who gives a fuck?

Hey, remember the Polish Presidential elections back in 1990? Lech Walesa was running against Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and this Canadian emigré Stanislaw Tyminski. The election was notable in that it was Poland’s first free election in 68 years. Also notable was the fact that attempts were made to discredit candidates by accusing them of being Jewish. Thus we were witness to the spectacle of great men like Walesa, and others vying to lead Poland in the post-Communist era, having to declare that they were in fact not Jewish – as if Judaism was some kind of distasteful stain that obviously rendered someone, ipso facto, unfit for office. I felt this was very distasteful at the time and reminded me that anti-Semitism was still a fact of life in Poland, despite only a handful of Jews remaining in the country after the Holocaust.

I felt the same unease the other day when I read Barack Obama’s declaration, “I am a Christian” in response to a persistent email campaign accusing him of being a Muslim. I was further horrified after reading of a letter penned by a slew of Jewish leaders (William Daroff, vice president of United Jewish Communities; Nathan J. Diament, director of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League; Richard S. Gordon, president of the American Jewish Congress; David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee; Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Phyllis Snyder, president of the National Council of Jewish Women; and Hadar Susskind, Washington director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) urging their “constituents” to ignore the slanderous accusations contained in the emails.

Look, I know everyone means well. Obama wanted to correct inaccurate biographical information. The aforementioned self-appointed Jewish leaders (none of whom I ever voted for) want to make sure that Jewish people make election decisions based on accurate information. But seriously though… what the fuck? For starters, the United States is supposed to be a country wherein there is a separation of Church and State. A candidate’s religion ought to be irrelevant. More pernicious though is the implication that Islam in the US in 2008 is a stain, like Judaism was in Poland in 1990, that will automatically render a candidate unfit for office. The involvement of our unelected Jewish leaders in the strident denial of Obama’s crypto-Islamism also implies that Jews are particularly susceptible to this sort of prejudicial thinking.

I’m not going to ever support any Republican candidate just because she may be Jewish. No matter how many Jewish advisers and MPs Canadian Conservative PM Stephen Harper surrounds himself with, I’d still never vote Conservative. A candidate for political office’s religious orientation ought to be irrelevant in and of itself unless said candidate was running on a religious platform. Obama should have bravely declared that his religious beliefs are irrelevant and that even if he were a Muslim, this ought not impact on people’s decisions. Whatever. I’m not voting for him anyway.

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ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

60 Comments

  • The argument here, which is long on passion and short on coherence, is that because there is a constitutional separation of church and state, a candidate’s religious background ought to be “irrelevant”– it shouldn’t be inquired into, and the candidates should refuse to address their own beliefs publicly.

    Separation of church and state hardly amounts to some sort of rule that discussion of religion should be verboten. Voters are to ignore that Huckabee’s a Baptist minister? Or that millions of Americans harbor prejudice to Mormons like Romney? Romney’s quite properly addressed this issue, just as JFK did in 1960. Public discourse is better for it.

    Our next president has some unusual powers, including the power to, oh, blow up the world. His or her beliefs ought to be looked into and discussed.

    Obama gave the right response. His brand of Christianity (whatever that may be), Romney’s Mormonism, Lieberman’s Jewishness (back in the day)– it’s all fair game. As, of course, are the anti-Muslim attitudes that fueled this story to begin with.

  • A problem with Obama is his minister and religious leader- A minister who is a friend of Farrakhan. His church promotes things that are not so “unity” but rather very “Afrocentric”. Check our Wright!

  • I had a conversation last Sunday with a priest in my Catholic parish, who found Huckabee’s creationism/rejection of the theory of evolution laughable; the priest said he couldn’t vote for someone who held such a view. ‘Intelligent design’, school textbooks’ treatment of evolution– all of this is at the forefront of debate in the US.

    Should we ask what the presidential candidates think about this? Or is that a violation of the separation of church and state, per ck?

  • Good call, Tom. Last week I talked to an old prof of mine (he’s from the US originally) about the presidential candidates, and he claimed he simply could not take a candidate seriously that held such hardliner religious views bare of any understanding of academic, European-style secular theology. I cannot find the article anymore, but there was an essay, IIRC in last week’s Jüdische Allgemeine, that was highly alerted about born-again Christians and their views towards Jews and Judaism and their actual intentions behind their support of Israel. If I can retrieve the article, I’ll post a few lines on it.

  • There’s no avoiding it, froylein. Your beliefs and mine may be private, but we’re not running for president. (Though I hold out hope that one day, you’ll become Bundeskanzler at the head of a CDU/CSU coalition…)

  • I’m frankly far more concerned about the bullshit racism card played by the Obama campaign against Clinton(s) than his faith.

    On the one hand, it was a brilliant move. On the other hand, it was worthy of Karl Rove. Hell, it was better than Karl Rove’s better moves. From the initial bubbling forth of the noise, to the direct attacks on Clinton, to the denial by his campaign that they were behind it, to the “above the fray” talk and press conference where Obama played the chivalrous “forgiver” of the supposed Clinton trespass, it was simply outstanding political maneuvering.

    Then again, it was extremely divisive, not just for Democrats but for all Americans. It was based on lies and false representations. It emphasized that he will do anything, no matter how slimy, to win. This is not the worst trait in a politician, weakness is. After all, you want a fighter in your corner when negotiating with China, Russia or the Saudis. The problem is that nobody trusts a dirty player and if he can only think of himself in an extraordinary primary by American historical standards where a woman and a black man are the front-runners for a major party’s nomination to run for President, then he may be too self-centered, too myopic or both to be somebody who actually does something for others when he comes into office. The last thing the US needs right now is another Bush.

  • Tom, your point about discussion of the candidate’s religion is fair, but I think ck’s point is relevant. Demonizing somebody because of faith is fairly bad, but so is the subtle demonization of others to protect that person.

  • Obama relied on his many African-American surrogates to do the dirty work. He obviously feels he’s got to separate the Clintons from their base in the African-American community to win the nomination. I imagine he’s right.

    But look– when it comes to Rove-style street fighting, no one outdoes the Clintons. Leave the crocodile tears to Hillary (a master of the genre, as we’ve recently seen).

  • ..Agreed, Middle, but the point is, it should all be vetted and discussed. If some folks think JFK took orders from the pope, or that Lieberman would’ve put Israel’s interests before America’s, or (per Rabbi Yonah) that Obama has NOI associations– let’s put it out there. Further, let the cranks and anti-Semites and anti-Mormons be heard. The historical record encourages us to believe that tolerance will prevail over the haters.

  • I have to disagree. Obama has the advantage here. In a couple of debates where he attacked her aggressively, he subtly tried to emphasize that she’s a woman (negatively). He then proceeded to bring up race as if he were under attack. The strategy is a good one because the Clintons deservedly have a strong African-American base and he needs those voters to have a real shot at the nomination.

    I think that she’s in a tough corner because she can’t fight back openly without looking “bitchy” or keeping this distasteful debate about her supposed misspeaking open. That’s the brilliance of his maneuver. I have to say that she has to be running one of the most challenging campaigns ever. She has to appear likeable and presidential while avoiding any hint of the negative personality traits usually attributed to her. She’s a woman running against only men. She’s not naturally charismatic and at least two of her challengers are. People see her husband and think “baggage.” In all of this, her experience and intelligence seem to be relegated to the side.

    As for her crocodile tears, I think those were genuine. That was a moment where her true fear, that after a lifetime of seeking this one thing she wouldn’t get to the finish line because of things entirely out of her control and perhaps even unreasonable things. Imagine that after all these decades she is about to beat the odds and become the first woman nominee with a realistic chance of winning and some young, untested, inexperienced, vague but attractive, charismatic man suddenly appears and actually beats her in a race… Those tears were real and her fear and deep frustration were real.

  • I’m with you on Obama’s inexperience, Middle, but he’s bringing a message of getting past partisan divides, and healing divisions in the country, that’s very powerful. Looking at it Jewliciously, I’d fear that Obama would take US foreign policy in a direction not in Israel’s interests. (He wants to converse genially with Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il, after all.) For this and for other reasons, I’m highly unlikely to vote for him.

    You let Hillary entirely off the hook, but like the other candidates, she has her disadvantages– including, apparently, an ability to inspire people on a deep level. The candidates’ leadership skills are relevant, and here, Obama likely bests Clinton.

  • The aforementioned self-appointed Jewish leaders (none of whom I ever voted for) want to make sure that Jewish people make election decisions based on accurate information. —————————————————————————
    What an ignorant comment. They are not self-appointed. They happen to run major Jewish organizations and can write letters if they feel like it. If you want to write a letter and say you work for Jewlicious, go ahead. But you may not be as well known as them. That is not their fault. Why attack people who work for Jewish organizations just because you don’t like them.

  • BenDavid, I think what ck meant to say was that he does not agree that somebody representing an organization rooted in a certain religious affiliation can be equalled (British spelling) to the entirety of that very religious affiliation’s adherents and may not even, on grounds of them not having been elected into their positions through a general election held among the aforementioned adherents, be necessarily considered representatives or ambassadors of that very religious affiliation.

    And yes, I’m aware the previous sentence is too long.

    And BTW, ck doesn’t just work for Jewlicious; ck is Jewlicious.

  • Any Muslim candidate would receive enormous scrutiny, for a host of good and obvious reasons. Such a person’s religious views couldn’t possibly escape it.

  • BenDavid: Who said I didn’t like them? I’m just stating a fact – I never had any say in their elevation to positions of “Jewish Leadership.” I’ve lived in Canada, the US and Israel and never once did I ever get a ballot. But that’s not the point. I recognize the fact that they are in positions of Jewish authority and are seen to be representatives of the Jewish people. Given that, they ought to have treated this matter with more delicacy and not in a way that was evocative of the treatment given to the “Are you Jewish?” issue of the Polish Presidential Elections. Is Obama running a campaign based on his religious beliefs? No? Then the matter of his religion ought to be inconsequential. The way it was dealt with almost implied that had he been a Muslim he would have been unqualified for public office, which is just plain wrong in a nation composed of equal citizens. Well supposedly equal anyway.

    Is it wrong for me to expect better from my “leaders?” I don’t think so.

    And froylein, with all due respect, I am just a facilitator. Jewlicious isn’t what it is because of the platform I maintain, or the occasional lame ass blog posts I write. Jewlicious is important because it is an ongoing conversation whose constituents make up the heart and soul of this blog. None of us work for Jewlicious. We work for the Jewish people and in that respect I am no leader, just a humble servant. I mean that too. In reality I am a complete idiot. Seriously.

  • ck, mind me quoting your own words? “We’re one big, happy family.” Remember, I likened it to the Borg. 😉

  • Tom, bringing a message of healing divisions and getting past partisan divides is lovely if you don’t turn around and use race divisions to gain an advantage over your opponent. In other words, watch what he does and not what he says.

    I agree entirely that Obama is more charismatic and inspirational than Hillary and probably all of the other candidates in both parties right now. I’m not sure whether that means that he’s a good politician and can handle what the Republicans are going to hand him if he’s President. I know that Hillary can handle it effectively.

    Then again, he did pull this Rovian stunt…

  • Middle, didn’t Hillary’s NH campaign chair have to resign after intimating Obama’s alleged drug use/dealing? I recall Mark Penn making public statements to that effect, too. So let’s not pretend that Hillary’s pure as the driven snow.

    You think the sharp elbows are out this week? You can bet on the following: (a) if the spread stays at anywhere around 14, take the Chargers and the points; (b) if the Dems’ race goes on after Feb. 5, things will get very nasty, with the only likely winners the McCain/Huckabee ticket (you heard it here first).

  • “The way it was dealt with almost implied that had he been a Muslim he would have been unqualified for public office, which is just plain wrong in a nation composed of equal citizens.”

    Great post and comments ck…I’m glad you spotted the camouflaged racism/anti-Islamic attitude. Sick!

  • I’m terribly sorry but I am afraid we are just not ready yet for a muslim president.

    We will be ready when the oil price hits 200$ a barrel.

  • what an amazing exchange and valuable discussion. just wonder how many people actually read these posts, I wish I had time to get involved with this intelectual wrangling, sadly some people have to work for a living.

    I dont really know much about Obama or what he stands for, but it seems to me that its already in some peoples eyes a foregone conclusion that he is going to be the next president. what if the Republicans pull it off and Obama may end up in eternal obscurity? This whole discussion is pure speculation, however one thing is VERY clear is that a Clinton win would be dangerous for Humankind. Who remembers when as First Lady she went cuddling up to Suha Arafat and comiserating with that wretched person on her accusations that Israel was poisining the Palestinians? Where is Suha today? squandering the billions her husband pillaged from the Palestinian people, paid for by the US, European, and Israeli taxpayer,,,,yes you and me……

    Its the American people who are going to vote, lets hope they get a true picture of all the candidates credentials, and vote wisely. The world needs now more than ever a strong and fair leadership in the US

  • Tom, your #24 is a right on the money. A is right – take the point spread. B is right, the Republicans are already benefiting from the way the two Dem front-runners are playing this situation.

    However, the insinuations about drug use by the Hillary camp are nowhere near as damaging or ugly, in my opinion, as the charge of inherent racism. Don’t forget that Hillary dismissed the operative who made those remarks almost immediately. Barack can’t even bring himself to say outright that the claims made against the Clintons were false.

  • Obama is just one big Rorshcach ink blot test. Everybody sees in him whatever it is they are looking for. Especially guilt-ridden white liberals. They’re dying to redeem themselves in their own eyes by being able to vote for a black man (although according to some black pundits (like Stanley Crouch) Obama really isn’t authentically black in the American sense because his ancestors weren’t slaves here). Obama is like what some people have called “the magic Negro” in movies, the preternaturally wise black sidekick who imparts wisdom to the uptight white person and frees him from his white uptightness (Will Smith in “Bagger Vance” was the perfect example). I think a lot of white people will vote for Obama for what he means to them, not necessarily for what his policies are or might be. But don’t count out a Hillary/Obama ticket (or vice-versa).

    Obama may or may not be a stealth Muslim. However, even if he were not, his association with that racist and anti-Semitic church which gave some kind of prize to Farrakhan is far more than enough for me to write him off.

    And this “Change is good” stuff is hooey. Change is not necessarily good. Everybody is hungry for “change”, but what are his actual policies? He really hasn’t said much of substance. I want to know what he wants to change the country into before I’ll vote for him.

    Tom:

    McCain/Giuliani (or Thompson) OK, but McCain/Huckabee? Just shoot me now.

  • Hey ck – just curious. Knowing you made Aliyah, are you planning on going dual-national? I’m curious to know your status re: voting in Canada and Israel.

    Some questions for our German and Finnish friends: Was gender an issue during the campaigns for the last top-office elections? Would it have been more of an issue in Germany if Merkle wasn’t a conservative? Does the Parliamentary system – whereas the party chooses the leader rather than direct elections – make race and gender less of an issue? Is it possible for the writer’s strike to end before the Academy Awards? Will ck’s Photoshopping skills improve?

    Also, in the context of race, religion and gender in the campaign, I came across this Haaretz piece:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/825372.html

    Our airport,(Minneapolis/St. Paul International) has two unconnected terminals: The Humphrey Terminal, named after a great progressive and ardent supporter of Israel; and the Lindbergh Terminal, named after one of America’s biggest anti-Semites and famous for mainly having a big bladder.

    Reporter: Governor Romney, I see you flew into the Lindbergh Terminal for tonight’s fund raiser. What does that say about your support for Israel?

    Romney (after frantically whispering to an aide): In retrospect I see that was a mistake. We will change our return flight to the Humphrey Terminal.

    Reporter: Governor, what does that say about your commitment to the Republican Party’s core values?

    Thank G-d Obama and Clinton have called a truce and, as the good politicians they are, blamed overzealous campaign staff for all this. Now let’s get back to the core issues: How Dennis Kucinich scored this:

    http://blog.cleveland.com/earlyedition/beth.jpg

  • Ephraim, that’s a brilliant (and highly entertaining) analysis. You’re right about the projection game people are playing.
    Always on the lookout for a Jewish theme to keep y’all happy: is Barack the Chauncey Gardiner of the ’00s?

    It speaks well of Middle that he’s come to terms with his dancing skills and can embrace Hillary.

    That’s an interesting point about Barack’s African ancestry. I’ll bet African immigrants to the US have a pretty complicated relationship with victim politics a la Jesse and Al Sharpton.

  • ramon– you missed it, obviously, but Romney has pledged to double the size of the Humphrey Terminal.

  • I like Hillary, even if I don’t love her. I like Obama, too, but don’t understand what qualifies him to lead. This isn’t even a governorship, this is the Presidency and he’s relatively inexperienced – just compare him to the rest of the Dems who are running. Even Edwards has more experience. I would have loved to see a Hillary/Obama ticket but I’m afraid it’s too late for that. On the Republican side, I also don’t see anybody exciting. McCain is way too conservative for somebody like me who likes the, uh, center.

  • NO WAY I’m voting for a filthy MUSLIM. We will destroy the faith of terror. We have nukes, they have homicide bombers; guess which is stronger.

  • Yonatan, of course, is our daily troll. Last time he was here, he told me to suck off Peres and ahmadinejad. Clearly a person who was raised to be a gentleman.

  • Hillary? I’ve got two words for that:

    Suha Arafat.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Hillary is nothing but an undifferentiated bundle of craving-for-power Id. She has no principles whatsoever.

    But, then, look what happened to Bush. He started out as one of the most pro-Israel presidents ever, and look at him now. Down on his knees begging his owners the Saudis to increase production and bring down the price. They didn’t even have the decency to let him get back home before telling him who’s running the show.

    And how about Condo-sleaza Rice? How can a person who was a provost at Stanford be so, well, stupid?

  • “But Romney has pledged to double the size of the Humphrey Terminal.”

    Tom – that’s some pork even us Jews can stomach! 🙂

    TM – I’m sure you already know this, but the backstory is (until the Midway “upgrade”) the Humphrey Terminal is to Midway what the Lindbergh Terminal is to O’Hare. I just don’t know where Mr. O’Hare stood on Jews. Well, kind of like that but not exactly.

  • Ramon, I’ll answer in more detail after work, but in general, it can only be helpful to a political career in mainstream parties over here to be female as most parties have a policy that sets a minimum rate of females in important positions, and it’s an unwritten rule that if there are a male and a female candidate, the female will get the position (as no party wants to appear anti-feminist), so our current chancelorette had the female bonus + the boni of being from the “new”, eastern federal states and being an academic (doctor of physics).

  • sounds like the gender-based version of Lebanon’s government…
    Yo. For real.

  • Tom:

    I knew this Jamaican guy who said things about American blacks that would curl your hair. It was like he was quoting from a Klan catechism. I had never heard anything like it. He did not have what most people would consider a Jamaican accent, so in the course of the conversation I must have said something that made it plain I assumed he was an American. He told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to be mistaken for one of the lazy, shiftless, whining entitlement-mongers he apparently felt American blacks to be.

    I absolutely could not believe my ears. (Needless to say I had absolutely no idea how the hell I was supposed to respond.) It was easily one of the strangest and most uncomfortable conversations I have ever had.

    I don’t know how to find it, but Stephen Colbert had a devastating interview with a woman (whose name escapes me) who apparently is some sort of spokesperson for the “African-American community”. She was of the opinion that Obama could not really be considered an African-American because his father was an African immigrant and that since Obama therefore did not come from a slave background he didn’t have the necessary qualifications to represent black Americans. Colbert was just merciless and had her so discombobulated by the end that she was literally speechless (she didn’t appear to be the sharpest knife in the drawer). He really confused her by saying that he was planning on voting for Obama because he always wanted to vote for a black man, but since this was not possible since Obama was not sufficiently black, would it be OK for him to vote for Obama as a white man? You could actually see her mental gears noisily grinding to a halt. It was priceless.

    If I knew how to search the Colbert report better I might be able to find the video, but if anyone can find it I highly recommend it. It’s brilliant stuff.

  • What a novel idea! To scrap bi-partisanship, base your vote on demoninational affiliation=) I’m a stickler when it comes to the Biblical Matrix, and I’m East Asian, so I did a quick search on the front-runners and their nominal endorsements (todah Google! now if only Chinese citizens had the same right to search about the subject):

    Presidential Candidates and Their Faith

    They all espouse to be christian. However, let’s break-it-down. Doctrinally, they can simply be categorized into one of two Jesus Camps: Pro-Israel-as-a-sovereign-nation or Pro-Church-that-has-replaced-Israel; there’s also an extension to this one larger camp (denominations that are not officially recognized by the Church fold ala Messianic Judaism and the Neturei Karta). All the demoninations in the Pro-Israel-Replacement camp have or are in the process of divesting from Israel. I’ll put them in those camps literally for ya’ll:

    1). Pro-Israel Camp – [Huckabee/S. Baptist, McCain/Baptist, Hunter/S. Baptist, Paul/Baptist];

    2). Pro-Replacement Theology Camp [Obama/United Church of Christ, Clinton/United Methodist, Edwards/United Methodist, Thompson/Church of Christ, Richardson/Roman Catholic, Guiliani/Roman Catholic; the “Cultist” (Romney/Mormon)].

    The ramifications for this difference in interpretation can be major and I really do believe a President’s demoninational background explains their policies while in the Anglo House. btw, President Bush is a member of the United Methodist demonination (he got voted in prior to the demonination’s approval of divestment).

    The mystical reason why the Pro-Replacement Theology camp is so dangerous is, well, yah, it would accelerate a doomsday confrontation. That’s why there hasn’t been a Pro-Vatican President and explains why J.F.K. was prolly assassinated (despite his “charismatic” facade).

    Ron Paul intrigues me cause he’s independent; voting for Hillary is tempting (based on the doomsday scenario and the empire’s inevitable downfall); but I’m not about to officially endorse a candidate – until I have my ticket booked out of Babylon.

  • Addendum to last post:

    J.F.K. was indeed assassinated (didn’t mean to hint at yet another rancid conspiracy theory).

    Oh, and Ha’Filipinim have had 2 female Democratically-elected Presidents all ready. We’re officially over it.

    I’ve got a hunch the Giant She-Hulk Ninja, China will finally wake up and annex The Philippines, peacefully of course. Then there’d be noodles and Yen-Shekalim to go all around=)

  • Eliyahu, your associating Catholicism with “replacement theology” is completely erroneous. Such a view of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity is expressly rejected in official Church teaching; see, e.g., para. 839, Cathechism of the Catholic Church, available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/cathechism. Church leaders like John Paul II have also publicly rejected such an approach.

    With all due respect, your comment displays a profound ignorance of Christianity.

    Ephraim, I had a similar (though not as ear-curling) an experience some years ago with a Nigerian immigrant client. She took a harsh view of her black neighbors here in Boston, and had a classic immigrant’s belief in hard work, the American dream, etc.

  • I thought the latest theory on JFK’s assassination were linked to his father’s involvement with the mafia?

    And Tom’s right; it couldn’t hurt to also read Nostra Aetate, chapter 4. (In response to which ‘Dabru Emet’ was published.) You should be more concerned about anything born-again. 😉

  • My goof, froylein, in not citing to that cornerstone of Vatican II. Thanks.

    Too bad you’re in Germany– I’d enlist you to help me out with Confirmation class one of these Sundays. It’d be pretty cool to expose the kids to Catholic and Jewish perspectives (though they live in a majority Jewish community here in suburban Boston).

  • Tom, the problem is not so much the distance as my deliberately chosen mystery-status liking to that of TM. 🙂

  • Feel free to remind ck of adding my profile. 😉

    Ramon, I wanted to add that there are many women in politics over here. The quota-regulations have led to a situation where women are elected into positions within the party platforms mostly just to fulfil the fixed quota. From then on, it’s a way up, as there usually are only few – if any – female competitors. From my experiences on both sides of the big pond, I think that gender relations are more relaxed over here. Women are more emancipated in public life without getting ridiculed for their second X-chromosome, and a woman that knows how to drive a nail into a wall or check the oil in her car isn’t inevitably branded a lesbian. On the other hand though, there’s no (post-)industrialized nation where women are more likely to do all the housework (70%) than Germany. Then again, people here are rather peculiar about the appearances of their houses, and freshly cooked meals are common.

  • Froylein – thanks for the observations. I’d spent some time in Germany, Scandinavia, the Benelux countries and always came away with the impression that it was strictly about Left, Center and Right and never skin color or gender. Except for the issue of immigration.

    I understand there are, in Norway, regulations requiring a certain percentage of female board members in all publicly traded companies. Is that practiced in other Euro/Scandinavian countries?

  • Barack is obviously not a practicing Muslim himself. The straight facts are that he attended a madrassa school as a child and his father was a Muslim. That is all, but still enough for me to never even consider voting for him. One drop of Muslim blood is enough to instill anti-Semitism in his psyche. We can’t trust a man like that to lead the US. He would probably kick AIPAC out of the US and cut off aid and weapons to Israel. Without the US, the Arabs and Iran would be poised for a strike. We would have no choice to pre-emptively nuke their sorry a$$es; this would obviously be a messy situation, and world opinion of Israel (and alas, Judaism) would suffer. People just don’t understand that Islamism is the number one threat to the world. Note the “Islam’ in Islamism, and you’ll see the core of the problem. Those people are innately crazy and violent. That’s why I’m hoping Giuliani or McCain wins, hell I’d even take Clinton.

  • Tom:

    From the most recent “Washington Diarist” column by Leon Weiseltier in the New Republic, entitled “Miracle Man”:

    “I hear a lot about Obama as a “post-racial” candidate, and I am not sure what this means. I understand that he is a hybridity idol, Kansas and Kenya and all that–“our first Benetton candidate,” as a friend admiringly remarked. But Obama cannot make history as the first black candidate for president, or as the first black president, and be post-racial. Last week he was not post-racial: Iowa was post-racial, and so was New Hampshire, and so may our improving country continue to be. Obama is certainly not regarded post-racially by the post-racialists. “When an African American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House,” a vibrating David Brooks asked, “do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?” Well, yes, if “no” needs to be said, and if we are in a place beyond race. This condescension is not Obama’s fault; it is hard to balance one’s elation at the possibility of such an American apotheosis with one’s refusal to regard Obama as the representative of his race. We should vote for him because of “his face,” Andrew Sullivan has hotly advised, which would effect “a re-branding of America.” But a president is not a logo and America is not a brand. If the consideration of race, disguised as postracialism, has the effect of abrogating the discussion of Obama’s fitness for what he seeks, then we will have mistaken a good feeling for a real change, which is a characteristic American error. All this adoring talk has the consequence of making Obama stand for little more than his own identity.”.

    Pretty astute, I think.

    And I always had a feeling that Andrew Sullivan was shallow, sort of like a gay Thomas Friedman (not that there’s anything wrong wioth that), all sufrace flash and no thought deeper than a sidewlak puddle.

    “We should vote for Obama because of his face”? “Rebranding America”?

    What? This kind of insipid drivel is what passes for politcal analysis now?

    G-d save us.

    The “Benneton candidate” quip is hilarious, but only if it’s meant to be a joke. But I have a feeling that it was meant to be serious. If enough people actually vote for Obama because of that, we’re screwed.

  • Give Andrew Sullivan credit, Ephraim– he knows from re-branding. He’s assertively Catholic, execpt when he’s writing about gay marriage, and proudly Conservative/Republican, except when supporting Labour/Democrats. (Granted, he’s no Arianna Huffington in this regard.)

    We know we’re in trouble when even David Brooks’ heart is all aflutter at the (mere) prospect of a black man in the White House. So much for that reactionary Martin Luther King, who told us to ignore skin color for character.

    This is progress? Tribal identity trumps everything else? Take a look at Kenya.

    Middle is onto something. If Barack, and more importantly, perhaps, his supporters, stick with the theme of bringing us together and tearing down divides– great (though I reserve my right to vote for someone who’s actually qualified for the job). But if the theme’s voting for a black guy ’cause it’s his turn– sounds like Jesse Jackson’s campaign to me.

    And how about this one: electing Barack erases the shame of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib…..

  • Ramon, in Germany the policy is that if there are male and female applicants for a public job (administration, education etc.), the female applicant will be picked even if she’s not as qualified as male applicants. Radical feminists like Alice Schwarzer therefore warn against such policies as they don’t really imply emancipation if a woman gets chosen into a position because of her gender and not for her qualifications. On average, girls are more likely than boys to go through college / university here. The higher the level of education, the more emancipated couples seem to be in my experience, e.g. I’ve got a few male colleagues that only work select hours / days and run the household at home as their wives hold better positions. Maybe the high ratio of female monarchs over here has made it easier for people to consider a woman in politics something normal.

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