When Is A Candidate’s Religious Faith A Political Issue?

Is it every appropriate to ask candidates about their religious faith? In some cases, yes it is.

James Joyner’s post today about religious extremism in politics brings to mind a piece by New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in yesterday’s Times magazine section arguing that journalists should be more aggressive in asking politicians about the religious beliefs, especially in light of the rise of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry:

If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him? Personally, I might not disqualify him out of hand; one out of three Americans believe we have had Visitors and, hey, who knows? But I would certainly want to ask a few questions. Like, where does he get his information? Does he talk to the aliens? Do they have an economic plan?

Yet when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively. Michele Bachmann was asked during the Iowa G.O.P. debate what she meant when she said the Bible obliged her to “be submissive” to her husband, and there was an audible wave of boos — for the question, not the answer. There is a sense, encouraged by the candidates, that what goes on between a candidate and his or her God is a sensitive, even privileged domain, except when it is useful for mobilizing the religious base and prying open their wallets.

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.

But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed.

Keller posted the questions that he sent to each candidate on his blog, and says that he’ll post responses if and when he receives them. If the reaction in the conservative blogosphere is any indication, though, I would advise Keller not to hold his breath waiting for a response.

Not surprisingly, several bloggers responded to Keller’s discussion about scrutinizing the religious beliefs of certain Republican candidates by bringing up the old controversy from the 2008 campaign, President Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jermiah Wright. John Sexton came up with his own list of “question for President Obama,” most of which were based on the Wright controversy, but some of which also bring up the old canard of Obama being a “secret Muslim” (“Do you believe the God of the Christian Bible is the same as the God of the Koran? Does this view influence your foreign policy?,” asks one question). Resurrecting the Wright canard is an inevitable, and in the end not very original, response to Keller’s piece. The fact of the matter is that President Obama did answer questions regarding his relationship with Rev. Wright when he repudiated Wright’s most notorious comments, and when Wright re-emerged in public and made more outrageous statements, he personally repudiated the man who had conducted his wedding and baptized his children. None of that was good enough for the right, though.

The bloggers at Power Line came up with their own questions for Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first and at present only Muslim Member of Congress. Why a back bench Congressman from Minnesota should be an issue of national concern is beyond me, though. If his constituents want to ask him those questions, or others, they can and no doubt will.

Other reactions reacted to Keller’s column, as well as his “space aliens” comparison, with disdain and suggested that it was inappropriate, bigoted, or biased, to even ask such questions as those Keller is position. Personally, after reviewing the questions themselves, I’ve got problems with them both because I find some of them inappropriate, and because I think they get fundamental details about religious faith completely wrong. Tommy Christopher and Ed Morrissey both do a very good job of pointing out some of the problems with Keller’s questions, and I recommend you read their posts. The first question that Keller asks, however, is the one that I think is most important:

1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?

I’ve written about this issue before. In June, when stories were starting to circulate once again about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism being a problem for some voters, I said the following:

People are entitled to vote for or against someone for whatever reasons they choose, including their religion and even their race. That doesn’t mean, however, that their reasons are respectable or worthy of serious debate. I’m no expert in theology, so I can’t comment on the authors claims about Mormon theology. However, I do know religious intolerance when I see it and what he and others have said about Romney and Mormons is not much different from what was being said about Catholics when Al Smith ran for President in 1928 and even in 1960 when John F. Kennedy faced anti-Catholic bigotry in places like West Virginia. In both cases, I think that self-assuredness about one’s own religious beliefs combines with ignorance about other faiths (Catholicism up until Vatican II was in some was as mysterious to non-Catholics as Mormonism is to non-Mormons) and the result is a form of religious intolerance that really has no place in politics.

On further reflection, I should probably clarify this by saying that questioning someone about their faith and rejecting them merely because they are a member of a specific faith is different from what Keller appears to be calling for, which is a more thorough examination of the relationship between a candidates religious beliefs and how they would govern if elected. The extent to which someone’s beliefs influence the policies they implement is surely a relevant question for reporters, and citizens to ask candidates. I don’t necessarily care, for example, what a political candidate believes about the theory of evolution (although I would have serious doubts about the judgment of someone who rejects a fundamental building block of biology and anthropology), I care about whether they would favor forcing a religious doctrine, call it “creation science” or “intelligent design,” in science classrooms. I don’t necessarily care if a candidate believes that homosexual behavior is a sin against God, but I do care if they advocate policies that would discriminate against people and deny them equal treatment under the law. It doesn’t matter to me how religious a candidate is, but it does matter to me if they reject the very idea of separation of church and state. In the end, I don’t care if a candidate believes that their life should be guided by God, Allah, Bhudda, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What matters, what should matter to reporters and citizens, is the extent to which those candidates believe that the government should be used to enforce their religion’s doctrines of morality on the rest of society. Those are the kind of questions that Keller should have asked, and the kind of questions all of us should ask.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, Religion, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. ponce says:

    It’s the candidates themselves who have raised troubling reoligious questions ths time around.

    Bachmann is already backpedaling from statements she made about gawd and the recent east coast earthquake and hurricane this weekend.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I certainly think it’s fair. Indeed, religious questions have implicitly been asked as long as I remember, which candidates having to persuade voters that their faith is very important to them and so forth.

    A large number of Americans regard Mormons as a weird cult. It’s perfectly reasonable for those people to inquire, through reporters, to what extent Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman believe in various LDS precepts.

    Similarly, Bachmann is wearing her religiosity on her sleeve and therefore getting asked questions as to how literally she means certain things. Fair game.

  3. Sam says:

    Only when they are Christians.

    Was Obama’s Black Liberation beliefs ever questioned?

  4. Vast Variety says:

    I don’t care what any candidate’s religious faith is. What I care about is when they use that faith to dictate policy choices or they use their faith to attack their political opponents like Bachman and other Republican candidates have done. When they do that then their faith is fair game in the political arena.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    It’s the anti science element that worries me the most. I could never vote for someone who believed in creationism over evolution. Now it’s true that we are talking about politicians here and there is the possibility they are just pandering but I will assume they are not.

  6. qtip says:

    Regardless of whether it is ‘fair’ to ask candidates about their faith, I find the information helpful in determining how to vote.

    In my case, more religious means I’m less likely to vote for them but I imagine it is the opposite for most people.

  7. @James Joyner:

    A large number of Americans regard Mormons as a weird cult. It’s perfectly reasonable for those people to inquire, through reporters, to what extent Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman believe in various LDS precepts.

    I always kind of cringe when the conversation gets to this area, because it feels like we’re treading close to the line. Are Mormom precepts unusual because there’s something wrong with them, or just because they are, relatively speaking, new to the game. Transubstantiation, Immaculate Conception, and Virgin Birth might be considered unusual, but nobody questions Catholics about them because they’ve been around for hundreds, in some cases nearly 2,000 years.

    Some of the questions that get raised about LDS beliefs sometimes strike me as a religioius version of picking on the new guy.

  8. PD Shaw says:

    I agree that a candidate’s religious faith is a fair question, its a matter of examininag a person’s beliefs. We should be hesitant to go far down this path for a few reasons:

    a. I doubt most political candidates without a seminary background can discuss religious concepts in any meaningful way.

    b. The media loves the culture wars stuff, and it will take away time and energy from boring stuff like economic and foreign policy.

    c. This type of questioning will generally favor majoritarian views.

    d. On a Presidential level, it will tend to nationalize issues that have little reason to be discussed at the federal level. What is more troubling, a candidate’s views on creationism, or their views on the President’s role on the issue?

  9. Gustopher says:

    Religion informs a person’s morality, viewpoints, decisions, and priorities. It’s not something that can just be whitewashed away with attitudes like “What matters …, is the extent to which those candidates believe that the government should be used to enforce their religion’s doctrines of morality on the rest of society”

    Every politician will use their morality as a template for what laws they support and what policies they will enact. There’s simply no other way for the human animal to function.

    If they get their morality from religion, their religion should be examined — and if it is something straightforward like “Oh, another Lutheran”, then the examination might not need to go very far.

    Still, even with run-of-the-mill mainstream Christians, I’d want to know if they are of the Christian Charity variety, or the Enternal Damnation For All Sinners variety. Do they oppose the death penalty? Do they oppose abortion? Do they want to make abortion illegal, or do they want to make it unnecessary?

    Once you get outside run-of-the-mill mainstream Christians, the questions increase. Does Obama support his preacher’s inflammatory remarks? Did growing up in an ostensibly weird cult affect Romney’s views on other minorities? Does Perry feel any guilt over Texas executing an innocent man? What on earth is Bachmann thinking?

    (I believe the answers to those questions are “no”, “no”, “yehaw!” and “what makes you think she is thinking”, respectively, but if no one ever asks, there’s no way for anyone to know)

  10. john jansen says:

    I think the article is a little strange in that I thought that JFK buried the religion issue in his 1960 contest with Nixon. I think the question which matters regarding a candidate’s religion is his or her capacity to fulfill and observe the solemn sworn oath taken at inaguration. JFK famously responded that if there was a conflict between his personal religious beliefs and his oath of office that he would resign. That is the pertinent point and the only one which matters to me.

    As an aside I find the current group of Catholic politicians to be hypocrites and dissemblers on the abortion question. Governor Cuomo ( the first) concocted the convoluted idea that one could personally oppose abortion yet support it as public policy. In a sense he declared it morraly reprehensible but would not oppose it. He would not win any Profile in Courage for that stand or any admiration from Saint Thomas More from his contortions of conscience to sartisfy a constituency. If I place the argument in some historical context, place the purveyor of that strange argument in ante bellum Amercia or 1930s Germany and you have someone justifyslavery and someone rationalizing the Holocaust.

    If you truly oppose something say it and fight aganst it. But do not try to argue both sides of an issue simultaneously.

  11. steve says:

    I do not care that much about any candidate’s chosen faith. However, if they want to talk about it in public, then it needs to be questioned. If they want to cite religious writers as influences on their thinking, then they should be questioned. Many of these writers subscribe to very different views of history. (One of Bachmann’s cited influential writers believes that the Civil War was a Christian nation, the South, defending itself against invasion from unbelievers). Most of us dont really know how very differently people in some of these fundamentalist faiths see the world.

    Steve

  12. Sam says:

    @Vast Variety:

    Are you suggesting that those who are very religious cannot use their beliefs in guiding their daily lives?

    What about those who’s religion is that of Mother Earth and Climate Change?

    Anyone who has any beliefs brings those beliefs to their lives.

    Obama brings his Black Liberation beliefs to the front daily.

  13. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Are Mormom precepts unusual because there’s something wrong with them, or just because they are, relatively speaking, new to the game. Transubstantiation, Immaculate Conception, and Virgin Birth might be considered unusual, but nobody questions Catholics about them because they’ve been around for hundreds, in some cases nearly 2,000 years.

    Indeed. Let’s talk about how pretty much every religion requires belief in fairy tales and other ludicrous, impossible events. Despite what you say, some of us do question those nutty beliefs of Catholics, and other religions.

  14. mantis says:

    @Sam:

    What about those who’s religion is that of Mother Earth and Climate Change?

    The imaginary people in your head? Not real concerned about them.

    Obama brings his Black Liberation beliefs to the front daily.

    Do elaborate, please.

  15. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Reasoning by way of analogy, there’s a difference between a trial witness who testifies without prompting about his loving marriage who then gets impeached with evidence of domestic violence and a witness who hasn’t said anything about his marriage being asked unilaterally: “how often do you beat your wife.”

  16. Sam says:

    @mantis:
    Just look at his JustUs Dept and his new push for “more diversity”and ObamaCare. Reparations by any other name.

    20 years in a Black Liberation Theology racist church is not lost on you huh?

    If you believe CC is not a religion, you need to see a doctor. The belief runs deeper then religion does in many religious people.

  17. mantis says:

    Just look at his JustUs Dept and his new push for “more diversity”and ObamaCare. Reparations by any other name.

    Do elaborate, please. This is just nonsense. Health care reform is reparations informed by Black Liberation theology? Total nonsense.

    If you believe CC is not a religion, you need to see a doctor.

    Ok, I did. Here’s how it went.

    Me: Help me, doc! I don’t think science is religion! What’s your diagnosis?
    Doctor Obvious: You’re sane. Now get out of my office. Real sick people need my help.

  18. john personna says:

    With a certain agnosticism you can say that religion is within us .. because God or nature put it there. But of course it isn’t as simple as “God(s) (Y/N)?” We want to see how our leaders, and especially the Big Chief, handle the question, not only because we want his answer to be like ours, but because very different answers from ours could lead to (subjectively) bad outcomes.

  19. Lit3Bolt says:

    You could also reverse this headline to highlight the plight of the poor marginalized atheists. When is lack of faith in a Supreme Ethereal Intelligence considered a political issue?

    Of course, I worship the Dread Cthulu, so my cult and brood-children are even more marginalized than those with a lack of belief. But my faith is very important to me!

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    Two quick things:

    1. Sam, there is already a frequent commentor here who uses the alias “Sam.” As he is more prevalent and was here first, would you mind using a different alias so the readers can distinguish his and your points of view? I’m guessing you weren’t trying to be rude by using the same, common alias.

    2. Quick quibble, Keith Ellison is not the only Muslim member of Congress. Representative Andre Carson of Indiana is as well.

  21. PD Shaw says:

    I am biased against Cthulhu worship, perhaps a sustained educational agenda from the cult might improve its image.

  22. sam says:

    @Sam:

    Only when they are Christians.

    Was Obama’s Black Liberation beliefs ever questioned?

    What BL beliefs? You have a cite? Else, you know, we might think you’re just shooting off your mouth.

  23. Lit3Bolt says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Of course. Our educational initiative is based upon the Most Unholy Necronomicon, which will of course be taught in our schools and posted in our courthouses.

  24. ponce says:

    I think the article is a little strange in that I thought that JFK buried the religion issue in his 1960 contest with Nixon.

    The huge rightward lurch the Republican Party has undergone has allowed candidates with extremist religious views to run and do well in the primaries

  25. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    Of course. Our educational initiative is based upon the Most Unholy Necronomicon, which will of course be taught in our schools and posted in our courthouses.

    Your notion that there will be courthouses after the advent of the most unholy lord marks you as an apostate heathen. Send in the pipers.

  26. racehorse says:

    jobs, jobs, jobs

  27. Jay Tea says:

    Here’s the criterion: is the politician in question conservative? Then they are presumed to actually take their religion seriously, and must be scrutinized.

    If the politician is liberal, then it is safely presumed that their beliefs are purely a matter of convenience, and not that relevant.

    Plenty of examples already cited, more available upon request.

    J.

  28. mantis says:

    Here’s the criterion: is the politician in question conservative? Then they are presumed to actually take their religion seriously, and must be scrutinized.

    If the politician is liberal, then it is safely presumed that their beliefs are purely a matter of convenience, and not that relevant.

    Actually, the difference is that most religiously conservative politicians try to impose their religions on the rest of us through policy. Liberals rarely ever do. That’s why it’s more relevant for them. They are theocrats.

    For instance, Michele Bachmann got her start in politics when she, fed up with public schools not forcing her religion on other people’s children, started up a charter school with some other like-minded activists. Not too long after the school was set up, she was forced to resign after it became clear the school was, you guessed it, pushing Christianity. Bachmann tried to violate the law, and was caught doing so, by pushing her religion on other people’s children in a public school. She moved on from there to run for office so she could push her religion at a higher level.

    That’s why her religion is relevant. She wants it to be everyone’s religion, and is willing to craft policy to achieve that end.

  29. Jay Tea says:

    Doug, you say that the Reverend Wright matter was thoroughly addressed by Obama. With all due respect, bullshit.

    As you noted, Obama spent 20 years in the man’s pews, built much of his life around him and the church, but it took outside observers just a little amount of time to notice that Wright was nucking futs — a fact that Obama had overlooked for 20 years. And once he had his eyes opened, he wasted no time tossing under the bus the man who had married Obama to his wife, baptized his two children, and whose sermons Obama bought and listened to while in DC.

    At that point, it became clear that Obama didn’t really have any religious faith. He was part of Wright’s church for the purpose of advancing his political career. And once it moved from an asset to a liability, he dumped him.

    I find myself agreeing with a rather cynical sentiment I read somewhere. Obama is probably an atheist, because any religion requires acknowledging a power greater than oneself. And I can’t see Obama doing that. Behind that cynicism is, most likely, a grain of truth.

    J.

  30. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Actually, the difference is that most religiously conservative politicians try to impose their religions on the rest of us through policy. Liberals rarely ever do. That’s why it’s more relevant for them. They are theocrats.

    The sad part, mantis, is I think you actually believe that.

    Bush was supposed to be the Theocrat In Chief. When did he “try to impose his religion” on the nation?

    We have superb protections in the Constitution against a theocracy, and a populace thoroughly ingrained to reject it. As an agnostic, I have to say I ain’t scared of no (holy) ghosts.

    J.

  31. PD Shaw says:

    @Lit3Bolt: If students can opt-out from the silent moment of human sacrifice and if the cyclopean figures of the Old Ones at the post office are interspersed with figures of Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, I think it will pass Constitutional muster.

    Call me old fashion though, I just don’t like it.

  32. Russell says:

    @PD Shaw:

    . I doubt most political candidates without a seminary background can discuss religious concepts in any meaningful way.

    This is a red herring. The interest isn’t on how well a politician can articulate or debate theology with theologians, it is how their understanding of the theology they subscribe to, regardless of their ability to pass a cachicism test, might inform their policy decisions. Questions about which branch of which religion they subscribe to is simply a heuristic, and is only useful as far as it goes. Hence the need to question the candidates directly on their beliefs.

  33. Jay Tea says:

    Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity

    Perry is a Methodist, and Bachmann a Lutheran.

    Has anyone told this to Garrison Keillor?

    J.

  34. John425 says:

    Obama repudiated Rev. Wright but only after the spotlight went on Wright’s craziness AND Obama had sat there in his church for 20 years. If the exact same questions regarding religion are given to the Democrat candiate(s) then I’ll listen. Otherwise, shut up!

  35. ponce says:

    I don’t think anything will top Palin’s snake handling.

  36. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: You mean there are no smaller sects within the Methodist and Lutheran churches?If you are a Lutheran, then you simply agree with the mainstream Lutheran organization? Maybe you want to do a little research before you start parroting the right-wing line of the day.

  37. Argon says:

    The main problem is that a politician’s professed faith is not a terribly good indicator of behavior except perhaps a willingness to pander for votes.

    Put another way: The bait one uses while fishing reveals little about the fisherman. A politician can prefer a lindy-rig and still use a foot-tap code in the men’s rooms of the Minneapolis airport. So people who continue to choose to vote using a non-predictive proxy like someone’s publicly-professed religious belief get the representatives they deserve… Which would explain a lot about the Bible belt.

  38. Argon says:

    Side point: Bachmann recently withdrew from the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church of Stillwater, MA, which belongs to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). It’s a pretty fundy bunch of folks.

  39. mannning says:

    Is this not the way things are today in the US?

    The average voter really does try to find out something concrete about the person or persons he is voting for, and the MSM is most often of little help, or even far too much help! The blast of propaganda from all sides may or may not influence this voter. However, his interest picks up significantly when the candidate’s religion is brought up, since that is a major criterion that will be used by him to vote yea or nay, just as many voters do in sizing up any stranger.

    Does this man believe in God? Does he make a serious attempt to follow the moral teachings of his religion, and if that religion is not well known to the voter, what are the similarities and differences from the voter’s own religion and morals? Can the man be trusted to follow the fundamental tenets of the majority of citizens, or does he bring a skewed view of the majority religion to the table? The further from the majority religion the candidate stands, or the further from the voters religion, the more the candidate’s views must be probed before he earns the vote–or not.

    I suspect that any candidate that is not a Christian will receive considerably more attention to his statements about his beliefs than would an avowed Christian candidate. I also suspect that, regardless of qualifications, a candidate for the presidency that states he is an Atheist or an Agnostic will not receive a majority of votes in the US for some time to come. Then too, if the candidate ducks the question of his religious affiliation, he will become suspect until the issue is clarified satisfactorily. Of course, if the candidate professes an acceptable religion, but does not practice it, or even violates the moral code, this may have to be corrected downstream.

  40. mantis says:

    [Obama] built much of his life around him and the church

    Did he now? How so?

    At that point, it became clear that Obama didn’t really have any religious faith.

    How quickly you contradict yourself! Must be tough to write coherently with such a muddled mind.

    I find myself agreeing with a rather cynical sentiment I read somewhere. Obama is probably an atheist

    So he built his life around the church, has no religious faith, and is an atheist. Fascinating. He’s probably a devil worshiper too, right Jay?

    The sad part, mantis, is I think you actually believe that.

    It’s not sad to believe the truth. You should try it sometime.

    Bush was supposed to be the Theocrat In Chief. When did he “try to impose his religion” on the nation?

    I didn’t mention Bush, but “faith-based” government funding would certainly apply, for starters. Would you like to know more?

    Anyway, how about Bachmann, some of whose activities in this regard I note above? Oh right, you conveniently ignore that part.

    It is quite amusing to see a self-described “agnostic” vigorously defending those who would like to use the government to push their religion on the rest of us and our children, pretending they stand for “freedom.” To say you suffer from extreme cognitive dissonance is putting it mildly.

  41. doubter4444 says:

    @Sam:
    That’s sarcasm, right?
    Yes. He was.

  42. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Let’s see, mantis… Obama attended the church for 20 years. He was married by Wright. He had Wright baptize his daughters. He bought recordings of Wright’s speeches to listen to while in DC. He praised Wright repeatedly, even using a phrase of Wright’s for the title of his second book. That says to me that Wright was an integral part of Obama’s life.

    And there’s no contradiction between noting Obama’s church attendance and my belief in his being an atheist. Being part of Wright’s church was an integral part of establishing himself in the Chicago political community — kind of like his buddying up with William Ayers. News flash: “hypocrites” aren’t only on the right.

    Oh,those “faith-based initiatives.” The radical idea that religiously-oriented charities and non-profits should be treated equally with secular groups, and not discriminated against. And note that it wasn’t assistance for evangelizing, with restrictions against just that. How hideous of them. I suppose you’re also against Catholic hospitals taking Medicare and Medicaid money?

    And yes, I’m an agnostic who stands up for religious freedom. Because I believe in the Constitution, and I strongly support the “no religious tests” clause. I don’t like how the left seems to think that Christians ought to be excluded from public service — and even the public debate — because they take their beliefs so seriously. I understand that on the left, religion is basically an accessory and about as important as, say, sports teams, but that doesn’t mean you get to make that policy.

    J.

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Look, it is pretty simple: Religious people are idiots. Anyone who believes in a “God” might as well believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and the Easter Bunny. They are all about the same.

    Now that I have pissed off all of the religious right, let me say that I don’t care about your religious beliefs. What I care about is how your religious beliefs inform your decision making.

    If you believe that Israel must recover all of it’s biblical lands in order to facilitate the 2nd coming and that as President you will act upon God’s will to ensure that end, THAT is what I want to know. Will you give me an honest answer? I doubt it. But if your professed religion says “Yes…”

  44. jan says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Doug, you say that the Reverend Wright matter was thoroughly addressed by Obama. With all due respect, bullshit.

    The kind of anti American, racist brimstone that Rev Wright spewed, which had someone who ran and won the presidency sitting through for 20 years, is mind-boggling. Why more wasn’t made of it, especially in lieu of the criticism Bachmann and Perry are being given for their faith-based beliefs effecting politics, just shows the secular bias that seems to be the squeaky wheel these days.

    All Obama had to do was leave the church, and those on the left gave him a pass on being involved in two decades of radical, hateful indoctrination in a church.

    It’s called the hypocritical nature of social progressives. Another example of this is how progressives have used Warren Buffet as their hero for wanting higher taxes for the rich. However, while Warren is wagging his finger at the super rich, he is thumbing his nose at paying taxes himself. Another example of a progressive hypocrite.

  45. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure, but that’s what the new guy gets. People are used to Catholics and have adjusted to the fact that they have some odd beliefs. But John Kennedy had to answer the ‘how can you be independent of the Pope?” question.

  46. JohnMcC says:

    @Sam:

    “Was Obama’s Black Liberation beliefs (sic) ever questioned?”

    Where have you been living the past 4 years?

  47. Russell says:

    @John425:

    If the exact same questions regarding religion are given to the Democrat candiate(s) then I’ll listen. Otherwise, shut up!

    So basically you are saying that you don’t care if someone has a given viewpoint unless you know how every candidate stands on that point? It would be reasonable to call out someone for hypocrisy for beating the drum for only one side, but to suggest that you would ignore pertinent information just to be peevish doesnt make any sense

  48. sam says:

    @jan:

    All Obama had to do was leave the church, and those on the left gave him a pass on being involved in two decades of radical, hateful indoctrination in a church.

    Can you point us to some policy of the president’s that is a result of this “radical, hateful indoctrination”, and, further, show us just how the indoctrination is manifested in the policy? Or are you, like whatshisname upthread, just shooting your mouth off?

  49. Jay Tea says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Look, it is pretty simple: Religious people are idiots. Anyone who believes in a “God” might as well believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and the Easter Bunny. They are all about the same.

    That would be 92% of Americans who believe in “God” or some kind of higher power.

    Now that I have pissed off all of the religious right, let me say that I don’t care about your religious beliefs. What I care about is how your religious beliefs inform your decision making.

    In other words, “think what you want, but don’t even for an instant let what you believe most strongly and profoundly show in any way that might offend me.”

    If you believe that Israel must recover all of it’s biblical lands in order to facilitate the 2nd coming and that as President you will act upon God’s will to ensure that end, THAT is what I want to know. Will you give me an honest answer? I doubt it. But if your professed religion says “Yes…”

    Because, of course, all Christians are End Timers.

    Have you actually READ the Bible? I have. The Book of Revelation is amazing literature. It reminds me of “Kubla Khan.” It’s like the most fantastic acid trip. And it’s filled with allegory and metaphor and astonishing imagery. Hunter Thompson loved it.

    Let me, an agnostic who’s not anti-religion, explain it to you. The Bible is quite clear: Jesus WILL return, but no one can know when. Anyone who says they know or are doing things that will hasten it are full of shit.

    The restoration of Israel’s historic territory is NOT intended to hasten Christ’s return, but because the Bible says it will happen, and God wants it to happen. Doing things that God wants is kind of part and parcel of being a Christan.

    I know these things because I know Christians, I listen to them, and I have read the Bible. (I also have a question that really tends to piss off Christians that preach to me. There’s a really nasty little flaw in there that some have tried like hell to explain away to me, but fail. They really hate it when you point out things like it.) It helps that I’m not hostile to them and their faiths. Hell, I’ve been praised by Christians for understanding their beliefs better than some self-described Christians.

    Understand, but not accept.

    What’s really hysterical — and I mean that literally — is that the stereotypes of Christians a lot on the left have apply really well to many Muslims — but they don’t wanna talk about that. One of the most astonishingly stupid groups out there are “Queers For Palestine” — anti-Israeli gays who don’t seem to recognize that gays are tolerated and even welcomed in Israel, and subject to execution by some very gory means in pretty much the rest of the Middle East, including Palestine.

    But I think one of the major differences is, if you piss off Christians, they’ll turn the other cheek and just pray for you. Piss off Muslims, and you could very well end up blown up or beheaded. Christians are the easier target.

    J.

  50. sam says:

    @Jay Tea:

    But I think one of the major differences is, if you piss off Christians, they’ll turn the other cheek and just pray for you.

    Ah for Christ’s sake.

  51. steve says:

    ” piss off Christians, they’ll turn the other cheek and just pray for you. ”

    Not so much if you are an abortion doctor. Our very high murder rate also suggests otherwise.

    I think a large part of the problem is that conservative candidates want to signal to their base that they are one of them. They are using their faith for the political purpose of securing votes. Yet, when asked about that faith, they dont want to talk about the parts that will turn off independents. I think they need to take the bad with the good. That should also apply to Democrats who would try to use their religion for the same purpose.

    Steve

  52. Jay Tea says:

    @steve: Just how many murdered abortion doctors is that, steve? That’s not sarcasm, I actually don’t know off the top of my head. I agree one is too many, but compared to those killed for insulting Islam…

    J.

  53. Jay Tea says:

    @steve: Just looked it up. Since 1977, 4 doctors, 4 non-doctors murdered. Also 3 kidnappings, 17 attempted murders, and 153 assaults. Plus a lot of property damage.

    Again, any is too much, but that’s over 30 years.

    J.

  54. PD Shaw says:

    @ Russell: “The interest isn’t on how well a politician can articulate or debate theology with theologians, it is how their understanding of the theology they subscribe to, regardless of their ability to pass a cachicism test, might inform their policy decisions.”

    I think that’s a fair point, but part of the reason we got to this issue was that David Gregory’s interview with Michele Bachmann ended up with him challenging her religious views under rules that are somewhat appropriate for political issues — if you believe x, then you must believe y. Well, she didn’t necessarily believe y, so Gregory’s either has to give her a self-promotional pass or became a theological expert. And David Gregory is a fine interviewer, but I don’t think he can articulate a theological debate any better than the average politician. Its two blind men describing an elephant, when all they really care about is the lady in the next room.

  55. Jay Tea says:

    As I recall, Obama specifically cited the Bible when he stated his opposition to gay marriage. Why does the left give him a pass over that?

    To me, the answer is obvious. It’s because they — like the rest of us — knew he was bullshitting when he said that.

    J.

  56. anjin-san says:

    @steve
    Jay is far more worried about the immInent threat to our way of life presented by ACORN than he is about murdered doctors…

  57. steve says:

    There are about 25,000 practicing OB/Gyn docs. Fewer than half do abortions, but this is over an extended period. Let us say they had 40,000 targets (probably a very high estimate). That means they killed 1/10,000. If you assume that the 9/11 killers were primarily motivated by Islam, rather than political motivations which research supports as a primary cause, then we get about 1/100,000. Much riskier to be an abortion doc.

    Steve

  58. mattb says:

    Personally I think @john jansen nailed the key issue — one that ties everything from Kennedy to Kerry (remember the question about abortion and the sacrament in 2004 to Obama and Wright to Islamofacism and more recently Bachmann and Perry) — in the end is someone an American first and foremost or a member of a religious body (be it Christian or Islam or Jewish or you name it).

    And, I think most people have a suspicion that Religion ultimately trumps nation (the next life trumps the current one). Hence for example the fear of Muslims (that they all will, with backs against the wall, come down on Allah’s side).

    As John points out, there’s the similar question about Christians (really of any stripe, but in particular Catholics) and Abortion (and other reproductive rights) and Homosexuality. And, we need t recognize that ultimately, when it comes to these issues, we all understand that there can never truly be compromise (or at least not one without a moral contradiction).

    Most people recognize that sustained government is necessarily the art of compromise. And they also suspect there is no such thing as disinterested governing. The question then becomes are people looking for their leaders to compromise on religion doctrine (like Cuomo) or on worldy matters (like some leaders have promised to).

  59. Jay Tea says:

    @mattb: I think you’re taking the wrong point away from the Kennedy quote — I read it as he was saying that there was no contradiction between being a faithful Catholic and being president. By his logic here, he wouldn’t even run if the thought there was, because no one runs for president if they expect to have to resign over it.

    The way I hear it, a lot of Christians think that there’s a lot of overlap between being a good Christian and being a good American — the traits that lend themselves to one apply to the other. Back to my favorite example — Mormons. They believe some of the most downright loony things of any faith this side of the Scientologists, but they are some of the most decent, upstanding, honorable, respectable, responsible people around. (Harry Reid excluded, of course.)

    A former colleague of mine commented on Wizbang recently: If I broke down on a lonely highway, I could ask nothing more of God, man, or fortune than that the next person driving down that road be a Mormon. Who, in their heart of hearts, doesn’t share that feeling? Yeah, you might get an undesired preaching-to, but they’d be quite likely to stop and help. Because that’s what a good Mormon would do, and what a good American would do.

    It’s so easy to despise and fear Christians. And so goddamned unnecessary. We, as Americans, have enough enemies around the world. No need to go looking for and making more at home.

    Especially when they’re a majority of Americans. That’s just plain stupid.

    J.

  60. qtip says:

    Back to my favorite example — Mormons. They believe some of the most downright loony things of any faith this side of the Scientologistst
    ….
    they’d be quite likely to stop and help. Because that’s what a good Mormon would do, and what a good American would do.

    How are their beliefs any more ‘loony’ than other Christians?

    Maybe they’d stop because that’s what any good person would do?

  61. Jay Tea says:

    @qtip: Well, for one, the whole planetary thing sounds a bit Scientology-ish.

    And you miss the point — Mormons are, by and large, strongly motivated by their faith and culture to act like “good persons” in public. And they do so, in exceptional numbers and in highly visible ways.

    They might do so as a PR move for their church, or to seem “better” than the average person, or it might be sincere. I, quite frankly, don’t care. I’m just glad we can benefit from it.

    I wouldn’t want to hire a Mormon bartender, and I bet defense lawyers don’t like them on juries. But overall, they’re decent folk. And if, in their beliefs, they include some pretty loopy things — well, that’s their right.

    J.

  62. Rick DeMent says:

    @Sam:

    ah … what you are calling “Obamacare” was a conservative “free market” approach to universal heath care in respond to Clinton’s plan designed by conservative republicans and endorsed by the Heritage foundation. Hardly an idea connected any theology other then the quasi religious free market worship.

  63. Jay Tea says:

    @Rick DeMent: Let’s see… ObamaCare was crafted by House Democrats, passed with virtually no Republican votes, and endorsed by every leftist under the sun except those who said it wasn’t liberal enough… but it’s a conservative idea? You think just because you can cite a few names that might impress people, they’ll be impressed enough?

    Sorry, the right wing is infamous for individuality. “Resort to authority” bears far less weight on the right than on the left. We tend to prefer to make our own judgments, and to hell with the so-called “top conservatives.”

    If you don’t believe me, take it up with Supreme Court Associate Justice Miers.

    Cite all the “conservative” authorities you like. I still believe, based on my own reading of the Constitution, that it’s unconstitutional. The interpretation of the Commerce Clause as the enabling power is so overreaching, it’s virtually impossible to conceive of an activity that would not fall under the control of Congress. If you like, I can explain how masturbation would be a federally-regulated activity under that principle.

    J.

  64. steve says:

    The idea of the individual mandate was created by Mark Pauly, a conservative finance/economics guy out of Wharton. It was formulated in response to the Clinton plan which had a business mandate. It was written into the GOP response to the Clinton plan. The GOP thought it was constitutional when it was their idea.

    The exchanges are really just a way to use markets to lower prices, a conservative idea. The ACA also calls for very high deductible plans, with family plans featuring up to $12,000 in deductibles. This is also a conservative idea. While there is no real evidence that high deductibles reduce overall costs, it was incorporated as a conservative idea.

    Steve

  65. Jay Tea says:

    @steve: The idea of the individual mandate was created by Mark Pauly, a conservative finance/economics guy out of Wharton. It was formulated in response to the Clinton plan which had a business mandate. It was written into the GOP response to the Clinton plan. The GOP thought it was constitutional when it was their idea.

    Oh, that makes ALL the difference! If it was a way of opposing Bill Clinton, and cooked up by a Wharton grad, then how could I be so foolish as to believe I can think for myself?

    steve, if you didn’t notice it, we currently have a president who is touted for his intelligence because he’s properly credentialed — and a lot of us said “so what? What has he actually achieved in his life that shows he’s intelligent, and can apply it?” You might be dazzled by credentials, but a lot of us prefer to think for ourselves and just don’t blindly submit to authority.

    Which you might have noticed, if you’d actually read my previous comment where I said prety much the exact same thing. I normally don’t repeat myself, but it seems necessary in your case.

    J.

  66. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: Yes Jay, that’s correct. ObamaCare is similar to the plan released by Heritage and adopted by the Republicans as an alternative to HillaryCare in the early 1990’s as you’ll recall.

    Which makes perfect sense, as the modern Democratic party is roughly where the Republicans were nearly twenty years ago. The country has moved sharply to the right over the last decade and you are effectively saying Bob Dole was a “leftist”.

  67. sam says:

    @Jay Tea:

    @Rick DeMent: Let’s see… ObamaCare was crafted by House Democrats, passed with virtually no Republican votes, and endorsed by every leftist under the sun except those who said it wasn’t liberal enough… but it’s a conservative idea? You think just because you can cite a few names that might impress people, they’ll be impressed enough?…

    Cite all the “conservative” authorities you like. I still believe, based on my own reading of the Constitution, that it’s unconstitutional.

    I think Rick may have been a bit imprecise there. When he referred to the origins of ‘Obamacare’, he was, I think, referring to provenance of the individual mandate. And the IM indeed does have a conservative parentage:

    The concept of the individual health insurance mandate originated in 1989 at the conservative Heritage Foundation. In 1993, Republicans twice introduced health care bills that contained an individual health insurance mandate. Advocates for those bills included prominent Republicans who today oppose the mandate including Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Christopher Bond (R-MO). In 2007, Democrats and Republicans introduced a bi-partisan bill containing the mandate. [History of the Individual Health Insurance Mandate, 1989-2010]

    And just to be really precise, nobody thinks the whole of Obamacare is unconstitutional. The argument is really over the constitutionality of the IM. Even the 11th circuit only ruled the IM unconstitutional and let the rest stand.

  68. Jay Tea says:

    @Ben Wolf: Ben, you and Sam are missing the point: I don’t give a rat’s ass about appeals to authority arguments. I wouldn’t care if you somehow resurrected Ronald Reagan and got Ron Paul to give their imprimaturs. I am not swayed by “look who agrees with us” reasoning, but actual arguments based on actual facts.

    I’ve outlined my objection to the individual mandate — I think it’s a hideous overstretch of the Commerce Clause. Throwing more and more and more names on your side ain’t gonna change my opinion.

    Here’s a hint: I like bringing up Obama’s clearly-stated religious objections to gay marriage not because I think he’s right on that point, but because I want to see gay-marriage-supporting Obama followers squirm and wriggle to try to avoid answering it. I, like they, think he was lying when he said it; I just find it somewhat offensive that so many are cool with that.

    As I threatened before, I think the use of the Commerce Clause is a huge overreach, and sets a precedent that pretty much anything is then subject to Congressional jurisdiction. I can also make a moderately plausible argument that if ObamaCare is legal, then so is federal regulation and oversight of masturbation.

    And here’s another — Congress should be able to regulate abortion, as it also affects interstate commerce, as very few baby products are produced strictly in the state they are used. An abortion deprives such companies as diaper manufacturers, baby food producers, and the entire child product and child care industries of economic opportunities. So, obviusly, Congress has the right to regulate — if not outright ban — abortion.

    J.

  69. mantis says:

    I can also make a moderately plausible argument that if ObamaCare is legal, then so is federal regulation and oversight of masturbation.

    Plausible only in wingnut fantasy land, but since you live there, I can see why you might be confused.

  70. mantis says:

    Ben, you and Sam are missing the point

    See, the goalposts are over here now! But don’t get used to it. They move around a lot.

  71. sam says:

    Jay, you have trouble keeping track of your own frothings. It’s not about any bogus appeal to authority. As I said, and documented, it was about the origin of the idea. You wrote

    ObamaCare was crafted by House Democrats, passed with virtually no Republican votes, and endorsed by every leftist under the sun except those who said it wasn’t liberal enough… but it’s a conservative idea?

    I responded that what was really being discussed was the IM and that, yes, it was originally a conservative idea (with documentation). Do you have a problem admitting you’re wrong? Is that it?

  72. Jay Tea says:

    @sam: The most egregious part of ObamaCare, to me, is the individual mandate. It’s the part that is the focus of most of the legal challenges. And as I stated clearly, I don’t care who originally came up with it. Apparently, collectivism is so ingrained in your mind that you seem to think that if you find the magic combination of alleged conservative figures to say it’s OK, I’ll just cheerfully surrender my own judgment and say “OK, if it’s OK with them, then it’s just fine and dandy with me!”

    I have my beliefs, I have my reasons, I have my arguments. Telling me that X, Y, and Z disagree with me don’t mean squat. Especially when you just vaguely list them, without quoting their reasoning.

    Here’s how it seems to be unfolding:

    “I think the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and here’s why.”

    “But X, Y, and Z disagree with you, and they’re conservative, so you should listen to them.”

    “X, Y, and Z can go pound sand. And so can you. In case you missed it, here are my reasons for opposing it again.”

    “Didn’t you hear me? X, Y, and Z all disagree with you!”

    “Apparently you’re the one who can’t hear — I don’t care. Your expression of their opinions means about as much to me as a fart in a hurricane.”

    “But… but… I said, X, Y, and Z! All three! See?:”

    As I said, that might work with the collectivists you normally associate with, who have no problem subordinating your own opinions on the mere word that some reputed authority figure disagrees, but I tend to hold my own beliefs and opinions a bit more dearly.

    J.

  73. sam says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Apparently, collectivism is so ingrained in your mind that you seem to think that if you find the magic combination of alleged conservative figures to say it’s OK, I’ll just cheerfully surrender my own judgment and say “OK, if it’s OK with them, then it’s just fine and dandy with me!”

    Goddamit, that’s not it at all. Whether it’s constitutional or not is a separate question from who first offered it up. That is all I was addressing. I neither said nor implied anything about my views on the IM’s constitutionality. Sometimes, Jay, you are an impossible person.

  74. Jay Tea says:

    @sam: Whether it’s constitutional or not is a separate question from who first offered it up. That is all I was addressing.

    Apparently, we are talking past each other. Let me be perfectly blunt:

    I don’t care who first brought it up. it’s utterly irrelevant. I don’t know why you felt the need to address it, and am utterly unimpressed that you know it in such detail.

    If you wanna get ludicrous, look at stories about people who survived exposure to sub-freezing temperatures and immersion in very cold water. We save a lot more of them because of brutal Nazi medical experiments from concentration camps. Do we denounce the doctors who use that information to save lives today? After all, it was NAZIS that came up with the original data!

    While you’re at it, let’s get rid of highways and the Volkswagen. And the space program, too. All of them have their origins in Nazi Germany. If you seem to think that the origin of an idea is essential to its merits, then they gotta go, too.

    As I said, a ludicrous example, but not completely out of left field.

    Let me take one more stab at summing it up:

    “I don’t like the individual mandate. I think it’s unconstitutional.”

    “But X thought it up, and Y and Z all agree with it — and they’re conservatives.”

    “SO WHAT?”

    That better?

    J.

  75. Jay Tea says:

    Of course, this has almost nothing to do with the religious beliefs of candidates, now that I think of it…

    J.

  76. Jay Tea says:

    On that topic, here’s the New York Times from April 30, 2007:

    It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/us/politics/30obama.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=login&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1205514674-efiSESySpXN3AeiW1LEFrA

    (hat tip: Ed Morrissey, Hot Air)

    Anyone wanna kick THAT one around?

    J.

  77. sam says:

    Anybody wanna kick this around?

    I watched Joy Reid make an excellent point on Al Sharpton’s show, and that is (in my words): If right-wing nutbags are going to keep pounding the Jeremiah Wright/”Goddamn America!” drum (and you know they will, even though they can’t explain how Barack Obama is simultaneously a secret Muslim and an America-hating Christian), then Democrats need to make sure that Rick Perry is held accountable for the racist and utterly absurd views of his BFF, David Barton. [ABL, Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright: White People Gave Black People Rights; Civil Rights Leaders Deserve No Credit]

  78. Jay Tea says:

    @sam: “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.”

    Kinda has a bit of truth there. Brown v. Board of Education did a pretty good job of undoing the Supreme Court’s abortion of the “Plessy v. Ferguson” ruling, but it took the Civil Rights Act to really get things rolling. And that took Congress, along with the consent of a majority of the American people.

    Ball’s back in your court, chum…

    J.

  79. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: See, it doesn’t matter that the IM was a plan crafted by conservatives. Because noted individual Jay Tea doesn’t like it, it can’t be conservative in any way. Because the only definition of conservative that matters is “something Jay Tea likes.”

    You can see why Jay is so concerned with the idea of regulation of masturbation. It’s all he ever does.

  80. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: I don’t care about whether or not it’s “conservative,” you gibbering dolt. Especially when it’s liberals saying it, trying to persuade me to go along with a notion I find repugnant. I care that it’s unconstitutional.

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle. Unless you want to elaborate on your little fantasy about how Rick Perry’s murdered people while governor of Texas…

    J.

  81. mantis says:

    Jay Tea now:

    I don’t care about whether or not it’s “conservative,” you gibbering dolt.

    Jay Tea earlier:

    ObamaCare was crafted by House Democrats, passed with virtually no Republican votes, and endorsed by every leftist under the sun except those who said it wasn’t liberal enough… but it’s a conservative idea?

    Summing up:

    Hey, democrats voted for this, except those who thought it was too conservative, so how could it be conservative?

    Well, the ideas originated with conservatives back in the 90s. A whole lot of them.

    Oh. Well, now I don’t care!

    Keep sliding them posts, Jay.

  82. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: So, I’m not allowed to point out that 1) it’s an irrelevant point, and b) it’s a profoundly stupid argument, too?

    Let me totally mess with your head and toss in a third point: it has NOTHING to do with candidates and religion. Except, of course, if you want to mention the blind faith its supporters have that it’s gonna make everything all wonderful.

    J.

  83. Jay Tea says:

    Tell you what, mantis: let’s challenge your faith in the Social Security system. I just checked; Howie Carr will turn 66 in January 2016. (It’s worth noting that he’s already been screwed — when he started paying into the system, the retirement age for full benefits was 65. He’s already lost a year of benefits.) Let’s say he’ll live to be 86 — not unreasonable; he seems in good health and has the means to take care of himself. Are you willing to personally guarantee, out of your own pocket, that he will receive his full Social Security benefits for that 20 years, without the system defaulting or implementing means testing or jacking up the eligibility age or in some way denying him full benefits, as he was promised all the years he’s paid in?

    I’ll make it a wee bit simpler. Instead out of your own pocket, he gets it out of your benefits. That make it easier?

    If you have the faith in the system you claim to have, it’s a no-brainer.

    J.

  84. Jay Tea says:

    Crud, wrong thread…

    J.

  85. mantis says:

    Let me totally mess with your head and toss in a third point: it has NOTHING to do with candidates and religion.

    How does that mess with my head? I didn’t bring the subject up, but comment threads often meander. Oh my, the confusion!

    Except, of course, if you want to mention the blind faith its supporters have that it’s gonna make everything all wonderful.

    I say stuff like we have agreed we have an obligation to not allow old people to suffer and die in the streets after lifetimes of hard work. You interpret that as me saying this program will make everything all wonderful. That, my friend, is a strawman. Not surprising. All your arguments are against strawmen. You can’t handle people’s actual arguments. You never could.

    Tell you what, mantis: let’s challenge your faith in the Social Security system.

    I would have a lot more faith in it if the Republican Party weren’t so determined to destroy it.

    Are you willing to personally guarantee, blah blah blah.

    No, but I’ll guarantee it’s less risky than any other retirement plan. If you don’t believe me, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of people I know who got royally screwed out of much of their 401ks after the banks and ratings agencies decided to destroy our economy and pocket the profits from doing so. Can you guess what they didn’t lose? That’s right. Social Security.

    If you have the faith in the system you claim to have, it’s a no-brainer.

    What faith in the system did I claim to have, exactly? Is it made of straw?

  86. steve says:

    I was responding to this.

    “ObamaCare was crafted by House Democrats, passed with virtually no Republican votes, and endorsed by every leftist under the sun except those who said it wasn’t liberal enough… but it’s a conservative idea?”

    You have every right to make your own assessment, but the individual mandate was proposed by conservatives. The ACA, as I noted, contains several other ideas lifted from conservative’s proposed plans. Indeed, Ryan’s plan for Medicare uses exchanges, as does the ACA.

    Steve

  87. Jay Tea says:

    @steve: You have every right to make your own assessment, but the individual mandate was proposed by conservatives. The ACA, as I noted, contains several other ideas lifted from conservative’s proposed plans. Indeed, Ryan’s plan for Medicare uses exchanges, as does the ACA.

    Apparently, I haven’t made myself clear. I don’t care in the least about the nuances of your argument, as it is utterly irrelevant to my opposition to the individual mandate. You seem obsessed in proving that there are conservatives who favor it. Tell you what — if you were to show that 99% of “conservatives” favored it, and it was all a plot cooked up by the Heritage Institute and the guys from Reason, I still wouldn’t care. That form of argument holds as much weight to me as “and the sky is blue.”

    I wonder if you’re projecting — are you the type to eagerly seek out those you consider your intellectual betters, and shape your opinions to suit theirs? Are you so insecure of your own judgment that you need others to tell you what to think and believe? Do you have some unfulfilled evangelical impulse that drives you to preach to me about what you consider the tenets of True Conservatism? Do you think that if you throw enough names and titles at me, I’ll eventually give up my own opinions?

    If you need more persuading, look up the acronym DILLIGAF.

    J.