Posts Tagged ‘Reinhold Niebuhr’

Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award.

May 23, 2011

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced that he’d tell voters the “hard truths” as he campaigns for the Republican Presidential nomination. Ho-hum. We’ve heard that one before.

But listen up. Pawlenty opened his campaign today in Iowa by telling Iowans that he opposes federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol. In Iowa for gosh sakes! Next thing you know he’ll tell Floridians that he favors raising the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, but his campaign says that’s exactly what he’ll do next.

The great shame of democratic (and Democratic…and Republican) politics is politicians telling voters what they think the voters want to hear instead of what the politician really thinks. Pawlenty says he’ll be a different kind of candidate, and his first day is a sign that he means it.

Edmund Burke told his constituents 237 years ago that a representative owes them “his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving [them], if he sacrifices it to [their] opinion.” Following Burke’s example is one of the two highest ethical duties* of an elected official.

Pawlenty gets the mythical Edmund Burke Award for his ethanol position. Here’s hoping that politicians of both parties rush to follow his example.

 

*The other is the duty to heed Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

Chris Matthews and Chris Wallace earn Reinhold Niebuhr award for eviscerating Senate candidates of their own persuasion

October 18, 2010

Chris Matthews and Chris Wallace each earned a (mythical) Reinhold Niebuhr award* for bringing good temper and integrity into the political fight. The highest level of political ethics is to call out members of one’s own party, or people whose politics you’re in general sympathy with. We expect to see MSNBC commentators like Matthews ripping Republicans, just as we expect to see Fox News commentators like Wallace ripping Dems. Ho hum, no surprise there, and no contribution to the integrity of the political fight.

But when California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina came on Fox News Sunday Wallace grilled her about her plan to close California’s huge budget gap, finally exposing her as an empty suit. And when Kentucky Democratic Senate Candidate Jack Conway came on Chris Matthews’ Hardball show, Matthews grilled him about his campaign ad questioning his opponent’s Christianity, exposing Conway’s ad as baseless and scurrilous.

Our civic society is being ripped by the bitter antagonism between left and right, the worst since the bad old days of Senator Joe McCarthy, red hunts, and leftish defenses of Soviet spies. It’s made worse by the ease of getting all one’s news from a kind of “Daily Me,” an assortment of media that reflect only one’s own bias. Fox News Sunday and MSNBC’s Hardball took a step away from the cartoonish view of them as mouthpieces for liberalism and conservatism. The two Chris’s interviews are in the highest traditions of Niebuhr’s goal of a healthy society.

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*Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

 

“Pelosi is a nice lady,” Fox News is “biased”: A Niebuhr award to Sen. Tom Coburn

April 14, 2010

Many Americans yearn for a return to civility in our political life. We’re saddened by politicians of all stripes demonizing people they disagree with, and even demonizing people they agree with when there’s a political edge to be gained. This column has long admired the political philosophy of Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

This week Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) raised the temper and integrity of the political fight at a town meeting with his Oklahoma constituents. When a woman complained bitterly that the IRS was going to put people in prison for not purchasing health insurance, Coburn rebuked her:

“That makes for good TV news on Fox, but that isn’t the intention. I’m disturbed that we get things like what this lady said and others have said on other issues that are so disconnected from what I know to be fact. (more…)

Nigger, faggot, baby killer, Republican?

March 22, 2010

“Nigger!” shouted by a demonstrator at Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) as he was leaving the Capitol Saturday. “Faggot!” at Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Words not enough, a demonstrator spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.).

To their credit, some on the right objected. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), called the actions by some protesters “reprehensible.” Amy Kremer, coordinator of the Tea Party Express, told Fox News, “I absolutely think it’s isolated. It’s disgraceful and the people in this movement won’t tolerate it because that’s not what we’re about.”

While nigger and faggot cross the line for Tea Partiers, they may be the logical next step after socialist, communist, and Nazi. If you agree with the so-far-unnamed Republican congressman who shouted “baby killer” from the House floor (more…)


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