Monday, September 20, 2010 at 5:03 AM

The Obamas Go to Church?

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Given the way the media have been covering the lunatic rantings of latter-day Tea Partiers about President Obama being a Muslim, one can be forgiven for wondering what he was doing attending church yesterday. Never mind that these are the same people who were ranting during the 2008 presidential campaign about Obama being the wrong kind of Christian because of his long-term membership in the Church of the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright….

In any case, what makes Obama’s attendance truly noteworthy is the fact that it was only the second or third time he has attended since arriving in Washington, DC.  After all, he made quite a show after his election in 2008 of announcing that finding a church for his family to worship at every Sunday was just as important as finding a school for his daughters. And his failure to do so has unwittingly given credence in the minds of some to this nonsense about him being a Muslim.

Mind you, I have no doubt that if Obama had followed through and attended church every Sunday – with Bible prominently on display (a la Bill Clinton), these wackos would then have accused him of perpetrating a religious feint to curry political favor. (Ironically, though, even his die-hard supporters will probably now suspect that his attendance is nothing more than a cynical ploy to prop up his low poll numbers.)

The point here is not that he should have chosen a church (and been seen going to church) to appease his Tea Party critics. Instead, Obama should have done so to honor his promise and this would have had the collateral benefit of countering Big Lies – not only about him being Muslim but also about him having little in common with ordinary Americans. But he should know that he has a serious problem in this latter respect when even Colin Powell is saying that he is out of touch.

In politics, perception is all too often reality. And nobody appreciated this more than Clinton; no doubt this is why he courted the weekly photo op of him and his family attending church. Hell, even George W. Bush got the political importance of performing this Sunday ritual – even though he did not display Clinton’s dedication or zeal. 

Furthermore, that both Clinton and Bush made quite a show of actually attending church in DC makes Obama’s excuse about not wanting to disrupt local worshippers with his presidential entourage plainly specious, if not arrogant:

What we’ve decided for now is not to join a single church, and the reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services.

(NBC Nightly News, March 30, 2010)

Of course, I am acutely aware that it’s not the Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, but the Ronald Reagan presidency that Obama wants to emulate. And I’m sure the irony is not lost on Obama that many of his critics have nothing to say about the fact that Reagan hardly ever attended Church during his eight years in the White House.  But Obama is clearly smart enough to know that this analogy fails in many respects; not least of which is the fact that nobody ever suspected Reagan of being a Muslim. Not that there’s anything wrong with that … right?

Special Note on the Tea Party

A surprising number of people have asked why I’m so utterly dismissive of the Tea Party, especially given how well its candidates did in Republican primaries this year. Well, for starters, it strikes me as more of a political cult than a political party. But it’s really because I’m convinced that it will have no greater (lasting) impact on politics in America than the Reform Party.  Remember when the media had the world convinced that that party was poised to “take America back” too? Indeed, I’d be shocked if any more than 20 percent of Tea Party candidates actually win their midterm elections in November.

Besides, I see no point in wasting commentary on a bunch of idiots who think they can change Washington by refusing to deal with anyone, including Republicans, who does not agree with their foolhardy notion that the only role of the federal government is to lower taxes on rich people and wage Christian crusades (at home and abroad). This, for example, is why they want to privatize social security, repeal health care reform, which they refer to scornfully as “Obamacare”, and even abolish the department of education.

Meanwhile, they clearly have not given a moment’s thought about what it takes to get anything done in this pluralistic democracy they profess to love so much. For even if they (i.e., the Republican Party since the Tea Party is just its wingnut subsidiary) were to win control of both houses of Congress by the margin Democrats now enjoy, they still will not have the votes to execute any of the items on their “revolutionary” agenda. Of course it’s arguable that what they really covet is a Christian theocracy, in which everything is divined by God – as Pastor Terry Jones, that lunatic who said that God told him to burn Qurans in effigy, demonstrated so dramatically….

By the way, am I the only one who finds it inherently hypocritical for these folks to be damning everything about Washington while doing all they can to get to Washington to become the very political insiders they find so morally reprehensible?

Then there’s the folly of the Tea Party holding out a person like Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell, a Sarah Palin wannabe whose credentials are distinguished by her failure to pay off her student loans, failure to pay her taxes, and use of campaign funds to pay her rent, as a champion of national fiscal responsibility.  Now reports that this self-professed devout Christian once dabbled in witchcraft has O’Donnell avoiding the media like the plague, adopting the campaign strategy of other Tea Party mascots like Rand Paul of Kentucky  and Sharron Angle of Las Vegas.  

Finally, you might think it just reflects their ignorance that these folks have named themselves after the Boston Tea Partiers who triggered a violent revolt against an oppressive foreign king.  But when you realize that many of them believe that Obama is a foreign president – who is taking away their freedom with his big government agenda, then this symmetry (in name and casus belli) is imbued with far more ominous implications. 

Enough said…?

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