Good and Evil and Obama

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by fivepoint, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #1
    Article for discussion:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-goldberg19-2008aug19,0,4247363.column

    In the wake of the fascinating forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, everyone is focusing on the contrasts between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. More interesting are the contrasts between the intellectual-theologian Obama and the political Obama.

    "Does evil exist?" Warren asked Obama. "And if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it or do we defeat it?"

    Obama the moral philosopher replied, accurately, that evil is everywhere, in Darfur, in our city streets, in our own hearts. We cannot "erase evil from the world. That is God's task. But we can be soldiers in that process, and we can confront [evil] when we see it." (Imagine the reaction if President Bush called himself a soldier of God in the battle against evil.)

    When asked what America's greatest moral failing was, theological Obama said it was our collective failure to "abide by that basic precept in [the Book of] Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me."

    For Obama the politician, such scriptural quotations often serve as an all-inclusive writ to impose his religious views on others when it comes to fighting poverty, global warming, racism, etc. But when the question turns to abortion, political Obama insists on a policy of moral agnosticism and political laissez faire. Asked directly when life begins as a legal matter, he punted, insisting the answer was "above my pay grade."

    Obama, commendably, told Warren that he wants to reduce the number of abortions. After all, he observed gravely, "we've had a president who is opposed to abortions over the last eight years, and abortions have not gone down." Unfortunately, Obama wasn't telling the truth: The number of abortions in the U.S. are down, from 1.31 million in 2000 to 1.21 million in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The abortion rate per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 is the lowest it's been since 1974, partly because of pro-life policies under Bush, but also thanks to those implemented at the state level since the 1990s.

    At Saddleback, Obama offered the ritualistic support for Roe vs. Wade expected of all Democratic politicians, "not because I'm pro-abortion" but because women "wrestle with these things in profound ways."

    Now, this is surely true in a great many instances. But political Obama isn't inclined to explain why "wrestling" with a serious moral question is an adequate substitute for deciding it correctly. People wrestle with all sorts of moral quandaries in "profound ways," but that is not enough. Many slave owners wrestled with whether they should free their slaves, but that did not obviate the need for the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Alas, when it comes to abortion, it's probably silly to expect anything but rote fealty to ideological pieties from a Democrat, just as it's naive to expect anything but the appropriate pro-life talking points from a Republican. But for a self-styled champion of nuance, political Obama's rigidity is spectacular to behold.

    In 2003, as chairman of the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Obama received a statement from Jill Stanek, a registered nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. She testified that at her Chicago-area hospital, she'd seen a baby accidentally delivered alive during an abortion and then "taken to the Soiled Utility Room and left alone to die."

    I'm no expert on the Christian Gospel, but something tells me that Matthew might consider these wailing creatures the least of our brothers.

    Alas, the abandonment of babies to suffer and die on the modern equivalent of a Spartan cliff did not require confronting evil. Indeed, Obama led the battle to defeat Illinois' version of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have treated babies living, albeit briefly, outside the womb as, well, babies. He opposed the bill in 2003 (as he had a similar one in 2001), saying it would undermine Roe vs. Wade. But even after Roe-neutral language was included -- wording good enough that it won support for the federal version of the bill from abortion-rights stalwart Sen. Barbara Boxer -- Obama remained unmoved.

    Until this week, Obama denied that he ever took such a position. His campaign has now admitted that he was, in effect, lying when he said pro-lifers were lying about his record. But simultaneously, Obama defends a position that comes dismayingly close to the layman's understanding of infanticide while claiming any other position would require him to play God.

    "A lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil," intellectual-theologian Obama said at Saddleback. And "just because we think our intentions are good doesn't always mean that we're going to be doing good."

    Perhaps that theological Obama should wrestle a bit more with political Obama.


    jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com
     
  2. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #2
    Excellent Article. Thanks for posting it. Obama said that it was "above his pay grade" to decide when a baby get human rights. Although it is the governments job to do that. In fact they do it now. Obama faltered on that point, but what he said was not unexpected.
     
  3. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #3
    What's to discuss? The article is wildly biased and partisan, and its conclusions, insinuations and ad hominem slurs therefore utterly and tediously predictable.
     
  4. Cleverboy macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #4
    fivepoint, you should put that into a [ quote ], unless you are the author of that opinion piece. If you're not, what do you think about the sccuracy of the research being used to critique the senator (for instance, on whether abortions went up, down, or didn't change much during Bush's term)?

    Do you have an opinion on the article?

    Personally, I like the first comment from the LA Times website:
    This stuff should be self-evident, especially considering the fact that most abortions are motivated by financial difficulty. If abortions are rendered illegal, I would appreciate it personally, if all pro-life advocates consistently clarified what the punishment should be to the doctors and mothers. Usually the will to make abortion illegal accompanies a powerful disconnect in what making something "illegal" actually means.

    What should the sentence be?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3xuMVPtqoc

    Some answers on the street:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsMbTFlwc3Q

    When Abortion was Illegal:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHsdhF2YjS0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1eqy4VdmNM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esi8I0PPlg8
    It's a somewhat honest answer though. Government decides what needs to happen and what government recognizes. It doesn't determine the theological and medical certainties. They rely on experts for that... which is the exact nature of the debate. If someone is braindead, would it be murder to unplug their life support? At the end of the day, a decision will be made. There will be lots of tears, but for anyone when asked, to declare certainty on ambiguous issues is either an act of passionate belief, demagoguery, or politics. It's not an attempt to be "truthful" however. Saying "I'm not the best person to ask" would be the answer I'd certainly give. But, a religious audience is certainly not the forum for embracing the notion moral uncertainty.

    ~ CB
     
  5. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #5
    An Op-Ed piece? Ugh- can't stand them. I don't care if they're written by Anne Coulter or Jesse Jackson.
     
  6. Mike Teezie macrumors 68020

    Mike Teezie

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    #6
    Ha. I can't imagine a more nuanced topic than abortion. What a farce. It's not nuance this guy wants, its unequivocal overturning of Roe v. Wade.

    What? :rolleyes:

    What an ass.
     
  7. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #7
    This is better than anything even the greatest PRSI troll has ever come up with :D. Curse the liberal media! Thanks for the article fivepoint.
     
  8. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #8
    If we're worried about nuance, we should also consider McCain's answer regarding the water supply from the Colorado river that supplies much of AZ, NV, and CA. Talk about a nuanced reply...

    Oh wait, both candidates do it on issues that pose minefields for them? I'm shocked. Shocked I tells ya.
     
  9. MacHipster macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Yuck. Posted by the person that thinks the US has become more progressive the past several decades. What a joke.
     
  10. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #10
    Yes, that's a good question.

    This is the second recent posting here which simply lays down a topic and says, "Discuss." I thought this was considered bad form in internet forums. I thought you were supposed to present at least some opinion on said topic.

    That said, I can only agree with the "first comment from the LA Times website" that Cleverboy mentioned. Even those of us who are advocates for abortion rights don't really like the idea of abortion. We'd just like to see it fought with better weapons than draconian criminalization.

    But then, Mr. Goldberg criticized Obama for his more thoughtful answers, so it seems that, rather than acknowledging that such issues are complex and ambiguous, he would prefer them to be black and white. Or "good" and "evil".
     
  11. MacHipster macrumors 6502

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    #11
    With all due respect to Pastor Warren (I do like the guy), simplistic answers warrant simplistic answers for a simplistic-minded choir.
     
  12. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

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    #12
    I honestly don't know how society DOES reduce the number of abortions. Were there fewer abortions before it became legal in the 1970s? I wasn't around then so I have no idea, but I do know people had abortions before and after it was legal.

    It seems like you need to look at how to reduce unwanted pregnancies from a scientific point of view. I have my own hunches. I think poverty breeds poor education and poor education breeds bad decisions. So I think addressing poverty and having robust sex ed would help reduce unwanted pregnancies. That's my hunch, at least.

    I am 25, and I have voted Democrat in every election since I've been 18 (except for Nader in 2000), and as someone who is extremely liberal, I still disagree with abortion. Because abortion isn't progressive. I strongly disagree with routine neonatal male genital mutilation, as well, which is also not progressive. There is nothing modern or progressive about abortion, but I don't think it's fair to say that most Democrats believe in abortion in some noble way. I think they probably don't know how to address the problem in ways that would be socially acceptable to a rather puritanical society. For example, teaching mutual masturbation to our school children, giving out condoms, and so forth. And again, I'm not saying I know that would work. It's a hunch. There needs to be a personal drive in each person to prevent pregnancy they don't want. And why people don't have that drive, I have no idea! Is it from bad education? Is it from hopelessness?
     
  13. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #13
    Being from California, I strongly suspect you know what a hotly debated topic water is, mactastic. One could make a strong case for it being a more important resource than oil. Years ago I saw a chart, which ranked each state by its total ag value. CA would be expected to win this by sheer size alone. However, its total crop value was staggering - and that was in the 1975-1977 timeframe. Hard to imagine what it might be now.

    I lived in the Imperial Valley for 2-3 years. (Dates are rather hazy between 1969 - 1979. ;)) For those unfamiliar with that area, it encompasses an ancient seabed, from the Mexican Border to the Salton Sea. Life is unsupportable without imported water. As it is, it is one of the most important ag regions in the US. Water comes from the Colorado River, by way of the All-American Canal. The mighty River used to flow into the Sea of Cortez, not too far away. Now, it no longer reaches the sea. It peters away before reaching it. It is a sad sight to see.

    Water rights and allocation is contested for ever foot and gallon taken. There have even been shooting wars in the past. No politician in their right mind would campaign on any water issues, unless it was a local one and they were ambiguously promising to bring more water into the State. Obama's skirting of the issue shows good judgement on his part.

    You also correctly point out the need for candidates to stay away from 'hot potato' issues. I wish it did not need to be this way. I would much rather have an environment where candidates can discuss issues openly. But, the Republicans took that away from us years ago. Today, candidates do not run, political parties do (exceptions exist). Lee Atwater was not the first dirty campaign strategist, but he was certainly the most important (Rove, et al, are his disciples). In my opinion, he is guilty of destroying the American electoral process.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #14
    In my defence, for my part I was responding to another poster's suggestion in another thread, and the topic in question was an opinion I had already put forward as my own. In general, however, I agree.
     
  15. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #15
    I didn't mean you, skunk, and I was afraid you might take my comment to mean you.

    You at least offered a single sentence to support your proposition, which is really all that's needed. Done it myself from time to time: posted an article about W, with only one or two sarcastic comments beneath. No, you're fine. I'm sorry for creating the impression I was talking about your thread.

    No, I was thinking of something else.
     
  16. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #16
    Given that the OP hasn't even come back to discuss this, I move this thread be closed. I hate it when people come in here and drop supposed "bombs" and won't even come in to have an honest discussion or defend their original post.
     
  17. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #17
    You say this like it's a bad thing Lee :confused::p
     
  18. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #18
    Sure thats a good answer for a commoner. However the President of the US should have a definite position on the subject. Thats leadership. Eventhough I disagree with Obama on a few issues I'd be willing to vote for him because I think he's the better candidate. Obama is obviously having trouble reconciling his religious beliefs with his position on Abortion. Because of the checks and balances in place in the US government I won't lose sleep over it.
     
  19. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #19
    But he's NOT the president of the US, as we have been reminded by so very many conservatives after his trip abroad. And it would be presumptuous and/or arrogant of him to answer that question in a way that suggested he had already ascended to the office...
     
  20. doctor pangloss macrumors regular

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    #20
    :D
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    Skunk isn't even American, so it's hard to see how he could possibly be considered a Democrat.
     
  22. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #22
    Nobody's perfect. :)
     
  23. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #23
    As I pointed out the OP in another thread, abortions also went down under Clinton, and despite a lot of talk (not to mention 6 years of GOP rule) Bush hasn't really done too much about it. As a matter of fact, thanks to his failing abstinence only education plan, STDs and pregnancy among young people has actually gone up. No one likes abortion, despite the constant strawmanning. But it's a necessary evil. A simple look at other places that don't allow it, or the past where it wasn't legal here, will tell you that. Using laws, especially simplistic ones, to try and stop it won't, and will only make things worse. Sure, we could even add some caveats, like for incest or rape, but then watch cries of rape go up if we do. Not to mention back room alley abortions and the like.

    Obama knows this, and so did McCain in '99.
     

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