A NATION OF TOLERANT PEOPLE -- APART FROM THAT HUGE CONTINGENT OF INTOLERANT PEOPLE OVER THERE I DON'T FEEL LIKE TALKING ABOUT
One of my favorite magazine cartoons was drawn by William Hamilton in the 1970s. Four people are sitting at a table sipping drinks, presumably discussing a weighty issue; one says to another, "You're leaving out one thing, Frank -- Asia."
That came to mind as I noticed the bizarre hole in today's Frank Rich column: 1,527 words on religion in American life and the presidential race, and the name Huckabee comes up only once, and then only in reference to immigration. Hunh?
You're leaving out one thing, Frank Rich -- the GOP front-runner.
Rich argues that the religion of America is the religion of Obama and Oprah:
References to faith abound in Mr. Obama's writings and speeches, as they do in Oprah's language on her TV show and at his rallies. Five years ago, Christianity Today, the evangelical journal founded by Billy Graham, approvingly described Oprah as "an icon of church-free spirituality" whose convictions "cannot simply be dismissed as superficial civil religion or so much New Age psychobabble."
"Church free" is the key. This country has had its fill of often hypocritical family-values politicians dictating what is and is not acceptable religious and moral practice. Instead of handing down tablets of what constitutes faith in America, Romney-style, the Oprah-Obama movement practices an American form of ecumenicalism. It preaches a bit of heaven on earth in the form of a unified, live-and-let-live democracy that is greater than the sum of its countless disparate denominations.
Is it true that "This country has had its fill of often hypocritical family-values politicians dictating what is and is not acceptable religious and moral practice"? Yeah, sure, and some of us seem to prefer O&O's ecumenicalism. But what a hell of a lot of us are looking for instead is an (apparently) unhypocritical family-values politician dictating what is and is not acceptable religious and moral practice. Hence the Huckabee surge.
If there's a common thread running through the surges of Obama and Huckabee, it might be, as the conventional wisdom has it, a craving for niceness and an end to political rancor. But the Obamaites want everyone to get along. The Huckabeeites want the government to declare that gay sex is evil, legalized abortion is a holocaust, and Darwin was the Antichrist -- and they want everyone to get along.