That Darn Political Neutrality Statement: Now What Am I Supposed to Do?

August 21, 2004 | 125 comments
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Last Sunday morning, I was just starting to feel comfortable with the presidential election, having carefully completed my “lesser of two evils” analysis to make my decision about which of the two leading Skull and Bones members I wanted for President. And then during sacrament meeting, the bishop got up and read the Church’s political neutrality statement. It said something about not endorsing any party or candidate – sure, I was OK with that – and THEN came the catch: it said we were under a “special obligation” to seek out and uphold “leaders who will act with integrity and are ‘wise,’ ‘good,’ and ‘honest.’”

NOOOOO! How can they call that “political neutrality”? And where on earth am I going to find politicians who meet such standards??

I’m back to drawing board, folks. Is there a check box on the ballot for “none of the above”? Or is there some third party candidate that the Church has endorsed — uh, I mean who meets the standards of our neutrality statement?

That experience recalls a difficult moment for me back when I was a bishop. At a time of major publicity about scandals involving a certain politician, having to read that statement over the pulpit without smiling, smirking, or chuckling (especially the parts about integrity and honesty) was truly difficult, though I hope nobody knew that (I tried to hide my biases then). I managed to keep a straight face, but it was hard to think of the statement as being very “neutral,” given my biases.

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125 Responses to That Darn Political Neutrality Statement: Now What Am I Supposed to Do?

  1. Kristine on August 21, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    I would think it would be similarly difficult for a bishop to read the statement with the current President in mind–spending a decade+ of your life drunk and unemployed, and making your pesonal fortune by having daddy’s friends bail you out of stupid business transactions hardly seem marks of integrity and wisdom. (Does give a whole new spin to the phrase “assisted living,” though)

  2. BDemosthenes on August 21, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    I’m curious, Kristine, as to whether the principles implied in your comment lead to the conclusion that having repented of past transgressions leaves a permanent stain on someone’s character, or whether it is only those who chose to enter public service who are deemed incapable of change.

  3. Kristine on August 21, 2004 at 12:59 pm

    You know what they say about curiosity!

  4. Don Guymon on August 21, 2004 at 1:11 pm

    I have been faced with the same dilemna and feel I cannot support either in good concious.

    I didn’t expect much from Bush, and he has delivered even less. We as members of the Church are supposed to uphold the Constitution. I cannot think of any leader in recent memory who has left us hanging by a thread.

    Don

  5. Bryce I on August 21, 2004 at 1:20 pm

    While the prospects for the current presidential election are grim as far as complying with the statement that you cite, we would all do well to remember that the presidential race is only one of many. As far as our day-to-day lives go, local elections are far more important, and yet receive far less attention in general.

    Our chances of being able to find a candidate who is honest, wise, and good who represents our views on the local level is much greater than at the national level. We should take as much (or more) time to get to know our local candidates as we do our presidential candidates.

    Of course, depending on where you live, it may be too late. Here in Durham, the winner of the Democratic primary is pretty much guaranteed to win the November election in any race, so the real choice has been made already.

  6. lyle on August 21, 2004 at 1:32 pm

    Great point. Both candidates seem to have significant negatives. However, while the Church has endorsed “honesty,” it has also endorsed “a” constitutional marriage amendment…which only one candidate supports. If one feels both candidates suck, at least one candidate supports a political position that the Church has declared its support for.

  7. Kaimi on August 21, 2004 at 1:36 pm

    You’re right, Jeff, and of course there’s only one solution.

    Jim Faulconer for president!

    (Kristine Haglund Harris for VP).

  8. Guy W. Murray on August 21, 2004 at 1:37 pm

    “Great point. Both candidates seem to have significant negatives. However, while the Church has endorsed “honesty,” it has also endorsed “a” constitutional marriage amendment…which only one candidate supports. If one feels both candidates suck, at least one candidate supports a political position that the Church has declared its support for.”

    I’m not certain the Church has endorsed “W’s” version, whatever that might be, of such an amendment.

    Guy

  9. Measure on August 21, 2004 at 1:55 pm

    You’re never going to find a president who is perfect, just like you’ll never find a bishop who’s perfect.

    It may seem to some that they have to choose the lesser of two evils, but this is only if you concentrate on the imperfections of the candidates.

    What I believe it should come down to is voting for the candidate that will be most likely to represent the political principles and policies that you agree with.

    Just for the record, My family is voting for Bush.

  10. Lew Jeppson on August 21, 2004 at 3:43 pm

    I have a hard time believing the Church is neutral when its flagship radio station, KSL, has a talk format which is 100% pro-Bush and highly partisan. I complained to station management. They claimed their format was strictly a business decision, that is, that they had a conservative audience to serve. I said, well OK, but you can show your objectivity by having two minutes a day of Jim Hightower, a Libertarian, or anybody who isn’t pro Bush. They won’t do it, so I continue to question the Church’s neutrality.

  11. Guy W. Murray on August 21, 2004 at 4:26 pm

    “I have a hard time believing the Church is neutral when its flagship radio station, KSL, has a talk format which is 100% pro-Bush and highly partisan. I complained to station management. They claimed their format was strictly a business decision, that is, that they had a conservative audience to serve. I said, well OK, but you can show your objectivity by having two minutes a day of Jim Hightower, a Libertarian, or anybody who isn’t pro Bush. They won’t do it, so I continue to question the Church’s neutrality.”

    Except that KSL exists to make money (after all it is a business) and not serve as the mouthpiece (President Hinckley currently serves in this position) for revelation to the Saints. As a business, it is no surprise they cater to their listeners and advertisers given the market is in Utah. $$$ speak much louder than objectivity. Utahns (for the most part) want to hear a talk radio format that is 100% pro-Bush. You get what you pay for.

    Guy

  12. wildblue on August 21, 2004 at 5:09 pm

    I’m curious. I know that a picture of Kerry as shifty and untrustworthy has emerged among my more conservative friends, but I can’t figure out what he’s done to make people believe he won’t “act with integrity” and is “‘wise,’ ‘good,’ and ‘honest.’”

    I do understand that he will not proscribe abortion by law, but that’s been the only issue I’ve been able to identify that isn’t in harmony with church teachings, and I certainly haven’t seen any indication that he’s a crook.

    If I’m missing something, I’d like to be enlightened.

  13. Richard on August 21, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    From the Equal Rights amendment to the failed Marriage amendment, the Church has indulged in politics. There must be a fine line there somewhere. Neutrality I think applies to political parties and not issues. I can live with that. And about the candidates personal lives- I think we are called on to forgive. None of the candidates are particularly active church goers but it was nice to see Bush openly testify of Christ while Orrin Hatch sat there with his mouth open–Doh! Beaten to the punch!

  14. Little Hans on August 21, 2004 at 6:29 pm

    “None of the candidates are particularly active church goers but it was nice to see Bush openly testify of Christ . . .”

    This is actually the part about Bush that scares me the most. Never put nuclear weapons into the hands of a born-again who thinks that Armegeddon would be a good thing.

  15. Antisthenes on August 21, 2004 at 6:40 pm

    Give me all of your addresses. I’m sending in the black helicopters to crush your dissent.

  16. obi-wan on August 21, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Measure writes: “What I believe it should come down to is voting for the candidate that will be most likely to represent the political principles and policies that you agree with.”

    Unfortunately, it’s more like it comes down to voting for the candidate that you think is least unlikely not to trample the political principles and policies that you agree with.

    I didn’t think we could possibly be offered a worse choice than “Bush or Gore.” But, astonishingly, we have.

    I am coming to the conclusion that our primary system is hopelessly, irretrievably, broken.

    Just for the record, given Bush’s record, my family is probably going to hold their noses, vote for Kerry, and hope we can still live with ourselves in the morning. Blech.

  17. Charles on August 21, 2004 at 7:09 pm

    I’m curious. I know that a picture of Kerry as shifty and untrustworthy has emerged among my more conservative friends, but I can’t figure out what he’s done to make people believe he won’t “act with integrity” and is “‘wise,’ ‘good,’ and ‘honest.’”

    With respect to this question, I believe it is his record. He chose to vote against the US drilling for oil in Alaska. Yet, he now wants to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. He choses to not vote, which is his current job, citing he is too busy. Well, if I’m searching for a new job and tell my employer that searching is why I’m not able to fufill my current duties, I should either step down or get fired.

    Kerry proclaims to be Catholic but votes and supports social orders that are against his own faith. These are some of the reasons, his war record aside, that cause me to question his integrity.

    As for Bush I know he is not perfect, but I choose to support him. He recognizes the importance of family values. He recognizes the importance of religion in one’s life and community. He supports many of the issues I support and seems to be making strides in the areas of the economy, ecology and education.

  18. Little Hans on August 21, 2004 at 7:18 pm

    “He supports many of the issues I support and seems to be making strides in the areas of the economy, ecology and education.”

    Yes — unfortunately all in the wrong direction. When a President makes the Democrats look like the party of fiscal responsibility, we have a problem.

  19. diogenes on August 21, 2004 at 7:29 pm

    “And about the candidates personal lives- I think we are called on to forgive.”

    I think this confuses two different issues. I believe it was Elder Nelson who recently differentiated forgiveness from trust — the Lord requires you to forgive the embezzler, but that doesn’t mean you have to put him in charge of your pension plan.

    I think the same is true of public office. We may be required to forgive Bush his drug habit or Clinton his perjury. But that doesn’t mean we have to trust them with positions of authority.

  20. Weston C on August 21, 2004 at 7:31 pm

    From what I’ve read of Bush’s personal life, it sounds as if he really has had an experience where being touched by Christ changed him and turned his life around, and that does matter to me somewhat.

    Still, I don’t think commonality of religious beliefs or moral convictions is a good basis on which to vote for a candidate — and it’s even worse as a sole measure of a candidate. I’d bet all of us could count dozens of people in our own wards who, while they share the basic tenets and heartfelt convictions of your faith, would never be our choice for public office. And that’s because public office is not simply about creating a society that’s driven by the faith of officials.

    Put another way: suppose the current race were between Gandhi and William Wallace. Would you pick Wallace because he was a fellow Christian? More likely a whole set of other considerations would be overidding.

  21. Jeff Lindsay on August 21, 2004 at 8:11 pm

    I should have realized that my little joke about neutrality would lead to a lot of non-neutral discussion. Sorry about that.

    Frankly, I think that the passion that people feel over the presidential election may be misguided and is, in any case, an unfortunate symptom of what I see as a steady erosion of Constitutional principles regarding the separation of powers. The Presidency has become far too important, and, practically speaking, remains far too removed from the influence of ordinary citizens.

    I wish Latter-day Saints would be as passionate and as involved when it comes to selecting Congressmen, governors, mayors, and the like. These are the candidates that are more likely to be selected by and responsive to good, ordinary citizens, if only we get involved and informed. I think that is implicit in the neutrality statements: it’s not just about the Presidency – we should feel an obligation to get good people into a variety of offices. The Presidency is out of reach, for the most part, but there are many other offices where we can make a difference.

    If we are troubled by the concentration of power in the Presidency or by the potential for corruption in that lofty office (whether we are thinking about Democratic or Republican corruption), we aren’t going to make much difference by voting for one or the other of two candidates who may possibly share many of the same attitudes about centralization of power, big spending, etc., and who are likely to be guided by some of the same groups of handlers and policy makers. If any of that bothers you, perhaps the solution is for Congress to step into its constitutional role and put limits on what one man can do.

    When was the last time you heard a debate between major political candidates where there was any discussion about the meaning of the Constitution and especially about its limitations on power? When have we heard a debate on nationalized health care that addressed whether providing for health care was in fact something that the government was authorized to do under the Constitution? The debates seem to be about who will spend most effectively or spend more, and whose approach will do more to take care of the people, all with the implicit assumption that the government can do whatever it wants. The meaning of the Constitution and the principles built into it are rarely discussed and largely ignored.

    While in Provo recently, I was surprised in a conversation with some BYU students, a couple of whom were recipients of prestigious academic scholarships, when they told me they had never heard of The Federalist Papers. Good heavens, how can we as U.S. Latter-day Saints ever hope to defend the Constitution or even be able to recognize when it is in peril (“hanging by a thread”) if we don’t know anything about it or about the efforts and intentions of our founding fathers?

    In my opinion, Latter-day Saints in the United States need to do more to live up to our responsibility to uphold the inspired Consitution. If we are passionate in support of Candidates who trample upon it, that passion is zeal without knowledge. Again, it is at the local level where I think we can find and select honest people who will stand up for the Constitution and baide by its principles. If you have a presidential candidate who you believe will honestly carry out his or her oath to uphold the Constitution and will be honest and good, then throw your passion behind that person. And if you hear any candidate talking seriously about the meaning of the Constitution, please let me know – it seems to be the great non-issue of our day.

  22. Bryce I on August 21, 2004 at 9:44 pm

    Actually, the great non-issue of our day is the coming battle between the aging boomers and the younger generations. No one is willing to talk sensibly about Medicare (Medicaid? I get them confused) and Social Security, neither of which are viable as presently constituted to serve the needs of our rapidly aging population.

    Why is no one talking sensibly? Because old people vote, young people watch MTV. The current set up favors old people, and the debate (over prescription drug benefits and the like) is focused not on making the system robust, but on maximizing short-term gains in votes.

  23. Susan on August 21, 2004 at 11:49 pm

    “Family values.” That phrase always sets me off. I’m very much into family values. I’d fight you on that one. But I don’t fall out as a good conservative or Republican. And I’m always ready to engage in intense discussions over same-sex families. Still I’m not a good liberal or Democrat either–at least by the definitions I find rolling around in public discourse. In general, I just hate this dichotomous, fractious, black and white public discussion. And what’s more, I worry that only white and black guys (and guy is not an accidental word here) can really function at a high political level. That horrifies me, worries me, discourages me. . . . Can I drag myself to the voting booth (I did finally manage to register in my new state). What is the alternative to politics?

  24. Great White Shark on August 22, 2004 at 12:37 am

    Isn’t the real gist of the post a concern about Skull and Bones? Should we see it as a Gadianton-style group?

  25. lyle on August 22, 2004 at 12:52 am

    Regardless of how you vote…we have all been encouraged to be “civically active,” i.e. vote & to hold office if no one better can be found (i.e. honest, etc.).

    So…if you are cynical about the system…change it from within.

  26. danithew on August 22, 2004 at 1:29 am

    Bryce mentioned sometimes getting medicare and medicaid mixed up. That’s a pretty common thing, even for patients who have one or both of these insurance coverages. I can help clear this up a little, as I spend a lot of my time calling insurances companies — it’s part of my job.

    Medicare is the insurance for the elderly (over 65 years of age) or the disabled. In other words, the only way a person below the age of 65 will have Medicare is if they are disabled.

    Medicaid is simply a form of state insurance coverage for those who are poor or lack means.

  27. Clark Goble on August 22, 2004 at 1:54 am

    I have to agree that neither candidate is terribly good this year. I think even a lot of devout Republicans are wondering what’s up with Bush. He hasn’t exactly stuck to traditional Republican views. (i.e. his immigration proposals, spending, lack of free trade, etc. ,etc. ) Then there are some of the glaring problems in the planning for Iraq and the real embarrassment of Homeland Security.

    Having said all that the Democrats fielded a bunch of amazingly lackluster candidates as well. Really, given Bush’s many, many weaknesses, for the race to be tied tells just how weak Kerry is.

    The big problem is that as much as anything he is running on being a Viet Nam vet. But honestly, who cares!?! I want to hear specifics about what he’d do differently in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we get vague assurances that seem impossible (i.e. getting France and Germany to do things that their populace clearly doesn’t want to do) But most of the time he simply brings up the fact he was a war hero. Excuse me. That doesn’t substitute for explaining what you would do differently than Bush.

    Admittedly in one of Bush’s weakest areas, economics, Kerry appears to have a lot of good people. Which sounds good. However then I remember how Bush surrounded himself with foreign policy experts who sure sounded good back in 2001. Combine that cynicism with the fact Kerry keeps talking protectionism and I’m more than a little leery. I’m also not at all convinced that he’ll help small businesses, despite his rhetoric. Say what you will about it, but the Bush tax cut enabled my business to hire a few other employees. (Admittedly we outsourced them, which Kerry would have hated. But it is helping grow the company)

    In the end it is a question of the weak leader we know versus the apparently weak leader we don’t. Add in the issue of the Supreme Court nominations and I go Bush. I simply don’t trust Kerry to not pull out prematurely from Iraq, become protectionist, and basically weaken the war on terror.

  28. Gordon Smith on August 22, 2004 at 2:27 am

    Jeff, Let’s talk about the “inspired Constitution.” You raised it after chastising students for not knowing about The Federalist Papers and after posing such questions as, “When have we heard a debate on nationalized health care that addressed whether providing for health care was in fact something that the government was authorized to do under the Constitution?” Something tells me that your inspired Constitution looks a lot different than the inspired Constitution as understood by many other people on this site. Perhaps that is to be expected, since we also disagree a lot around here about the Standard Works, but I wonder why this concept of an inspired Constitution comes up so often in Mormon discourse. Why would God want us to understand that the Constitution was inspired?

    Possible answers:

    1. Inspired documents teach us to be more like him. This works for the scriptures, but I do not read the Constitution for answers to Gospel questions. Nor do I study it for guidance on my personal conduct. Assuming that I am not the outlier here, I think we can eliminate this possibility.

    2. Knowing that the Constitution is inspired will prompt us to protect it, and that is important because the survival of the Constitution is essential to the continued survival or prosperity of the Church. I am not sure why that would be true, even if there were a connection between the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of the Church. Still, the “hanging by a thread” prophecy might be understood to imply a connection between the Constitution and the continued survival or prosperity of the Church.

    So let’s assume that #2 is true. Now what? Well, let’s go protect the Constitution … by supporting candidates who will uphold it, especially in local elections. You wrote: “it is at the local level where I think we can find and select honest people who will stand up for the Constitution and [abide] by its principles.” Sounds like you have a lot of problems in your neighborhood with politicians engaging in unconstitutional actions? Or is your statement just code for something else: “vote for candidates who think like me”?

    That fact is that a wide range of policies are constitutional, and sorting candidates on that basis of those who will “stand up for the Constitution and [abide] by its principles” and those who don’t will not decide many elections — unless, as I said before, this is just code for a certain set of policy positions.

    So how does our belief in an inspired Constitution help us make decisions in the polling booth? In my view, it doesn’t, except to the extent that it causes us to eliminate the extreme candidates (say, a National Socialist). I anticipate lots of flaming comments in response to this, but let’s try to stick to the point. I am not bashing the U.S., I am not bashing the Constitution, and I am not questioning Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. I just think that many modern-day Mormons make much more of the inspired Constitution than was ever intended by the revelations of Joseph Smith.

  29. Gordon Smith on August 22, 2004 at 3:32 am

    P.S. I never answered the question with which I began: “Why would God want us to understand that the Constitution was inspired?” The truth is that I don’t know, but here is a guess: perhaps God knew that some of us (or the early Saints) would be tempted to throw the Constitution out when it didn’t seem to be working in our favor. By explaining that it was inspired, He quelled those feelings for many.

  30. hansemann on August 22, 2004 at 3:43 am

    I hope that I am not getting too far off this topic but since you brought up the “inspired Constitution”, I’d like to ask a question:

    When we refer to the Constitution as being inspired does this refer to the Constitution in its original form (1787), or the original plus the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments), or should this include all of the amendments that have been made in the past 200+ years?

    If the first and/or second options are correct then I’m really not too comfortable with a document that denied non-whites and women the right to vote, or that tallied blacks as 3/5 of a white person for the US Census. Admittedly I’m focusing on some issues that have been corrected through later amendments, but I would be interested in hearing other points of view on this topic.

  31. Jonathan Green on August 22, 2004 at 8:14 am

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your feelings. I don’t agree with all of them, but I appreciate them nonetheless. So…

    Why all the nose-holding? This one seems pretty clear to me. Look at the issues (in order of frequency they come up here):

    Our church is against SSM. John Kerry is against SSM. He just doesn’t think a constitutional amendment is the way to deal with it. Personally, I just don’t care about the issue much, but I see no need to go mucking about the constitution with such a blunt instrument.

    Our church is against abortion (except in certain circumstances, etc.). John Kerry is against abortion, but thinks it should be legal. Should women have to argue before a judge or hospital board that they really have been raped, or that their lives are really threatened? The Republicans have been in control of the executive and legislative branches of government for years; what have they done about abortion? That’s right, nothing. Except pass a law everyone knew would fail constitutional challenges, because it contained no provisions for the mother’s health. This is an issue that has absolutely no relevance to a presidential election except to crank the handle of voters.

    Then there’s Iraq, the pointless squandering of thousands of lives and billions of dollars that should by itself disqualify Bush from seeking office again. There were no ties between Saddam Hussein and terrorists. There were no WMD’s. What we did have is UN inspectors on the ground, actively verifying that fact and overseeing the destruction of missiles that went 10-20 KM too far. They left only because Bush was determined to have his war, no matter what. Saddam’s gone? Great, if you’re an Iraqi (except your country is in shambles). Since I’m not an Iraqi, all I see is a stupid waste of lives.

    Kerry’s position is pretty clear on this: The president said that he had unshakable intelligence and asked the Senate to pass a resolution so that he would have a stronger position to negotiate from, so Kerry supported the resolution. Then Bush started a war and made a hash of the whole thing, and we’ll be left holding the bag for years to come.

    Meanwhile, to my knowledge as I write this, Bush won’t repudiate the lying scoundrels who are trashing Kerry’s record of honorable and distinguished service in Vietnam. John McCain recognizes the slime for what it is, and he recognizes the MO: it was used on him in the SC primary in 2000. But even with their story in tatters, Bush won’t distance himself from their slander. The issue is not who should or shouldn’t be producing campaign commercials, but rather who’s willing to stand up for truth.

    (Bryce, you’ve mentioned elsewhere that the phrase “protecting American jobs” in Kerry’s campaign speech says all the wrong things to you. But what’s he supposed to say in a campaign speech? That he promises to destroy American jobs? If you’re concerned about free trade, go look up the history of steel tariffs, Vietnamese catfish, imported shrimp, etc. for the last four years.)

    I have preserved in my Book of Remembrance a letter sent to me by our president at a time when my family was in acute financial distress in which he informs me that his action had brought about a dramatic lowering of taxes, including a tax refund for everyone, but that I, unfortunately, did not qualify for it. I compare that with the Clinton-enacted expansion of the annual bounty for families with children that is the EITC, and the CHIP-expansion of Medicaid that provides health insurance for my children and provides pregnancy coverage at a time when my employer does neither. Now that our Republican government and legislature have sponsored an expensive war, and chosen to pay for it with record budget deficits, these programs are at risk. For my own economic self-interest, I’m voting for Kerry, and I’m doing it with an unobstructed nose, a clear conscience, a song in my heart and a jaunty little swing in my step.

    There, I’ve had my turn, and you can now continue with your discussion of the US constitution.

  32. Guy W. Murray on August 22, 2004 at 9:17 am

    Re: “Inspired Constitution”

    Elder Oaks wrote in the February, 1992 Ensign, p. 68
    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1992.htm/ensign%20february%201992%20.htm/the%20divinely%20inspired%20constitution.htm

    (Sorry–I don’t know how to html) a rather interesting article on this subject. I wish I could say the ideas were mine–but they aren’t (though I certainly agree with him for the most part). Elder Oaks’ credentials, both secular and spiritual I think give his ideas particular credibility on the issue. There are the obvious references to D & C 101; however, he also relates some of the history of the Constitution, what makes it inspired, and what that means as well.

    Particularly enlightening for me is his discussion of “popular sovereignty” and personal responsibility. Government’s legitimate power derives directly from the people–a concept inherent in the Declaration of Independence (also inspired). Elder Oaks also links the inspired Constitution to “agency” the inherit right of all God’s children to “prove themselves herewith” Abraham 3:25, and essentially work out their eternal salvation and destiny while in this mortal probationary state.

    So, Gordon, could one answer to your question “Why would God want us to understand that the Constitution was inspired?” be that we need to understand that to protect the inherent rights of all of us to exercise our agency in mortality God has created (through inspired mortals) certain temporal documents embodying Divine and eternal truths i.e., the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, among a slew of others discussed by Elder Oaks?

    There are probably more; however, this one seems to jump out from the pages of the Oaks Ensign article.

  33. lyle on August 22, 2004 at 11:07 am

    Jonathan: Maybe if Kerry had bothered to attend to his Senate duties, at least those pertaining to meetings of the SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITEE, then his “I was following Bush” line would be credible…but he didn’t and it isn’t.

    re: Inspired Constitution. The revelation was given to Pre-Civil War America. So…at a minimum, it applies to the Document as originally drafted. Whether the Bill of Rights & succeeding amendments are included (as of the date of the revelation) is probable also.

    For those that don’t like the slavery issue, join the club. Does anyone? However, that doesn’t refute God’s own words, unless you want to place your opinion above his revelation. Assuming, of course, that my opinion on what his revelation means has any traction of course… :)

    re: suffrage. wasn’t this a state issue? or are you blaming the constitution for not nationalizing voting issues?

  34. Clark Goble on August 22, 2004 at 3:25 pm

    Jonathan, regarding the swift boat vets, I found the ads initially distasteful as well. However Kerry isn’t exactly clean on the issue either having brought up Bush’s “purported” AWOL status himself in many interviews. Further many people directly working for Kerry brought this up. I honestly don’t see the difference. Further while some of the swift boat vet stuff seems incorrect and perhaps misleadingly portrayed, other aspects such as the Cambodia claims appear to be fairly accurate. Kerry *was* lying about that fairly consistently.

    My point being that I don’t really see much of a difference between Kerry and Bush on these matters. Further Kerry can be argued to have been using the 527′s far more extensively with the MoveOn.com ads. I’ve seen a few of them and they are pretty slimy at times. I’ve never heard Kerry repudiate those nor Michael Moore’s films.

    What happens is that staunch Bush supporters prick up all the bad stuff Kerry does but turn a blind eye to Republican acts and then Democrats do the same thing.

  35. Ivan Wolfe on August 22, 2004 at 4:17 pm

    Amen, Clark.

    Of course, there is one aspect that bugs me:

    For about two weeks, when I turned on the News at CNN, MSNBC, CBS – or picked up the New York Times, L.A. Times, etc. odds were 50/50 I would see a front page (or in the case of TV featured) story on Bush’s “desertion” of the National Guard. And the stories tended to make Bush look bad and usually called on him to release all his records.

    Now this Swift Vet thing comes out, and the only place I can read about it for two weeks is on the internet. When it does show up on CNN, MSNBC, CBS and at the NY and LA Times, it is in stories designed to discredit the Swifties and portray them as Bush cronies. (I particulary loved the front page NY Times conspiracry theory chart generated to show that *gasp* powerful Republicans know each other – Why don’t they ever do a chart like that with the Kerry campaign?).

    How can anyone claim there is no liberal bias in the media after this?

  36. Ashleigh on August 22, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    Just curious, I’ve read here a couple times “my family is voting for blank”, what do you mean by that exactly? Because you have to know I don’t at all like what it implies.

  37. Ben Huff on August 22, 2004 at 5:29 pm

    It’s funny; increasingly I find my leaning re: president determined by the media. That is, I am so annoyed with the unhelpful and biased media coverage of the candidates and the developments relevant to judging them — I have seen so many bad arguments in favor of the media’s favored candidate, that I find it hard to imagine voting for him. I don’t feel like I have managed to learn anything relevant about the man himself, or what he would do as president, for all my listening (sounds like I’m in good company there); I am just fed up with the disturbingly pervasive and screwy advertising campaign in favor of him.

  38. Jack on August 22, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    Ashleigh: Perhaps the implication is simply an evenly yoked marraige where in values, whether political, social, religious or what have you, are generally aligned.

  39. Gordon Smith on August 22, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    Guy,

    Thanks for providing the url for Elder Oaks’ talk. I remember reading that shortly after it was given, and I admire Elder Oaks greatly.

    You wrote: “So, Gordon, could one answer to your question “Why would God want us to understand that the Constitution was inspired?” be that we need to understand that to protect the inherent rights of all of us to exercise our agency in mortality God has created (through inspired mortals) certain temporal documents embodying Divine and eternal truths i.e., the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, among a slew of others discussed by Elder Oaks?” (emphasis added)

    This seems pretty close to my explanation. We might think of this as a “Constitution appreciation” explanation. Of course, appreciating the Constitution will naturally lead to protecting the Constitution. Elder Oaks wrote: “U.S. citizens … should be familiar with [the Constitution's] great fundamentals: the separation of powers, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the structure of federalism, the sovereignty of the people, and the principles of the rule of the law. They should oppose any infringement of these inspired fundamentals….”

    My reading of this (in the context of the rest of his talk) is that we should be good citizens as part of our duty to God. We should obey the laws, cast an informed vote, offer service to country or state, etc. Obviously, one need not believe in an inspired Constitution to believe in civic virtue, but believing in an inspired Constitution supports such feelings.

    In light of the foregoing, Jeff’s remark — “Latter-day Saints in the United States need to do more to live up to our responsibility to uphold the inspired Consitution” — might be restated simply: “Latter-day Saints in the United States need to be better citizens.” But for some reason, people who play the “inspired Consitution” card often seem to mean something other than that. For example, consider Jeff’s ominous invitation: “if you hear any candidate talking seriously about the meaning of the Constitution, please let me know.” When I hear statements like that, I hear a subtext suggesting that Jeff knows something that the rest of us don’t. Frankly, I find that a bit frightening.

  40. Kaimi on August 22, 2004 at 6:15 pm

    Ivan,

    I know the existence of a liberal media is an article of faith in conservative circles, but come on — a simple search of “swift” or “swift boat” at cnn.com or nytimes.com shows a number of stories. It’s on the NYT.com front page right now.

  41. Ashleigh on August 22, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Jack: I suspect you are right in that the intentions were not nefarious “You’ll vote for who I say Woman, or pay the price!”. However, being in an evenly yoked marriage myself at the moment, I assume that my dear husband will vote for Kerry, we think much alike on these matters, but I would never think to write “my family will be voting for Kerry” simply because it implies that I have a power over his choice that I do not have.

  42. Ivan Wolfe on August 22, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Kaimi:

    A few months ago I was unsure on the idea of liberal bias, but you did not read my comments!

    I said that the swift boat stories on the NYT are being written sepcifically to refute the swifties and portray them as Bush cronies (witness the wonderfully odd conspiratorial chart on the NYT – they have never done a similar chart for a Democratic 527).

    Mainstream meida have taken charges agianst Bush made by 527s (i.e. the National Guard incident) and reported on them immediately and favorably.

    When 527s make charges against Kerry they have been ignored or refuted. There is no balance on the swift vet coverage by the NYT, LAT, CNN, MSNBC, CBS – they have all attacked the swifties – after ignoring them for a week.

    I am not arguing for overall bias in the media – just on the handling of negaitve charges towards Bush or Kerry.

    Kerry made his service in Vietnam a central theme of the convention. Bush has never made his service in the National Guard an issue. Yet when Bush is attacked the attackers gets favorable front page coverage. When Kerry is attacks, Kerry gets favorable front page coverage.

  43. Antisthenes on August 22, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    Yeah, Kaimi, you gonna deny the sun is shining still?

  44. Rosalynde Welch on August 22, 2004 at 8:14 pm

    Jack and Ashleigh: Sometimes evenly yoked marriages can be politically mixed. My husband is registered as a Dem and I as a Rep, although both of us are pretty heteropartisan and have basically only residual family ties to the parties–in fact, my views frequently tend to be more liberal than my husband’s. Still, there have been a few contests where our votes canceled each other’s out, when we simply couldn’t reach consensus and thus agreed to each vote our conscience–blessedly, this hasn’t caused any major contention and, perhaps strangely to some, doesn’t signal major differences in our positions on ideas and issues.

  45. lyle on August 22, 2004 at 8:34 pm

    Ivan: you are correct. The blogosphere has been the only media outlet reporting on the Kerry problem, until recently…and then, as you point out, it is very skewed.

    You will notice that NOT 1 single story (I’m sure Kaimi’s Westlaw skills will shortly be brought to bear :), has mentioned that Kerry was:

    1. Busy protesting the Vietnam war,
    2. Meeting with Communists in Paris, and
    3. Still working as an officer in the Navy Reserve.

    Odd how the liberal 527s (as Clark pointed out) have gotten a free pass, while the first conservative 527 to do something gets slammed.

    However…I agree that the swiftvets ads are somewhat distasteful…although less so than michael moore, et al.

  46. Ivan Wolfe on August 22, 2004 at 9:14 pm

    lyle –

    I do find the Swift vet ads a bit distasteful (mostly along the lines of such a complicated issue being reduced to caustic sound bites) but the strongest argument the swifties have – the Christmas in Cambodia story – has been ignored, or buried at the end of articles (and then treated as though the Swifties were still wrong).

    Beyond that, I have yet to see the NYT, MSNBC, CNN, et al. give MoveOn.Org or Micheal Moore the same amount of scrutiny that the Swift Vets have gotten.

    I will say – I think the Swift Vets deserve most of the scrutiny they get (except for the NYT’s odd conspiracy charts) – anyone making claims like that needs to be examined under the microscope.

    But most of the Swift vets reporting has been superficial and does not address their arguments (things like “they weren’t on the same boat as Kerry – just on a boat in the same fleet next to Kerry’s”), or else it is reporters/columnists with ties to Kerry claiming the swifites are bitter liers(for example Thomas Oliphant from the Boston Globe, whose daughter is a speech writer for Kerry, for example – and he doesn’t disclose this in his most recent article).

    As soon as the NYT runs front page stories detailing the distoritions or lies in Farneheit 9/11 or CNN has a special on how Kerry has a revolving door policy regarding his campaign managers and staff with Democratic 527s – I have decided that the general trend of the bigger media outlets is to build up Kerry and tear down Bush.

  47. Jeff Lindsay on August 22, 2004 at 9:31 pm

    The Constitution that I am thinking of is not some “different Constitution” that the one that is supposed to govern this country, though I will agree that it is a different document that the imaginary document that has been contorted to support whatever those in power want to do (e.g., deriving abortion “rights” from the 14th amendment, allowing the Executive to declare war on his own – a dangerous threat to liberty that the founding fathers expressly warned against and crafted the Constitution to prevent, and so forth).

    A good article on the divinely inspired Constitution is “The Doctrine of an Inspired Constitution” by Noel B. Reynolds, BYU Studies, vol. 16 (1975-1976), Number 2 – Winter 1976, p. 321.

  48. Guy W. Murray on August 22, 2004 at 9:42 pm

    Ivan Wolf wrote:

    “Kerry made his service in Vietnam a central theme of the convention. Bush has never made his service in the National Guard an issue. Yet when Bush is attacked the attackers gets favorable front page coverage. When Kerry is attacks, Kerry gets favorable front page coverage.”

    This should really be no surprise (I certainly wouldn’t make my national guard service an issue if I were President Bush either.) The core facts are that Senator Kerry, a child of privilege volunteered to place his life on the line for his country during Vietnam. President Bush, on the other hand elected to avoid Vietnam service, as did Vice President Cheney, who didn’t bother to serve at all during that time frame. Senator Kerry was wounded in action, under hostile fire. All the discussion by some popular “truth squad” decades after the fact about how intense the hostile fire, or how meritorious the service is just nonsense.

    What both camps should do now is move on and discuss issues that might actually have some relevance in today’s world and have some impact in our daily lives.

    Guy

  49. Guy W. Murray on August 22, 2004 at 10:06 pm

    On a post script note: The differences in the choices these two men made regarding their respective service to the country speaks “volumes” about their character.

    Guy

  50. Ivan Wolfe on August 22, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    Guy – Being in the National Guard was no guarantee of avoiding service in Vietnam.

    And as far as Cheney – oh, no – horror of horrors -in order to avoid Vietnam, he got married and HAD CHILDREN!!!!!

    How dare he!

    ;-)

    I’m all for moving on – but Kerry seems unable to, since he manages to bring up his service in Vietnam in even unrelated interview questions.

  51. Guy W. Murray on August 22, 2004 at 10:32 pm

    Ivan–

    You may be right in terms of absolute guarantees; however my recollection from that time fame is that volunteering for the National Guard meant you were less likely to go to Vietnam, than the current National Guard has of going to Iraq. And, as far as Mr. Cheney is concerned, I’m quite certain he was not the only draft aged husband and father. I believe his consistent use of educational deferments kept him out of Southeast Asia; however, again the point I think that is more enlightening is the nature of the choice each made. Again, it speaks volumes.

    Guy

  52. John Jensen on August 22, 2004 at 10:34 pm

    “If I’m missing something, I’d like to be enlightened.”

    Enlightenment to follow:

    “On October 9, 2002, Kerry said, “I will be voting to give the President…the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam…because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

    Three months later, on January 23, 2003, as war approached, Kerry said, “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam…He is a brutal, murderous dictator…He presents a….grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation…And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction….So the threat of Saddam…with weapons of mass destruction is real…”

    On January 31, in the Los Angeles Times, Ronald Brownstein quoted Kerry as saying, “If you don’t believe Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.”

  53. Clark Goble on August 22, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    I’d have loved for Kerry to discuss more issues. Yet he seems to play the “I’m a Viet Nam vet” so often it really has become distasteful. And yes, especially with the new evidence coming out, it does sound like a lot of the swift vet stuff is pretty horrible. But the main papers only started to even mention it when they had the charges they could refute and still don’t mention the other charges.

    The problem is I *want* Kerry to be more specific. He’s been fairly specific about his economic plans and health care plans. But with regard to the real important issues he has been vague. I *wish* Kerry would talk foreign policy without playing the Viet Nam vet card. He just hasn’t. I’ll be honest, while I’m admittedly skeptical of Kerry on economic issues, his stated plans sound pretty good to me. As do some of his health care plans. (Some – some make me very nervous) Yet whenever he starts talking foreign policy (a rare event) it is vague generalities that as often as not seem impossible to implement.

  54. wildblue on August 22, 2004 at 10:51 pm

    “**With respect to this question, I believe it is his record. He chose to vote against the US drilling for oil in Alaska. Yet, he now wants to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.**”

    There’s only an inconsistency here if you believe the choice is between foreign oil and domestic oil. From what I’ve read, Kerry doesn’t believe this, and is interested in the development of other energy/fuel sources.

    “**Kerry proclaims to be Catholic but votes and supports social orders that are against his own faith. These are some of the reasons, his war record aside, that cause me to question his integrity.**”

    I agree this is something to think about. But… this isn’t all that surprising from my own experience with many Catholics ( largely latin american, rather than east cost american, admittedly), who seemed to be culturally/traditionally grounded in their particular version of it rather than institutionally grounded. Lots don’t have the same sort of faith in the institution of their church that we’ve got with ours. Also, Kerry appears to have arrived at his political position *before* the catholic powers that be declared that officeholders should be willing to put their faith into law, which is a pretty awkward position. I would be more comfortable with the whole thing if Kerry nailed his theses to the wall and walked away, but the whole thing doesn’t smell like a lack of personal integrity.

    “**while some of the swift boat vet stuff seems incorrect and perhaps misleadingly portrayed, other aspects such as the Cambodia claims appear to be fairly accurate. Kerry *was* lying about that fairly consistently.**”

    Whoa. What? Can you point me to more information on this?

    “**Mainstream meida have taken charges agianst Bush made by 527s (i.e. the National Guard incident) and reported on them immediately and favorably.**”

    Are we talking about the same liberal media that completely ignored the issue with Bush’s service back in the 2000 election, but hounded Gore with allegations of being “wooden” and lying about inventing the internet? Because the question about Bush’s service did in fact surface then, but simply didn’t catch on. It took another three years, which is hardly immediate and favorable.

    “**When 527s make charges against Kerry they have been ignored or refuted. There is no balance on the swift vet coverage by the NYT, LAT, CNN, MSNBC, CBS – they have all attacked the swifties – after ignoring them for a week.**”

    Maybe I’ve been misled by the liberal media, but it really seems like the given information favors Kerry. Bush never did produce records (choosing rather the let the story slide after a while), and a lax attitude towards guard service fits with his irresponsible past. Conversely, Kerry has produced service records, and I understand that some of them include good reviews by people who are among his SBVFT detractors. His case *looks* more solid than Bush’s.

    In other words, I don’t see a bias here because it seems to me that the charges against Kerry are fairly easily rebutted, and have been. Meanwhile, I don’t recall seeing any clear refutation against Bush.

    Poor coverage of stories happens in the media, while inexplicable things get focus. But a general charge of media bias is one of things that makes me roll my eyes and suspect paranoia, whether the charge comes from the right or the left. Most often it means more about the place on the political spectrum of the person who makes it than it does about the general center of focus of the media.

    “**Ivan: you are correct. The blogosphere has been the only media outlet reporting on the Kerry problem, until recently…and then, as you point out, it is very skewed.**”

    I saw coverage on the SBVFT in a Boston Newspaper at the beginning of the summer.

    “**You will notice that NOT 1 single story (I’m sure Kaimi’s Westlaw skills will shortly be brought to bear :), has mentioned that Kerry was:

    1. Busy protesting the Vietnam war,
    2. Meeting with Communists in Paris, and
    3. Still working as an officer in the Navy Reserve. **”

    You will also not notice 1 single story about how Kerry and a young KGB officer named Putin met several times in Shanghai to exchange information, currency, and drugs later distributed to soldiers serving in Vietnam.

    Actually, there was a pretty big hubbub in May about Kerry’s protest, even while continuing as a Naval Reserve officer. I don’t see how this is a problem: members of the armed forces have duties that must be fulfilled, but giving up their right to protest as citizens in a public venue isn’t one of them.

    I am interested in seeing a citation on the meeting with communists in Paris, tho’ — if nothing else, lyle, *you’ve* got access to the internet and can publish one.

  55. Ivan Wolfe on August 22, 2004 at 11:28 pm

    wildblue:

    Then perhaps you could explain the focus on the Swifties connections to Bush being detailed in conspiratorial charts, yet MoveOn.org and Michael Moore’s similar connections to Kerry never being mentioned?

    In fact, Kerry’s former campaign manager heads a 527 now. And other staffers seem to switch jobs bewtween Kerry and related 527 – and the media ignores it.

    But attack Kerry, and suddenly Bush is behind it all!!!!!!

    I am hardly paranoid – until three weeks ago I did not believe in any overwhelming media bias. I still don’t – but with 90% of reporters in recent polls claiming they will vote for Kerry, I think it is fair to complain that the coverage of Kerry vs. Bush is skewed.

  56. Jeff Linidsay on August 22, 2004 at 11:43 pm

    For those interested in the “bipartisan Skull and Bones” angle of this discussion, I previously raised this delicate issue in a secret combinations post at Mormanity. Flame me for raising the topic, but there’s got to be some reason for all the warnings about secret combinations in the Book of Mormon. Maybe Skull and Bones is just a silly fraternity, but the silence on the topic is amazing. Why can’t we at least raise the issue? If both candidates were “Temple Mormons,” I think it would be entirely reasonable for people to want to know just a little about any “secret oaths” the candidates had made and whether they held allegiances to secret Mormon groups that might interfere with their discharge of duty. (No, there is no problem here – but it would be reasonable to inquire.) Would the American public settle for an answer like, “Sorry – those oaths are too secret to discuss in any way. I won’t tell you anything about the Temple. Next question.”? I think we would be expected to give at least as much information as we normally give when pressed for details. But both candidates, when asked point blank, have simply said that it’s secret and they refuse to talk about it. End of story. That leaves me uncomfortable.

  57. Jeff Lindsay on August 22, 2004 at 11:48 pm

    I gave a bad link for the Mormanuty post on secret combinations. The correct link is here.

  58. lyle on August 23, 2004 at 12:35 am

    wildblue: simply go to instapundit.com

    The guy there is a lawprofessor & has a link to speaches given by Kerry, recorded in the Congressional Record, which refer to his presence in Cambodia being “Seared” into his memory..

    of course, once you start down the rabbit hole…you might not like everything else you find down there. it might just be safer to take the “other” colored pill and forget about the truth. :)

  59. lyle on August 23, 2004 at 12:54 am

    WB:

    better yet, this is fresh out…and the first major media piece on the issue…although it is an op-ed…not a news story. but heh…can’t ask the media for news, can we?

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/040830/opinion/30barone.htm

  60. wildblue on August 23, 2004 at 1:12 am

    “**On January 31, in the Los Angeles Times, Ronald Brownstein quoted Kerry as saying, “If you don’t believe Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.”**”

    This last quote doesn’t seem to disagree with the other two, and its only problem seems to be that it’s almost a tautology. But I assume you’re trying to demonstrate a change of positions, and though I can’t find the original Brownstein article, I am familiar with one in which Kerry made a similar quote and explains his support for the resolution which granted the President authority to use for, and his expectations for it:

    http://truthout.org/docs_03/printer_121003A.shtml

    “**Then perhaps you could explain the focus on the Swifties connections to Bush being detailed in conspiratorial charts, yet MoveOn.org and Michael Moore’s similar connections to Kerry never being mentioned?**”

    I don’t think I’d question relationships between democratic 527s and the Kerry campaign. I don’t think that questions about Bush’s service record originated with Kerry’s campaign, especially given that they were asked about as far back as 2000. I think that story arose w/o backing from a 527. Hence the lack of media focus on funding and direction of that particular attack on Bush.

    It’s not at all clear, however, that the SBVFT would even have a mouthpiece were it not for funding from a 527 that may have connections with Bush. That’s the difference I see between those two particular jab exchanges.

  61. wildblue on August 23, 2004 at 2:29 am

    lyle: I don’t get it. At worst, the US News article accuses Kerry of misremembering events — very consistently, I might add, given that he told the same story in 1979, 1986, and 1992. The narrator concludes that makes Kerry unreliable. I think that’s a pretty big leap. See the Washington Monthly:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_08/004487.php

    for the equal and opposing view on the US News article. Whereas Barone concludes that Kerry’s story is possible, but implausible, Drum concludes that Kerry’s story is plausible but not bulletproof. I suspect you’d accuse Drum of seeing what he wants to see, but if that applies, Barone has the same trouble.

    So we come the the discussion about pills and rabbit holes go, and as far as that goes, you can bet I have in fact read Instapundit and will now visit again to see if he’s documented anything the others have missed that I could find convincing. I am not a mere Kerry shill. What bothers me is that most of the members of my community and fellow latter day saints seem to easily take to characterizations the Bush campaign would assign to him. Is this race really between a nuanced flip-flopper and an arrogant straight shooter who stays the course? Hardly. But I can’t believe how often I hear this viewpoint coming from my acquaintances and even from the media.

    For example, Brownstein, who John Jensen quoted earlier, had an article that provides a perfect example. I might add I think it’s a very well-balanced article, and I might have especially liked this quote:

    “This latest argument over Iraq hasn’t displayed either contender to his best advantage. Kerry has seemed too reluctant to take a firm position, while Bush has seemed too reluctant to reconsider one. Both appear to have forgotten that great leaders combine resolve and flexibility. In picking a president, Americans shouldn’t have to choose between the two.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-na-outlook16aug16,1,5207514.column

    Except it’s not at all clear to me that Bush *doesn’t* change his positions:

    http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=42263

    Which isn’t necessarily a criticism from my standpoint (though the folks at American Progress meant it that way). Intelligent people change their minds as they receive new information and perspectives. And I’ll bet there’s not a perspective change quite like occupying the oval office, especially on the day after a major terrorist attack. But likewise, I don’t think Kerry is merely prevaricating — in most of the cases he’s been called on, the situation seems to be something like the one I responded to Charles on above regarding the false dichotomy of domestic drilling or foreign dependence. Not to mention the situations where it’s genuinely a good idea to change your mind, or where an otherwise worthy bill contains an unconscionable rider. But very few of the members of my community and latter day saints that I know have followed those ideas through, or even have read anything by Kerry where he lays out his ideas on an energy policy for america.

    And that’s really the crux of my complaint on the attacks against Kerry. They’re character related, not policy related. This isn’t surprising since character is the easiest issue for most Americans to really wrap their head around, and as Barone suggests, character does count.

    But to bring this full circle to the context of this thread, the problem is that character assesment is very hard from a distance. It’s difficult up close, unless you’ve known someone personally a long time, and even then, you can easily be surprised by changes in people. Bush himself would probably tell you the same thing. And at the distance we see things from in the media, it’s very easy to mistake the facades held up by either side as the real thing.

  62. Ashleigh on August 23, 2004 at 4:17 am

    On the subject of neutrality and partisanship. First in the interests of full disclosure (in case you’ve been locked in a closet and somehow missed it) I am an unapologetic liberal in just about every sense of the word you can use. I love the “L” word.

    And often because of my strong political beliefs I often find myself trying to justify or excuse or ignore certain actions perpetrated by those with whom I agree on a political level, while at the same time I will try to demonize or aggravate the actions perpetrated by those with whom I disagree (GWB). It’s difficult to view things neutrally, but I think it’s important to try.

    Important to try because to do otherwise is dishonest. If I refuse to look at the warts on my own candidate, if I overlook his weaknesses/failings then I’m lying to myself (and possibly to others) for the sake of a political belief and I feel that is immoral. Alternately, If I condemn off-hand every action taken by GWB, I am also being dishonest and unfair.

    For instance, my first instinct upon hearing all the swift boat brew ha ha was to dismiss it as an undeserved partisan attack. But then there were tidbits of information that I’m glad came to light, and I feel more informed now that I’ve had the chance to weigh this information. In the end, I’m still uncertain what is truth and what is lies, and what is convenient memories (because those things are tricky little monsters), but I’m glad I get to weigh those options for myself.

    On the other extreme, I might as well have been in a cheerleader outfit (a Radical Cheerleader of course) walking into Fahrenheit 9/11. I was totally prepared to LOVE it. And to a large degree I did. But to embrace it whole would be fool hardy. Of course it is one-sided, and often misleading. Purposely and cleverly packaged for maximum impact rather than maximum truth. Again, I’m glad that the information came to light, but still I want to weigh it carefully, I want to read the rebuttals (most of which are also less interested in truth than in impact).

    But in the end it leaves me feeling that a lot of people on both sides are being less than honest for the sake of protecting/promoting their political belief and their political allies. I suppose it is too much to ask of human nature to brutally honest about oneself and one’s friends. But I do wish we would all try a little harder.

    I guess maybe I’m a sucker but when I look at both Kerry and Bush and consider “leaders who will act with integrity and are ‘wise,’ ‘good,’ and ‘honest.’ I see strengths and weaknesses in both of them. Mostly strengths to be honest. I want desperately to believe that they both have our best interests at heart, but just different view of how to obtain what is best (and maybe even different ideas of *what is* best).

    Even as I sat here cursor blinking my mind wandered to things about GWB that make me crazy, the list was long and detailed, but I’m not sure what I learned from making it; been there, done that. So I took up at my own advice and tried to come up with a list of JK’s failings and GWB’s strengths. It’s making my brain itch but I think it’s an exercise I should complete. Not that it’ll change my mind about anything, because I can already tell you it won’t. But it will force me to be more honest with myself.

  63. Jim Richins on August 23, 2004 at 11:28 am

    For my own part, I made my decision about which candidate is more honest or trustworthy months ago. I believe John Kerry is a bald-faced liar. It has nothing to do with the swift boats, or his flip-flopping on Iraq, or any of the other issues that are mentioned nationally. My complaint comes from comments he made at a local (Utah) level during the Democratic Primaries.

    Now, Kerry knows that Utah is going to vote for Bush. Other than Texas, no other group of elecoral votes is more certain for the Republicans that Utah (even Texas may be more shaky than Utah). Given this fact, Kerry chose not to devote much time during the primary on campaigning in Utah – and, who can blame him?

    However, he did phone the Utah Democratic Party, and record a message for Utah, in which he promised to fight for issues that Utahns care about, and uphold Utah values, mentioning specifically things like public lands, etc.

    I had been following the DNC’s primaries very closely, especially after the implosion of Howard Dean, looking for a good candidate. I heard Kerry’s phone message on the radio, and it infuriated me, because I had heard him take *EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE* position on similar issues the day before, while he was campaigning in some other state that deserved to have his presence.

    I understand that Kerry doesn’t care a whit about Utah – there’s no chance he could ever win here. However, to have a candidate be able to so easily change his position on issues, just to suit his temporary audience, sickened me. At least he could have tried to explain and defend his convictions on those issues (that is, assuming he has any convictions).

    That day, I had the clear impression that JK will say/do anything to gain/retain power. I would not trust him with the keys to my car.

    All the new stuff that has come out about JK since Utah’s Democratic Primary, to me, has just been more of the same kind of evidence to support my conclusion about JK and his lack of character.

  64. Bryce I on August 23, 2004 at 11:32 am

    I don’t want to wade into this, but I can’t help myself. I’m not particularly excited about either candidate, and am still not decided as to what I will do with my vote.

    That said, the most worrisome thing about Kerry in this whole Swift Boat Veterans brouhaha is not the allegations themselves, which are in my opinion not terribly important no matter what the truth may be, but how difficult it has been for him to shake what should be a non-issue. He has failed utterly in articulating any kind of consistent critique of the Bush administration that resonates with the voting public because he has spent so much time developing a personal mythology and then defending it. Critiquing Bush ain’t exactly rocket science these days, you know.

    The moral: Don’t mess with Karl Rove. You’ll only get as dirty as he is, and you’ll lose.

    Moral #2: Don’t pick a French poodle for a running mate when you really need a pit bull.

    And thanks, Jonathan, for mentioning what I said in a phone call in your post. Now I’ll have to go start my own blog to address your point :)

  65. clark on August 23, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    While I confess a strong distaste for what Karl Rove does and what the Democratic equivalents do, a lot of this current problem is Kerry’s fault. Had he just gone after Bush on the issues he wouldn’t have had any problem. The problem he faced though was that everytime he started giving speeches on the issues his poll numbers would go down.

    So his team came up with the “brilliant” idea of using his status as a Viet Nam vet as an emotional way of dealing with it. On paper it sounded good. Especially since the few undecideds in the country are fairly unpolitical and thus don’t really decide based upon careful analysis of the issues.

    Here’s the problem. Viet Nam was a horribly divisive issue for America. Really, I think it was this huge psychological problem up through the 80′s. The way America delt with it was, in a way, to repress it.

    Now Kerry comes up and uses it to approach an other divisive issue: Iraq. The problem is that this approach was like throwing gasoline on fire to put it out. Iraq could have been dealt with undivisively – especially since even many, many conservatives are upset at Bush for the handling of the War. Bush was, if anything, a setting duck. But Kerry instead decides to fight the last war where he himself was a divisive figure. The fact that he probably exaggerated his stories over time (not that uncommon – let’s be honest) doesn’t help matters.

    Mark my words, Kerry’s decision to run on the emotion of Viet Nam will go down in history as one of the *worst* ideas ever. If Kerry loses (which for the first time in my opinion seems like a possibility) Democrats will attack Karl Rove’s dirty tricks as the reason. However the real reason will be a horrible pick in the primaries combined with one of the dumbest strategies ever.

  66. Randy on August 23, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Clark,

    I don’t buy it. Kerry’s military service in Vietnam is an inextricable part of his persona. Bush would have gone after him on this issue regardless. As evidence, look no further than McCain 2000. I think Josh Marshall is spot on when he says that “since it was coming anyway, far better to hit it with the wind at your back than sitting still.”

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_08_22.php#003311

  67. Ashleigh on August 23, 2004 at 4:57 pm

    Jim,

    Your post was pretty much exactly the sort of thing that I was thinking about when I made my previous post.

    I wouldn’t mind you saying “I believe John Kerry is a bald-faced liar.” if you then backed it up with specifics that I could then draw my own judgment from. I don’t doubt that JK has lied about any number of things, I can think of a few specifics this moment (SUV’s anyone?).

    But you made that statement, then follow it up with a generalization that could apply to almost any political candidate in the country (telling each individual state/locality/person exactly what they want to hear), I have a hard time seeing how this differs from any number of lies/misleading statements/ evasions of truth that can also be attributed to GWB.

    I would be interested in reading about these different statements by JK so I can judge for myself the seriousness and/or presence of lies in this particular incident. I want to know.

    But an accusation with no accompanying evidence has little value to me. And to accuse one candidate of lying while remaining silent about the other’s lying is a disturbingly one-sided assessment a la Michael Moore. I fully concede that JK has lied, does lie, and most likely will continue to lie. But I can’t see how this alone sets him apart from GWB, who also has lied, does lie, and I’m quite sure will continue to lie.

    I think it is for each of us to decide the weight we will give these moments of political flimflamary (good word yeah?) And to do our best to look at our chosen candidate with as much honest assessment as we can manage.

  68. Greg on August 23, 2004 at 5:42 pm

    Kerry uses Vietnam in his speeches not a substantive issue, but to help people get to know him and where he came from; so he’s not just seen as a multiple term patrician senator from the liberal northeast. I think its a good move, but the vast right wing conspiracy (really!) will and has seized on anything that takes the focus off Bush’s record. As for the legacy of Vietnam, I think Bush summed it up well at the nominating convention four years ago:

    “A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.”

    Ummm, exactly.

  69. clark on August 23, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    I agree Greg, except that I *don’t* think Kerry’s use of Viet Nam is just to get people to know him. There was a month around convention time when he brought it up in answer to nearly any question. And he used it *so* extensively in the convention that it became embarrassing. If it were just getting to know him, I don’t think most people would mind. But it became part of the answer to every question – especially issues of war.

    As I said, I *don’t* think Bush is to be praised either. This is an other one of those elections where neither candidate is particularly good. (Actually I thought 2000 was like that as well as was 1996).

    However to blame all this on some conspiracy sounds a bit hard to swallow. I also disagree with Marshall that this was all coming anyway. Perhaps some stuff, just like Democrats bringing up probable drug use and Bush’s other activities while young. However the way Kerry used it was fairly embarrassing and really did open the issue up in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before.

    Let’s be honest, do you think anyone would really care about the swift boats ads if Kerry had, back in March, said that what happened 30 years earlier didn’t matter and never mentioned Viet Nam?

  70. Greg on August 23, 2004 at 6:19 pm

    I should clarify that I use “conspiracy” to mean nothing more sinister than “moneyed, coordinating organizations supporting ideas that I don’t agree with.”

  71. Gordon Smith on August 23, 2004 at 6:27 pm

    I find both candidates very unappealing, and I recently decided to abstain for voting in this presidential race. Nevertheless, I though that some of you might enjoy reading the comments of my across-the-hall colleague, Ann Althouse, who is getting lots of links throughout the blogosphere for her insightful political commentary. Although undecided between Kerry and Bush (she is a self-proclaimed moderate), she skewers Kerry’s campaign for its handling of the Swift Boat controversy. See especially here and here.

    Bonus coverage: freed from a desire to see either of these candidates elected, I offer the following election analysis: Kerry is toast. Bush and Kerry are roughly even in the polls, and Bush has not yet had his convention. Unless something dramatically bad happens to the economy or in Iraq between now and November, this race is over.

  72. W. on August 23, 2004 at 6:36 pm

    But Gordon, you’re either with us, or against us!!

  73. Jim Richins on August 23, 2004 at 6:41 pm

    I’m sorry, Ashleigh, if I did not convey clearly the evidence upon which I am basing my conclusion that JK is a “bald-faced liar.” However, I’m not sure how much more specific I can get than to relate my own personal experience. If the deficiency of evidence is due to the fact that I do not have the actual audio recording I heard on the radio, or the speech that he gave the day before in Tennessee (or where ever it was), then I can only apologize.

    But, I also concede that my earlier post was not fully balanced, as it did not say anything about GWB. I purposefully left that out because my posts always tend to be too long and rambling.

    I admit that many politicians lie, espcially during campaigning, simply for the sake of expediency. However, I personally do not have the feeling the GWB has lied *to me* like I did when I heard JK patronizing the citizens of Utah – or, for that matter, when Pres. Clinton pounded the table and declared “I did not have sex with that woman” and “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

    Many people loudly and repeatedly proclaim (especially the ones who seem to have ready access to national or worldwide media or who otherwise have a propensity to be more vocal) that GWB lied to America about WMD intelligence in Iraq. Perhaps claims of this sort form the foundation for your dislike of GWB (which is better than if you simply disliked GWB a priori – a sadly common malady among the population. Any President is still the President, and deserves the respect that that office requires). However, I do not fault the Bush Administration for those intelligence failures, or more specifically, I do not ascribe any malicious intent behind purposefully misleading the American public.

    I believe that pre-9/11, Bush felt that Iraq had been a lingering problem since ’92, and that the previous administration had done little to address the problem. I believe that Bush probably does not like the idea of “containment” and prefers a strategy that “solves” the root of a problem. I believe that post-9/11, the mere possibility of Iraq WMD falling into the hands of Al Qaeda was too much to ignore. I believe that the White House determined to address the Al Qaeda threat from all possible angles, by anticipating any possible attack vectors against the U.S. and mitigating the danger by *both* strengthing our homeland’s armor, as well as attacking the threat at it’s source i.e. on foreign soil.

    These are all attitudes that I agree with, both then and now.

    I think Bush may have been surprised in 2002 at the amount of resistance encountered with an Afghanistan-type solution to the Iraq problem (invade dicatorial country, replace with democratic one). I bet he and his staff were a little frustrated and more than a little bewildered that so many “allies” did not see what was, to a vast majority at the time, clearly obvious – that Iraq had WMD.

    After all, they *HAD* to have WMD. They definitely had it in ’98, when Saddam kicked the inspectors out. If you recall, Pres. Clinton did manage to punish Iraq (briefly) in retribution for this behavior. And then, when Saddam initially refused to readmit inspectors, and obfuscated over his WMD disclosure, coupled with the intelligence the U.S. DID manage to receive (remember Powell’s presentation with the intercepted transmissions?), the clear conclusion at the time was that the WMD were still there.

    Even Clinton himself agreed with Bush’s rationale for invading Iraq (although he will conveniently remain largely silent about it until at least next year). Look for the Time magazine interview he gave right around when “My Life” came out – I’m sorry I can’t give you the exact issue.

    Anywaaaaay,

    I apologize for A) taking too much space for this issue, and B) hijacking what should otherwise be a spiritualality-based thread. The long and short of it (mostly, the long – I’m sorry again) is that I don’t believe GWB has lied to me, and even with all his warts and shortcomings, he is still the lesser of two evils.

  74. J. Max Wilson on August 23, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    Whether you lean toward Bush or Kerry it is hard to deny that the Kerry campaign has really been dropped the ball. Check out this helpful timeline if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

    The mainstream media’s over-zealousness in reporting things that they think will make Bush look bad and willingness to ignore things that might look bad for Kerry for as long as possible contributes a lot to my affinity for Bush. In addition to the whole Cambodia issue, there is also the nearly unreported Joe Wilson Scandal.

    But I’m a right-wing nut-job anyway, so I’m already biased.

  75. Chad too on August 23, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    Gordon:

    If you think these candidates are tied right now, you’re thinking popular vote, not electorally. As we all were reminded in 2000, nationwide counts mean nothing, it’s the *state* counts as filtered through the electoral college that elect a president. According to http://www.electoral-vote.com, and based on the most recent *state* polls, if the election were held today Kerry would win 286-233 with 19 additional votes that are statistical dead heats (you Wisconsin-ites are 10 of those 19). Even if all 19 went to Bush, Kerry is still ahead by 32 votes at 286-252.

    I like that this website breaks each state down as *strongly* one candidate, *weakly* one candidate, *barely* one candidate, and tied. Ultimately that won’t matter, but it’s fun to watch for now.

    I will grant you that Bush hasn’t had his convention yet, but it is inaccurate electorally to say that the two candidates are currently even.

  76. Randy on August 23, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    Gordon,

    I wouldn’t make much of the fact that Bush and Kerry are pretty much even on the eve of the Republican Convention. Using the conventions to get ahead in this election cycle is, as someone said, like trying to get a bounce out of a “concrete trampoline.” There simply are not many undecideds out there.

    In the end, I can’t imagine that there is anyone out there who voted for Gore in 2000 who won’t vote for Kerry, and even die-hard Republicans are less enthusiastic about Bush now then they were last time around. I think it is far too early to call this race over, even excluding the possibility of bad news on the economy or Iraq. I think both candidates have much to worry about.

  77. Gordon Smith on August 23, 2004 at 6:57 pm

    I refuse to be drawn further into a political discussion. It just makes me sick to my stomach. But I did want to compliment whoever posted the comment from “W.” above. That was hilarious!

  78. J. Max Wilson on August 23, 2004 at 7:27 pm

    Randy said:

    In the end, I can’t imagine that there is anyone out there who voted for Gore in 2000 who won’t vote for Kerry

    ABC News said something similar back on Aug 11th.

    Here are a few of the more well known individuals who voted for Gore who are planning to vote for Bush:

    Former New York Mayor Ed Kotch
    Democratic Senator Zell Miller
    Journalist Ronald Kessler

    Here are the comments of a few average citizens who voted for Gore and plan to vote for Bush.

    I’m sure, however, that there are plenty of people who voted for Bush who will now vote for Kerry, so it might balance out.

  79. clark on August 23, 2004 at 8:00 pm

    Chad, what is interesting is how different the polls are depending upon the pollster yet relatively consistent within the polls of the same pollster. (i.e. all have had Kerry going up the past two months, but have the “likely voters” percent fairly different) This ends up being due to the methadology of the pollster’s way of calculating who a likely voter is. Further it has to do with people who are somewhat undecided and whether they are put into a real undecided category or are “forced” into a choice.

    From everything I’ve read, the Gallup Poll is the most accurate, mainly because it has the best record on likely voter. Polls have gotten much harder to do because of telemarketer backlash along with a few other trends.

    Anyway, at this stage who wins the election appears to depend upon who wins Florida and Ohio. Gallup has Kerry with a 2 point lead in Ohio. I don’t recall the Florida vote. However none of this includes all the kerfuffle over Viet Nam, which likely will affect Kerry over the next months in these key states. Bush appears to be improving, according to Gallup, with the popular vote being 50 to 47 for Bush. Contrast this with the Rasmussen tracking poll which has it 47% Kerry and 46% Bush with Kerry being slightly above Bush for most of the last two months.

    Even Rasmussen says, with respect to electorial votes, that it is getting closer and closer rather than any one person taking a significant lead. They have Ohio with 46% Kerry and 45% Bush and Florida 47% Kerry and 45% bush.

    So while I definitely think that right now were the election to be held, Kerry would win by a landslide (in terms of electorial votes). However Bush has been coming back surprisingly well and baring any more big crisis probably will beat Kerry. (IMO) The big “ifs” are oil prices and the economy, both of which have unexpected turned for the worse and may give Kerry the election.

  80. Weston C on August 24, 2004 at 2:21 am

    “How can anyone claim there is no liberal bias in the media after this?”

    Ivan: I really enjoyed a recent Diane Rehm show covering this issue somewhat. You might too.

    http://www.wamu.org/dr/2004/drarc_040614.html#monday

    (and PS… we miss the Leprechauns/Organic Greens/et all back here in Utah Valley :)

  81. lyle on August 24, 2004 at 2:33 am

    Chad2:

    Nice prediction. Then the GOP can complain that Kerry stole the election. Frankly, come November, I’ll settle for a President who wins 50.01% of the popular vote. I don’t care re: electoral. I want a president who can win a majority…not a plurality (aka Clinton).

  82. Ashleigh on August 24, 2004 at 5:26 am

    Sorry Jim, I still think you’re being morally convenient here.

    Two examples:
    First of all, full disclosure re: WMD I honestly don’t know what I believe about the whole mess, bald-faced lies? half-truths? careful misleading? a series of alarming errors? No answer is comfortable. Absolutely some of my dislike of GWB stems from this, but mostly it’s based in the fact that I don’t politically agree with him about anything.

    You conclude your last post with: “I don’t believe GWB has lied to me.” Fine, but are you splitting hairs? Does this mean you don’t believe that GWB has lied? Or just not “to you”? And is there really a moral difference? (This reminds me of what the definition of “is” is) Are you claiming that Bush never ever tells convenient half-truths for political purposes, but that Kerry does? Do you honestly believe that?

    If that is the conclusion you come to, fine, but I think we should all resist the urge to let our guy off the hook simply because we agree with them politically. And when you say, “I don’t think GWB lied *to me*” I feel like you’re taking the easy way out. When Kerry lies to me or to anyone I want to know it, I don’t want to give him a get out of jail free card simply because I like his stance on tax policy.

    Also WMD aside, with a minuscule amount of effort you should be able to find a laundry list of (mostly minor) lies / half-truths/ misleading statements told by both candidates. I think we all tend to see some and ignore others, also one of my personal weakness is to assign sinister motives where no such motive is clear (For example I’m often convinced that GWB is trying to destroy the middle class because he’s a callus selfish aristocrat. Very charitable of me.)

    Another argument you used that I find morally frustrating was this:

    “(Any President is still the President, and deserves the respect that that office requires).” I wouldn’t have a moral problem with a statement like this if I knew you really meant it. If you are sincerely arguing that Bush AND Clinton deserve(d) respect by the mere fact of their presidencies, then there is no hypocrisy or convenient moralizing.

    However if by “any President” you only mean, “any President of whom you approve” then the argument becomes invalid. Don’t get me wrong I abhor what Clinton did and nothing frustrates me more than listening to Dems minimizing or dismissing his behavior. However if you are going to argue that no matter what mistakes a President makes, or what lies he tells, we have a duty to respect him by virtue of his office then this statement must apply both when you agree and when you disagree with the President.

    (personally and beside the point, I think this argument hinges heavily on what “respecting” the president means, and opinions on this will vary wildly)

    And the just out of curiosity (and I’m not interested in debating the point, just wondering) when you wrote: “I do not ascribe any malicious intent behind purposefully misleading the American public.” Are you saying that you believe Bush “Purposefully mislead the American public but without malicious intent?”

  83. Ivan Wolfe on August 24, 2004 at 9:03 am

    Hello Weston!!!!!

    Hope you are doing well. I miss the Utah Valley music scene as well. As soon as my PhD is over – well, it depends on if I can get a job near there.

    As far as Diane Rehm – sounds interesting, but for some reason I can’t download the audio there. Can you summarize their conclusions or major talking points?

  84. Jim Richins on August 24, 2004 at 10:59 am

    I’m sorry, again, Ashleigh, because I am apparently I am not expressing myself well enough.

    Suffice it to say that I generally agree with all of your comments. If I had time/space to fully express all of my political feelings, I think you would see that all that I have said is consistent with how I feel. However, you and I evidentally still end up choosing different candidates.

    Which is totally cool. Repentance is still an option for you … ;)

    Lastly, President Clinton was a great President, who sadly, did not fulfill all of his potential, due to some of his failings. I also have failings, and so I don’t fault the man for having them. But, the facts of his Presidency still remain, as well as his bespeckled legacy.

  85. lyle on August 24, 2004 at 11:49 am

    1. Clinton was the modern day Sampson, right?

    Wildblue…to quote another:

    “Two weeks ago Kerry’s spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere “between” Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been “near Cambodia.” But the point of Kerry’s 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was “in Cambodia,” as he had often said he was. If he was merely “near,” then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.”

    Now, tell me how the use of language like “seared,” and his presence in Cambodia being the basis for his Senate Speech dont’ tell you “loads” about Kerry’s character…or the media’s nearly completely ignorning the issue.

  86. Randy on August 24, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    A quick response to lyle and others regarding the media and then I’m done (like Gordon, I too am beginning to feel sick to my stomach).

    The comparison between the candidates is far more telling than the nit-picking of their individual stories. This from Michael Tomasky –

    “So now we’re having a debate about whether the man who did the honorable thing may have embellished his record a little (although nothing in the documentary record suggests he did this), while we have two cowards who did everything they could to stay miles away from the place Kerry demanded he be sent. This is the fundamental truth. And while yes, Kerry has made his war service a centerpiece in a way that Bush and Cheney for obvious reasons did not, is it really Kerry who deserves scrutiny for how he behaved in 1968 and 1969? Why shouldn’t the major media be doing comparisons of how Kerry, Bush, and Cheney passed those years? Why shouldn’t The Washington Post be devoting 2,700 words to a comprehensive look at Cheney’s deferments? Nichols identifies three young men from Casper who did die in Vietnam: Robert Cardenas, Walter Elmer Handy, and Douglas Tyrone Patrick. Did one of them die because Cheney had ‘other priorities’?

    “But The Washington Post won’t do that, because there exists no Vietnam Veterans for the Truth About Deferments, financed by wealthy Democratic donors and out peddling its wares. Which is the moral of the story. Our media can sort through the facts in front of their nose and determine, at least some of the time, who’s lying and who’s not. But they are completely incapable of taking a step back and describing the larger reality. Doing that would require making judgments that are supposedly subjective rather than objective; but the larger reality here is clearer than clear. Just imagine if the situation were reversed: The same people now questioning Kerry’s ‘character’ would have worked to establish Bush as a war hero long ago. They would have labeled Kerry a coward. If by chance a liberal-backed group came forward to question Bush’s wartime actions, they would have been called traitors and worse. And the mainstream media would be following the agenda they set every step of the way.”

    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8388

  87. Chad Too on August 24, 2004 at 1:00 pm

    lyle: I wasn’t trying to make a prediction, it was more of just a reminder that nationwide popular vote polls are valid as a “temperature-taking” measure, but invalid in terms of outcome. State polls are where we have to look, and then filter that through the electoral college if we want an accurate picture of where things currently stand.

    clark: With apologies to Dr. Seuss, I meant what I said and I said what I meant. My reference to current electoral vote standing was only based in if-the-election-were-today thinking. The numbers on that site change all the time as new legitimate poll results are published. It’s a long way to November, and Bush hasn’t had his convention yet.

    In fact, since my first reference to the site, 19 new state polls (via Zogby) have been published. The count now reads Kerry 307 – Bush 211 with an additional 20 electoral votes too close to call. California has moved from Weak-Kerry to Barely-Kerry. If that trend continues, it’s a whole new ball game.

    Additionally, Coloradans are voting next week on a proposal that would divide electoral votes based on popular vote rather than winner-take-all. That’s huge too.

  88. jl on August 24, 2004 at 2:40 pm

    Can I come back to Jeff Lindsay’s Aug 21 post? “While in Provo recently, I was surprised in a conversation with some BYU students, a couple of whom were recipients of prestigious academic scholarships, when they told me they had never heard of The Federalist Papers. Good heavens, how can we as U.S. Latter-day Saints ever hope to defend the Constitution or even be able to recognize when it is in peril (“hanging by a thread”) if we don’t know anything about it or about the efforts and intentions of our founding fathers? In my opinion, Latter-day Saints in the United States need to do more to live up to our responsibility to uphold the inspired Consitution.”

    A curious juxtoposition: the doctrine of “inspired constitution” with the suggestion that someone who hasn’t heard of The Federalist Papers doesn’t know anything about the Constitution. The doctrine – at least as I understand it – is that the text, the content was inspired – not that the framers motives, intentions, comments, etc. were inspired. I suspect there are many verses in scripture that were inspired, yet the person receiving the inspiration had something quite different in mind from what we read in that verse today – and perhaps quite different from what the Lord intended the verse to mean. There are good arguments to be made for considering the views of the founders, even the “salesmanship” in The Federalist Papers. But that the Constitution is itself “inspired” is not one of them

  89. Ashleigh on August 24, 2004 at 3:20 pm

    “Repentance is still an option for you … ;)”

    a great comfort indeed.

  90. adp on August 24, 2004 at 5:20 pm

    The church is politically neutral, but that doesn’t mean we should be.

  91. Ivan Wolfe on August 24, 2004 at 10:19 pm

    Anyway – here’s a link to a graphic that shows Kerry’s ties to 527s are much closer than any of Bush’s.

    http://www.blogsforbush.com/mt/images/infographicfull.jpg

    As soon as the NYT does a front page story on it, and MSNBC gives it decent coverage, than I’ll start revising my recent belief in media bias.

  92. John Jensen on August 25, 2004 at 4:27 pm

    Wildblue:

    The problem with Kerry’s statements goes beyond “flip-flopping.” The point is that Kerry’s a total hypocrite. For the past-I don’t know how many months, one of Kerry’s mantras has been that the President mislead us into war. Kerry’s various statements from late ’02 and early ’03 show that if the President mislead us, so did Kerry. He’s has an almost pathalogical inability to speak the truth about anything.

  93. Steve Evans on August 25, 2004 at 4:57 pm

    “He’s has an almost pathalogical inability to speak the truth about anything.”

    I’m not sure what’s worse, the grammar/spelling or the hyperbole!

    Isn’t it possible that both candidates are most likely fine, upstanding citizens? To me, it’s the inability of either party to acknowledge this possibility that best illustrates the folly of partisan politics at its extremes.

    That being said, Bush is a total monster.

  94. Jordan Fowles on August 25, 2004 at 5:31 pm

    How did this thread on the Church’s political neutrality statement get turned into a mud-slinging session between the LDS political left and right wings?

    Of course, this is a blog, so it is OK and expected. :)

    But what concerns me is when these sorts of conversations make it into the halls of our sacred meetinghouses. Such discussions in a quorum/community in which each person should have hearts knit in love towards each other do nothing but divide! I would very much like to see the emphasis in church meeting discussions be placed on Jesus Christ and the role of His gospel in touching and healing each one of us, independent of any secular politics.

  95. John Jensen on August 26, 2004 at 10:18 pm

    “I’m not sure what’s worse, the grammar/spelling or the hyperbole!”

    I think it’s hyperbolic to characterize the simple typo “He’s” as a “grammar/spelling” problem. As to the substance of your comment, Mr. Evans, “fine, upstanding citizens” generally don’t go about stirring up contention, spreading lies, and promoting pernicious beliefs to masses of people. (I am speaking about Kerry, here.)

    Take the statement on Kerry’s web site that Bush “[t]urned record [budget] surpluses into record deficits.” I’m not even sure where to begin — it’s such a ridiculous, misleading dumbing-down of a complicated issue, but this is quintessential Kerry. He doesn’t care one whit about truth, only what will get him elected.

    Believe it or not, I’m not partisan. I know that plenty of Republicans are full of it, too. However, they don’t stand to be elected President in two months, so their lies aren’t as dangerous. I’m sure Bush has told plenty of half truths, if not outright lies, but I find him to be much less dangerous than Kerry.

    Finally, Jordan, I don’t see my comments as mud-slinging, rather, I see them as taking a stand for the truth that it’s perfectly ridiculous to put any trust in John Kerry or anything he says — but I’d never say that in church. Also, the impersonal nature of this forum allows me adopt a much more agressive and strident demeanor than I could in face-to-face conversation, where it would be down right rude.

  96. Kaimi on August 26, 2004 at 11:50 pm

    John,

    I think Steve was also basing his statement on the misspelling “pathalogical.”

    As for Kerry’s pathological inability to speak the truth, I just don’t see it. Come on, he’s spoken the truth about all manner of things. It’s not really possible to function in society without speaking the truth most of the time. What would happen if Kerry _actually_ had an inability to speak the truth?

    “What’s your name?”
    (with a pathological inability to speak the truth): “Mickey Mouse!”
    “Umm, are you a Democrat or a Republican?”
    “Neither — I’m a purple-party candidate! My people are from Mars! The alphabet has thirty-three letters! Dick Cheney is a sea cucumber! Muahaahaa!”

  97. John Jensen on August 27, 2004 at 2:52 am

    O.K., one typo and one misspelling, but I’m not the only one. “Muahaahaa” is obviously misspelled.

    Anyway, Kaimi, most people do not take the expression “pathological liar” to mean a person who lies about literally every aspect of reality. And that is not how I meant it. The context of the “pathological” statement was clearly about Kerry’s campaigning. In that regard, I do believe Kerry has an incredibly strong tendency to exaggerate, contort, and deceive. I didn’t suppose anyone would think I meant Kerry would answer that he’s two-headed if asked if he has a single head.

  98. Jordan Fowles on August 27, 2004 at 12:10 pm

    John Jensen,

    I wasn’t singling you out for any “mud-slinging”. :) Nor any one person. We have all levelled blanket accusations at whatever we perceive the be the “other side” in this thread, and if not here, then somewhere on T&S!

  99. hansemann on August 27, 2004 at 1:37 pm

    Kaimi:

    Re: The alphabet has thirty-three letters

    It does, but only if you’re in Iceland!

  100. Greg on August 27, 2004 at 2:39 pm

    John Jensen,
    I have a sneaking suspicion that this won’t change your mind about Kerry at all, but for what its worth Bush told the NY Times yesterday that he thinks Kerry is a truthteller about his time in Vietnam. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/27/politics/campaign/27bush.html?hp

  101. Ashleigh on August 27, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    “most people do not take the expression “pathological liar” to mean a person who lies about literally every aspect of reality.”

    Exactly, most people recognize that you were using hyperbole. Which I think was Kaimi’s point. Maybe?

    Also, don’t worry about a spelling error, some people are good spellers, some people aren’t. I’m terrible myself, it’s no reflection on you intelligence or relevance. Or at least I choose to believe that.

    “Also, the impersonal nature of this forum allows me adopt a much more agressive and strident demeanor than I could in face-to-face conversation, where it would be down right rude.”

    John, are you young? 18-25 perhaps? Just wondering because I think this kind of vitriol is a common outlet for the passion of young adulthood. I was much more harsh at that age myself. Not that I’m ancient or anything but I notice myself mellowing a lot with age.

    In fact recent studies show that we all become much nicer with a few wrinkles. So no worries. But if you’re sixty and still pounding your head against the wall this way you might start to worry.

  102. Kaimi on August 27, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    Yep. The chronology went:

    1. John made a hyperbolic statement.
    2. Steve said that his statement was hyperbolic.
    3. John said that Steve’s characterization was itself hypoerbolic, implying that his own first statement was not hyperbolic.
    4. I tried to point out that the first statement can only logically be read as hyperbolic.
    5. John (I think) agreed.

    So we’re all on board. John’s statement was hyperbolic. There’s nothing unusual about that, since it was in a genre (political statements) where hyperbole is the norm. (Indeed, John takes Kerry to task for his own hyperbolic statements).

    And I completely agree with Steve’s point that both candidates are upstanding citizens who have differing political views, and that discourse that demonizes either of them is not my idea of effective political dialogue.

    (That said, such discourse is regularly employed by both sides, and seems to be an effective way to convey messages).

  103. Ashleigh on August 27, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    “That said, such discourse is regularly employed by both sides, and seems to be an effective way to convey messages”

    You know what worries me is my own tendency to believe it at times. When Bush does/says something that I don’t like (just about every day) I slip a little closer to that “Bush is an evil tyrant” state I sometimes find myself brewing in. And when I hear a Democrat blaming Bush for the lack of jobs, I want to believe it, even though I know that it is much more complicated than that.

    So I guess I’m wondering . . .

    Yes it’s terribly effective for engaging and enraging both poles, I think the poles tend to do this because black and white is much more comfortable than the messy truth of the matter.

    But I do wonder how effective it is for the moderates? A person in the middle is no more likely to be swayed by Kerry is a pathological liar than Bush is an evil tyrant. Or am I wrong?

  104. lyle on August 27, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    Ashleigh: I hope you are right (no pun intended) ;)

  105. John Jensen on August 28, 2004 at 12:46 am

    OK, friends, help me out here. I’m being very sincere when I say that from what I’ve seen of Kerry, he has great difficulty telling the truth in relation to his presidential campaign. Again, in complete sincerity, what I’ve seen is that he has taken advantage of nearly every opportunity to spin, distort, and mislead in an almost compulsive fashion. Yes, compulsive. Am I wrong about this?

    Kaimi, I think you were being a little breezy (nothing wrong with that) when you said that I had pointed out some of Kerry’s own “hyperbole.” But seriously, such things as leading millions and millions of people to simplistically believe that, among other things, his political opponent is responsible for ruining the economy and incurring record budget deficits isn’t mere hyperbole. It’s pernicious on a very large scale. I’m not being vitriolic towards Kerry, but I am showing my disgust.

    Thanks for your concern Ashleigh. I’m thirty two and generally quite mild mannered (similar to Clark Kent or David Banner when he’s not angry).

  106. Ivan Wolfe on August 28, 2004 at 4:02 pm

    John –

    It’s Bruce Banner.

    Yeah, I know the TV show had him as David Banner – but the true Hulk is Bruce Banner.

    This is why the bad guy – the evil father – was named David Banner in the movie.

  107. John Jensen on August 29, 2004 at 7:49 pm

    Ivan, thanks for the correction. Other than from the TV series, I’m only superficially familiar with character. I didn’t see the movie, but I assume that the character of Bruce Banner from the comic strip predates David Banner as the Hulk’s alter ego. I’ll be sure to get it right in the future. After all, I don’t want to go on using the name David Banner the way my parents perversely continue to call the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, the Space Needle.

  108. JWL on August 30, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t know if anyone serious is still following this thread, but I have just run through it and am struck once again by the general acceptance of the idea that it is a principle of the restored gospel that “the United States Constitution is inspired by God.” However, the actual scriptural text (D&C 101:80) reads as follows:

    And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

    Both the scriptural text itself and the history of the Constitutional Convention should make it clear that the Founders were NOT inspired to write the US Constitution in the same way that a prophet is inspired to give a revelation. God did have a role in the coming of the US Consititution, but that role was in sending to earth in that time and place certain spirits who would be “wise men” who would create this momentous historical event — the establishment of a republican government by a writing arrived at consensually. As admirable as that document is, it is wholy manmade (albeit by “wise men”) and there is nothing “inspired” as Latter-day Saints generally use the term about any particular part of it. By persisting in inaccurately speaking of the Constitution as “inspired,” Latter-day Saints are constantly creating confusion as they vainly try to apply scriptural standards of study to understand a document which in all of its particulars is so clearly a result of entirely human debate, compromise, and circumstance.

  109. Randy on August 30, 2004 at 2:43 pm

    JWL, I suppose it all centers around what we mean by “inspired.” The Constitution certainly was not inspired in the same sense that modern scripture was inspired, but that’s a pretty hefty standard. I don’t have any problem with those who conclude that the founders were inspired–I strongly suspect they were. But I also think that Bach, Victor Hugo, and Martin Luther King (and thousands upon thousands others) were inspired. Of course, not all inspiration is accorded equal weight. I think that is the point that some miss.

  110. Ashleigh on August 30, 2004 at 5:13 pm

    “I’m being very sincere when I say that from what I’ve seen of Kerry, he has great difficulty telling the truth in relation to his presidential campaign. Again, in complete sincerity, what I’ve seen is that he has taken advantage of nearly every opportunity to spin, distort, and mislead in an almost compulsive fashion. Yes, compulsive. Am I wrong about this?”

    John, I’ve wanted to reply to you on this and just haven’t done it but here’s my best answer. I feel much the same way you do, only insert GWB where you put Kerry. And yes, I think we’re both wrong. Here’s why . . .

    Half of the country disagrees with me. Very close to half of the country finds GWB worth voting for again. They’re not *all* blind or stupid. It’s me that puts so much menace into his every word because I don’t like him or his politics. That doesn’t make me right and everyone else stupid or evil. What it means is that I bring a lot of my baggage to the things GWB says. I over-blow his exaggerations, I demonize his intentions, I never ever give him benefit of the doubt. All this combined creates a picture in my mind that probably isn’t very accurate of a man that half the country likes quite a lot.

    Or I could be wrong. Maybe he is evil.

  111. Ivan Wolfe on August 30, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    John –

    Yep. Bruce Banner was the name of the Hulk’s alter Ego in the comics (still is).

    It was changed in the TV series because Bruce was conisdered to be to “comic-booky” and wimpy sounding. David was used because it sounded more masculine (though they did have his full name as “David Bruce Banner” on his premature tombstone as a tip of the hat to the comics).

    And the movie was great – as long as you go expecting a psychological meditation on the ways fathers can screw up their kids. If you go expecting an action movie, prepare to be disappointed.

  112. Ivan Wolfe on August 30, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    John –

    Yep. Bruce Banner was the name of the Hulk’s alter Ego in the comics (still is).

    It was changed in the TV series because Bruce was conisdered to be to “comic-booky” and wimpy sounding. David was used because it sounded more masculine (though they did have his full name as “David Bruce Banner” on his premature tombstone as a tip of the hat to the comics).

    And the movie was great – as long as you go expecting a psychological meditation on the ways fathers can screw up their kids. If you go expecting an action movie, prepare to be disappointed.

  113. John Jensen on September 4, 2004 at 2:41 am

    “Or I could be wrong. Maybe he is evil.”

    Very likely, but redemption is available for just about everyone.

    Seriously, Ashleigh, any pronouncement I make as my own judge is going to suspect, but I really don’t think my dislike of Kerry’s politics and personality are coloring my assesment of his honesty. There are plenty of Democrats and liberals I admire. I completely disagree with Susan Estrich and Alan Colmes about almost everything, but I also think they’re both sincere in their beliefs and, for the most part, very straight shooters. I happen to like Sean Hannity personally and agree with his politics, but I don’t think he’s a straight shooter–he spins with the best of them.

  114. Ken Maxwell on October 15, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    for those of you who would choose Bush because he is a good Christian etc.Well, he is a Methodist and they just happen to believe that Mormons are not Christians.
    Personally his religion doesn’t make any difference to me and I doubt that he is any more (religious) than Kerry. I feel I have my church for that particular need in my life. What I need a president to be is someone who will help me take care of the poor people of the world, keep us out of war, and keep this country running along the way it should.
    What has Bush done so far? He has gotten us into a war that we will be years trying to extricate ourselves from, He has given all his rich cronies millions of dollars in tax breaks at the expense of everyone else. ( I realize he throwed a few crumbs to the middle class to keep us shut up)and he has put this country in debt that our kids will be trying to recover from for a long time.
    Think I’ll vote for Kerry.

  115. Adam Greenwood on October 15, 2004 at 8:20 pm

    “or those of you who would choose Bush because he is a good Christian etc. Well, he is a Methodist and they just happen to believe that Mormons are not Christians.”

    Methodists accept the baptisms that various Christian groups perform but won’t accept ours, because we’re not ‘Christian.’ Bush is a Methodist.

    Catholics accept the baptisms that various Christian groups perform but won’t accept ours, because we’re not ‘Christian.’ Kerry is a Catholic.

    Vote Nader!

    Note to judicial law clerk ethics watchdogs: The above ‘endorsement’ of Ralph Nader is so chock full of irony, irony, irony, and sophisticated distance that it should not even be understood to hint that Nader might be a lesser choice, let alone to hint that one should vote for him. No, sir. This law clerk is as neutral as Switzerland. Please don’t reprimand me.

  116. Ken Maxwell on October 15, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    Adam as I pointed out Bushes religion (and Kerrys for that matter) really doesn’t matter to me.
    I just get a little irked when people say something like, ” I think I’ll vote for Bush because the brethren want us to vote for good honest men” and Bush has carried his religion on his sleeve so he must be a good man. I just really believe if people vote for him because of his religious beliefs, they are barking up the wrong tree.
    By the way Adam, I was born and raised in Springerville and I can remember a few Greenwoods but its been like 40 years so you probably were’nt around when I lived there.

  117. Natascha Talley on October 15, 2004 at 8:48 pm

    I have read many of your comments on here and I respect everyones decision for the way they will vote. I too will vote my concience and my vote is going for Kerry. Let me tell my story why… I have a husband who is currently serving in Afghanistan. He is proud to serve his country and we are equally proud of him. He joined the Armed services to serve his country but also to make a better life for his family. I have been hanging on every word of the Presidential candidates because our lives as well as my children’s lives will be so greatly affected. This deployment has been a tremendous hardship on the whole family, I have had our second child while he is deployed and day after day I worry about my husbands safety as well as the security of our future. I cannot in good concience vote for a man who is not concerned about the military families, who is willing to go to not only 1 war, but 2 wars without keeping the citizens of this country in mind. Bush has ruined our economy, he has ruined our foriegn relations, he is arrogant, and self serving. I can rattle off all of the statistics, but I want people to know the heartache this man has caused by going to war in Iraq without thinking it through. My husband is willing to fight for our freedom, our safety, and our families, not for 1 man’s uneducated mistake to go to war. At this point ANYONE is better then Bush.

  118. Adam Greenwood on October 16, 2004 at 4:01 pm

    Certain of President Bush’s and Senator Kerry’s respective religious beliefs matter very much to me. It’s hard for me to think why they shouldn’t, unless these two men effectively compartmentalize their religious beliefs, so that their religious beliefs have no bearing on any of their political decisions or any part in molding their character.

  119. Mark B on October 16, 2004 at 4:26 pm

    By the way, Ken, my grandmother was a Maxwell, born in Nutrioso, who grew up in Round Valley. Your surname makes me wonder if we’re related.

  120. Adam Greenwood on October 16, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    You probably knew my relatives. I never lived in Nutrioso or Springerville, though my family lived in Taylor, AZ, for a while. It’s not too far away.

  121. Ken on October 16, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    Adam if your grandmother was a Maxwell born in Nutrioso we probably ARE related. My father was also born in Nutrioso. His Name was Marion. My Grandfather was Erastus C Maxwell and my great grandfather was William B Maxwell. Any of that familier?

  122. Mark B on October 16, 2004 at 8:53 pm

    Ken, it wasn’t Adam who wrote the previous post–it was I.

    Yeah, William B. Maxwell was my great-great grandfather. His son William Andrew was my great grandfather, and Jane Maxwell my grandmother.

  123. Mark B on October 16, 2004 at 9:01 pm

    Ken, I just checked Ancestral File. It looks as if our families came from different wives of William B. My g-g-grandmother was Marietta Magdalene Hamblin Maxwell.

  124. Ken on October 17, 2004 at 8:22 am

    Mark thats intresting. I have most of William B’s geneology somewhere in my files. I want to check it out later today. What part of the world do you come from?

  125. Ken Maxwell on October 17, 2004 at 2:21 pm

    Mark I just checked some of my records and I found Jane Maxwell born in Nutrioso and died in 1949. She married a man by the name of Butler.
    I dont think I have a whole lot of information on her children and grand children, but I suspect this was your grand mother, correct?

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