Conflict of Interest This, Dan, Is What We Call the “Bible.” But you can call it the “U.S. Constitution.”
posted by January 18 at 17:32 PMon
I’m going to be on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, recounting my recent adventures in South Carolina.
When I sat down to talk with Catherine, the woman in the photo above, I was a worried that our interview would be brief. Catherine and her husband Tom were hosting a phone bank party in the offices of their pest extermination business in Rock Mill, South Carolina, when I barged in with a producer, a wrangler, a camera man, and a sound tech. They’re passionate supporters of Mike Huckabee, fundamentalist Christians, and hard-core social conservatives.
They were also among the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Now, I’ve met super-nice Fundamentalist Christians in the past; hell, Ken Hutcherson showered me with compliments about my dedication as a parent the one and only time we met face to face. (I apologized for not being able to stay for the end of his debate with Ron Sims because I promised my son I would be home in time to tuck him in, and Hutch humped away at my leg—figuratively—for about 20 minutes.) I think a lot of fundamentalists compensate for the meanness of their judgment by pouring on the sweetness and light.
But I expected a different reception in South Carolina—the South, the Bible Belt, where good, God-fearing, racist Christians turned out in droves in 2000 to vote against John “Mixed-Race Love Child” McCain. So I was amazed that after I came out to Catherine—by making an just-ever-so-slightly crude sexual joke—she laughed patted my leg, and continued with the interview. I ended up spending the better of two days with Catherine and her husband Tom. They cheerfully told me over and over again that I was going to hell, I made the occasional dirty joke, and then we agreed to disagree about shredding the U.S. Constitution.
But here’s what I found really interesting about the Huckabee supporters I met in South Carolina: Over and over again Huckabee supporters told me—on the record, cameras rolling—that they supported Huckabee because they wanted to see “a good, Christian man in the White House.” Because… uh… just look at the pickle all those Buddhists, Atheists, agnostics, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians presidents have gotten us into.
When I pointed out that we we already had one of those in the White House—good, Christian George W. Bush, the man South Carolinians helped elect in 2000 and 2004—and that things haven’t been going so well, there was a momentary silence before the fundamentalist version of the Great Walk Back began.
Conservative pundits have been pointing to George Bush’s prescription drug program and out-of-control spending and insisting that, despite what they believed/wrote/said about Bush, George W. Bush is not a real conservative. Yeah, right. What they’re doing, of course, is absolving themselves of any responsibility for the disasters that Bush has inflicted on the country by insisting that Bush isn’t one of them, never was, uh-uh.
Religious conservatives are doing the same thing. They voted for George W. Bush because he was a good Christian and being a good Christian is the chief qualification for the Oval Office. A good Christian is going to be a great president because he’s a good Christian. But George W. Bush has been a terrible president—and many of them recognize that.
So what to do next? Instead of reexamining the criteria they’ve applied in the past—a process that might lead them to conclude that good & Christian isn’t nearly as important as, oh, smart & competent—and look for other qualities in a candidate, a lot of fundamentalist voters in South Carolina have concluded that George W. Bush isn’t a real good Christian. One person we interviewed insisted that George W. Bush wasn’t just a poor Christian, but not a Christian at all.
Anway, I’ll be talking about this—and more—on Real Time tonight. I believe it’s on in Seattle at 11 PM, HBO.