Monday, August 29, 2005

Given a Choice Between Science and GOP Primary Voters, McCain Chooses GOP Primary Voters

My editor ran a cartoon with my column (Pat Robertson holding a gun, licensed to kill, the 007 Club; hey, it was his choice, not mine) even though Robertson was just the appetizer for the column's McCain main course. That meant he cut out the tag line at the end, but I think I'll reinsert it. You can see the cartoon (and the newspaper version of the column) here. Weird headline, too.

Now that Arizona's senior senator has endorsed teaching "intelligent design" and come out in favor of a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, does all this pandering to right-wing GOP primary voters finally mean that we can stop with the hagiography? Please?

East Valley Tribune, Aug. 28, 2005

The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post had the best reaction to Rev. Pat Robertson’s most recent foray into foreign policy, his televised comments last week that it would be “a whole lot cheaper” to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez than to spend billions to invade the country. They called their editorial, “Who Would Jesus Whack?

There are at least two different business books lauding management principles supposedly gleaned from watching The Sopranos. But I didn’t realize that the Reverend was working on a companion volume, which would be the second version of “The Gospel According to Tony” (as preached to the Bada Bing congregation.)

Robertson first tried to explain away his comments by noting that he never used the magic word “assassinate,” instead calling on U.S. Special Forces to “take him out,” which could mean lots of things instead of murder, like kidnapping, or hosting him for dinner at Applebee’s. Of course, that was a lie; the video shows Robertson saying, “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

Lying having failed, Robertson grudgingly apologized, blaming his remarks on frustration with the democratically-elected leader of another country who keeps doing things of which Robertson disapproves. But at least we now know that according to Robertson (and thus, under the Michael Moore-Ward Churchill rules of civic discourse demanded by the right wing, to every other Republican and conservative as well) that democracy isn’t nearly as important as doing what Robertson wants.

Can we Democrats avoid responsibility for Michael Moore as easily as the Bush administration did with Robertson, merely by calling his remarks “inappropriate”? Let me know.

But the silliest thing said by a Republican last week wasn’t Robertson’s soon-disavowed remarks, but rather our very own Arizona Sen. John McCain’s endorsement of teaching of “intelligent design” in schools.

Yes, the Ol’ "Straight Talking" Maverick himself has thrown in with those who believe science should be a matter of public opinion polls and the least common denominator. In an interview with editors and reporters from the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson (hat tip: Political Wire), McCain sided with President Bush in supporting teaching ID, on the justification that “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.

It’s not disclosed in the Daily Star article if McCain also thinks students should learn about ID while waving the Confederate flag, which is a “point of view” as well, and one that can help presidential contenders in the South Carolina GOP primary. Just like McCain did in 2000, if you get queasy that your personal ambitions require shameless pandering to the worst voters’ worst instincts, you can always apologize after the election is over -- when it doesn’t matter anymore. If you can crawl into bed with the worst race-baiters around, it becomes a very simple matter to throw in with the anti-science know-nothings.

McCain’s view of making “all points of view” available is a case-by-case matter, however. He wants to make junk science mandatory in classrooms, but having a debate over the war in Iraq is a real problem for him. Naturally, Cindy Sheehan is allowed to have her views -- but she should only be allowed to express them in ways to which no one will pay attention. Disagreeing with the Bush administration is constitutionally permissible, of course, but as a matter of good taste and prudence, any dissenting opinions should be expressed only where and when nobody actually notices.

Can we treat ID the same way as Bush and McCain want to treat Sheehan? Of course ID supporters are decent people. We feel their pain. But they are being used by groups opposed to the U.S. having a first-class education system and leading the world in science and technology. They’re “a symptom, not a cause” -- but just like Gold Star mothers opposed to the war, they must be stopped.

It’s exactly what the right kind of “higher power” would want.

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