Obama, the Arab World, Obese Children, Another Christian Kerfuffle, and Bristol's Memoir: The Morning Report

Obama, the Arab World, Obese Children, Another Christian Kerfuffle, and Bristol's Memoir: The Morning Report July 14, 2011

In the News

1.  I’ve been relatively pessimistic about Republican chances in 2012, but a GOP victory is increasingly plausible.  Pickups in Congress could be substantial.  From Rasmussen:

A generic Republican candidate earns the highest level of support yet against President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election matchup.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that the generic Republican picks 48% of the vote, while the president gets 43% support.  Three percent (3%) favor some other candidate, and seven percent (7%) are undecided…The GOP candidate has now outpolled the president in seven-of-10 surveys conducted weekly since early May….

Republicans hold a six-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, July 10. Republicans have led on the ballot for every week since June 2009, with leads ranging from two to 12 points.

We should never underestimate the power of the GOP to screw things up.  And the debt-ceiling issue is explosive; handled wrongly, it could do serious damage to Republican prospects.  But there’s no doubt the opportunity is there.  One wonders whether Obama’s worsening poll numbers will entice others, like Rick Perry, into the fray.

2.  Across the Arab world, opinions of the United States and Obama are down:

President Obama has failed to live up to the expectations he created in the Arab world, according to a new poll released by Zogby International and the Arab American Institute Foundation. The poll also noted that most Arab countries view the U.S. less favorably today than they did during the last year of the Bush administration.

When President Bush left office, 9 percent of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards the United States. After Barack Obama was elected, that number jumped to 30 percent. But today, only 5 percent of Egyptians surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of the United States and its president. Similar figures in Morocco, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates illustrate that the initial optimism in the region has been eclipsed by a widespread sense of disappointment.

3.  A Harvard professor says that in the most extreme cases of severe childhood obesity, when the child is facing imminent health risks, when the state has first attempted counseling and supporting the family, it may be necessary to remove the child from the parents’ custody.  Am I the only one who is not outraged by this idea?  In the vast majority of cases I believe it would be much more in the interest of the child to work with and through the parents.  But if the parents refuse to do, or prove incapable of doing, what is necessary for the child’s health, might a temporary loss of custody sometimes be better?

My first instinct is to oppose the state taking custody of someone’s children, but we hardly blink when a child is taken from a parent who is subjecting their children to a variety of risks — whether the parent is a prostitute whose clients sometimes abuse the child, or the parent is a druggie who leaves the child unattended while high, or etc.  Why not in this case?  The professor was pretty careful to frame the issue around extreme cases, severe obesity, imminent health risks, and only after other forms of intervention have failed.  Seems reasonable to me.  What am I missing?

In the Pews

1.  Another day, another Christian kerfuffle.  Joy.  Mark Driscoll invited followers on Facebook to tell their best story of an “effeminate anatomically male” worship leader (the post is now deleted).  I know what he’s talking about, but it was thoughtless and insensitive.  Rachel Held Evans — who has long been critical of Driscoll — rather leapt to the attack, condemning Driscoll for his “bullying” and inviting others to do the same.  Evans’ attack went viral.  Some agreed in criticizing Driscoll, but argued that Evans’ response was not exactly a sterling case of Christian charity either.  Driscoll then provided some of the context, and admitted that the Elders in his church rightly rebuked him for his “flippant” comment and for not addressing real issues with real context and real context.  Evans replied that “our message was heard,” and provided (was she too chastened?) much of the grace that was lacking from her initial response.

Well, we’re all learning together, I suppose.

2.  At The Resurgence, Five Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church.  They are: (1) Make sure your faith is something you only live out in public, (2) Pray only in front of people, (3) Focus on your morals, (4) Give financially as long as it doesn’t impede your needs, and (5) Make church community a priority…as long as there is nothing else you want to do.

3.  Our own Nancy French describes what it was like to co-write Bristol Palin’s memoir.

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  • As a conservative, I hope the House and Senate are split, with Republicans controlling one, and Democrats controlling the other. This will prevent them from doing anything. Gridlock is good. Govt action is generally not good.

    As a Texan, I don’t trust Rick Perry as far as I can control him. He’s a snake. Don’t drink the kool-aid.

    • Steve Billingsley

      I am a lifelong Texan and a conservative…and I don’t trust Rick Perry either. In one word…overrated.

  • On taking away kids, I think the government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure kids are not imperiled by their living environment. I am not at all sanguine about our existing infrastructure reasonably discerning what constitutes peril. If you polled CPS, I’m reasonably sure the majority would favor an absolute ban on spanking for example. Slippery slopes are dangerous when you can’t rely on your rope.

    It strikes me that Perry caters to the base on meaningless issues (secession) and moderates on the big issues. It’s not clear to me what he adds to the mix. Chris Christie would be a more intriguing choice, though I’d like some proof he can keep gaffes to a minimum while remaining a straight-shooter.

    I think Obama’s re-election hinges on two issues. The first is the economy, and the second is the fear factor. He loses the former, so the question is whether Americans are sufficiently afraid of structural changes so that their fear outbids their economic interests.

    Truth be told Obama’s promise of change was really a promise of affirmation. Obama promised a government that could meet people where they were and provide for them.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say America’s appetite for reform is about a 9. That means the Republican needs to propose substantive change, but must do so without seeming unreasonable. Romney might fail the change test, Bachmann the reasonableness test. That’s why the party is touting Pawlenty in spite of his sluggish polling numbers.

    • “It’s not clear to me what he adds to the mix.”

      Perry has much better hair than the other candidates.

  • On the Kerfuffle:
    Seems like this is the 2nd Evans food fight you’ve featured recently. I had not heard of her before reading your posts, but she’s making a whopper of a bad impression on me.

    Maybe she’s brilliant and erudite. Maybe she’s the best thing since sliced whole wheat. But she seems to be the very embodiment of a Christian Blogosphere that lunges at the chance to bludgeon a fellow believer in the (virtual) public square.

    Did this minister deserve to be upbraided? Sure looks like it. But from Ms. Evans and a zillion enthusiastic, uninvolved, online spectators? I’m just not sure.

    Tools (and I use that term charitably) like Facebook aren’t necessarily bad. But they sure as heck do a great job at broadcasting our own stupidity.

    • I read it as another salvo in the Calvinist-Emergent spat, at which Driscoll is at the epicenter since he is a Calvinist who was once emergent. Is the issue really about his use of the word effeminate, or is this simply a proxy war over his more concrete theological positions?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I do worry that she might gain a reputation for this sort of thing, for consistently chastising the Neo-Reformed camp. I’m sure she feels it’s justified, but it does get a a little tiresome at times. Most of her posts, in fairness, are not this way. Are they brilliant and erudite? Well, she’s a good blogger. I’d be happy for her to blog at Patheos, and she’s one of the very few female bloggers of note to address issues like these.