What Problem?

The nonsense continues. So there’s no point in ceasing to talk about it, not yet at least. (And I daresay we can be pretty confident that the nonsense won’t stop, it never does.)

There is this string of absurdities for example.

In a departure from past practice, a Dec. 27 Dean campaign event opened with a prayer from a minister. That same day, Dean told voters, “I think religion is important and spiritual values are very important, which is what this election is really about.” The faith-friendly tone follows a December cover story, “Howard Dean’s Religion Problem,” in The New Republic magazine. The article called Dean “one of the most secular candidates to run for president in modern history.” It quoted Dean, whose wife and children are Jewish, saying he doesn’t go to church “very often” and that “my religion doesn’t inform my public policy.”

Note the elision of religion and ‘spiritual’ values, whatever that means. Note the fact that Dean has a religion ‘problem.’ Note that in this context the word ‘secular’ is apparently an accusation. Note the default position – that Dean has a religion problem, not that Bush has a rationality problem.

In a Gallup Poll conducted Nov. 10-12, Bush held a 67 percent to 30 percent lead among religious voters over the Democratic front-runner, former Vermont Gov. Dean. In hypothetical head-to-head races with both Gephardt and Clark, Bush’s lead was 65 percent to 33 percent. “It seems that in the three years since the (2000) election, Bush has become the go-to candidate for those who feel that religion is important to their vote for president,” wrote Gallup religion and values editor Albert Winseman.

Note the combination not to say conflation of religion and values. Note how that subliminally (for those who don’t happen to notice the oddity) conveys the idea that people who lack the first also lack the second. Note how that subtly tells us that secular people have no values. Note how coercive it all is, without really seeming to be.

And this article in the Independent reminds us (in case we’d forgotten) how absurdly dysfunctional the US election system is. Terrific: all the Democratic candidates except Dean are shredding Dean with more energy than they are Bush, with what happy results for the future one can imagine. Flip a few pages on the calendar and picture all the tv ads quoting Lieberman and company on that turble turble secular fella Dean. Paid for by all those corporations that do pay for US elections, and then write US law in exchange for the favour. What a marvelous arrangement.

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