THE PRESIDENT

‘The problem isn’t George Bush’s decisiveness. It’s his decisions.’ – Ellen Goodman in the Boston Globe

THE KEYNOTER

It’s very ‘last week’ – and the Bush bounce is already pretty well gone (that was fast) – but did you actually see Zell Miller’s speech at the Convention? It was noteworthy because it was billed as the KEYNOTE address, just as Barack Obama’s was in Boston five weeks before. But where Barack’s was filled with hope and inspiration for the future, Zell’s was so angry it wasn’t just angry or even angry, it was scare-the-children, purple with RAGE.

Because (as Jon Stewart so aptly put it), after four years of controlling the White House and Congress and the Supreme Court, they have a lot to be angry about, and they’re not gonna take it anymore!

How dare anyone run for president against George W. Bush . . . a man who has lost more jobs on his watch than any president since Herbert Hoover, who has rolled back environmental regulation and fought to impede stem cell research here at home and around the world. A man who played right into the hands of Osama bin Laden by (a) ignoring all the warnings he was given, beginning at Blair House January 7, 2001 (‘a tremendous, immediate’ threat to the United States); (b) letting bin Laden get away when we had the chance to kill or capture him at Tora Bora; and (c) inflaming much of the Middle East (thereby helping to recruit thousands of new terrorists) by rushing into war in Iraq without adequate world support and without a plan to win the peace. How dare the Democrats want a change, Zell seemed to be asking.

And then, a little later, he challenged CNBC’s Chris Matthews to a duel. (I assume you know this, but in case you missed it, I am not making it up.)

The Republicans want this guy? Hey – take him!

THE VEEP

I don’t begrudge Dick Cheney his five deferments – I was too scared to be drafted, too. But one of them tells you that this was a guy who was truly determined to live to . . . well, if not ‘to fight another day,’ then at least to send other people’s kids to fight another day. He got his student deferments and then his deferment for being married, but then on October 26, 1965, they announced that childless married men were fair game for the draft. Nine months and two days later, the Cheney’s daughter arrived.

THE A.G.’S WIFE

Listen: I respect everyone’s religious faith. But to anyone who is unnerved by, say, the 2004 Texas Republican Platform, which calls for an end to the separation of church and state, I just think it’s important to note that these folks are quite sincere (as they are entitled to be), and that they are increasingly influencing our government. One of them is President, another is Attorney General (who has himself anointed in Crisco oil before being sworn in to important jobs). Others are just in college, hoping one day to help steer the ship of state – as they are totally entitled to want to do.

With that in mind, here’s part of a piece by Mac VerStandig, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, describing his recent visit to Patrick Henry College, on whose board of trustees Janet Ashcroft, the A.G.’s better half, serves as secretary:

In Purcellville, Va., sits one of America’s youngest and most respected schools.

Less than 10 years old, Patrick Henry College has already gained notoriety for tremendous placement of its students in internships all over Washington, D.C., from the White House to the Capitol. The secretary of the school’s Board of Trustees is none other than Janet Ashcroft, the attorney general’s wife. And early alumni of the college have gone on to work in places as prestigious as the aforementioned internship hubs.

. . . A strict Christian college in the tradition of Bob Jones University, the Virginia school boasts a student body of fewer than 1,000 and almost all of which had been home schooled.

Moreover, according to a March 8 New York Times article, the school formerly enrolled only a single black student. He dropped out.

. . . In order to enter the college, students must sign a document saying that they accept the Christian Bible – in its entirety – as being literal. In fact, the school’s website explains, ‘Any biology, Bible or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God’s creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six 24-hour days.’

. . . And PHC does little to help expand students’ worldview. In fact, the college works as an almost incestuous compound where pupils are so radically exposed to their own homogeny that the real world comes as a shock. One PHC student, upon meeting this writer – a practicing Jew who imbibes openly – inquired almost innocently, ‘What does it feel like to know that you’re going to hell?’

The question is sensible if you consider that students at the Virginia college are prohibited from touching alcohol while attending school (including weekends and other non-class times).

Yet PHC’s crippling shelter only grows greater with its ‘courtship policy.’ Should a male student wish to date a female student, he must first get the permission of her parents. . . Should the parents sign off on the courtship, the two budding young romantics will be permitted to hold hands on campus – so long as they are walking of course. That’s right, at PHC, if you’re sitting down, standing still or otherwise immobile, you better not be caressing the palm of another student.

☞ To each his own. Where it gets awkward is when, say, John Ashcroft tries to use the power of the federal government to overturn the twice-passed-by-referendum Oregon assisted-suicide law or the passed-by-referendum California medical marijuana law. Or when this crowd attempts to amend the US Constitution to discriminate against gays and lesbians – or when the House, as it recently did, approves a bill that would prevent the Courts from ruling certain discriminatory laws unConstitutional. In those cases, it’s not to each his own, it’s ‘you will do as I say, because God speaketh through me.’ Shouldn’t it be enough to know that we who don’t see it the same way will burn in hell?

Tomorrow: A Smart System for Thinning Junk Mail; Smart Thoughts on Roth IRA Conversions

 

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