Is Minn. Governor Tim Pawlenty the GOP's Great White Hope?
Tim Pawlenty addressed the 2009 Values Voter Summit last night (right after Billo the Clown, who for some inexplicable reason refused to allow reporters and news media to attend and listen to his speech to the "Summit"), and he bared his naked Presidential ambitions for all to see. And it was an ugly sight to behold.
Of course, he attacked Obama, personally.
The Minnesota governor elicited a standing ovation by retorting, “I’ll respond by calling out the president ... tonight.”
And it goes without saying that he said that health care reform needs "to get killed" (just like the estimated 45,000 people in America who die each year because they lack health care).
Naturally, he blamed Obama entirely for the enormous debt burden borne by the Federal Government ...
“With all due respect, Mr. President, if we’re out of money, stop spending it,” he ... said.
... conveniently forgetting that it was under George Bush, and his fellow fiscally conservative Republicans' watch, that the National debt exploded to 10.627 TRILLION DOLLARS, an average yearly increase over the eight years of the Bush Supremacy of 612.387 BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR, an increase of 46% over the last eight years, the largest increase under any President in American history (I wouldn't mention that fact either if I were a Republican running to replace our first non-white President).
But the clearest sign of his willingness to pander to the Christian Right, a mainstay of the Republican base, came when he recited this Bible verse (II Chronicles 7:14) to the crowd:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Funny that Fundamentalist Christians always like to quote from the Old testament, isn't it? How about some context for that biblical verse he recited to an adoring mob of religious fanatics. Second Chronicles 7 is the chapter where Solomaon dedicates the Temple he built for Yahweh, Israel's God, the first temple in Jerusalem (the one the fundamentalists in Israel wish to rebuild after destroying the Dome of the Rock and evicting all other religious groups from the site) with an elaborate ritual and many prayers and sacrifices. The passage in question is part of Yahweh's direct spoken answer to Solomon. To give it a little context, here's the rest of the speech the Lord God made to Solomon after the feasting and celebrations commemorating the Temple had been completed:
12: And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
13: If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15: Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16: For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
17: And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statues and my judgments;
18: Then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.
19: But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
20: Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
21: And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house?
22: And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.
In short, after Solomon builds his great Temple to "The Lord God" he comes to pay a visit to the great King and threatens him and all Israel with destruction should they ever "turn away, and forsake my statues, and my commandments, ... and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them ..." You would have thought Yahweh would have been in a better mood after all the burnt offerings to him and the brand new shiny house Solomon built for his new home, but no, he acts like a Mafia Don instead. The first thing he says to Solomon is a threat that you'd better do what I tell you and obey me or there will be hell to pay. That's the context of the verse Pawlenty quoted to the members of the Values Summit, and it tells you everything you need to know about how they view the United States of America.
Not as a land of religious freedom and secular tolerance where all points of view are respected, but as a sinful nation which must be returned to God's good graces. Or else. Now Pawlenty could have chosen to quote Jesus from the Gospels in the New Testament. He could have recited any of these statement by Jesus to this crowd of Christians, for example:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another ..."
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
"Judge not, lest ye be judged."
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"
But Pawlenty knew his audience. They don't want to hear any of Jesus' teachings about forgiveness, or love, or mercy, or tolerance, or compassion for others. They want the red meat of the Old Testament Lord of Hosts who slaughters his enemies and threatens his own people with disasters beyond measure should they ever deviate one iota from his strict rules and demands. So he gave them what they wanted to hear.
And the message he wanted to impart was the same one they already believe in their stone cold hearts. That America under Obama has fallen into sin, and is an evil place, one which God will punish mercilessly until the day they reclaim their position of power and authority over the rest of us. A profoundly un-democratic, un-american and un-christian message. But that's the base of the Republican Party for you. That's who he must appease, who he must satisfy, and to whom he must prove his "Religious Right" bona fides. So Pawlenty lied and lied and lied. He played to their resentment against anyone who disagrees with their cruel vision of America, and to their anger and their racial animus and their fear and their overweening pride that only they know what is right and good. That only they have the right to rule this country "under God." That the rest of us are godless atheists not worthy to share this land with them, the "Real Americans."
And they call us fascists.