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August 14, 2007

"All For Jesus"

In the interests of disclosure, I think Sam Brownback is a pandering little imbecile who deserves to be President like Elvis deserved his black belt. (Dennis Miller's joke.) So I'm not inclined to view him charitably.

Here's the video of his "All for Jesus" line which has the blogosphere in a tizzy:

Ryan Sager quoted this as if Brownback were saying "All for Jesus, All for Jesus, All for Jesus, All for Jesus" as his campaign slogan, when in fact he was quoting Mother Teresa. He now admits that he should have mentioned that fact.

That said, I have to say I'm pretty put-off by this myself. Look, quote or not, Brownback is using the line to mean "Vote for me, I believe in Jesus. In fact, I believe it's all for Jesus." Yes, the line is about faith carrying one through difficult times and decisions. But of course he means it about himself; he's not simply telling a cute story about Mother Theresa because he likes telling cute stories about Mother Theresa.

This sort of thing is what gives independents and non-religious-cons (such as myself) the shivering douche-chills about aggressively religion-pimping candidates. I'm sorry, but even if I acknowledge that someone's religion does indeed tell you something about "whether he shares the same values as" a voter, as that oft-asked poll question has it, it is at best still a proxy for that question. It doesn't answer the question outright; it offers some circumstantial evidence about it.

But it does suggest to me that someone is not a serious candidate for president if their major qualification for the job is a strong belief in Christ, an attribute shared by, I don't know, 50 million or so Americans who are also entirely unqualified to be President.

And it is alienating for non-Christians: If Brownback is saying, basically, "Vote for me because I'm all about the Jesus," well, shouldn't someone less fervent in his faith vote against him for just that reason?

Dan Reihl quotes shrieking ninny Andrew Sullivan on this:

I suppose it is worth noting that Sam Brownback's recitation of the "All for Jesus" line is a quote from Mother Teresa that he apparently deploys in his stump speech regularly. It isn't his original formulation but he uses it to describe his political motivation. It is the core of his political message. In a religious context, it is a vulgar but completely legitimate expression of faith. In a political context in a secular society, it is a toxin that will eventually corrode civil discourse into sectarian warfare. Which is, of course, what the Christianists want. They have the biggest sect, after all.

Heh. Sullivan's all about the nuance and politics of doubt, you know. Just read his book. You can find lots of them in the 2 for a buck remainder bins, at least before they all get pulped for more useful purposes, such as toilet paper.

I quote that because it's silly. But I also quote it because it does indicate, however drama-queenishly, the squeamishness non-charismatic/non-evangelical Christians or non-Christians, period, have about these eruptions of fervor by political candidates.

It's a cliche but it's true: We're electing a president, not a pope and not a deacon.

Christians have, many believe, a public duty to testify on behalf of Jesus. I do not begrudge them that; my ears aren't going to fall off if I hear the dreaded J-word.

But I don't know of any duty by Christians to put Christ's name down as a reference during a job interview. In fact, I'm kind of guessing that's sort of the opposite of the way it's supposed to work. Believers are supposed to testify on behalf of Christ; but Christ isn't supposed to be used to testify on behalf of a believer, is He?

And I'm sorry, but that's what Brownback was doing, not just here, but in his more-Christian-than-Huckabee-or-Romney Savior-baiting in Iowa.

It's ugly, it's pandering, it's alienating, it's cheap, and it's not even acceptable metaphysics.

And it's a tacit admission of one's lack of qualifications for the job. If this is one of the big bullet-points on Brownback's resume, well, he's got about sixty million other potential applicants he's competing with for the job. I'd sort of like to know what makes him a better Jesus-believing presidential candidate than anyone else.

This is a fairly crude form of identity politicking, and forgive me for not thinking the distinction between "Vote for me, I'm a woman!" or "Vote for me, I'm black!" and "Vote for me, I'm Christian!" is all that meaningful. True, sex and race and immutable whereas religious belief is chosen; but then, metrosexuality is a choice, too. And I'm sure most concede that John Edwards' campaign slogan -- "Vote for me, my hair smells like strawberries mixed with hope!" -- is an identity-politics pander as well.

Sullivan's wrong, as usual. This won't hurt America because America gets offended by people who essentially say "Jesus says you should vote for me." It does hurt the GOP, though, as other candidates might feel the need to match little weasel in the Jesus Race stride-for-stride, hurting them in the general election.

And even if they resist trying to fill the Jesus Gap, it just makes the party look bad with the majority of Americans who do not share Sam Brownback's comfort with naming Jesus as a character witness.

Comes A Dark Horse: Emperor of Icecream--

All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All for Jesus!

There. I said it five times. That backslider Brownback only said it four. Washington, D.C., here I come!

Hmmm... he does seem to share my values around 25% more than Brownback...


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posted by Ace at 02:34 PM

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