The State of the Union address has come and gone and with it an incoherent response by Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann. Like Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota’s 39th governor (who did not seek re-election in 2010) is a a potential presidential candidate in 2012 and a Tea Partier – meaning he likes loony, right-wing positions just to the right of the slippery slope.
And he’s not afraid, like other noted Tea Partiers Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, to say some really, egregiously stupid things. Like in his interview with Christianity Today. Given the timing, perhaps we can call that his “State of Delusion” address.
Like this stupid thing, that America was “founded under God.”
Your book encourages Christians to be involved in public issues. At what point might Christians rely too much on political solutions to current problems?
I started with the perspective of someone who says that faith is separate from public law and public service; it really isn’t. We have, as a country, a founding perspective that we’re founded under God; our founding documents reference and acknowledge God, and acknowledge that our rights and privileges come from our Creator.
Um, Tim, when did that happen? Have you read the Declaration of Independence, which refers not to your god but to “Nature’s God” – a Deistic term, or maybe the Constitution? We know Palin and Bachmann are constitutional experts, so maybe you are too? Nah that won’t work either. The Constitution doesn’t mention ANY god, not yours nor anyone else’s.
It’s kind of funny, really, that this politically neutral language of the Declaration of Independence, “Nature’s God” and “Creator” (both used by Deists) are the very same language which today would be eschewed as “politically correct” by fundamentalists. Can you imagine them missing an opportunity to say “Jesus” and “Holy Spirit”? Palin, at least, can’t open her mouth without “Holy Spirit” making an appearance, yet, hypocritically, they hail these terms as irrefutable evidence that our founders were fundamentalists like them (never mind that the evangelicals of the day despised Jefferson as an infidel – see image above).
Perhaps, Tim, when you actually read the Declaration of Independence you will turn your thoughts to Thomas Jefferson, who later wrote a version of the New Testament with all the miracles taken out? Yeah, Tim, they call it the Jefferson Bible. No miracles, no divinity for Jesus, no resurrection. Not much Christianity there; it is in fact a denunciation of Christianity dating all the way back to Paul of Tarsus. Not only did Jefferson not put your god into the Constitution, he took him out of the Bible (You can read the entire Jefferson Bible here)
Tim says he’s a Christian but like all fundies he seems to have a strange and unhealthy attachment to the Old Testament. He also tries to sound all moderate by repeating Abraham Lincoln.
“If I make a faith-related comment, I usually quote from the Bible, often from the Old Testament,” he told Christianity Today. “I remind people that our country is founded under God, and the founders thought that was an important perspective. I watch my tone so I don’t get judgmental or angry about issues. I try to express myself in ways that are measured and appropriate and hopefully civil and positive. Lastly, I try not to say that God is on my side, but I strive to be on God’s side.”
Given the Old Testament is all about being judgmental (and wiping out everybody who takes a different position) Pawlenty’s words are interesting. If I were interviewing the former governor, I’d be asking him how he reconciles the two, and why if he is a Christian and not a Jew, he doesn’t quote from the New Testament.
And I might ask why he and other fundamentalist-types hate the New Testament so much that they quote only from the Old.
Like with this Q&A: where is Jesus’ sense of forgiveness and love? All we see is Old Testament style exclusion:
Some conservative groups have decided to opt out of CPAC because of its inclusion of the group GOProud. Where are the fault lines in the Republican Party on social issues—what are issues the party can’t compromise on?
We can’t ask people to compromise core values. On matters of core values, you can’t ask and shouldn’t expect people to compromise. These values are of such a core nature that it’s not realistic or fair to ask people to set them aside. Most conservatives, including me, have strong views on a variety of issues. I’ve been pro-life my whole life. I’ve been in favor of traditional marriage. It’s not just something you can toss to the side or throw out the window.
So though Pawlenty claims that he is both a fiscal and a moral conservative, when asked what issues the party can’t compromise on, he goes right to moral issues as “core” values. You can see where his priorities lay.
When asked “Is that any indication that evangelicals are rising to leadership in the party?” Pawlenty answered,
Yes, and I also think it’s an affirmation of these people feeling a sense that they have something to offer because of who they are and what they believe, the values that they have and how they line up with the values of the country.
But perhaps the most damning testimony from Pawlenty comes in reference to Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann:
You seem to get comparisons to Palin and Rep. Michelle Bachmann.
[A comparison to] Sarah Palin, of course, is a compliment. She’s a force of nature, she’s kind of in a league of her own when it comes to attention and the media’s focus on her so far. I don’t know if she’s going to run or not, but I think she’s a remarkable leader. I know Congresswoman Bachmann, I campaigned for her, I consider her a friend and I have a positive and good relationship with her as well. Voters will have to choose the style of who they want representing the party as a nominee.
With all due respect, it’s difficult not to see such comparisons as a mill-stone around your neck. While sane Republicans are distancing themselves from Palin (and after Bachmann’s incoherent response to President Obama and her general nuttiness they should do the same with her) but Pawlenty is marrying himself to their cause, marching in lockstep.
Maybe they will all go off that slippery slope together and out of our collective misery.