Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quibbles and Bits - Faith-based Edition

Original Link:

By LisaB

1) Barack Obama has found at least one Bush initiative he is willing to continue. Saying “The challenges we face today. . . are simply too big for government to solve alone. . . “, Obama announced he would support involving more religious charities in government anti-poverty work, according to an AP article.

Obama proposes to elevate the program to a “moral center” of his administration, by renaming it the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and changing training from occasional huge conferences to empowering larger religious charities to mentor smaller ones in their communities.

Let’s just hope Obama doesn’t decide the “moral center” he hopes to establish doesn’t include those “spiritual advisors” he has relied on in the past.

Read the rest ->

2) Andrew Sullivan, at The Atlantic had this to say today about the faith-based proposal:

You could see this coming a while back. Obama has long been comfortable talking about his moderate to liberal Christianity, and has long been very much at ease with the social Gospel and mixing religion with politics. George W. Bush, meanwhile, went a very long way toward integrating his religious faith with big government, providing conservative legitimacy to the notion of religiously infused state-funded services.

Obama, for his part, has noticed that John McCain is extremely awkward when talking about religious faith in a political context, not terribly comfortable around holy rollers, and altogether a more secular figure.

So, Obama figures the evangelicals are up for grabs and he is just the candidate to make them crossover.

3) Of course, the backpedaling by Obama’s handlers has already begun. Apparently, Obama didn’t mean that faith-based partnerships should include the ability to hire and fire based on faith.

The Obama campaign says the AP’s first report this morning that Obama supports “their [faith-based organizations’] ability to hire and fire based on faith” is incorrect. In fact, Obama’s plan, they say, would prevent organizations from discriminating based on faith.

4) The New Republic, in a neat contortion, sees Obama’s embrace of faith-based groups using government funds as a campaign strategy to actually get votes from non-evangelical, low-information, ah, you know. . .

For the Obama campaign, I’d guess the targets of the ricochet [appearing to pander to evangelicals while actually targeting another group] are moderate, downscale whites who aren’t evangelicals themselves–and probably not even especially religious–but for whom Obama’s rapport with white evangelicals might be reassuring, especially amid all the false rumors of his secret Muslim identity.

5) In an earlier piece at the NYT (before the Ohio speech), John Broder writes about how the Obama campaign will go after evangelicals:

Between now and November, the Obama forces are planning as many as 1,000 house parties and dozens of Christian rock concerts, gatherings of religious leaders, campus visits and telephone conference calls to bring together voters of all ages motivated by their faith to engage in politics. It is the most intensive effort yet by a Democratic candidate to reach out to self-identified evangelical or born-again Christians and to try to pry them away from their historical attachment to the Republican Party.

Mr. Obama is building his appeal in part on calls to heal political rifts and address human suffering. He is also drawing on his own characteristics and story, including his embrace of Christianity as an adult, a facility with biblical language and imagery and comfort in talking about how his religious beliefs animate his approach to public life.
Mr. Obama is also reaching out to young evangelicals, the so-called Joshua generation, a group that would seem to be a fertile ground for recruitment.
In a brief video shown at the beginning of meetings with religious voters, Mr. Obama says he is “blessed” to help lead a conversation about the role of religious people in changing the world. He speaks of poverty and war, health care and unemployment, and says that addressing these problems “will require not just a change in government policy but a change of heart and a change of attitude.”

So, what do you make of that? Either Obama is going after evangelicals, or he is really trying to get the “low-information” voter derided during the primary. Hmmmm. Well, either way, the messianic aspects of this appeal to the faithful give me the willies.

6) Well, contrast that seeming care about poverty and traditional Democratic values with this from ABCnews on Obama’s flip on welfare reform:

“The shift in Obama’s rhetoric on welfare reform has proceeded in stages. When Clinton was poised to sign welfare reform while running for re-election in 1996, Obama called it ‘disturbing.’ A decade later, as an underdog running for president against Clinton’s wife, he spent 2007 avoiding the subject. By the time Obama emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the spring of 2008, he began leaving the impression that he was for it all along.”

When asked twice during the primary if he would have signed such a bill, Obama refused to answer, saying that the issue was history and it was time to look ahead. However, once he became the frontrunner and Hillary suspended her campaign, Obama has a new ad:

“In an ad airing in 18 states, including 14 carried by President Bush in 2004, Obama is celebrating a reduction in the welfare caseload made possible by legislation he originally opposed.”

If you can bear it, the ad is here. It’s nauseatingly called “the Dignity Ad.”

Obama is moving ever further from positions staked out during the primary campaign, embracing positions he used to deride and is courting evangelicals. Is he trying to recreate the GWB base? Look for a flip flop on guns. Oh, wait. . .

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