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“Look Out For Thunderbolts”: The President Dares To Defy Franklin Graham

We still don’t know for sure who if anyone is responsible for shoving 93-year-old Billy Graham back into the harness of right-wing politics after so many years of devoting himself to loftier causes, in order to marginally boost the numbers for North Carolina’s Amendment One. But this statement from his son in response to the president’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage is certainly a pretty big hint:

On Tuesday my state of North Carolina became the 31st state to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. While the move to pass amendments defining marriage is relatively new, the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was defined not by man, but by God Himself.

In changing his position from that of Senator/candidate Obama, President Obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage. It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more.

The institution of marriage should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. The definition was set long ago and changing legislation or policy will never change God’s definition. This is a sad day for America. May God help us.”

A swift response to Franklin Graham from a fellow North Carolina minister, the Rev. Murdoch Smith, pastor of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, said it all for me: “I am always suspect when someone says that they know the mind of God.”

I understand that many sincere Christians fundamentalists believe they are submitting themselves to God and subordinating their own egos and their own self-interest by simply following in their lives what they understand to be infallible divine revelation of the Bible. Many of them, indeed, are so humble it would not occur to them to impose their views on other people, much less force them to live as they do.

If there is anything humble or self-effacing or ego-immolating about Franklin Graham, I certainly don’t see it. As Rev. Smith says, he doesn’t follow God; he knows God and speaks for him, the God that not only fully reveals his Will to Franklin Graham via Franklin Graham’s infallible interpretation of scripture, but through God’s great and characteristic conservatism, his deep and manifest satisfaction with people like Franklin Graham who defend the ways things used to be before women and gay people and other lesser breeds got all uppity.

When people like Graham presume to accuse the President of the United States of “shaking his fist at God,” they are assuming the Prophetic Stance, the Hebrew tradition of calling down divine wrath on a depraved society. Ask yourselves: what kind of prophet would look at today’s world, with its poverty and violence and gross inequality, its environmental brinksmanship, its intolerance, its sheer wastefulness and lack of charity—and decide that what merits divine wrath is gay marriage? What sort of man of God could look at all the grievous occurrences on earth, and declare, with absolutely no indication of self-doubt, that God is grieving over gay people deciding to commit themselves to each other in love?

I’m sorry, I just do not get it. Graham has confused himself with God to an extent that when Barack Obama dares take a position he doesn’t like, he’s shaking his fist at God. I think Franklin Graham’s the one who’d better look out for thunderbolts.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 11, 2012

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Good To Be A Prince”: Once A Privileged Abuser Of Power, Always A Privileged Abuser Of Power.

Romney would be able to dismiss the bullying story as ancient history if it didn’t confirm what we already suspected about him—that he’s a serial abuser of power.

It is a good general principle that we ought not hold teenage wrongdoing against middle-aged people. Mitt Romney has run a business, run the Olympics, run a state, run for the Senate, and run for president. Surely we can and should judge him on his performance of those public duties.

But what if childhood conduct helps shed a light on adult behavior? Romney’s teenage bullying hurts him because it is consonant with his adult record. Voters may well conclude: once a bully, always a bully; once a privileged abuser of power, always a privileged abuser of power.

If the Washington Post reports of his teenage behavior are true—and even Romney does not dispute them, except to disingenuously say he doesn’t remember—what adult traits do those actions presage?

First, abuse of power. Romney was tall, handsome, and rich. But he was not athletic, at a time and a place when athleticism among young men was the coin of the realm. So he became a cheerleader. Like fellow cheerleaders George W. Bush and Rick Perry, he adopted a macho swagger, perhaps overcompensating for his lack of ability on the field. Maybe that’s why he didn’t confront his nonconformist classmate alone but rather took the coward’s path: assembling a posse in an episode one classmate described as like “Lord of the Flies.”

A less-commented upon part of the Post‘s story on Romney’s teenage years is nearly as cruel as the bullying of his classmate. Cranbrook, Romney’s elite private academy, had a teacher who was so visually impaired the kids called him “The Bat.” Romney and a pal walked The Bat up to a door. Romney beckoned The Bat to walk through first, making a sweeping motion toward the door as if it were open, but it wasn’t. The Bat walked into the closed door as Mitt collapsed in fits of sadistic laughter.

One can draw a straight line from the young man who pinned down a terrified teenager and walked a blind man into a closed door, to the adult who put the family dog in a kennel and strapped it to the roof of the car, to the businessman who laid off hundreds of people, cancelled their health benefits, and paid himself millions while their company went bankrupt. And the line continues: the governor who slashed education and raised fees on the middle class, and the possible president who would use his power to cut taxes on his fellow millionaires while pushing for the gradual demise of traditional Medicare.

Then there is the aura of someone who acts as if the rules don’t apply to him. The Post reported that the abused boy was ultimately expelled from Cranbrook—for smoking a cigarette. Really. The victim got expelled for smoking a cigarette, but Mitt faced no sanctions for maliciously victimizing a vulnerable student and a teacher. It’s good to be a prince. Maybe that’s why Romney felt entitled to take a $10 million bailout for Bain, but opposed President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry. He thinks there’s one set of rules for the privileged, and another for the rest of us.

This is why Romney’s ancient misconduct at Cranbrook haunts him today: it helps illuminate the man who seeks to become the most powerful person in the world.

 

By: Paul Begala, The Daily Beast, May 11, 2012

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Lying Through His Teeth”: The Anatomy Of Mitt “The Jokester”

Today, let’s do a favor for Mitt Romney.

Not on your to-do list?

Indulge me.

You have undoubtedly heard the story about a bullying episode during Romney’s high school years. The Washington Post quoted former classmates who said that Mitt had led an attack on a kid who had bleached blond hair that he wore over one eye. While the others held the boy down, Romney cut off the offending tresses.

Let me say right off the bat that stuff politicians did when they were in high school shouldn’t count. And while this appears to be a particularly mean, and possibly homophobic, incident, it is really a good idea to stick to that rule. Otherwise, we would have to go back to the question of whether Barack Obama ate dog meat in Indonesia and we will never move on to health care reform.

But about the hair-cutting story. When Mitt was asked about it, he said he did not “recall the incident.”

This puts a whole new spin on things. The idea that Romney could have absolutely no recollection of this event is way more shocking than the incident itself. Did he engage in this sort of behavior so often that things just sort of ran together?

I don’t believe he’s that lacking in feeling. So I propose that we give him the benefit of the doubt and agree that he is lying through his teeth.

Yes! And, honestly, it’s a good bet. We have seen far less evidence of Romney as a guy with a mean streak than of Romney as a robotic campaigner who finds it impossible to speak in an open, unprogrammed manner — particularly about any incident that makes him look bad.

He probably looks back at what he did and feels terrible. Then he represses that genuine emotion and tells Fox News that it’s all a blank to him, but that, if anyone was offended by the thing he doesn’t even recall happening, he is very, very sorry.

He is incapable, really, of admitting past errors. Perhaps you may remember that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter stuck in a cage on the station wagon roof. When he was originally asked about it, he claimed the dog “loves fresh air.”

This was more than four years ago. What would have happened if Romney had just said: “Boy, in retrospect that really does sound like a bad idea. But you have to remember that we had five boys under the age of 14. It was like living in a vortex; we did all kinds of stupid stuff.”

Do you think the nation — particularly the part that has ever tried to drive long distances with a car full of children — would have been understanding? I personally would never have mentioned the incident at all.

But since we haven’t gotten that sort of input, I kind of feel free to bring it up now and then.

Romney supporters have made a vague attempt to lump the hair-cutting incident in with Mitt’s long history of pranksterism. “You know, you hold the scissors close to his ear and you make a lot of snipping sounds, and you may traumatize the guy a little or scare the guy a little, but no harm, no foul,” Gregg Dearth, another Romney classmate, told ABC News.

It certainly is true that Mitt has a longstanding affinity for practical jokes. Let’s revisit a few:

• Invited to the wedding in which his wife was one of the bridesmaids, Romney livened up the afternoon by snitching the groom’s shoes and using nail polish to write H-E-L-P on the soles so all the guests could see it when the happy couple knelt down to take their marital vows.

• On his first visit to the White House during the Clinton administration, Romney protested when he was handed a red visitors’ badge with the letter A. “I’m not the one that cheated on my wife. He should be wearing the scarlet A, not me,” Mitt said, repeatedly, to the fun-loving White House security staff.

• During his stint in France, Romney entertained a homesick and undoubtedly edgy fellow young missionary by coming to his door wearing a sheet and impersonating a French terrorist/bandit.

• A teacher who students enjoyed making fun of for his poor eyesight was walking with Romney and some of his classmates when they came to two sets of glass doors. Mitt opened the first for his professor, swept his hand forward to indicate the second set was open as well, and then laughed hysterically when the teacher smacked into the closed door.

That last one was in high school, so we’re not counting it. Except as part of a lifelong pattern of fun.

 

By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 11, 2012

 

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sunspot Technical Malfunctions”: Romney Proves He’s As Anti-Gay As You Thought

Mitt Romney, so incredibly comfortable in his skin he apparently couldn’t give a damn what anyone except his radical right wing overlords think, last night in a show of true homophobic independence announced he didn’t really mean to say he is “OK” with gay couples adopting children, and he’s very sorry you misunderstood his real positions on the matter. Wait, what time is it?

“And if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child — in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children,” Romney had told reporters on Thursday. “In my view, that’s something that people have a right to do. But to call that marriage is something that in my view is a departure from the real meaning of that word.”

That, as we said, was Thursday, and apparently there were… sunspots that caused a technical malfunction… or something.

Because today, in flip flop number 412, Mitt told reporters what he meant for them to have heard on Thursday is that, according to CBS News, “he simply ‘acknowledges’ the legality of such adoptions in many states.”

In other news, the Romney campaign acknowledged the legality of skeet shooting.

CBS News adds:

But then on Friday, he was asked, in an interview with CBS’ WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., how his opposition to same-sex marriage “squared” with his support for gay adoptions. Romney told anchor Paul Cameron, “Well actually I think all states but one allow gay adoption, so that’s a position which has been decided by most of the state legislators, including the one in my state some time ago. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.”

Romney did remain consistent on one point: He said he does not intend to use President Obama’s flip flop of same-sex marriage against him in the campaign.

Of course, Romney hadn’t checked in with his radical right wing overlords, who have already decided they, er, Romney will be campaigning on President Obama’s affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Meanwhile, gay kids continue to commit suicide, largely due to anti-gay bullying fueled and supported by the environment Republican politicians create — from Mitt Romney to Reince Priebus to Michele Bachmann to Rick Santorum, and all the way down to this school board member and this school board member.

 

By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, May 12, 2012

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Escaping The Culture Wars”: Every Time Mitt Thinks He’s Out, He’s Pulled Right Back In

There was a time not long ago when Democrats feared the culture war. They’d try to make campaigns about things like economic fairness, and just when things seemed to be going their way, Republicans would jump out from behind a bush and shout “God! Guns! Gays!” Voters would scream in alarm and pull the lever for the GOP. But here we are today, with Republicans desperately trying to change the subject away from gay marriage and back to the economy. Whodathunkit?

Just a few days ago, most people thought it would be too risky for President Obama to come out and support marriage equality. But now not only has he come out in support, his campaign has released a web ad touting his support for it and slamming Romney for not supporting even civil unions. It uses George W. Bush (!) saying he supports civil unions, and hits Romney for supporting a constitutional amendment to forestall marriage equality. “President Obama is moving us forward,” the ad concludes. “Mitt Romney would take us back.” Meanwhile, Republican leaders are trying desperately to avoid talking about marriage.

But this story is not going to go away, at least not for the next few days. Because guess where Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a speech tomorrow: Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. It was scheduled some time ago, but in the midst of all this, when Romney keeps saying he wants to talk about the economy, he’s going down to Lynchburg to address an audience of evangelicals, where he’ll of course have to heap praise on Falwell, one of the most divisive culture-war figures this country has ever seen, and of course he’ll have to proclaim his support for “traditional” marriage, and of course he’ll have to talk about abortion, and of course he’ll come off sounding like someone who has to keep proving to the hard right that he’s “severely conservative,” in his own immortal words. And this all comes on the heels of the bullying story. It has been one tough week for the guy.

In honor of Mitt’s appearance at Liberty, I give you this: quite possibly the best hip-hop anthem about an evangelical university ever produced. Critics everywhere said, “Not nearly as awful as I expected!”

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 10, 2012

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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