Thursday, January 20, 2005

Praise the Lord and pass the ballots

Forget the teachers' union and the business leaders. If you want to be the next Republican nominee for Alabama governor, you'd better convince people God is on your side.

Looming large on the state's political scene, as always, is former Chief Justice Roy Moore, the consummate grandstanding demagogue with a taste for granite. He said last month that he's "considering" a gubernatorial campaign, though he emphasized that he's still "praying about it." At any rate, did I mention he's got a book coming out in March and it'd be just swell if you'd shell out a few bucks for it? Not that he intends to profit from your deeply held religious faith or anything.

But fear not, loyal readers. Gov. Bob Riley wants you to know that Jesus loves him, too, and he's got the not-in-the-least-political Washington prayer breakfast paid for by campaign funds to prove it. Riley also said he hasn't decided if he'll run for governor again, but just in case he does, he made sure to tell everyone who would listen that he's personally all for official government references to God, school prayer, prayers before football games, and pretty much anything related to Christianity.

And if all of those pronouncements weren't clear enough for you, Riley's wife, Patsy, cut to the chase, informing breakfast attendees that her husband was "hand-picked by God to be your governor at this time, at this moment in time." I was unaware we had cut the voters out of the process, but since our state constitution is approaching 800 amendments, I could well be wrong.

Lost in all of this posturing is any substantive discussion of the serious issues confronting Alabama. But sadly, it's unclear if GOP primary voters will demand that sort of talk in the race for the nomination. A political-minded friend gave his cynical take on the situation today: "Just say you're gonna put a burning bush in front of the Capitol and you've got it."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord.

Anyway - mind reading this for feedback? My col. for Monday's Hatchet...

Bush’s second term to-do list
By Will Nevin

On Thursday, we celebrated a grand tradition in this country with George W. Bush’s second inauguration, as all the pomp and pageantry came together in an effort to send the president on his way to the next four years in office.

More than 57 million of the people who voted in last November’s election hoped Jan. 20 would have been different. They, myself included, hoped that Thursday would mark the dawn of a Kerry administration and the beginning of a new era in the nation’s capitol as Bush was sent back to Texas.

Of course, things didn’t turn out that way. Now we’re left with an administration’s policy reaffirmed, the Republican Party firmly in control and a nation that seems as divided as it has ever been.

Yet, I’m hopeful. In his second term, Bush has the chance to properly finish initiatives he started and to begin work on his legacy – things that could make for an entirely different administration.

The goals I would give Bush in his upcoming term are simple ones that most people can agree with. Bush’s second term to-do list needs to include a renewed drive for compassion in America, an endeavor to rebuild alliances around the globe, a return to the issues that matter most and a concentrated effort to focus on posterity.

In his inaugural address on Thursday, Bush said, “…Our country must abandon all the habits of racism because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.” And I couldn’t agree more. For the United States to continue as a moral authority in the world, we must end the scourge of racism.

But it can’t stop there. Bush must end his party’s politics of division and hatred, and Republicans must stop using gay marriage as a means of getting voters to the polls. Homosexuals are Americans and tax paying citizens just like anyone else – they certainly don’t deserve to be treated like second class citizens. Other minorities also warrant the administration’s attention and respect. Therefore, Bush must use compassion in his second term, reaching out across party, class and cultural lines.

A second goal for Bush should be to rebuild traditional alliances worldwide. The bonds of friendship between the US and France, Germany and a great deal of Europe were strained by the Iraq war. While we were able to prosecute the war in the early stages with little help outside of Great Britain, it has become painfully clear in the post-war occupation that we need help from our allies.

For peace to succeed in Iraq and in the world at large, the US will need cooperation from as many countries as possible. To win back our allies, the Bush administration must be able to convince the world community that the country is still committed to the ideals of peace and diplomacy – an unenviable task to be sure.

Another top goal for President Bush should be a swift return to the country’s business. With campaigns growing longer each election cycle, most of 2004 and even parts of 2003 were devoted solely to achieving electoral victory. Now that the president has been reelected, we need to go back to the pressing needs of this country. Social Security, supposedly a top presidential priority, does need work, but we need an honest debate on the problem – not a privatization plan pushed down our throats. Education funding, health care reform and a comprehensive plan on Iraq are also areas that need the president’s immediate attention.

Above all, I think the president needs to focus on his legacy. Just because he was reelected does not insure favorable grades on history’s report card. Take Ulysses S. Grant, for example. The savior of the Union during the Civil War was elected president and then given a second term. Yet many historians view his presidency as largely a failure, one marked with scandal and inefficiency. Will George W. Bush be able to avoid the same fate? Ask my great-grandchildren in about 80 years or so.

Will this second term be any different than the first? Will Bush be able to reach across party lines to solve the problems that this country faces? I don’t know.

I’m hopeful. But I’m not holding my breath.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

It reads like a very good synopsis of what should be on Bush's mind in the next four years, and I like the historical perspective near the end. It also has the advantage of being in alignment with much of my own analysis of what to expect from Bush's second term, if you can consider that any sort of advantage.

I really hope Bush recognizes his first-term mistakes, makes the appropriate corrections, and becomes the kind of president he showed the promise of becoming during the 2000 campaign. Whether he does, of course, might well be another matter.

5:15 PM  
Blogger MissBossyPants said...

god help us if we get another Republican governor. Even my religious right parents don't like Roy Moore. And when I called the state Dem party the other day to see who they're endorsing for DNC chair, they have NO POSITION. No wonder Bob Riley the last election--progressive politics in Alabama seem to be DEAD. Sad, sad, sad, considering how much I really do love Alabama.

11:08 PM  

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