Huntsman’s Appeal & The Politics of Personality

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Tom Van Dyke
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    “This is why liberals in South Carolina love Jon Huntsman…He hates Republicans just as much as we do.” via Mother Jones.

    Huntsman made no effort to reach out to the base, wouldn’t soil his hands with Tea Partiers or evangelicals.  It would be like a Democrat who ignored black people.  No mystery at work here.

    This conservative recalls saying in 2007 that he’d be fine with a John McCain if that would get our country off each other’s throats.  But actual “moderate” support for John McCain was non-existent, just a lot of talk.

    Now there’s Mitt Romney, although there isn’t even a shred of benefit-of-the-doubt from self-described moderates this time around.  He is the Enemy; they are not “moderates.”Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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      says:

      Romney has done just about everything in his power to lose any benefit of the doubt, though. If he had campaigned on who I believe him to be, he’d probably have a lot more. He’s done everything he can (outside of disowning Romneycare) to ingratiate himself with the right at the expense of the moderates.

      I don’t disagree on McCain. See the “less high-minded” paragraph.Report

      • Avatar DarrenG in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        I’d disagree on McCain, both in the sense that he *did* get a lot of support from moderates, but also in that he created the same problem Romney seems destined to repeat — by embracing all of Bush’s policies, adding Palin to the ticket, and packing his campaign staff with neocons from the Weekly Standard he demonstrated that he was willing to throw any and all impulses toward moderation overboard in favor of his personal ambition.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to DarrenG
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          He didn’t embrace Bush’s policies. By and large, Bush embraced his.

          Anyhow, I found most of the “I liked McCain, but he’s changed” testimonials to be rather uncompelling. Rather, they tended to like McCain more when he wasn’t the Republican running against a Democrat.

          (This is in reference to moderate Democrat McCain love. For independents, the reasoning was different. McCain was the wrong guy at the wrong time.)Report

          • Avatar DarrenG in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            McCain switched positions on taxes (he originally opposed the Bush tax cuts as unaffordable), detention, and torture, and flopped all over the place like a beached fish on how to respond to the financial crisis.

            He also openly criticized the religious right and the culture wars in 2000, which endeared him to a lot of moderates in both parties (back when “moderate Republican” wasn’t an oxymoron), but snuggled up to the fanatics every chance he could in 2007-2008.

            As a somewhat-moderate I was never a fan of McCain since I worked in banking during the S&L crisis and never could forgive him for his horribly bad judgment there, but I think his lurch to the right on politics and policy during the 2008 cycle is unquestionably well documented.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to DarrenG
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              I consider the situation more… nuanced… than you do. I don’t have the time to go issue-by-issue on it, though. Part of my view of the situation is that what happened with McCain in 2008 is exactly (almost to the letter) what I predicted would happen if he’d won the nomination in 2000.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        WillT, I’m stunned you’re stunned Romney would reach out to the GOP base.  Electoral suicide seems to be the only thing you’d respect.

        BHO deports Mexicans at record numbers for 3 years to secure that issue, then slows it to a trickle in an election year to mollify the Latino Dem base.

        I’ll take a bit of Romney’s talk over cynically manipulating government policy for political reasons any day.  And in the end, Romney’s record shows he’ll govern as a moderate, and with a respect for consensus as he did in Massachusetts, and not try to steamroll the other party as BHO’s doing.

         A big part of the presidency is how you respond to the incoming missiles (figuratively speaking). Another part is the 100,000 decisions they make outside the public’s eye. We don’t know what the issues are going to be from 2013-16. Who they are matters.

        I liked this part of your essay very much, and it bears on my argument above. So I guess what I’m saying, Will, is that talk is cheap and the “moderation” is in action.  I look at the record, believing half of what I see and none of what I hear.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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          says:

          In between Huntsman’s eye-poking and Romney’s rhetoric, I have to think that there is a middle-ground. Bashing Rick Perry from the right isn’t it.

          Romney’s only governance is in the Massachusetts context. Had he been elected governor of Utah, I suspect his governance would have been different. It’s difficult to say what he would do in the national context. What he is saying is not encouraging.

          I’m waiting to see what he says when he has the nomination.Report

          • Avatar DarrenG in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            I’m waiting to see what he says when he has the nomination.

            Even more important than what he says is who he surrounds himself with. If he fills his campaign and policy shop from the far-right fringe it’s a safe bet he’s not going to govern from the center no matter what rhetoric he uses on the stump.

            After all, the one safe bet with Romney is that today’s rhetoric is not predictive of tomorrow’s words or actions.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            WillT, I don’t care what they say.  A “moderate” is as a moderate does.

            Do you think Romney would try something like BHO’s Richard Cordray  gambit?  i just don’t see it, and that’s my point.  Romney’s just not that ideological.  He’s a good-governance type, from the Tory tradition.  The people of Massachusetts want a health care program, fine, that’s what they shall have, voila!, Romneycare.

            But a careful policy and process, not a force-fed mishmosh of ill-conceived regulations,

            http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/287895/haste-made-waste-obamacares-rushed-regulations-veronique-de-rugy

            spaghetti at the wall.  Per the above,

            “The Obama administration’s “early interim final” health-care regulations score about the same as the Bush administration’s regulations for homeland security — on the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card, both would receive an average grade of F.”

            Jerry Ellig:

            This problem is systemic. The deficiencies in the analysis are a failure of the federal regulatory process, not of any particular administration or party. The quality of analysis for the ACA’s interim final health care regulations is about the same as the quality of analysis for the Bush administration’s interim final homeland security regulations issued in the years  following 9/11. In both cases, administrations rushed to enact regulations they hoped would reflect their legacy in the face of tight legislative deadlines.This fast-track rulemaking meant decisions often got made at high levels before the regulatory analysis even got done. It was “Ready, Fire, Aim!”

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            • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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              says:

              Do you think Romney would try something like BHO’s Richard Cordray gambit?

              Oh, hell yes I do. Romney is a politician. (Rather like Obama in that regard.) Pushing the envelope on rules to get over speed bumps built in to the system is something any halfway skilled politician will do if armed with even half of the usual testicular artillery allocated to members of that breed.

              One could even argue that there are institutional incentives built in to the system for an officeholder to do stuff like that.

              FTR, however, I agree with your characterization of Romney as fundamentally non-ideological.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                Just can’t see Romney pulling the Cordray stunt, for the very reason he doesn’t see himself as “transformational.”  He just won’t have that baggage, never campaigned as ‘transformational” and isn’t now, and wouldn’t have his disappointed right complaining at the end of his first term that he didn’t “fight” the other side, as BHO has disappointed his left flank.

                What I meant by the Tory tradition was something I read about Bush41 so far back, that it’s the public service, the noblesse oblige of those who were born into positions of privilege and feel they should “give back.”  Romney is all about the public service part, and sees his unique abilities and contribution to the public weal in sorting out the partisan mess with technocratic professionalism.

                This is Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney the person, the man, where his record points with neon signs: he got Massachusetts back on an even fiscal keel from in the red into the black; sorted out and straightened out corporations on the fail @ Bain; rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics when the idiots had put them on the brink of disaster.  Some people like inventing things, others like fixing things.  Mitt’s greatest delight is in fixing things.

                Examine Romney’s statements on record in this light.  This is my Straussian reading of him, that once you understand someone as he understands himself, you can sort out their statements—even when they’re dissembling, which of course any politician must.

                [A Straussian reading of BHO is even easier.  He is his father’s son.  Titling the book Dreams from My Father was not a dissembling.  As Strauss argues, even the most cautious of writers hides his truth in plain sight.]

                 

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              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                This is Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney the person, the man, where his record points with neon signs: he got Massachusetts back on an even fiscal keel from in the red into the black; sorted out and straightened out corporations on the fail @ Bain; rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics when the idiots had put them on the brink of disaster.  Some people like inventing things, others like fixing things.  Mitt’s greatest delight is in fixing things.

                Examine Romney’s statements on record in this light.  This is my Straussian reading of him, that once you understand someone as he understands himself, you can sort out their statements—even when they’re dissembling, which of course any politician must.

                [A Straussian reading of BHO is even easier.  He is his father’s son.  Titling the book Dreams from My Father was not a dissembling.  As Strauss argues, even the most cautious of writers hides his truth in plain sight.]

                I think this is pretty lucid and spot on.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Just can’t see Romney pulling the Cordray stunt, for the very reason he doesn’t see himself as “transformational.”

                Maybe not transformational, but if his campaign rhetoric is any indication, he certainly sees himself as being on a mission to save the country from all things Obama, to take the country back, yada, yada, yada. . .   That is, he has a very elevated sense of his role in this election and on the world stage.

                Romney is all about the public service part, and sees his unique abilities and contribution to the public weal in sorting out the partisan mess with technocratic professionalism.

                Maybe, but to me he comes off as someone who knows better than anyone else what needs to be done and feels the whole election process is somehow beneath him. It’s no wonder his fellow candidates can’t stand him and the Republican base is having a hard time warming up to the guy. He’s pretty damned condescending.

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              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                I have to agree with Burt here, because the Cordray issue is not about ideology, and to analyze it in those terms is just terribly misguided.  It’s an institutional issue–president v. Congress, not blue v. red.  Sure, it’s Republicans in Congress trying to block a Democratic president, but they’re using institutional means to do so, and for Obama it’s not “how can I get a liberal win over conservatives,” but “how can I as president get a win over Congress.”

                Any and every president will think that way.  The only question is how far they’re willing to push at the edges of the rules.  Barring the Supreme Court getting involved–a probability I rate as approaching zero–it’s like a game of pickup basketball where you call your own fouls.

                If Romney really wouldn’t make such a call, then it wouldn’t indicate anything about his ideology or lack thereof as much as either his sincere belief in appropriate constraints on the presidency (the likes of which we haven’t seen since Carter, perhaps), his sense that the political backlash would be too great, or his timidity.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                +1

                Point political “science.”  (Consider the scare quotes to be in scare quotes.)Report

        • Avatar Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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          says:

          BHO deports Mexicans at record numbers for 3 years to secure that issue, then slows it to a trickle in an election year to mollify the Latino Dem base.

          God forbid we have an immigration policy that focuses on illegals who do things like commit violent crime, instead of trying to round up all them brown-skinned folk and stuff them in railway cargo containers for a trip back down to Me-hee-co like the Arpaio crowd would love to see happen.

          And in the end, Romney’s record shows he’ll govern as a moderate, and with a respect for consensus as he did in Massachusetts, and not try to steamroll the other party as BHO’s doing.

          Romney in the WH would be precisely what you really want, a rubber stamp for the extreme right-wing nut fringe with the “moderate Republicans” along for the ride until the great RINO hunt shoots them all.

           Report

  2. Avatar DarrenG
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    says:

    I think this is largely right (I’d disagree with some of your characterization of Obama, as I do think he has very specific policy preferences, but doesn’t yammer on about them because he knows they have zero chance of being enacted by this Congress, for example).

    To put another spin on it, a lot of Huntsman’s appeal is the “soft bigotry of lowered expectations.” It’s a pleasant, but also depressing, surprise to find a Republican in 2012 who not only enjoys talking substantive policy, but can do so in an informed manner even when you disagree with him.Report

  3. Avatar Mike
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    says:

    “Right now we have a Democratic Party lead by a man that has only a vague idea of where he actually wants the country to go.”

    Proof you’ve either not been paying attention, or been listening to one too many right-wing radio blowhards. I’ve lost track of whether according to them he’s “a communist”, “a socialist”, “not a leader”, “leading us into ruin”, “steering us straight down the path of socialism”, “trying to ruin america deliberately”, “a complete incompetent”, “spending all his time playing golf”, or one of the other nonsensical catchphrases delivered via email to the morning talk show circuit each day.

    The reality is, Obama’s path has been pretty clear. On most things, he’s a dead-center moderate interested in implementing workable solutions without fucking the environment or killing the middle class. The only thing I could say he “doesn’t know” on is gay marriage, but he seems to be coming around pretty well after trying to say he “doesn’t believe in gay marriage” and keep a straight face during the 2008 campaign. Not that that stopped the right wing freakazoid bible camp from saying “OMG OBUMMER WANTS TO MAKE ALL UR KIDZ GET GAY MARRIED”, mind you.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike
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      says:

      Your comment is non-sensical in the context of what I am saying.

      The “right-wing blowhards” that I am allegedly listening to most definitely believe that President Obama has more than a vague idea of where he wants the country to go. You spend the rest of the paragraph outlining that direction they believe he wants to take us (“socialism”, “communism”).

      I realize that you have talking points you want to get in there (“RIGHT WINGERS BAD!”), but apply where appropriate.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    Huntsman’s appeal resolves to his ability to work with a Democratic administration.   Obama chose him as ambassador because he speaks Chinese, well, sorta, as well as someone who learned the language later in life can learn one.

    It’s not perfect Chinese, but it’s adequate.  And therein lies Huntsman’s appeal, he’s adequate, willing enough to continue in service to the country, where’s he’s needed, regardless of who’s in office.   He’s not a Liberal, but then, neither are most folks who call themselves Liberals.   In a field distinguished by so many idiots, he’s the least-idiotic, not the strongest sort of recommendation.

    Is that reason enough to vote for him?   I won’t vote for him.  I strongly distrust a Mormon in high office for the same reasons I don’t like an Evangelical in high office or a Scientologist.  I should point out my own inconsistencies here: I don’t hold an American Catholic to that standard;  for all practical purposes the American Catholic has taken over his own theology and holds no truck with Rome and hasn’t in a hundred years.  LDS is a relatively new religion and hasn’t developed a dissident class of freethinkers.  I don’t trust a religion without denominations.   As I’ve said before, I wish we could get some photogenic, reasonably genial atheist to run for president.   Take the religion issue off the table for once.  Do the country good, as the Establishment Clause did, to keep overt religiosity and those Onward Christian Soldiers confined to barracks.

    I don’t trust Huntsman as president.   Previously, someone said the president set the sails.   You can manage that stunt on a smallish boat, but you have to stay the tiller while you’re doing it.   No, the ship of state has far too many masts and sails for the President to run around the deck and climb the rigging.   He stays in the wheelhouse and holds the course.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      As I’ve said before, I wish we could get some photogenic, reasonably genial atheist to run for president.   Take the religion issue off the table for once.  Do the country good, as the Establishment Clause did, to keep overt religiosity and those Onward Christian Soldiers confined to barracks.

      The problem is that given the attitude of the average American toward atheists it would be easier to get a convicted felon into the White House than an atheist.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James K
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        says:

        The Atheists need better PR.   Speaking as a man raised as a pastor’s kid and missionary’s kid, I find all these Pander Bears cuddling up to religious kookery horribly disturbing.   And it seems to be getting worse these days, from where I sit.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP
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          Blaise, the atheists need better arguments.  They don’t actually have an argument.

          http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/12/hitchens-dawkins-and-craig.html

          As for yr condescension toward the baptized but still greatly unwashed, I understand it, but they’re not all snake-handlers.  They understand more than they can articulate, is all.

          I enjoyed yr left-elistist honesty about being prejudiced against the religious.  one recent poll had Democrats less likely to vote for a Mormon than those fundie-evangelical Republicans.

          I don’t trust a religion without denominations. 

          This one I enjoyed very much.  Also yr analysis of American Catholics, that they’re all over the ideological map.  It’s no coincidence that the Supreme Court is all Jews and Catholics save one.  Neither is it a coincidence to my mind that

          One surprising finding: Santorum, a Catholic, won only about 8 percent of self-identified Catholic voters, a serious underperformance on his part since Catholics accounted for more a third of the electorate Tuesday. Gingrich, also a Catholic, won 10 percent of Catholic voters, according to exit poll interviews.

          Romney, a Mormon, dominated among Catholics winning 45 percent of them.

          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45959412/ns/politics-primaries/t/possible-implications-november-exit-poll-data/#.Tw5qT6VSSj8

          Let’s sharpen our scalpels, eh?  Santorum is probably more in harmony with my own Roman Catholic sensibilities, but that actually makes me less inclined to support him.  American Catholics already got a pope, they need a president, and the current one isn’t very good at it.Report

          • Avatar James K in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            Epistemologically we don’t need one.  Burden of proof is on the claimant.  Occam’s Razor does the rest.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to James K
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              says:

              JamesK, I don’t follow you, but burden of proof is shared in any joint inquiry among persons of good will and lovers of wisdom and truth.

              Debates are unconcerned with truth, only with winning.  The only “victor” in a discussion or a symposium is he who shares and bears the burden of proof and of affirmative argument.

              The skeptic can never win: he only plays for the draw.  He is boring.

               Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James K
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              says:

              See, that’s the sort of reasoning which could make an Atheist reasonably palatable to the public at large.  I remember in Basic Training, the drill instructor was yelling at us early on.    “Now let’s get this straight right now.   There will be none of this black and white racist bullshit in my platoon.   Here’s US Army Equal Rights for you, just so we understand each other.   You are all green.   I hate you all equally.”Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            American Catholics already got a pope, they need a president

            Well done.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            Comment of slightly more substance:

            Catholics, at least the non-pre-Vatican II folk, are pretty ecumenical.  IME more than other denominations.  It doesn’t surprise me that they’d vote for a Mormon, they likely don’t care anywhere near as much about religiosity as other Christian denominations.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            You wound me, Tom, saying I condescend to the Unwashed.   You may bet your life on this fact, the people who turn up in those churches are well-washed and wearing their Sunday Best and so are all their kiddies.   Until I was old enough to find out for myself, I was told the Pope was the Antichrist and Catholics were going to hell.   Mormons came in for even worse obloquy, and the last few verses of the Book of Revelation were pressed upon me from chapter 22: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

            You may accuse me of being a Liberal Elitist.   I suppose that’s a fair cop.  Just don’t accuse me of fearing some religious zealot in high office.   I have excellent reasons for this fear and as a Cafeteria Catholic, so should you.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              Blaise, as you well observed, the Cafeteria Catholics will save us all from theocracy.  Then the Thomists shall save us from them.  😉

              Sorry about yr upbringing.  I am not a licensed therapist.  I run into this all the time in my studies and blog on religion & the Founding as this theme takes up a lot of cyberink there, but helping them would be a separate career.  Out here in the real world, let’s thank God for our Catholics, current and recovering.  Even the recovering ones still don’t appreciate the reason for their near-sanity.

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            • Avatar Mike in reply to BlaiseP
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              Today, I’m an Atheist. My parents were nominally Catholic inasmuch as they insisted we go to church every Sunday, but they took to heart the whole “where two are three are gathered in my name” thing – if we went to church with a friend’s family who were Methodist, or with the aunt who was Lutheran, it was no big deal.

              On the other hand, traveling the country, once you get out of the northern half there is some EXTREME prejudice to be found. I’ve had people say, to my face, that Muslims or Jews are “less than human.” I’ve had them tell me that, since I haven’t been “born again” and baptized at the age of adulthood, my baptism wasn’t “legitimate” and I wasn’t really a Christian. I’ve been accused of being a “Pagan” and “worshiping Mary as an idolater.”

              I’d be most happy with an atheist in office. Sparing that, someone who professes a faith without being gung-ho. Once they start playing the Pander Bear game, especially to the level of Santorum, Bachmann, Gingrich, or especially what I predict we’ll see out of Romney in SC… fuck ’em.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            “It’s no coincidence that the Supreme Court is all Jews and Catholics save one. ”

            Actually, right now it’s a clean sweep, 6 ascribe to the Roman Catholic faith and 3 the Jewish.Report

          • Avatar Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            TVD, the atheist argument is quite simple.

            It goes like this: “I don’t need some parental god-figure staring over my shoulder to make me do good things and treat other human beings with dignity, because I’m an adult capable of doing it on my own.”

            Or else to steal a quote from the movie Dogma:

            No, Through the Looking Glass, that poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” that’s an indictment of organized religion. The walrus, with his girth and good nature, obviously represents either Buddha or, with his tusks, the Hindu elephant god Lord Ganesha – that takes care of your eastern religions. Now the carpenter, which is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, who was raised a carpenter’s son, he represents the western religions. Now in the poem, what do they do? What do they do? They dupe all these oysters into following them and then proceed to shuck and devour the helpless creatures en masse. Now I don’t know what that says to you, but to me it says that following these faiths based on mythological figures ensures the destruction of one’s inner being. Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions, out of fear of some intangible parent figure, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says “Do it, do it and I’ll fucking spank you!”

            The problem is that the US is generally full of childish minds like yours, who are too busy worrying about the nanny-figure and trying to figure out how to hoard as much as possible for yourselves, rather than how to make society better for everyone no matter what religious bullshittery they’ve been brainwashed into believing.Report

          • Avatar Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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            says:

            TVD, the atheist argument is quite simple.

            It goes like this: “I don’t need some parental god-figure staring over my shoulder to make me do good things and treat other human beings with dignity, because I’m an adult capable of doing it on my own.”

            Or else to steal a quote from the movie Dogma:

            No, Through the Looking Glass, that poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” that’s an indictment of organized religion. The walrus, with his girth and good nature, obviously represents either Buddha or, with his tusks, the Hindu elephant god Lord Ganesha – that takes care of your eastern religions. Now the carpenter, which is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, who was raised a carpenter’s son, he represents the western religions. Now in the poem, what do they do? What do they do? They dupe all these oysters into following them and then proceed to shuck and devour the helpless creatures en masse. Now I don’t know what that says to you, but to me it says that following these faiths based on mythological figures ensures the destruction of one’s inner being. Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions, out of fear of some intangible parent figure, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says “Do it, do it and I’ll fucking spank you!”

            The problem is that the US is generally full of childish minds like yours, who are too busy worrying about the nanny-figure and trying to figure out how to hoard as much as possible for yourselves, rather than how to make society better for everyone no matter what religious bullshittery they’ve been brainwashed into believing.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike
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              says:

              In the absence of a parental figure, I’d like to thank you for taking that role upon yourself and yelling, yelling, yelling about the people who don’t meet your expectations. If you could work in some “DON’T STAND IN FRONT OF THE TV! THE GAME’S ON!”, that’d be great.

              Thanks.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike
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                says:

                I don’t grow up, I throw up, and when I look at you I shut up.

                Seriously, don’t use the movie “Dogma” as part of your criticism of organized religion. Seriously. The most scathing criticism found in that movie was the Buddy Christ but they didn’t know how to go from there and ended up wandering through radical individualism and poop jokes.

                No shame in embracing radical individualism, mind… I’m partial to it myself. However, if you’re going to focus so much on the importance of freedom in the absence of a parental figure that is interested in inhibiting our actions and inhibiting our decisions, perhaps you could stop screaming about how we need to inhibit our actions/decisions.

                I don’t think you understand the implications of your criticism.

                You’ve seen the vacuum created by the absence of God and seem to be doing what you can to replace Him.

                Lemme tell ya: You’re a poor replacement. I’d suggest you stop trying.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Jaybird
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                You’ve seen the vacuum created by the absence of God and seem to be doing what you can to replace Him.

                No, I’ve seen the moral vacuum created by people thinking that “God” can morally tell them to do harm others and treat others as less than human because they don’t subscribe to the “right” religion, or subsect thereof.

                A moral code of treating others as you would like to be treated, of respecting human dignity and life – both human and nonhuman – as being of worth? Where do you need a “god” to believe that this makes for a better society? Where do you need a “god” to raise kids with a good moral footing?

                “God” – and Religion – are responsible for the worst and bloodiest wars and genocides the world has seen. More people have killed each other over religion than for any other reason in the history of the world. Entire nations have been wiped out or enslaved on the basis of “our cult is better than your cult.”

                The funniest part of Dogma had to be the “Buddy Christ”, I’ll give you that. But it was funny specifically because it is a somber representation of exactly what the Catholics tried to do with Vatican II. They got rid of the somber, boring, “oh fuck nobody understands what’s being said” Latin Tridentine Mass. They retired a lot of the heavy, in-your-face self-flagellation aspects of many of their feast days and ceremonies. Vatican II gave leeway for the Catholics to compete, in churchday ceremonies, with the “Revivalist” churches gaining popularity in the USA at the time – and if you ever go to a Revivalist meeting, you’ll see Buddy Christ right there on stage, maybe not the specific image, but definitely the “idea” thereof.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mike
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                says:

                God” – and Religion – are responsible for the worst and bloodiest wars and genocides the world has seen.

                In what way were “God – and Religion” responsible for WWII and the Holocaust, respectively, which would seem to be the worst examples of each?  Please also address this question with respect to the causes of WWI and the Rwandan genocide.

                Show your work.

                I say this as an increasingly atheist agnostic.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike
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                says:

                I don’t think you’ve quite yet apprehended what the Death of God means. You come across like nothing so much as someone yelling (there’s that word again!) that “you shouldn’t be a Baptist! You should be Methodist!” and giving a list of rules to replace the old list of rules, a list of taboos to replace the old list of taboos, and a membership card with the word “Baptist” crossed out and “Methodist” written in crayon above it.

                It’s like you wouldn’t mind Christianity if the Christians weren’t hypocrites.

                That’s not what there not being a God means, Mike.

                Read this sentence again and really think about it this time:

                Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions, out of fear of some intangible parent figure, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says “Do it, do it and I’ll fucking spank you!”

                Your argument all seem to come from a place that assumes that the problem with that sentence is the threat of spanking from the intangible parental figure.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Mike
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                says:

                Oh please.

                A religious person is, by and large (with few exceptions), a stunted human being, their growth forever inhibited.

                Organized religion stunts the growth of human beings into functional adulthood. It does so by never allowing human beings to move beyond the second stage of the hierarchy of needs – a human forever in fear of a giant daddy-figure ready to spank them if they “screw up” is never beyond the “safety-seeking” stage, and never able to reach the stages of being able to truly love and be loved, truly become comfortable in their own self-esteem, and become self-actualized.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Mike
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                says:

                In what way were “God – and Religion” responsible for WWII and the Holocaust

                The Holocaust’s goal was specifically the wiping out of an entire religion, with secondary goals of eliminating the “nonchristian” gypsy population and homosexuals, and you’re honestly trying to argue that the Nazi line wasn’t religious in nature?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike
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                says:

                I wouldn’t know about that Stunting.  Religion is a flower which grows on the bush of culture.   If it’s become an engine for tyranny, it’s hardly unique.  Clan, tribe and political persuasion have done more to stunt mankind.   That, I suppose, we might call the First Stage, where we are good to those who do good to us.

                Religion doesn’t have to be tyrannous.   In most forms, it isn’t.  If it’s led mankind to war, it’s also led us to charity and lives of personal holiness.   It’s considerably more than a guilt trip.  In point of fact, religion is a big nothing, a framework upon which we hang a fellowship with other human beings.   Church is the only social institution with a place for everyone, from babies to the elderly.

                Alcoholics Anonymous says the alcoholic must reach the point where he realizes his life has become unmanageable.  He must reach out to a power greater than himself to return him to sanity.   In a very real sense, we must all reach that conclusion:  our lives are not within our control.   The biochemists are telling us of certain paradoxes in our simplistic notions of Free Will.

                Daddies are funny things.   I’ve been one.  I suppose I still am one, a granddaddy too.  Daddies do more than punish their children, they love them, too, provide for them, raise them to adulthood.   If the suffering soul reaches out for a Father Figure, can you blame him?   The rageful child might think his Daddy is a vengeful autocrat at turns, all too willing to spank him for the slightest infraction.   Later in life, that child will leave, swearing to never repeat the mistakes of his parent, repeating them anyway, ruefully coming to admit his parents may have been imperfect but they loved him nonetheless.

                Ultimately, we must come to terms with that higher power, in less-simplistic metaphors.

                If the religious man turns to God for solace, as a child turns to his father when life is hard, what harm is done thereby?   King Arthur may have never existed, yet he has become the apotheosis of chivalry.    Even if Jesus Christ never existed, I would prefer to believe his message of the Kingdom of God, of a love which returns good for evil, of a light that shines in an uncomprehending darkness.   If religion is only a second step, it was a necessary step.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mike
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                says:

                Hitler’s actual privately held religious views were all over the map; the man was a far, far cry from Franco.  Sure, he used Christianity as a tool to appeal to the masses, but to say that Nazism was primarily grounded in Christianity seems to lack any basis.

                Moreover, you ignore the “causes of WWII,” “WWI,” and “Rwandan genocide” portions of the question completely.  Please show how religion, rather than nationalism, was the basis for Hitler’s various invasions of neighboring lands (which also happened to be Christian themselves).Report

            • Avatar Mike in reply to Mike
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              says:

              Incidentally, if someone with power to do so could delete the duplicate comment with extraneous linkage above, I’d appreciate it. I was unaware that the “remove formatting” button didn’t also remove HTML linkage and it got caught in the moderation filter thereby. No use having large duplicate comments clogging the discussion, such as it is.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James K
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        says:

        It’s my opinion, if Newt Gingrich had been a regular civilian, he would be a convicted felon.   Though IANAL I’m absolutely sure tax evasion on the scale of Gingrich’s would be prosecuted as a felony and he’d have done several years at Camp Fed.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          I’m absolutely sure tax evasion on the scale of Gingrich’s would be prosecuted as a felony and he’d have done several years at Camp Fed.

          Camp Fed or simply working for the Fed? Or have you forgotten the “tax preparation” problems of certain members of Obama’s staff?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      LDS is a relatively new religion and hasn’t developed a dissident class of freethinkers.  I don’t trust a religion without denominations.

      Of course the LDS think they are a denomination, rather than a distinct religion.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      Well sure, Huntsman speaks Mandarin with an accent, but so do I. If I’d have planned it better I’d have been born in China, however that would have changed quite a number of things about my life, albeit my accent and vocabulary would be better (assuming I was born in the /right/ province that is). I’m not exactly willing to trade places however, I readily accept I had a good American life growing up here.

      We don’t get to hear Huntsman speak Mandarin often enough. This video is a smear job, but what he’s saying in it is that the kid is good looking and he gets up early every morning to practice his Chinese. Did some more looking around, here’s where the smear dude got the original. Admittedly my wife is from Taiwan and they do speak a slightly different dialect there than Beijing Mandarin (the gold standard). She says Huntsman speaks quite well. I’d have to agree, much better than most waiguo’s.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    I’m convinced that Huntsman is exactly what the GOP needs – but unfortunately won’t be what we get. He’s a mainline conservative on all the right things and a sensible moderate on the things that should never be an issue (like evolution).Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      MikeD, why Huntsman is your Rx and Romney isn’t is beyond my ken.

      He’s a mainline conservative on all the right things and a sensible moderate on the things that should never be an issue (like evolution).

      I personally don’t see how Romney can be defined as anything but a moderate, I can’t see how BHO can be called a moderate exc by stretching the political spectrum.  He certainly doesn’t govern like one.

      As for evolution, it’s certainly a problem if you make it one.  I see it as a Free Exercise question.  If you poke through the controversy [and I have], what stands out is that a creationist can be just as good and productive citizen and taxpayer, and even as good a doctor or computer programmer or biologist [!] as a normal person. [They do not deny adaptations.]

      In the end, creationism is a difference that makes no difference.  It’s a brickbat in the greater culture war.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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        says:

        As I mentioned on a previous thread, what I think Huntsman’s positions on evolution and global warming speak to is his willingness to listen to the proper experts on factual questions.  That’s a valuable characteristic in a President.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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        says:

        The problem is that Romney is an empty suit. We’ve always know that. He’s an establishment guy which means we will see very little change from an Obama presidency to a Romney presidency.

        As for creationist. Sure, they are nice people. But they are also trying hard to inject religion into science curriculum and I have no stomach for that.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Right now we have a Democratic Party lead by a man that has only a vague idea of where he actually wants the country to go. I don’t mean that as an insult.

    You should, though. The “vision thing” is one of the central missions of the Presidency; the President ought to be a leader.

    Obama, agreed, lacks the “vision thing.” I do not get the sense that the President particularly enjoys governing either for its own sake in a Nixonian sense or for pursuit of some sort of teleology in the Bush II sense. He has not identified any particular destination point for any facet of the nation in 2016. He got a health care reform package through Congress, which was half a loaf as compared to where he started, and that seems to have shot his wad in terms of stuff he wanted to get done. Aside from that, has been largely reactive to events internationally, legislatively, and within the body politic.

    This is not leadership.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    I think both you and Mr Isquith allude to this, but the appeal of Huntsman among a certain set is somewhat based on the fact that he has had relatively little exposure and so people are projecting their wishes onto him, sometimes quite at odds with the man’s actual positions.  (But which is somewhat common in a politician – in fact the successful ones of course need this, to be multiple things to multiple people)

    Increasingly though, I’m souring on Huntsman’s ability to handle the spotlight.  His NH election speech was not very good.  On the other hand, being tone deaf in the messaging department is something that is perhaps fixable with good advisers (and  doesn’t necessarily involve the classic ‘flip flopping’)Report

  8. Avatar Michelle
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    says:

    As someone finds Huntsman appealing and who’d likely be categorized as “left” by today’s largely meaningless political standards, I agree with you that Huntsman is a political wonk’s dream in that he’s relatively articulate, seemingly intelligent, and appears unwilling to pander to the nastier instincts of the Republican base even though, on a number of cultural issues including abortion, his views are not far from their own. He is, in some ways, the Republican version of Obama and appeals for many of the same reasons Obama did. He gives the impression that you could discuss the issues intelligently with him despite major points of disagreements. He seems like somebody capable of listening to the other side. And I say that as someone who’d likely never vote for him because of his positions on things like taxation, Medicare, and the like.

    He’s also one of the few Republican candidates that I don’t find to be scary on a fundamental level. Perhaps Romney, should he win, won’t be that bad either but his history as a shape-shifter gives me pause. And the increasing bellicosity (and untruthfulness) of his rhetoric makes him ever more unpalatable to me.Report

  9. Avatar Ryan Bonneville
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    says:

    As someone who is vaguely considered part of the left by most, I think I can do a slightly better job of talking about the left’s motivations, and I think Elias is right on. There is precisely nothing in Huntsman’s political worldview that should make him attractive to anyone on the left. In the few instances where people have imagined he might be moderate – and they are extremely few – he’s certainly no more liberal than the utterly non-liberal president we already have. Civil unions and a tweet about evolution are thin fishing gruel to hang a presidency on, is what I’m trying to say.

    I guess you can try to argue that he’s still somehow the most preferable Republican because he’s the most moderate, but you would be – as I’ve tried to point out – just wrong. And stupidly so, because it would require not reading what the dude actually thinks about policy. He is a fiercely right-wing candidate, much farther right than Romney, who is already a pretty right-wing guy himself.

    No, what this comes down to – at least on the left – is personality. He wrote one stupid tweet that no one will shut up about, and now he’s the “reasonable moderate” just because he doesn’t go into spittle-flecked screaming fits. He just calmly discusses why he thinks the country should lurch to the right, slash taxes, disable the safety net, and – for Pete’s sake! – start a ground invasion of Iran.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Ryan Bonneville
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      says:

      There is precisely nothing in Huntsman’s political worldview that should make him attractive to anyone on the left.

      Well…maybe. I think the appeal for me is that Huntsman is someone who seems sane – someone who would be able to rationally discuss differences with his liberal interlocutors. I think having sane conservatives is something liberals should want. Maybe it would be worse politically for Democrats to have reasonable, affable Republicans, but it would probably benefit the country to have sane people running things on both sides of the aisle.Report

      • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to E.D. Kain
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        says:

        Okay, maybe, but how is that my problem? If Bill Buckley were somehow not dead – or Thatcher, or whoever – I would agree with anyone whose assessment is that these are sane people. It does not in any way follow that I would ever support them for the presidency. And it certainly does not follow that I would consider them superior to Mitt Romney.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Ryan Bonneville
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          says:

          Well that’s not what I’m saying. I’m not saying you should support Huntsman for the presidency (nor do I support him for the presidency.) I just support the broad idea of a saner conservative movement and so I root for Huntsman to do well among his own. The only Republican I actually support is Ron Paul, and I find many of his views entirely incompatible with my own beliefs. Huntsman is nowhere near as good on foreign policy, drugs, etc. as Ron Paul.

          I’m convinced Romney is actually a robot in disguise.Report

          • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to E.D. Kain
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            says:

            But that is, more or less, what’s being said here, right? We should support Huntsman in the primary, at least, on the grounds that he would be a better president than any of the other Republicans in the field. But that case is explicitly founded on his personality – which many like to call his sanity, for fairly obvious reasons. It has nothing to do with his political views, which are utterly noxious.Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Ryan Bonneville
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              says:

              Well that’s not what I’m saying. I am coolly observing Huntsman as a guy who could possibly, but not probably, help steer conservatives toward firmer, saner ground. His actual politics are a mixed bag – his bank regulations seem sensible enough; his foreign policy is ok but hardly great; his fiscal conservatism is absolutely wrong-headed; he’s much better than Romney on trade issues – but I’d really prefer a free-market social democrat who wanted to end the war on drugs and withdraw troops from everywhere. Alas, the closest thing to that right now is Ron Paul.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to E.D. Kain
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            says:

            I’m convinced Romney is actually a robot in disguise.

            Pretty crappy disguise if you ask meReport

      • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to E.D. Kain
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        says:

        Also, and you know this, I don’t particularly care about Democrats and Republicans. I care about liberalism – or my particular brand of it, anyway. Jon Huntsman does nothing to make a liberal world order more likely. That’s why he’s useless to liberals (or the left, if you prefer).Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Ryan Bonneville
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          says:

          Absolutely. I guess I’m just looking at Huntsman these days through an entirely different lens. But I’m with you – I care much more about liberalism or my own version of it than I do about Huntsman or any of the rest of these maniacs. Except, again, Ron Paul who in his own weird way does a better job of representing nonviolence (something I associate with liberalism) than anyone else including Obama.Report

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