Watching Fox News, I heard an authoritative anchor-type fellow announce that, with the Iowa carcasses a mere two weeks out, we were entering the homestretch of the presidential sweepstakes. Now I'm all full of anxiety because I don't know who to vote for. Damn. What's the rush? When I was...younger than I am now, the conventions still meant something. You actually sat on the edge of your seat watching the state delegations cast so many votes for this guy and so many for the other. Spontaneous demonstrations erupted on the convention floor. There may have been primaries, but I don't remember anything about them. Now I'm led to believe that by the end of January we could know who the two candidates will be. That'll make for one hell of a long, mostly unendurable, spitting match of a campaign. They need to move November so that it comes after January.
So, who to vote for? (I'm talking Republicans. Democrats are excluded by (party-of-death) definition.)
Ron Paul? Picture him trying to stare down Vladimir Putin across a table. Better yet, Ahmadinejad. Oh, that's not sufficient reason? Then try this little experiment. Put up a one-sentence blog post, something along these lines: "Don't vote for Ron Paul because his blowback theory renders him a foreign policy idiot." Go into more detail if you feel competent. Make sure you give the post a catchy title, like "Don't Fall for Ron Paul." Then watch what happens. I can't guarantee anything will happen, but there's a fair to middlin' chance that some of his support-bot cyber hornet trolls will leave the hive to hunt you down, which makes me think that Paul is not a serious candidate but a cult leader.
Fred Thompson? I liked him better on Law and Order. At least they made him stay awake on set. He's old with a much younger wife. I don't care. She's pregnant with his child. Or has she already given birth? You see why this is so hard? I'm having to catch up all at once. A positive is that he's tall. A negative is that he's semi-prolife. That is, he's against abortion, and wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, but he's okay if the states want to allow it, which he doesn't want to do with born-people abortions, so I guess he doesn't think the preborn variety murder. Same with gay marriage. He's also in favor of torture, I mean water-boarding, if the stakes are high enough. I don't know how high the stakes have to be. They never tell you that stuff.
Duncan Hunter? I like him a lot. He doesn't have a chance.
Tom Tancredo? Good on a lot of things, bad on torture, I mean waterboarding. Fan of TV show 24. He's also short. Sitting at a table with the likewise short Vladimir Putin, he'd be looking up.
Rudy Giuliani? Elaboration not necessary, but for the sake of completeness: he "hates" abortion but thinks the woman should have the choice. Hate is a strong word; perhaps he meant that he finds it vaguely unpleasant. He thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, but doesn't support the federal marriage amendment insuring that it remain so. "As mayor, he signed legislation recognizing domestic partnerships, marched in gay pride parades, actively supported gay rights..." You get the picture. He's also a Roman Catholic who believes in serial marriage. Weak on tor...enhanced interrogation techniques.
John McCain? Has the gravitas on the torture issue. Problem is, nobody (as in the vast majority of conservatives) agrees with him. He could stare down Vladimir Putin. He's against abortion. Except. In the cases of. Rape, incest, life of the mother. Opposes embryonic stem cell research. Except. In the case of. Left over embryos from fertility treatments. But he's against waterboarding. I mean torture.
Alan Keyes? I like him a lot. He doesn't have a chance. I saw a fragment of the last debate in which he appeared. Then again on Fox News. He never once said, "Uh...". Or, "...and, uh...," or hesitated in search of the most judicious answer. The most skilled rhetorician in recent American history. If I had to vote for someone who didn't stand a chance, he'd be it. Problem is, there's nothing hip about the guy. He's exactly what you see and believes every word of it. If Bill Cosby wants to point black folks to a role model, why doesn't he point to Keyes? Keyes is the invisible man, too white for black people and too black for whites. A tragedy. Is anyone other than Keyes talking about abolishing the IRS, by the way? I consider it a moral issue.
Mike Huckabee? I've had about all of that hangdog, homespun sincerity I can stand. He's against abortion but thinks pro-lifers ought to pay as much attention to the post-gestational period as they do to the pre. He's equivocal on most every issue. He supports the death penalty but says it's a "tough issue". "...some crimes deserve it, but that does not mean I like it." Well, why do you support it then? Were you signing death warrants that made you an accomplice to murder? The Pew Forum link does not say whether he supports the federal marriage amendment. He opposes gay marriage, but "When asked if he believes that homosexuality is immoral, he said, 'That's their business [but I] don't agree with it.'" (Yeah, so whaddya wanna do about it?) He supports research "on existing stem cell lines," but is against creating embryos in order to destroy them, even though those existing stem cell lines probably came from destroyed embryos. Anyway, TSO had already turned me off to him by steering me to a Jonah Goldberg article in which it is the author's opinion that "Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids." He mentions a couple issues, but this is the one that got me: "For example, Huckabee would support a nationwide ban on public smoking. Why? Because he’s on a health kick, thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing." Ah, a pro-life version of Michael Bloomberg or Al Gore. I don't think I've stated publicly before just how much I despise the cheap grace, the re-baptized bodily purity, and the holier-than-thou self-esteem assumed by nonsmokers and those of the reformed variety. Can't you just say it's bad and shutup? I'll bet you have thoughts in your head viler than my nicotine-stained lungs. It's already illegal in large parts of the country, as in all of the state of Florida, to set the smoking policy for your own establishment. You own a restaurant? Not really. Just try letting people smoke in it. But it's a public health hazard. Then the public doesn't have to come, does it? If you don't want me to smoke in your home, I won't, but neither am I likely to visit. As a child with chronic bronchitis, asthma and hayfever, I grew up with parents who smoked. I played football, basketball, baseball and the female field and I'm still alive and so are they. What's President Huckabee going to do? Come into my home and arrest my parents? If you think it's so bad, outlaw it. Make it a schedule 3 drug or whatever they call it and put us in jail, but stop raising taxes so that the vice-averse government can make money off the wickedness it deplores. What's next? My beer? I always knew I'd find a use for Pat Buchanan: lock and load.
Mitt Romney? Huckabee had to apologize to him for telling the truth about his religion, another reason not to vote for Huck. He apparently asked some media person, in a casual fashion, if Mormonism didn't hold that Jesus and Satan were brothers of some sort. On Tim Russert, Romney assured us that this was another of those distortions of his faith. Well, this page says different, and in depth, written by a fellow conversant in the theology.
The only reason Huckabee apologized is that he embraces the prevailing, Pilate-like philosophy of truth: what is it? It's personal, it's private, and therefore it doesn't matter. It's bad form to attack another's beliefs because, being personal, it doesn't matter how wacky they are as long as he leaves them at the door.
But are they important? Anyone who cares about the truth would have to say yes. I think it's important that a man who calls himself Christian does not believe in the Holy Trinity;
- that God the Father was once a mortal man (he had to earn his current position);
- that he has a consort, our heavenly mother, as a member of the godhead;
- that God has a physical body, and exists in space and time;
- that Christ was not conceived of the Holy Ghost;
It goes on and on and I'm tired of linking. If you do enough reading, you'll find that the origins of only those doctrines mentioned result in an even more bizarre mythology, which word seems more accurate than 'theology' to describe being caught in a neverland of Christianity, classical paganism, the Chariots of the Gods, and the philosopher's infinite regress.
But is it important? Those who have endorsed Romney, like Michael Novak, emphasize the visible fruits of mainstream Mormonism , which center on family, hard work, obedience to the law, the sanctity of human life, the permanence of marriage (and boy do they; that's another 'theological' story) etc. The fruits are undeniable, although Romney was not an exemplar of all, having been for a while firmly pro-choice. But even that doesn't bother me. I believe in conversions, however timely. I'd just prefer that the conversion were complete. He is, he says, in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion, and that he's opposed to embryonic stem cell research. BUT...he's in favor of allowing such research on "leftover" embryos.
There's always a catch, isn't there?
I don't know. Vote for a Mormon if you want. If you trust him. You can vote for anybody if you can trust him to do the right thing. But on what basis should I trust any of these guys, that I might part with the despair I foresee once the choices for next November become clear?
The Chicago daughter's coming to town tomorrow. I think I'll focus on that.