As a person of faith and conscience, Monday night's Presidential debate on foreign policy was painful to watch. Both candidates are intoxicated by American exceptionalism and under-the-radar drone killings. Nothing was asked about the use of torture and the post-9/11 decline of civil liberties for Americans. Their is virtually no difference between the two political parties on these issues. It is safe to say that they both LOVE Israel and HATE Iran. These obsessions are terrible news for Palestinians and Iranian civilians, as reported by The Guardian last week (thanks to Glenn Greenwald for this):
Millions of lives are at risk in Iran because western economic sanctions are hitting the importing of medicines and hospital equipment, the country's top medical charity has warned.
Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organisation supporting six million patients in Iran, has complained about a serious shortage of medicines for a number of diseases such as haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Sure, Obama is asking for slightly less money in the military budget and Romney is deadset on never apologizing for anything the US government has ever done to another country no matter how heinous. Amy Goodman's "Expanding the Debate" coverage is really creative: for all 3 Presidential debates, she has invited all the minor party candidates to sit down in studio and answer the same questions posed to Romney and Obama. It unveils quite nicely the complete lack of imagination during this debate season.
Speaking of Amy Goodman, she started off her 2-hour talk at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in LA on Friday night with "Dissent is what will save us all." She explained the monopolistic grip that both major parties currently have on the debate process (nicely simplified here). It hasn't always been this way and it most certainly shouldn't stay this way.
It's been a few weeks since I wrote about the highly underrated nature of Billy Graham's political views and, to be honest, I thought I'd probably give it a rest for another year, but then I happened upon an article on the CNN Religion Blog reporting on Graham's short meeting with Romney at the North Carolina compound:
After the 30 minute sit-down in Montreat, North Carolina, just outside Asheville, Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that Billy Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that."
The evangelist who has been called America's pastor and has prayed with every American president since Harry Truman said in a statement following the meeting that "It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney — for his family and our country."
Graham met with President Barack Obama in 2010 and with Sen. John McCain when he was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in 2008.
"I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads," Graham's statement continued. "I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms."
This is some serously creepy stuff. Shortly after the meeting, Graham's people deleted a page on the official Billy Graham website that referenced Mormonism as a "cult." Thanks to Evangelical leaders like Graham, the Bible has now been reduced to making a decision for Jesus so that your soul will go to heaven when you die and, when it comes to politics, the only things that matter are criminalizing gay marriage and abortion. And since Obama came to office embodying a vastly different brand of Christian faith than conservative white Evangelicals, many are now adding the phantom "war on religious freedom."
Speaking of old Christian white guys who hate on Obama, just this morning a friend of mine passed along this article on Obama's faith which told this story:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.
When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
Obama has respectfully and gently pushed aside jabs and attacks from "pillars" of faith over the past 5 years. I've disagreed with plenty of his policies, but in this area, he's been tremendously Christ-like. What must it feel like to be the nation's first African-American President and constantly get dogged by his apparently unChristian Christianity? It's scandalous. And it's tremendously ironic given that these same powerful white pastors are now blessing the Mormon Romney after, no doubt, decades of slandering his faith as a "cult."
It's very difficult for me to understand how someone could possibly be undecided on the Presidential election right now. CBS News polled 500 undecided voters after the Presidental town hall debate and Obama won 37% to 30%, but when asked which candidate would do a better job on the economy, Romney was favored 65% to Obama's 34%. Seriously? This has to have everything to do with Romney's $250 million equity-infused wealth and the perception that he's successful with anything regarding business, not his actual tax and jobs
All of this doesn't actually matter to undecided voters with 2 weeks to go in the election. It's really all about perception and, more and more, Romney is perceived to be both Presidential and great with money. It all reminds me a bit too much of the The Ohio State University study that found that conservatives, by and large, actually think Stephen Colbert reflects their worldview. Amazing.