Weekend Politics

Two of my favorite members of the punditocracy went at it on Friday night on Real Time.  I most appreciate both Bill Maher and Andrew Sullivan for their honesty.  I agree with each of them on some things and disagree on others.  I tend to agree with Maher on the present state of America and the current administration and I love his acerbic wit (plus the linguistic freedom that he is afforded on HBO), but I find his views on religion to be odious and reactionary.  I appreciate Sullivan’s wholehearted commitment to democracy and capitalism, but I think he’s living in lala land to believe that either could achieve the idealistic state that he envisions (in fact, Naomi Klein really busted Sullivan’s chops on this very point on the show).

I think Sullivan is one of the best guests that Maher has on, primarily because Andrew is not the least bit intimidated by Bill’s intellect and tongue.  This clip is a classic repartee between the two of them on the subject of religion:


In other news, journalists are finally started to talk publicly about the power of the racist vote in America, and about the McCain campaign’s unwillingness to speak boldly against it.  Mark Ambinder has written about it here and here in the last couple days, and Nicholas Kristof today argues that the lingering lies about BO being an underground Muslim is really a foil for racism.

I do think there’s something to this, unfortunately.  In fact, the only way I see BO losing the election is if a certain segments of whites don’t vote for him because of latent racism.  How sad is that?

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  • John

    “In fact, the only way I see BO losing the election is if a certain segments of whites don’t vote for him because of latent racism. How sad is that?”

    Are you kidding me, Tony? I guess you can’t be white, a follower of Christ, AND disagree with Obama’s positions without being racist. I’m no McCain enthusiast…believe me. But, I’m not voting for Obama because I disagree with his positions. Are you going to lambast the blacks who ARE simply voting for Obama because he’s black? Those who won’t vote for McCain because he’s white? Where is your criticism there?

    The more you write about the election, the closer you get to the position of “If you REALLY love Jesus, then you’ll vote for Obama.” You are getting very close to duplicating the same sins of the Religious Right, which you have often criticized. If you don’t think the Democrats are willing to pander to progressive evangelicals in order to get votes, then I believe you are mistaken.

  • Nowaytess

    I feel like I am going to address this issue:

    I do think there’s something to this, unfortunately. In fact, the only way I see BO losing the election is if a certain segments of whites don’t vote for him because of latent racism. How sad is that

    Let talk about reverse Racisim here. I agree when the meida or certian segements of Christianity try to make OB a Muslim and try with the media I agree with you. It is garbage and unfair to OB. If I quesiton his religous beliefs it will be his stand on issues not proprganda trying to make him OB a Muslim.

    I don’t consdier Mc Cain a Christian.

    I am at work and many of the younger african americans many put up their OB signs at thier desk. One of the good things come out of OB runninig is young African American interested in Politices and being part of the political process.

    One young man who is very active talks to me every day. We good talk and he see my stand on the issues. But at first he thought it was because OB was African American. I try to encourge this young man once they elections were over maybe he should run for office himself. He was shy and said. “no.” I said “Why? YOu are very enthuiastic and this country need people of both parties who care that is 1/2 the battle.” We still talk and hope maybe one day he thought about what I said for he really does care.

    I like Colin Powell and wish he would run for office.

    I have young people all day long about white not voting for OB because he is African American. Thais is not fair and is reverse racism. I hear it thought the office chatter.

    A few of my older friends have thier Mc Cain sings up and they get childed by those who are for OB.

    I don’ t know how many times a day they come by my desk and say “Vote for OB” I don’t say anything for fear that I could be at HR and lose my job.

    Now the main media is starting if OB is not elected there may be race riots. I hope if MC Cain wins this does not happen. And Visa Versa if OB wins the Conservative Wing accepts the results of the election and come back together.

    Tony is is not fair of you to assume whites don’t vote for OB is because of race not beacuse of the way they feel about the issues.

  • chris

    Tony…Wow! You’ve completely swallowed the left’s food. Amazing! I’ll let the first two comments stand in taking you to task for the racism bit. I’m just saddened that some of the things you bring to the religious table will be nullified by your obsession to sleep with the left on nearly all things political.

  • Oh, please, give me a break! I’m not accusing you of being a racist because you’re supporting McCain. That’s as silly as calling me a sexist because I supported Obama over Hillary. It’s a ridiculous charge, and if you leave it again, I’ll delete your ludicrous (and, no surprise, anonymous) comment.

    Pollster after pollster has shown that BO is fighting a latent racism in certain parts of the country that will hurt him. In fact, some pollsters are saying racism is what’s keeping this race close, being that the congressional races in the same districts between two white candidates aren’t nearly as close. My only point is that the MSM is now picking up the story.

    And I stand by my independent credentials. I’m an Obama supporter, yes. So is Andrew Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul and a leading voice of conservatism. So is Doug Kmiec, a conservative, pro-life Catholic. Have we all “swallowed the left’s food”? Hell no. And, just so you know, I will also be voting for Republicans and Independents on November 4.

  • Nowaytess

    Thanks Tony,

    Even though I am a registered Republican, I worked in the past on Democratic Campains I canadates believe in.

    I do vote for the issues and listen to all side before I vote.

    I do agree OB is cerrtian areas of this coutry will face the race issue.

    Also too there is reverse racisim this county that exist, but no one address that issue.

    He is a link from the show “The View” which I saw on MSNBC when I worked out down at the gym. It quotes Whoopi Goldberg and was stunned at her comments to John Mc Cain:


    I know if I were up there and asked the question I would not know how to respond either. It hurts OB when people of either side are not careful to see how far their comments go.

    The biggest problem in this coutry is you are either left or right. I am neither. I tend to side right with moral issues and left with isue like Social Security . Welfare reform and health care.

    Tony, I just got the book in our Small group started with, “The New Christians.” Our group is with older members who want to reach out to younger ones. Trust me I lobbied very hard for this book to be studied.

    Your book hits the nail on the head on what I see in work everyday. Just think 40’s though 70’s are listening. I am too and don’t want to be I vote differently than most here do. Now the older ones are getting what I see out in the work force among the young every day!

    All I ask, what you, Doug and Brian has started in the Church is right direction. I been able to place Doug and Brain books with 20 and 30’s people I work with people who don’t like Christianity. I ask how they like the books. Just think now have some intrest in going back to Church! One of the co-workers who read 2 chapters of Brian’s book express, “It is different idea of what Christianity what he taught.”

    Thes people whom I place the books at work who verbally express a verhiment distian for Christianity. It took a lot of work to me it is more important to “Preach the Gospel” and show the love and hope of Christ to a generation which need direction and know Jesus loves them also.

    If you ever want some constructive feed back, you have my email address. I’ll be glad to give it.

    Just don’t let this election or any political issue stop the good work started here.

  • Nowaytess


    sorry the link does not come up with the Mc Cain interview you have to hit the politics link then the interview.

  • Tony,

    I am sorry that you were accused of such ridiculousness! John has some real issues if he can’t discern what you are addressing. Never once did you accuse anyone of being racist for not voting for BO. John seems to have preconceived dislikes for your perspective on faith and politics and apparently chose to distort your short statement about racism into you becoming a left-winged propagandist! I have another set of initials to add to this conversation besides BO… BS!

  • Greg

    On an unrelated point to the racism discussion, I read Andrew Sullivan every day, but found his “defense” of people of faith’s ability to think critically to be really weak and tepid. I don’t see how exactly any group of individuals, be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, athiests, or whatever can think about “spiritual” issues in one sphere, and then set that all aside for “reality-based” thinking when dealing with the “real” world. What, precisely, is your faith for if it doesn’t effect the way you approach real life? None of this is to say that to be a person of faith you must believe in a literal ark, or a seven-day creation 6000 years ago and all of that, but your faith can’t be put in a box in one little sphere of your identity.

  • Rick


    While your words toward John portray you as some “free-thinking” voter, your blog posts clearly present you on the contrary. Try reading them.

  • Tony,

    You should be a guest on Bill Maher.

  • I also enjoy Bill Maher, though I also think his “critique” of religion in America is so reactionary and over-the-top as to be difficult (read: impossible) to take seriously. Interestingly enough, Maher says he believes in God – so his attack is not against spirituality per se, but against what he perceives as human constructions, that he calls “telling stories”. Still, Maher’s constant verbal vomiting over the issue of organized, historic Faith suggests he can no more talk intelligently and honestly about the issue than can a fundamentalist who’s been taught that such conversation itself is an attack from the Devil. The difference being Maher thinks all such talk is fruitless because it’s an attack from snake oil salesmen and Neanderthals.

    On the issue of Obama, I certainly agree that racism plays a role. I’ve been frustrated for some time now that the media lets people get away with vague justifications around such polling questions as: “Do you believe America is ready for a Black president?” The problem with such a question is that it lets people off the hook for blatant personal racism, by deflecting to some anonymous mass of people.

    One last point though (and here I differ a little from Tony): While racism in some American circles hurts Obama’s numbers, the fact that so many Blacks chose to vote for Obama – because he is Black, would seem to, at least, balance that out.

    Okay, one more point on top of my one last point: I agree with Klein that Sarah Palin is much more a third round of Bush, than is John McCain. In my opinion, McCain’s choosing of her undermines his credibility as a sincere change-maker.

  • Tim Fitch

    I think to those who live in an area were racism is subtle the idea of existing racism is hard to believe. For those of us who live in areas where subtle racism is not so subtle this is an important point. My wife has spent the last year as the president of the Multi- cultural association at Fielding University she is always catching me making judgments or comments that are subtly racist. Now understand I am very liberal and have fought for equality not only for racist but also sex, and sexual orientation so that doesn’t go over very well with me. Unfortunately she is right we are programed with this bias and must be aware of it. Here is an in your face link about racisim.http://www.lipmagazine.org/~timwise/Obama.html

  • T,

    Interesting that Maher has on a Brit and a Canadian to talk about US politics. Not sure if it lends credibility to their critiques but it could potentially point out that those who don’t get to vote are appalled at the choice of Palin.


  • Tom

    Really Tony,
    If you think that Andrew “Trig’s not really Palin’s child” Sullivan is honest, then boy…nothing else to say, is there? You should check out Winner & Associates and astroturfing too. But, how can you support Obama since he’s black, and you’re white…unless you’re not a racist, eh? But, how could that be…my head hurts.

  • Браво!