Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Another Listen to Limbaugh

My column yesterday—“Now a Word from Rush Limbaugh” (right)—drew more response than anything I have written on this blog site. Some of the responses are printed in the “Comments” section attached to the column and I encourage you to read them.

But there is more; and I here post a number of these other messages, some pro and some con. I appreciate them all; I honor the free exchange of ideas and opinions that is both a fundamental freedom of our society and a wonderful part of the World Wide Web.

First, one friend wrote from out-of-state: “Your pattern and patois are perfect.” I had to look up the word “patois”—it means “any pleasant or provincial form of speech” and is pronounced pa-twa (French, of course). I couldn’t tell: was this a compliment?

Another friend wrote from in-state: “Preacher, I do believe you are for Obama. I am a McCain man, so therefore I would listen to some of those guys, but you are still my friend.” I wrote him back: “You are my friend for life. Keep a place at the table set for me. I am coming down there soon.” And he replied: “You got it!”

Second, a regular reader sent this message: “I read all of your blogs on the first page there, and in my opinion you are the most dogmatic writer I have ever read. Your mind is made up, and you are not going to let in one scrap of goodness or truth about any of those people you are criticizing. Some of those people are born-again Christians….Because of you, I am spending more time on my knees.”

Third, one friend wrote this response: “I’ve voted Republican every presidential election since Nixon….I’ll probably vote Republican again in the future, but not this year. Why? One big reason is the appalling, disgusting content of right wing radio jocks…. Once I discerned the deception they were spinning, and saw their goals of instilling partisan fear and hatred that will endure well beyond the election, I knew a closer look at Obama, unfiltered or interpreted by them, was merited. I really like what I discovered. Obama all the way! He’s got my vote.”

But after he wrote this “Comment” and before I had approved it—according to the standard blogging protocol—he got cold feet; he called to say: “Don’t post my response on your blog site.” Of course, I didn’t.

But my friend’s on-and-off comment addressed the issue of public rhetoric, though, and that brought to mind the article written by Evangelical leader James Dobson of “Focus on the Family.” His web site posted an article entitled “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.” It is a fictional letter describing social conditions that some think might develop if Obama is President.

Fear is the primary emotion flowing into and out of this letter, something pointed out by numerous responders, including Jim Wallis, on his Sojourner’s web site. Both the Dobson piece and the Wallis response are worth reading; they provide a wonderful window into opposite ends of the Evangelical world.

Finally, one friend who supports McCain and can not understand why I will vote for Obama sent a link to this article. It is an African American man explaining why he cannot vote for Obama. He reasoning revolves around two predicable issues: abortion and homosexuality—in my judgment, a very narrow moral spectrum.

This same McCain friend also thinks the large media networks are all biased in favor of Obama so she sent this cartoon. I smiled when I saw it and so can you.

Pied Piper from Chicago

Pied Piper from Chicago

Now a Word from Rush Limbaugh

It will be a miracle if Barak Obama wins the election.


I know he has the entire Democratic Party on his side, most of the ethnic communities, and much of the mainstream media—not to mention the whole world and quite possibly the almighty and everlasting God. That is quite a coalition.


But blocking the Obama Express is a great host of right wing advocates known as radio talk show hosts. They are, as the book of Revelation says of another gathering, “an exceedingly great multitude which no man can number.”


Three of them talked their way into my irritation as I drove to Cincinnati this week, and I am telling you again, it will be a miracle if Osama Obama, as one of their listeners tagged him, garners even a third of the ballots casts. My, it was nasty.


First it was Leland Conway. He is on Lexington station 630am WLAP. I know Leland; in a former life he shared a microphone with me on my public radio program, The Meetinghouse: Conversations on Religion and American Life. Now, he shares the time and space with very few, except those who think Obama is a Muslim, a Communist, a Liar, a Terrorist, a Deceiver, or the Devil himself. His rant is loud, reckless, and ruthless; more than once I wanted to place a call and challenge some off-the-wall assertion.


Leland is followed by the incomparable Rush Limbaugh, the godfather of self-absorbed gab holding forth on a bazillion stations across the fruit plains. What used to be considered rude, crude, and socially unacceptable he says with arrogant glee—and, of course, with economic success. His program was non-stop ridicule of Barak Obama—a toxic paradigm for every public square; I wonder what this style of communication would do if it came to dominate conversation in schools, churches, communities, and city councils.


Finally, I drove into the listening area of Bill Cunningham, sounding out from WLW, the 50-000 clear channel station in Cincinnati. It was more of the same. At least Mo could be distinguished from Larry and Curley by what did or did not sprout on the top of his head. Not these stooges. They were all alike: overly emotional, obsessed with disgust for Obama, fuming with righteous indignation, posturing like proverbial prophets crying in the wilderness.


Redistribution of wealth was the subject de jour. All three went straight from wealth redistribution to Communism, pretending they had never heard of food stamps, disability, social security, the GI bill, or even public schools—just a few of the many ways in which money is taken from those who have it to assist those who do not. But insinuation is more marketable than sanity, and facts are no match for the twenty-four-seven fantasy spewing forth from the mouths of these airwave authorities.


With that much airtime devoted to his destruction, it is amazing that Obama is even competitive in this political contest. These radio voices complain about the mainstream media; but I know of no public media—print, radio, network, cable, or even the web—as arrogant and irrational as the men who monopolize the daytime airwaves up and down Interstate 75.

What Difference Does It Make?

Eight years ago I shrugged my shoulders and said: “What difference will it make—who is elected President: Bush or Gore? One President cannot make much difference in a government controlled by entrenched bureaucracies, special interest money and elected officials who serve for thirty years.”

That’s what I thought when the Supreme Court declared George Bush the winner over Al Gore.

But events have proven me wrong.

While Al Gore invested his energy calling America to confront the crisis of global warming—and winning the Nobel Peace Prize, George Bush set a new standard for immorality and incompetence in the White House.

Bush started a war, invoking his cowboy creed of preemptive aggression; it was and is a war we did not need and can not win. Thousands have died, tens of thousands have been maimed for life, hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and millions have nurtured a new sense of prejudice against other peoples, nations and religions.

Bush ignored the principals of human rights that have been at the center of our national ideal, repudiated his country’s stand against torture, and created a illegitimate legal system to handle people he did not like; it is called Guantanamo and will survive for years as a stain upon our national honor.

Bush responded to Hurricane Katrina with a level of public indifference rarely seen in a person of high office; and when the catastrophe created pressure he could not resist the President and his henchmen unleashed a tsunami of bungleosity that makes the Three Stooges look like Olympic athletes.

Finally: the collapse of the economy. Need I say more?

Bush, of course, was the Conservative, and thus loved by the corporations and the evangelicals; and was ordained by God, we were told, to keep America pure and decent and unregulated. But by electing the man less intelligent, less competent, and less engaged with the world we voted ourselves into a mess; and we delivered to the world a clear and compelling truth—it does make a difference!

One person can make a difference: one student, one parent, one teacher, one soldier, one judge, one writer, one friend—and yes, one President. It does matter; it matters this year, not necessarily more or less than any other year, in spite of what the politicians say. It does matter, and because of that, I will vote.

Divorce: Very Public and Very Messy

For three decades the Moral Majority has been married to the Republican Party. Many thought it was a marriage made in heaven. It looked good and sounded good, but from the beginning the spouses were incompatible; and now disillusionment has set in and divorce is right around the corner.

The Moral Majority—or what we sometimes call the Religious Right—tapped into the growing cultural clout of Protestant Evangelicals. They found common cause—especially on the issue of abortion—with many Roman Catholics. So a coalition was born: Christian people who desired to introduce legislation to outlaw abortion, limit homosexual rights, promote private schools, and keep the symbols of Christianity in public places.

Plus the unfettered right to own and use guns—but that is another matter, really.

The Republican Party came courting, thinking—like medieval European monarchs—a royal marriage might expand their political base and bring them political power. Which it did: but all the promises the Party made to the believers—well, few of them ever materialized.

So now, the marriage is on the rocks.

That is the meaning of the defeat that is sure to overtake the Republicans in eight days.

McCain represents the classic Republican tradition: limited government, low taxes, strong military, and a hardnosed response to crime—and a careful neutrality toward religion. Palin represents the new cultural Republicans: religious rhetoric, right to life, traditional families, and a vision of a Christian nation.

Not only are they going to get beat on Election Day, I mean really beat—there is going to be a falling out. McCain and his people will blame the Palinites; Palin and her people will blame McCainsies. And during and after the blame game, a mighty struggle for the political assets. You know: who gets the house, the retirement account, the pedigreed pets, even the pottery collection. It is going to be a messy divorce: very public and very ugly.

Like all divorces, it is sad. Hopes dashed, dreams spent, plans gone awry. And many people will be saying, “I told you not to marry that woman, that man. You wouldn’t listen.”

It will happen again—some other Religious vision, some other Political ambition, convinced that a strategic partnership can usher in the Kingdom. Perhaps somewhere out of the limelight such suitors are already courting, whispering sweet nothings, planning marriage and mortgages and large families. There is nothing we can do to prevent it, really.

But life in the churches is not much better, and that also is depressing. It is hard to keep hope alive.

Neither Messiah Nor Antichrist

I welcomed my six international guests last week just hours before the last presidential debate. “You have come,” I said to them, “during the most interesting, historic election campaign in my lifetime.” I meant, of course, the contest between Hillary and Barak and then the rise of an African-American to the top of a national ticket.

What I didn’t mean was the sort of transcendent and troubling rhetoric used both to anoint and undermine Obama.

One West Coast observer wrote: “No, it’s not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more…a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity…Many spiritually advanced people I know identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.”

No wonder Louis Farrakkan, Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam, calls Obama the Messiah, as does Rush Limbaugh, in his customary mixture of anger, bombast, ridicule, and humor.

Both sides of this messianic chorus are bunk—both those who call him messiah and those who curse his messianic tag. Obama is a politician, running for election, eager to hold office and exercise power: just like Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush boys. Nothing more, nothing less.

Certainly not Antichrist.

Time magazine published an article in August dealing with the rumor that Obama is, not the messiah, but the antichrist. More than 800,000 web sites—such as obamaantichrist—come up when a search is made for “Obama Antichrist.” This is far less than the 2.4 million related to his messianic mission, but it is still worth noting.

For instance: “Barak Obama is the antichrist and I have the proof! The Nation of Islam prophesied the final Mohammed (a Muslim) would come into the world from the union of a white female and a black male based on the story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. Obama fulfills this. Obama hails from Chicago, who zip code is 60606—do you see the three sexes?—Obama would be a black president in the white house; Satan is described as black in attribute who seeks to take over the white mansion known as heaven. Obama’s first name is Jewish and means ‘blessed.’ Obama is Muslim.”

Is that crazy or what?

Like I was saying to my international guests: this political campaign is the most shake-your-head, throw-up-your-hands presidential season in the history of the world—that’s what I wanted to say but I knew it would not translate well.