is that fine Washington mural still at the end of Ebrington Street, in Stroke City?

    As for the “ultimate conspiracy theory” (pace the BBC website), most of the froth about the Bilderberg Conferences derives from the efforts of Tony Gosling (whose myriad activities, once Googled, make my eyes water and my gut to clench).

    Now, for comparison, shall I start on the real and proven menace of the Bush-Cheney clique? How long have we got?

  • kensei

    What Gore actually said:

    BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let’s just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

    Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn’t necessarily bring to this process?

    GORE: Well, I will be offering – I’ll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

    But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I’ve traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

    During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I’ve seen during that experience is an emerging future that’s very exciting, about which I’m very optimistic, and toward which I want to lead.

    Good examples of the other things here:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5920188/the_press_vs_al_gore

    Gore ran a mediocre campaign, but he also got stiffed by a few lies and sloppy journalism rushing in with their preferred narrative.

  • Lamaria

    And Leo Strauss and the neo-conservative American right Malcolm – Allan Bloom, Karl Rove et al? Or should we not go there either?

  • steve

    Harry

    I am neither American nor Irish, I am Canadian and as such close enough to see under the mask and far enough not to be taken in by it.

    If you followed the statistics you would surely think the US one of the most religious countries in the world, but take off the rose coloured glasses and look at the reality and it is truly no more christian than IRAQ

    I am not anti-american per se, I know lots of them and as individuals for the most part they are very nice people. They just have a conflated opinion of themselves and what they mistake as their moral high ground

  • joeCanuck

    Didn’t Kennedy lay the religion question to rest in 1960?
    All of the candidates cannot be as religious as they publicly declare.
    It doesn’t matter anyway; America’s very successful Constitution trumps everything else.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Gore ran a mediocre campaign, but he also got stiffed by a few lies and sloppy journalism rushing in with their preferred narrative. ”

    It is a little more than that, but not a whole lot…

    Frankly, I figured Gore lost the contest, figuratively, when he went from advocating a tax hike to competing with Bush over how large a tax cut should occur, just as I realized Kerry had lost the minute he decided to make his military service the center-piece of his convention speech and campaign, never imagining that the opposition would take what he did immediately after leaving the service and use it against him.

    steve: “I am not anti-american per se, I know lots of them and as individuals for the most part they are very nice people. ”

    Somehow, I’m unconvinced, insofar as that is usually a bald-faced lead in to anti-Americanistic commentary… for example… to demonstrate, were you to have said the following

    “I’m not anti-Semitic, per se — I know lots of Jews and as individuals, for the most part, they are very nice people.”

    You’d have pretty much convinced the audience of precisely the opposite.

    steve: “They just have a conflated opinion of themselves and what they mistake as their moral high ground ”

    Which makes them pretty much like everyone else, from the gratuitous Canadian to the pretentious European. Bravo… once again, someone has the silly notion that they are the original discoverer that human beings have feet of clay…

  • kensei

    “Frankly, I figured Gore lost the contest, figuratively, when he went from advocating a tax hike to competing with Bush over how large a tax cut should occur, just as I realized Kerry had lost the minute he decided to make his military service the center-piece of his convention speech and campaign, never imagining that the opposition would take what he did immediately after leaving the service and use it against him.”

    I don’t think it was that that did for Kerry. The Swift Boat stuff seemed to be far worse, and definitely the lowest I’ve ever seen a campaign sink.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “Didn’t Kennedy lay the religion question to rest in 1960? ”

    No, he merely convincingly promised he wouldn’t give the works over to the Vatican, prior to going off on a testosterone and amphetamine fueled banzai run through the female staff of the White House.

    joeCanuck: “It doesn’t matter anyway; America’s very successful Constitution trumps everything else. ”

    Alas, no — the current interpretation of the Constitution trumps everything, which is not *quite* the same. People forget that the Constitution delineates what the Federal Government is permitted to do and that the Bill or Rights limits what the Federal Government cannot do — but, on its face, does not prevent the States from doing. For example, several of the states maintained a state religion for the first several decades of the US’ existence. This has since been muddied, starting with the shift to a strong central gov’t during and following the American Civil War.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “I don’t think it was that that did for Kerry. The Swift Boat stuff seemed to be far worse, and definitely the lowest I’ve ever seen a campaign sink. ”

    The Swift Boat material was the inevitable “other shoe” to Kerry’s sliming of his brother officers and enlisted men in the “Winter Soldier” farce, where Kerry, among others, brought forth a collection of faux veterans to claim atrocities that didn’t happen. What goes around comes around.

    Likewise, Kerry could have easily countered the SBVFT crowd by simply releasing his full and unexpurgigated military record. As a minimum, making his military service the central theme of his convention opened the door to the rebuttal / attack.

    I mean, hey, he could have run on his legislative accomplishments… if he had had any to show for his, what, thirty years in public office.

  • kensei

    “The Swift Boat material was the inevitable “other shoe” to Kerry’s sliming of his brother officers and enlisted men in the “Winter Soldier” farce, where Kerry, among others, brought forth a collection of faux veterans to claim atrocities that didn’t happen. What goes around comes around.”

    No, I don’t buy that one for a second. I’m not familiar with “Winter Soldier” stuff to comment on it but two wrongs don’t make a right and SBVFT cannot be justified in reference to it. In fact, I think that might be a wee bit of whataboutery there 🙂

    Poor argument DC.

    “Likewise, Kerry could have easily countered the SBVFT crowd by simply releasing his full and unexpurgigated military record. As a minimum, making his military service the central theme of his convention opened the door to the rebuttal / attack.”

    Personally, I reckon the line to take would have been the fact that these people weren’t really attacking Kerry, but rather the US Military itself. I mean, if Kerry got his medals by fraud, who’s to say a load of others didn’t too?

  • Dread Cthulhu on Jan 03, 2008 @ 03:13 PM:

    the current interpretation of the Constitution trumps everything

    Spot on! which gives those nine unelected Justices of the Supreme Court astounding scope and unlimited power.

    So let’s hear it for Alexis de Tocqueville:

    There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.

    And, also, of relevance to this thread:

    The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.

    Or even:

    There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “No, I don’t buy that one for a second. I’m not familiar with “Winter Soldier” stuff to comment on it but two wrongs don’t make a right and SBVFT cannot be justified in reference to it. In fact, I think that might be a wee bit of whataboutery there 🙂 ”

    In other words, you dismiss something you admit to know nothing about, since it doesn’t support your argument. How enlightened.

    Kerry’s involvement in the anti-war movement immediately after his seperation from the military, including his use of lies in the Winter Soldier “investigation” is an instant riposte and rebuttal to the argument that Kerry was trying to put foreward — that he served honorably and could be trusted on matters of national defense. As such, it was relevant to the issue and, as such, not whataboutery.

    Kerry was trying to run on his personal history — ergo, his personal history — *ALL* of his personal history, not just the convenient parts, becomes relevant.

    Kensei: “Personally, I reckon the line to take would have been the fact that these people weren’t really attacking Kerry, but rather the US Military itself. I mean, if Kerry got his medals by fraud, who’s to say a load of others didn’t too? ”

    Wouldn’t have worked, kensei, starting with the fact that the SBV were military personnel who served with Kerry — with both sides being military, your line of counter is weak. Throw in the military lies that Kerry got caught it on top of it — X-mas in Cambodia, and that line becomes increasingly dicey.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Kerry deserved to lose, just as Gore deserved to lose. Both were stuffed shirt patrician hypocrites, who couldn’t nail what – with the benefit of hindsight- I reluctantly concede won’t exactly go down as the greatest administration in US history, in spite of Uncle Don’s best efforts.

    The Dems persist in offering the unelectable ( go Hillary, go!), which is frankly the best hope for the crowd of pygmies scrabbling for the Republican nomination. Surely there must be a descendant of Cal Coolidge out there who has ambitions? Or even Ol’ Strom, who managed to be leader of the House after being dead for twenty years from the groin up…..

  • kensei

    “In other words, you dismiss something you admit to know nothing about, since it doesn’t support your argument. How enlightened.”

    I am making an educated case that it is not directly relevant.

    “Kerry’s involvement in the anti-war movement immediately after his seperation from the military, including his use of lies in the Winter Soldier “investigation” is an instant riposte and rebuttal to the argument that Kerry was trying to put foreward—that he served honorably and could be trusted on matters of national defense. As such, it was relevant to the issue and, as such, not whataboutery. ”

    And look, I was entirely right. Tell me, how does what Kerry did after he served have to do with whether or not he served honourably? Wait, that’s right, fuck all. It might be pertinent to his trust or otherwise on National Defence but since the only thing I stated was that I thought the SBVFT truth was the lowest shot I’ve ever seen, it isn’t actually relevant here.

    “Kerry was trying to run on his personal history—ergo, his personal history—*ALL* of his personal history, not just the convenient parts, becomes relevant.”

    Which still does not excusing lying. Which is what the the SBVFT campaign did by claiming that he did not deserve his military decorations. I haven’t heard any serious argument to back that, or the US Military planning to strip them off him.

    Which are entirely separate arguments from the ones made about what he did when he came back from Vietnam. I don’t really know enough about those to comment, but if I was a betting man I’d gues they are all true, either.

    This isn’t hard.

    “Wouldn’t have worked, kensei, starting with the fact that the SBV were military personnel who served with Kerry—with both sides being military, your line of counter is weak. Throw in the military lies that Kerry got caught it on top of it—X-mas in Cambodia, and that line becomes increasingly dicey. ”

    I fail to see how. If they can’t actually back up the claims that he didn’t deserve his medals, then they are attacking the integrity of the military for partisan gain. I fail to see how that doesn’t also undermine the rest of their platform, regardless of truth. See the example of Gore above.

  • Dread Cthulhu @ 04:05 PM:

    I am trying, really trying, to see a relevance between a re-run of the Swift Boat business to the starting-point of this thread.

    However, if the topic extends to Kerry’s CV, should it not also extend to other candidates back in 2000 and 2004? For instance, what about a certain born-again Christian who was, at even the most sympathetic reading, misleading about his military service, and who lied about his DUI conviction (and, moreover, used the machinery of the State of Texas in so doing)?

  • darth rumsfeld

    How many votes for kerry didnt get counted?
    See Greg palast’s “Armed Madhouse”.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “How many votes for kerry didnt get counted?
    See Greg palast’s “Armed Madhouse”. ”

    Gee, I dunno
    Let’s say..er five million, all locked in a silo ru8n by Cheney’s friends in the military-industrial complex. And lucky for the US too.
    That ought to be enough to keep the liberal conspiracy theorists fuming till January. Sadly I have no time for whatever sub-Michael Moore book is presumably claiming Bush stole the last election

    Probably most elections are imperfect, though few as bad as the one in Kenya which has apparently chosen as its leader a man called Wacky Backy or something similar- right up there with the legendary President Canaan Banana of Zimbabwe.

    It doesn’t invalidate my point about the poor calibre of Dem candidates in the last 2 elections, and they’re little better now. Hard to believe that Hill once had the sense to be a Goldwater girl ( now he would have been a president!)

  • Rory

    The references above to Henry Fonda in the film of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man recalled another film of the time, Advise and Consent, directed by Otto Preminger and based on Allen Drury’s Pulitzer Prize winning best-seller of a novel. Here Fonda plays the President’s (Franchot Tone)liberal, Adlai Stevenson-like nominee for Secretary of State opposed by an ancient Dixiecrat, Charles Laughton,(complete with white suit, cane and planter’s hat). Don Murray plays the chairman of the senate sub-committee who is staunchly behind the Fonda character and the interesting thing here is that he represents Utah(and presumably therefore is Mormon) but has a nasty SECRET lurking in his background.

    Walter Pidgeon gets to play a very urbane LBJ type and good old Lew Ayres holds the moral centre as the decent Vice-president. There’s also Gene Tierney for eye-candy – what the hell more could a man ask for?

    Available on DVD and Drury’s novel well worth digging up.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “I am making an educated case that it is not directly relevant. ”

    The man spent the earliest portion of his political life under-cutting the military and you want to say it’s not relevant to his campaign to become commander in chief in which he made his military experience a hallmark of his campaign? And you call this “educated?”

    kensei: “Tell me, how does what Kerry did after he served have to do with whether or not he served honourably?”

    A question he could have easily laid to rest by releasing his full military file, kensei. Every file of an honorably serving officer would have a document stating he seperated under honorable circumstances. I suspect, since this document did not appear in his limited releases from his military file, he was granted an other than honorable discharge and has, at best, a letter issued somewhere around the Carter administration amending his file after the fact to honorable.

    Likewise, his anti-military activity counters and trumps whatever service, honorable or otherwise, he performed. Like a lot of establishment liberals, he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

    kensei: “If they can’t actually back up the claims that he didn’t deserve his medals, then they are attacking the integrity of the military for partisan gain.”

    And if Kerry is unwilling to prove them wrong by releasing his file in toto, it gives Kerry the appearance of guilt. If they were wholly wrong (which we know they weren’t, given Kerry’s retraction of Christmas in Cambodia and working with the CIA in country), Kerry could have blown them out of the water by releasing his file.

    Malcom: “However, if the topic extends to Kerry’s CV, should it not also extend to other candidates back in 2000 and 2004?”

    It did, Malcom — I know more about Bush’s business failures, ANG service and Gore’s bodyguard in Nam, failing out of divinity school and steady drift to the left / political whoring than I ever wanted to know.

    Malcom: “For instance, what about a certain born-again Christian who was, at even the most sympathetic reading, misleading about his military service, and who lied about his DUI conviction (and, moreover, used the machinery of the State of Texas in so doing)? ”

    Bush’s time in the ANG was, but all accountings that pass muster (and not produced on a copy of Microsoft Word) show he had an undistinguished career flying a dangerous plane. As for a DUI in Texas, that would be news. He did have one in Maine, near Kennebunkport, which was treated favorably, but not nearly as favorably as, say, Chappaquidic. (sp?)

    My personal take is that Bush was treated no better than a Kennedy would have been under the same circumstances.

  • kensei

    “The man spent the earliest portion of his political life under-cutting the military and you want to say it’s not re levant to his campaign to become commander in chief in which he made his military experience a hallmark of his campaign? And you call this “educated?””

    I said it isn’t relevant to whether SBVFT lying is fair game or not. Apparently, you are so educated you can’t read.

    “A question he could have easily laid to rest by releasing his full military file, kensei. Every file of an honorably serving officer would have a document stating he seperated under honorable circumstances. I suspect, since this document did not appear in his limited releases from his military file, he was granted an other than honorable discharge and has, at best, a letter issued somewhere around the Carter administration amending his file after the fact to honorable.”

    Apparently you have no concept of where the burden of proof rests when making accusations, or the concept of innocent until proven guilty. No wonder the US Constitution is being shat on continually.

    I believe he did release some of his military records though; certainly enough to show he was where he said he was and got the medals he said he did.

    “Likewise, his anti-military activity counters and trumps whatever service, honorable or otherwise, he performed. Like a lot of establishment liberals, he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.”

    As presumably, Bush’s period as a drunk trumps whatever else he did before or after then? Aside from the casually way you dismiss service that’s just so much balls it hurts.

    “And if Kerry is unwilling to prove them wrong by releasing his file in toto, it gives Kerry the appearance of guilt. If they were wholly wrong (which we know they weren’t, given Kerry’s retraction of Christmas in Cambodia and working with the CIA in country), Kerry could have blown them out of the water by releasing his file.”

    See above. Pathetic.

  • Rory @ 11:41 AM

    Thanks for the reminder: you are quite correct to put up Advise and Consent (Charles Laughton’s final outing) as an interesting document of that period. Sorry to be tardy in responding.

    So, too, was John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original The Manchurian Candidate, taken from Richard Condon’s 1959 novel. Janet Maslin reviewed its 1988 revival as:

    arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film.

    Great movie, and I refuse to watch the remake, but, for me, the sight of Frank Sinatra in close proximity to Joyce’s Ulysses, [Ha! The desperately dragged-in Oirish connection!] and commenting knowingly on the novels of Joyce Cary [The equally desperate Ulster connection!] brings on the giggles. That prompts me to note that Sinatra is a direct link between A+C and TMC, Henry Fonda between TBM and A+C.

    Interesting, too, as a mark of the times, that both Allen Drury and Gore Vidal use even a hint homosexuality as the no-no for political advancement. That derives from Senator Lester Hunt’s 1954 suicide (after political blackmail about Hunt’s son being arrested!)

    A further thought. Do Aaron Sorkin scripts deliberately echo these films? The surname “Russell” is used for the candidate in The Best Man and for “Bingo Bob” in The West Wing. The arch-hawk inquisitor in A+C is “Senator Seabright Cooley” and we find “Sam Seaborn” in TWW.

    Yeah, I know. Now I’ve worked out hyperlinks, I’m just showing off. Don’t worry: I’ll mess ’em up yet.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Apparently you have no concept of where the burden of proof rests when making accusations, or the concept of innocent until proven guilty. No wonder the US Constitution is being shat on continually. ”

    Apparently you have no concept of where the the burden of proof rests, kensei. Burden of proof is a legal concept, not a political one, and it exists in trial courts, not the court of public opinion. Now, if Kerry truly believed he was harmed, speaking of legal recourse, he could have sued. He chose not to. He could have countered with his file and the facts therein, proving his fellows wrong. He chose not to. Instead, he chose to leave matters on the level of “I say, they say.” Which, in legal terms, reduces the issue a question of fact to be left to the jury, in this case, the electorate, as to which side to believe. Again, if he held all the trumps, as you suggest, he played his hand rather poorly.

    kensei: “I believe he did release some of his military records though; certainly enough to show he was where he said he was and got the medals he said he did. ”

    He also released enough to prove that he lied on several occasions, including spending Christmas in Cambodia, leading to some retractions, kensei. In politics, the first retraction / restatement of fact creates questions of credibility, questions that Kerry did not adequately counter.

    Politics is a blood-sport, kensei, perhaps the only one almost guaranteed continuing legality. Kerry ran a poor campaign, allowed himself be caught in several lies and basically tried to edit out most of his liberal credentials. His idea of connecting to the common man was replacing his expensive Italian motorcycle with a slightly less expensive American one. He tried to gloss over the anti-military credentials built up from the sixties to the early nineties, seemingly never expecting that those whom he served with in-country might still be chapped over the sliming he gave them decades before. In short, his miscalculation created an opening — Kerry spent most of his political career under-cutting the military, something that one tour in ‘Nam wasn’t going to cure.

    Your assertion that the same burden of proof as required in a court of law is the basis of political campaigning is disengenous at best, showing either you have no conception of the public relations aspects of a political campaign or are deliberately trying to obfuscate the issue.

  • kensei

    DC

    Kerry could have sued, but is very unlikely to do so in the middle of a Presidential campaign; and US libel and slander laws aren’t nearly as strong as the UK equivalents. In any case, I didn’t bring up the courts. I simply expect to see accusations backed by evidence before I believe them. I’m old fashioned like that.

    The only thing I have stated is that if a man earned medals for military bravery, then claiming he did not earn without a shred of evidence them is a truly cowardly shot, especially in a country that is as military focused as the US. I make no comments on the other claims as I don’t know enough about them to comment. So bringing them up and talking about political “openings” and the like are complete Straw Men.

    Either you believe lies and slander are alright or not. You have made clear that you believe they are, and will defend them. You’ll excuse me if I exit this tangent at this junction, with my opinion of you greatly diminished.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “The only thing I have stated is that if a man earned medals for military bravery”

    Point of fact — one does not get Purple Hearts (the medals he stressed most) for bravery. One gets Purple Hearts for being wounded. This is why they are occasionally disparaged as “bad luck medals.”

    kensei: “I make no comments on the other claims as I don’t know enough about them to comment. So bringing them up and talking about political “openings” and the like are complete Straw Men. ”

    No, they are simply things your are ignorant of, in the classic (as opposed to the disparaging) sense. You literallly do not know of some of these things — and why should you — it was not an Irish election. This does not make them “straw men,” merely things you do not feel competant to discuss.

    Kensei: “Either you believe lies and slander are alright or not. ”

    Until proved one way or the other, they are assertions, no more, no less. As Kerry refused to take up the gauntlet — and continues to refuse, btw., the matter is left an open question. Frankly, I’m fairly deaf to it, insofar as the politicians of both major parties use the same tactics, even internally during the primary season.

    kensei: “You’ll excuse me if I exit this tangent at this junction, with my opinion of you greatly diminished. ”

    Awwwwww… I’m crushed. Be rest assured, your “arguments” haven’t changed my opinion of you one whit.

  • kensei

    “Point of fact—one does not get Purple Hearts (the medals he stressed most) for bravery. One gets Purple Hearts for being wounded. This is why they are occasionally disparaged as “bad luck medals.””

    Which would be pertinent if he didn’t also have a Bronze Star and Silver Star, which are. Seriously, why the fuck even bother with that?

    “No, they are simply things your are ignorant of, in the classic (as opposed to the disparaging) sense. You literallly do not know of some of these things—and why should you—it was not an Irish election. This does not make them “straw men,” merely things you do not feel competant to discuss.”

    No, they are, because they do not impact in any way, shape or form on the claims about whether not Kerry deserved his medals for bravery. They are mutually exclusive. Saying otherwise is sadly not enough to make it true.

    I know you find that hard to grasp, but take the pills and it’ll start getting better.

    “Until proved one way or the other, they are assertions, no more, no less. As Kerry refused to take up the gauntlet—and continues to refuse, btw., the matter is left an open question. Frankly, I’m fairly deaf to it, insofar as the politicians of both major parties use the same tactics, even internally during the primary season.”

    Actually, he did release his records to three journalists http://www.nysun.com/article/15790

    The rest is so stupid it doesn’t merit comment.

    “Awwwwww… I’m crushed. Be rest assured, your “arguments” haven’t changed my opinion of you one whit. /”

    Yeah, yeah, you put arguments in inverted commas. I’m destroyed. It’s like being swiftboated but worse.

    Really am out this time.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Which would be pertinent if he didn’t also have a Bronze Star and Silver Star, which are.”

    Not necessarily. A Bronze star with a “V” is for bravery / valor. One can earn a Bronze star, sans “V”, for something other than gallantry.

    kensei: “No, they are, because they do not impact in any way, shape or form on the claims about whether not Kerry deserved his medals for bravery”

    Ah, but my thesis was that stressing his military service was a bad political move, not that he didn’t deserve the medals, Kensei. In fact, you were the one who introduced the Swifties to the conversation, not I. That I indulged your appetite for conspiracy is mine own fault, however.

    The reason that stressing his military career was a bad move is that, regardless of the swifties, he made a thirty year career in politics under-cutting and trying ham-string the military, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate. It was, in fact, one of the few consistant things he did whilst in office.

    As for the rest…

    “Broad access” is not wholly unfettered access, nor does it answer the question of whether or not the file had been purged. Likewise, he cherry-picked his journalists, choosing three friendly organizations. It is not very persuasive on the facts, seeing as his seperation from the service was well before 1978. While the government works slowly, honorably discharging a man in 1978 who seperated from the service in 1972 seems something of a stretch, even for the Post Office, let alone the US Navy. Given Kerry’s anti-war activism (1970 to 1971) whilst still in the reserves, it is entirely likely that his seperation from the reserves in 1972 was under other than honorable terms (conduct unbecoming an officer being the most likely suspect), subequently reversed in 1978 under a friendlier commander in chief (Carter vs. Nixon) and the file purged of the initial seperation.

    Regardless, whether or not the Swifties were 100% accurate, it does not rebut my original thesis — that Kerry made a politically foolish error trying to claim his military service in light of his subsequent anti-military activities.

  • OK, kensei and Dread Cthulhu et al.

    I know this is not my cat-fight. I know all about Count Dracula only coming out at night…

    … but why does the Swift Boat turdage only emerge in Election years? [For which see http://www.makethemaccountable.com over recent days.]

  • kensei

    Arrggh. I do have to stop.

    “Not necessarily. A Bronze star with a “V” is for bravery / valor. One can earn a Bronze star, sans “V”, for something other than gallantry.”

    Quite.

    “James Rassmann, a Green Beret advisor who was aboard PCF-94, was knocked overboard when, according to witnesses and the documentation of the event, a mine or rocket exploded close to the boat. According to the documentation for the event, Kerry’s arm was injured when he was thrown against a bulkhead during the explosion. PCF 94 returned to the scene and Kerry rescued Rassmann from the water. Kerry received the Bronze Star for his actions during this incident; he also received his third Purple Heart”

    What do you think Kerry’s was for? Oh, and there is still the Silver Star, which are only given for bravery in battle AFAIK.

    What exactly is the point of the pedantry?

    “Ah, but my thesis was that stressing his military service was a bad political move, not that he didn’t deserve the medals, Kensei. In fact, you were the one who introduced the Swifties to the conversation, not I. That I indulged your appetite for conspiracy is mine own fault, however.”

    Yes. Because as I said, I thought it was low.

    Also conspiracy? WTF? Did I imagine the swifties and it’s really just aliens beaming it to my brain? Otherwise that comment makes fuck all sense. I’m fairly sure the swifties existed and they did a fair bit of damage to John Kerry using some fairly nasty tactics.

    Oh, and the links to Republicans are fairly well documented, but I didn’t even make any claims on that.

    Malcolm

    I am very sorry for derailing the thread, just a throwaway comment that snowballed 🙁

    I’d guess having the funds to pursue these type of slurs helps a lot in getting them through.

  • Rory

    I think maybe we should soon all be awarded Purple Hearts (or the Slugger equivalent) for the wounds inflicted by collateral damage from all the flak flying about from this spat.