Theocracy in America

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What would Thomas Jefferson say? Not about Harriett Miers for the Supreme Court, but about President Bush’s explicitly religious thought in nominating her? What would Jefferson say about Karl Rove’s call enlisting Reverend James Dobson with assurances that Ms. Miers is “an Evangelical Christian… from a very conservative Church???? What would Jefferson say about the now militant alignment of media ministers for Miers led by Pat Robertson?

Jefferson wanted to be remembered not as a President of the United States but as author of the Virginia rule of religious freedom which established that people’s free opinions in matters of religion “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities,??? meaning: no religious tests for public office. In Jefferson’s absense, who is to notice, who is to protest a violation of that American space between church and state, religion and politics?

Joseph Ellis

Professor of History at Mt. Holyoke College

Author of American Sphinx and Founding Brothers

Clay S. Jenkinson

Thomas Jefferson impersonator

Author of Becoming Jefferson’s People

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  • You guys ought to talk to Fred Clarkson, western MA’s very own expert on theocracy and the religious right.

  • bloggeddown

    Did Bush explicitly use religion in his thought process of selecting Miers?

    Or, is this appearance of religion only a panicky Rovian response to the civil war brewing in his own party? Would Bush have ever come out and said anything about religion in the Miers selection process if it were not for the GOP right religious wing bailing out in their support?

    What is truly sad is that this is the type of discourse Americans expect from it’s leadership.

    It’s the ‘buzzwords’ used in the campaigning – politicians get elected in this country by saying they are religious, by wearing religion on their sleeves.

    Find me a sucessful candidate wearing his or her non-practising, secularist, agnostic or atheist bona fides on their sleeves {other than in Berkely, CA, that is}.

    Wouldn’t Jefferson would be more outraged about ‘Faith Based Initiatives’, which are policy driven rather than a panicked political response to a foundering Supreme Court nomination?

  • trobador

    Hi Chris —

    I believe that America has been (at least) two countries since (at least) Jefferson’s day. In the 18th c a small deist-agnostic-atheist elite ruled while many in the masses were — in modern terms — fundamentalists of various stripes.

    What we are seeing noew is, in some sense, the revenge of democracy! The masses believe, they want some image of God in public life. Who among us in the Northeast has spent lots of time in the American South? It’s practically another countrt compared to the Northeast. In theological/theocratic terms, Alabama and Morocco have a lot in common, God/Allah is everywhere.

    Personally I find the rise of theocracy scary and regrettable, but it is part of the dynamic of popular will. The tide is likely to rise as the modern world appears ever more unstable and people yearn for reassurance. Alas.

    Joel Cohen

  • dannysoar

    I wonder- I don’t think Bush and his people want to overturn Rowe vs Wade.

    1) The majority of voters will not be pleased and will be easy pickings for the Democrats

    2) The Corporate Billionaire wing of the Republican Party relies on all that reigious fervor to get them selves elected.

    I think the evangelicals are tumbling to this awful truth. Stay Tuned. It’s going to get interesting.

    david

  • Potter

    Thanks for that bit of JFK when we need him. Please keep at this. There are many of us that are outraged or in tears as well but we do not know what to do about it.

    Part of the problem is the favors owed part which makes me think of campaign financing.

    The other thing I think of is that maybe we need reminders of what this country is (or was) about. That’s is why Jefferson and JFK tonight.

    I think ( or hope) that we are talking about a vocal minority, that most of us will not stand for a theocracy.

    So please keep at this–

  • Raymond

    Wonderful to hear the voice of JFK, though I hear the speech more of election than of principle. JFK advocates an absolute separation of church and state with only an afterthought of free exercise:

    “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

    While I agree that no religious body, acting as a body, should impose its will through legislation, just as the state should not impose its will upon the religious conduct of those religious bodies, I do not agree that individuals should not accept or offer instruction on public policy from a religious perspective.

    I believe in an America in which individuals are expressly free to offer their views on public policy motivated by their beliefs, religious or otherwise. And I believe in an America in which individuals who serve to create public policy are free to accept this instruction, or reject it, motivated by their duty to the public and their own convictions, again, religious or otherwise.

    It is the state, or the church, acting through the power of their organization to enact legislation to prohibit or proscribe religious conduct, not the individual (president or not) acting under their own convictions, that should bring us to tears.

  • Tock

    Interesting show; the connection with Jeffersonian principles showed this to be a timeless question. I couldn’t get thru on the phone, but wanted to offer this comment.

    Church and state are separeted not only in constitutional law, but in tax law. When several speakers said there was no prohibition on religious organization lobbying, that’s true enough. But they do so at risk to their tax exempt status.

    In fact, the religious right has used this very fact as a weapon to punish a black church after teh Rev. Al Sharpton and (tehn) DNC chair, Terry McAuliffe spoke at the church and said that “the 2000 election had been stolen,” and that “black voters had been intimidated from voting.” Of course this sort of liberal hogwash shouldn’t be spread in a chuch service, and the offending church lost its tax exemption. In fact, there’s an organization called “Big Brother Church Watch,” which runs a website called ratoutachurch.org. This is too weird to be anything but true. Check it out.

    Then, I suggest, we use the same mechanism against the council of ministers that are supporting the nomination of Harriet Meiers to the Supreme Court.

    I just love using their own weapon against them! And if it acts as a deterrent to liberal churches from lobbying as well, well, that’s okay too. Religion and politics just don’t belong in the same bed.

  • timkar

    I have to say that it was jaw dropping. To hear you, the host, compare James Dobson to Grand Ayatollah Sistani was dumb-founding. To suggest that we’re living in mullah-cracy because the president is privately trying to assuage the fears of his voting base is beyond the pale.

    This is no different than a Democratic White House running trade policy by the labor unions. Yes, I know, trade unions are not religious but the Christian coalition has no actual authority real or imagined. The only influence that Dobson or his ilk actually wield is no different (though more powerful-granted) than that of a beloved Hollywood actor or news anchor. They’re just organized. But seems to border on being a crime theses days. You can speak your mind and try to influence your fellow voter but you’d better not be highly organized.

    As a libertarian, I’m not particularly keen on overturning to roe v. wade ( except to say that, being such a divisive issue it would POSSIBLY be dealt with better by individual states where some kind of cultural consensus is much more likely) but this kind of dialogue confounds me. Do we really have any hope of finding common ground and ending our political divisiveness as long as this rhetoric rules the day?

    How anyone in their right mind can honestly look and James Dobson and say yep, he’s equivalent to Ayatollah Sistani or the mullahs in Afganistan is beyond me. I suppose we can write it off as hyperbole but it smacks much more of being irresponsible and inflammatory.

    Finally, let there be no doubt about the political leanings of public radio.

  • I didn’t listen to very much of last night’s show, but if timkar’s characterization is correct, I’m pretty disappointed. Irresponsible and inflammatory.

  • Potter

    The fear and anger I have heard expressed from the religious part of the Republican voting base, is that Meiers is not a sure enough vote to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. What outrages me is the sense of entitlement these folks feel. The president’s word and wink is not enough. They demand ( and seem to be getting) more assurances. They feel it’s their turn; they have worked for it they have waited, they are owed and now they have a right to throw the balance of the court to their liking for many years to come. The shoe is on the other foot; litmus tests are not only okay but demanded. “Judicial activism” is required in the service of God. . Most of us on the other side just want to have a balance on the court. This is despite a meanspirited one party rule in the other two branches.

    No it’s not a “mullocracy” a la Sistani this is hyperbole to make the point, granted. We know that. But we don’t wait for that when we see strong signs. Many were awakened by the Schiavo case, plain for all to see.

    What we do feel now is a sea change from the sentiments expressed so well by these Jefferson scholars and the JFK quote.

    Those ideals expressed by JFK are in part what sold us on him. We felt that he would protect our freedom, not impose his religious views. We demanded that of him and he had to make that speech to convince us. That is what we cared about then..

    The argument above that insinuates about the political leanings of public radio in general ignores facts and avoids the point that NPR is doing one “heck of a job” educating the public. In surveys those on both sides have said NPR is fair and reliable, more reliable than the corporate media. So that charge and it’s repetition is simply intimidation and even harmful. NPR’s alleged leanings are the least of our collective worries, or should be.

    This program and others like it have hosts who have their opinions of course, but they are smart enough to bring in all sides of an issue over time and not give us an echo chamber. What you get here and elsewhere on NPR is not propaganda you get elsewhere on the talk radio dial, but inquiry and dialogue.

  • Potter

    I listened to the show twice and have gone over some of the passages. Chris said ‘mullocracy’ twice. Once at the beginning and once at the end of the show and he explained exactly what he meant by that. Listen to the show. Throughout the show we were being reminded through the philosophy and words of Jefferson and JFK of a founding principle: total and clear separation between religious imperatives and the affairs of state. Jefferson in his Virginia rule, later embodied in the first amendment (Congress shall make no law establishing…). In other words, there can be free opinions in all matters of religion but that should in no way “diminish, enlarge or effect” civil capacities in public office.

    And so this was elaborated upon and discussed for most of the hour.

    Most of us just want to have a balance on the Supreme Court. I understand that one survey says that 60% of those asked want a court that is balanced or more liberal, 30% want a court more to the right or conservative. This president has no mandate for pushing the court to one side. This nomination is about political payback.

    Now we have this nomination where the president is very openly trying to assure that he has nominated someone to the high court that will do what the religious right wants her to do; they can count on her ( wink, wink). He defends her in part on the basis of her religious convictions. Other than that Meiers has no strong qualities (like Roberts has) that makes her an obvious choice to be on the Supreme Court. But the president has mobilized ministers in the religious right to the cause of her nomination and installment. Pat Robertson went even further to threaten senators if they dare vote against her. This is a religious litmus test no question. This “theological imperative�, violates principles of the constitution.

    So the outrage. So the astonishment. So the use of hyperbole. That the hyperbole astonishes more that the issue is itself astonishing.

    Is this part of what Chris called a ‘spooky silence’ amongst us. Is this all okay?

    The point at the end of the show (the second mention of the “m� word) about Iraq vis a vis Sistani was that at a time that we are trying to convince Iraq to separate religious convictions from state affairs, what is happening at home seems very contradictory. Where is the example we are setting?

    I truly hope Open Source wades in a little deeper on this important subject. I did not mind missing the cookbook show, fiddling while Rome burns, as much as I am interested that particular subject.

  • Yesterday I had couched my disagreement in terms of the hypothetical– if that had been said. And timkar is wrong. And I am wrong for suggesting it might have. That was never said. Chris talked about “what feels like a Mullah-ocracy… an Ali-Sistani in our politics, beyond the powers.”

    I fully agree with Potter here.

  • Potter

    thanks jon

  • Potter

    Judgment Call

    Did Christian conservatives receive assurances that Miers would oppose Roe v. Wade?

    John Fund moved up a notch ( from subterranean) with this piece in the WSJ:http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110007415

  • Potter
  • robertparadis

    Hi!

    We live in a very complex world, getting a little more complex every day. For the majority of us, it is just too much, and so that majority flushes down the drain the hard, controversial, political topics. Those ones (of the majority) stick to a simple set of rules and accomodations, in trying to keep their heads out of water. On top of complexity, there is a very loud noise made by the medias and the Show Business that keep busy that same majority with easy to swallow materials. After a long day of commuting, working, taking care of love ones and other obligations, the majority wants to sit, relax and do nothing before going to bed, thus excluding all complex reflexions. This same majority also votes to elect representatives and the President. Wow! This is what we call ‘democracy’.

    In my humble point of view, this is where lies the powers of the modern society. What we see happening, the heavy grasp of the religious groups on political agendas, will be very difficult to overcome because they, the religious groups, offer to the majority a simple answer to extremely complex matters. After all, will you doubt for a second that those religious groups have any bad intention, since they claim to be connected with GOD?

    We need to find ways to have the majority realizes that real Freedom and real Democracy are in great danger. It is maybe already to late, that this new era of power is possibly unreversable. Is it then A BRAVE NEW WORLD?

    How can we make peoples shut off their TV(many leave them on when they lieve) to allow them to think in peace?

    Robert Paradis October 18th, 2005 Boucherville, Qc Canada

  • timkar

    I’m not surprised that I found no lasting support for my views (I was glad to have one if only for a short time); however,the point of using the phrase mull-acracy and intimating the leaders of the Christian Coalition are to likened to Al Sistani(or will inevitably resemble him) in intent or action were quite clear from Mr. Lydon’s statements.

    The kind of voilence that is carried out in the name of jihad and leader militant islamic movements is in no way comparable to some christian leaders mobilizing a voting block. Period. They are completely incomparable. And doing so only serves to balkanize the discussion even further.

    It was, in the end, inflammatory. If I were hosting a nationally syndicated talk show and likened they actions of, say, John Kerry in ’72 or the movers and shakers of the Politically Correct speach movement to Kruschev or something Owellian in nature it would also be horribly inflammatory and irresponsible. No doubt this has all come from the Right, already.

    You know, I long ago (long, long ago) stopped listening to right wing radio save an occasionaly drop in here and there primarily because I wished to escape the bitter language of vitriol that poinsoned my heart and made me angry and while I never had any illusions about the political leanings of public radio, I never thought I’d have to flee from Public Radio to avoid the oncoming magma flow that will inevitably set fire to our whole nation.

    Again, I’m not the most keen on overturning roe v. wade. You also needn’t let me know what the right has done to political dialogue. I’m fully aware. I expected more from “thinking man’s radio.” There’s just a reason that I haven’t contributed to Public Radio in six years and there’s a reason why fewer and fewer of us do all the time.

  • timkar– You appear to have the wrong picture of Ali al-Sistani. (read this Asia Times profile). He hasn’t been encouraging the Shi’i into jihad, and has stood in opposition to the Muqtada al-Sadr, who led the Shi’i insurgency last year.

    As for “Mullah-ocracy”… it’s a tough call. I was originally sensitive to your complaints. But when I listened to the whole show intently, what Chris was focussed on was the claim of a religious test for office. That’s un-American, and more fit for a theocracy.

  • Potter

    It’s not simply Christian leaders mobilizing a benign voting block, It’s the president and other leaders feeling obigated to them and aiding in their determination to change the law of the land to suit their religious imperatives.

    Also JonGarfunkel is entirely correct about Sistani. He has been a voice of restraint and moderation and against violence. He is not a militant leader. A mullah is a clergyman, simply a religious leader.

    And if I may make the point again, the comparison was warranted. The more I think about it the less hyperbole it was. We are talking about a disturbing violation of our founding princples.

    I don’t know what poisoned your heart about public radio.When you suggest, astonishingly, that NPR is threatening to set fire to the whole nation and you feel compelled to flee. Now who is using hyperbole?

  • timkar

    First let me grant that, yes, I may have mis-reprented Al Sistani; however, the broader reference to the Mullahs as much conjers up images of Afganistan and Iran and it’s still inflamatory.

    In the current culture and with the events of recent history, the term Mullah, carries and definate and extremely pejorative connotation that, I believe, was purposely chosen not to hit some theoretical nail on the head but rather to inflame debate and grab attention, something we have graciously granted.

    In a broader sense, I know for a fact that Bill Clinton took counsel from Pastor Bill Hybels a number of times in his first administration on speaches and various issues. I know that Presidents, have all through history done the same, perhaps not all for the purpose of assuaging their various political bases but some, yes, have. Again, our Union was never threatened and it’s not now. And do you know why? First, because it’s not the president’s intent, despite what you may have mistakenly concluded.

    Unfortunately, it’s appears to be your opinions that all Evangelical Christians are Pro-totalitarian regimist. But seriously, do you really believe that the President really wants to institute a Christian version of those countries that we would consider Mull-acracies? Do you honestly believe it’s the presidents intent to create a Christian Afganistan? “Those” are (or were) mull-acracies.

    The other reason is, the American people won’t let it happen. Bush is out of office in three years, his presidency will be at an end in 12-18 months (if it’s not already) and there will be a push back towards the center.

    Let me clarify, however, what was the use of metaphor, not hyperbole at the end of my last post. First, what I characterized as a magma flow of vitriol was not specifically a product of NPR but rather the entire tone of the dialogue to which this particurlar show had contributed and it is this kind of rhetoric if left unchecked on all sides could only serve to lead to our mutual downfall.

    To continue to clarify, I stopped listening to right wing radio(and ‘political’ radio in general) because, it, not public radio is filled with acrimony combative dialogue and I got tired of all the combative posturing.

    {I’ve just deleted two full paragraphs about what frustrates me about public radio.}

    My point was that if this was to be the new dialogue of “intelligent” radio, then yes, I was going to have to start avoid public radio as well. I suppose what’s most saddening ( and this is not new in political discourse) is that you can’t even conceive of why some regular Joe would have any kind of problem with this kind of incitement. Not a card carrying Republican, mind you, a registered Libertarian

  • Potter

    Timkar,

    May I respectfully suggest that you listen to the show again from a more neutral place? Try not to bring in the other baggage ( that you deleted). That’s hardly fair to yourself or to the show. I have been listening to this particular host for a number of years now and I can’t think of a single instance of vitriol being displayed ever and certainly not on this particular show which I felt was more instructive ( educational) at a time when we needed it.

    No other poster has complained of such vitriol as you describe here either. I just cannot imagine what ticked you off so much aside from the violent sterotype you associate with “mullah” and the misunderstanding about Sistani himself.

    I was more upset about the violation of our constitutional principles than any hyperbole, but you are very relaxed about that issue and quick to rationalize and give more Bush benefit of the doubt than he deserves it seems to me. Evangelical Christians, the ones driving Bush, the 15% or so of us, simply want what they want despite what the rest of us want.

    A justice is appointed for life and the balance of the court would be changed for many years to come so this is not about Bush’s term of office. Not only will the damage have been done but the precendent will have been set. Who would know the difference if we were not reminded again ( since we seem to have forgotten or choose to be mostly silent) of what once were very strong principles of this nation? Is the use of the word “mullocracy” more aggregious than this issue? if you avoid this forum ( public radio) where will you go?

  • Chris

    This just in from Mr. Spam:

    Leading by (Bad) Example

    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (Iraq News Agency) – A delegation of Iraqi judges and journalists abruptly left the U.S. today, cutting short its visit to study the workings of American democracy. A delegation spokesman said the Iraqis were “bewildered” by some of the behavior of the Bush administration and felt it was best to limit their exposure to the U.S. system at this time, when Iraq is taking its first baby steps toward democracy.

    The lead Iraqi delegate, Muhammad Mithaqi, a noted secular Sunni judge who had recently survived an assassination attempt by Islamist radicals, said that he was stunned when he heard President Bush telling Republicans that one reason they should support Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court was because of “her religion.” She is described as a devout evangelical Christian.

    Mithaqi said that after two years of being lectured to by U.S. diplomats in Baghdad about the need to separate “mosque from state” in the new Iraq, he was also floored to read that the former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, now a law school dean, said on the radio show of the conservative James Dobson that Miers deserved support because she was “a very, very strong Christian [who] should be a source of great comfort and assistance to people in the households of faith around the country.”

    “Now let me get this straight,” Judge Mithaqi said. “You are lecturing us about keeping religion out of politics, and then your own president and conservative legal scholars go and tell your public to endorse Miers as a Supreme Court justice because she is an evangelical Christian.

    “How would you feel if you picked up your newspapers next week and read that the president of Iraq justified the appointment of an Iraqi Supreme Court justice by telling Iraqis: ‘Don’t pay attention to his lack of legal expertise. Pay attention to the fact that he is a Muslim fundamentalist and prays at a Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosque.’ Is that the Iraq you sent your sons to build and to die for? I don’t think so. We can’t have our people exposed to such talk.”

    A fellow delegation member, Abdul Wahab al-Unfi, a Shiite lawyer who walks with a limp today as a result of torture in a Saddam prison, said he did not want to spend another day in Washington after listening to the Bush team defend its right to use torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfi said he was heartened by the fact that the Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban U.S. torture of military prisoners. But he said he was depressed by reports that the White House might veto the bill because of that amendment, which would ban “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of P.O.W.’s.

    “I survived eight years of torture under Saddam,” Unfi said. “Virtually every extended family in Iraq has someone who was tortured or killed in a Baathist prison. Yet, already, more than 100 prisoners of war have died in U.S. custody. How is that possible from the greatest democracy in the world? There must be no place for torture in the future Iraq. We are going home now because I don’t want our delegation corrupted by all this American right-to-torture talk.”

    Finally, the delegation member Sahaf al-Sahafi, editor of one of Iraq’s new newspapers, said he wanted to go home after watching a televised videoconference last Thursday between soldiers in Iraq and President Bush. The soldiers, 10 Americans and an Iraqi, were coached by a Pentagon aide on how to respond to Mr. Bush.

    “I had nightmares watching this,” Sahafi said. “It was right from the Saddam playbook. I was particularly upset to hear the Iraqi sergeant major, Akeel Shakir Nasser, tell Mr. Bush: ‘Thank you very much for everything. I like you.’ It was exactly the kind of staged encounter that Saddam used to have with his troops.”

    Sahafi said he was also floored to see the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, declare that a Bush administration contract that paid Armstrong Williams, a supposedly independent commentator, to promote Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy constituted illegal propaganda – an attempt by the government to buy good press.

    “Saddam bought and paid journalists all over the Arab world,” Sahafi said. “It makes me sick to see even a drop of that in America.”

    By coincidence, the Iraqi delegates departed Washington just as the Bush aide Karen Hughes returned from the Middle East. Her trip was aimed at improving America’s image among Muslims by giving them a more accurate view of America and President Bush. She said, “The more they know about us, the more they will like us.”

    (Yes, all of this is a fake news story. I just wish that it weren’t so true.)

  • timkar

    Potter: I have to say, I’ve never heard Mr. Lydon say anything like that before in the short time that I’ve listened to the show(it just got picked up on XM public radio) and I’ve never had cause to respond to a public radio show or any radio show before.

    If I give Bush the benefit of the doubt, it’s because I gave Clinton the benefit of the doubt in equally charged circumstances; because I give any person under that kind of pressue, Republican or Democrat, the benefit of the doubt under so much stress to hold disparate factions of political party together. Whomever held the phone conference with the Dr. Dobson and others, were consulting with the leaders of a significant portion of the President’s political base at time. Just as Clinton consulted with union leaders over trade and employment policy, should we be concerned that he was turning the country over to organized labor; that we were turning into a socialist country? Of course not. The DNC didn’t adopt a platform until it had been signed off on by the AFL/CIO. Granted, their not the government, but does that mean that the DNC is a puppet of Labor just as you feel Bush is a puppet of the conservative christians? Of course not. I don’t care whom a president consults with or appears to be consulting with. I care about the policy. The rest is all just politics.

    My suggestion is the Mr. Lydon knows that he’s in a position to push the spear point of the dialogue and can conceivable say make great politial points by actively doing so. It’s a time honored practice. Rush Limbaugh says the most inflammatory things to keep the right end of the party mobilized so that the rank and file don’t have to. Mr. Lydon is attempting to do the same thing for the left. Only in this case, this is supposed to be “intelligent, thoughtful radio” not a propaganda machine as Mr Limbaugh delivers.

    Look, the Christian Right has about spent all of it’s capital by now and there’s serious question as to whether she’ll even get nominated. I’m quite concerned about her lack of bench time and that, yes, she’s seems to be coming in a as a one issue nominee, whatever that issue is. If you really wanted me to, I could rail against her but I doubt there’s any shortage of that around here.

    I realize that they may have come off as purely rhetorical, but I was wondering if you could respond to the question, do you really believe that the President really wants to institute a Christian version of those countries that we would consider Mull-acracies? What visoin of America do you think Dr. Dobson actually wants to see?

    BTW, as far as listening from a neutral place, I pride myself, as I believe I said, on giving people to explain themselves. I listen to public radio everyday. Sometimes I agree. Sometimes I don’t. Never before have I heard someting like the statement in question that is so over the top as to be jaw dropping. That you cannot see that calling the US an mullacracy, alla Afganistan is maybe an unfair comparison(rember, beating women who do not cover their head vs. consulint with a leader of your political base) is, to say, strange in the context of the public radio listener-ship – thoughtful, considering all points of view, etc.

    (Footnote: I do appreciate that, particularly with Potter and Garfunkel that the tone of this conversation “has” remained civil, inciteful and free of noise.)

  • Potter

    Timkar- will you listen again and quote me the offending passage? I have listened twice and your complaint escapes me.

    I’ll stick with my other points, unconvinced, but I do want to make one point to yours about the labor union and the DNC. This is influence in a political party that you speak of. When a person is elected president they become president of all the people. This president is very far from that. What is particularly upsetting is that this is in the light of the extreme closeness of both elections.

    Regarding what kind of America I think Bush wants ( Dobson does not matter ), I believe he does not understand what this country is all about. After 5 years of focussing on him I believe he is a political animal and has little idea ( nor much concern) of the consequences of his choices. In short I do not trust him.

  • jhd

    Chris Lydon is further from Rush Limbaugh than Dobson is to al Sistani…. and I can’t count on Timkar’s assesment that “the Christian Right has about spent all of it’s capital by now.” (btw-she is nominated.) It’s always taken an active response and resistance to absolutists to keep them at bay. When I’ve mentioned religious war among friends talking about American politics over the past couple of years i’ve always done it to be purposely provocative–I just would rather we noticed the direction we’re heading, and the possibilities that lie along that path early enough to avoid the worst of them. I know, when it comes to theocracy, “the American people won’t let it happen” it’s just that it’s easier to avoid the earlier we recognize the possibility.

    Now I have to listen to the show…

  • rlier

    I was just listening to this show and heard Chris refer to James Dobson as the Rev. James Dobson. I thought it might have been a slip of his fast-moving tongue, but then I saw it written in the intro above. James Dobson is not an ordained minister, he is a psychologist, with a Ph.D. in psychology and was formerly on the faculty of USC Medical School. Most of his work deals with psychology.