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The matter of religious hypocrisy in American politics predates our union by a few good decades.  Benjamin Franklin put the issue into Silence Dogood's inkpot, and the concern was old even then.  Something about the openness of America raises the hackles of the closeminded.  Those who are first to raise the alarm against any restriction of what they consider their spiritual purview are also the ones who leap to perpetrate such upon others who subscribe to even the slightest variation of dogma or doctrine.  Of these characters Christianity owns more than its share, and it was to America that they congregated.  Indeed, it can be said that the very nature of the New World attracted the fringiest of the faithful, and to their descendants fell the task of shutting the door behind them.

"Corruption of the best is the worst of all," goes the proverb.  Debasing the spiritual with the material, seeking worldly wealth by selling heavenly hopes, this is an American tradition older than Ben Franklin, older than Jonathan Edwards, nearly old as William Bradford himself.  In that sense, Governor Rick Perry's apparent acceptance of his divine mandate to run for president has a great deal of precedent.  Conversely, his claims of owning the legacy of the founding fathers evaporates as a consequence.

Old timey huckster and new agey Apostle of Christ, C. Peter Wagner, has said that the foundation of the New Apostolic Reformation, a collection of self-anointed saints not particularly differentiated from the usual suspects, was founded in the year of our Lord, 2001.  The significance of the year and the symmetry of such a founding, grounded both in the despair emanating from a great wounding in New York City and the optimism of a nation bonded in common purpose, would inevitably draw one's intuition to 9/11 and all the freight it could bear.  However, another event more relevant to Texas fundies than the comeuppance rendered to a few thousand liberal elitists all the way across the country might better explain the need for a new crop of Apostles to confront the evils of a world inexplicably unimpressed by podunk pastors like Wagner.

President George W. Bush came galloping right out of obscurity to take the 2000 Republican Primaries by locking up the evangelical vote and courting unsavory characters such as John Hagee, .  Bush dominated the primary season and was considered the presumptive nominee prior to the Iowa caucuses as a result of a disciplined campaign strategy and a spectacular lineup of almost every endorsement of consequence in rightwing politics.  The parade of Republican politicians lined up to vouch for the Bush campaign was matched on the spiritual side by a motley crew of hardcore fundies who wielded the undeniable clout of the Christian Right with the unfettered freedom characteristic only of children and charlatans.

Having assured their faithful that a vote for Bush was a vote for "God's candidate for America," it must have stung a little bit when Dr. Bunsen Honeydew body double and opposite-day "Genius," Karl "Turdblossom" Rove, let it all slip just shortly after inauguration that the whole devoted-follower-of-Christ schtick Bush put on to rake in the shephards and their sheeple was just more publick hypocrisy.  When asked how an unstaffed Office of Faith Based Initiatives could possibly roll out their agenda in the week's time ordered by the White House, Rove reportedly said, "I don't know, just get me a fucking faith based thing.  Got it?"  You know that got around right quick, and Bush's entire two terms as president proved that his attentions aligned perfectly with his political czar's blunt orders.   Corruptio optimi pessima.

This brings us full circle, religious hypocrisy in public figures and the great deal of harm they can wreak upon a nation of believers.  Nobody who lived through George W. Bush's era can deny the uncanny silence he enjoyed from the Evangelical community as he cut taxes for the wealthy while simultaneously raiding programs meant to aid the poor.  I think it's axiomatic that one can't hold the Bible in one hand and Atlas Shrugged in the other without raising the eyebrows of reasonably conscious people everywhere, and yet President Bush managed just that.  While it's unlikely any person capable of sensing irony would ever describe John Hagee and his merry band of plunderers as good, decent people, such a thing can probably be said of their followers.  Whatever else can be said of such people who would follow men like Hagee and Wagner, they do subscribe, at least nominally, to the teachings of the son of man.  "They [took] him for a Saint, and pass[ed] him for one, without considering that they [were] (as it were) the Instruments of publick Mischief out of Conscince, and ruin[ed] their Country for God's sake."

Enter Rick Perry and his unambiguous intent to replay George W. Bush's run for the Republican nomination, point for point.  Perry is the politician Turdblossom would have been, had he the charisma and even a vaguely non-Muppetish appearance to present to the world.  As Perry rolls over the rest of the Republican field by announcing on the same day as the Ames Straw Poll, the unpacking of his campaign will likely follow in a similar arc to George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, as he locks up the Christian Right that's beyond Mitt Romney, unimpressed with Tim Pawlenty, wary of Michelle Bachmann, and only too familiar with Newt Gingrich.  If the rumors of his intentions are accurate, Perry will be the Republican nominee, and he'll win that dubious distinction by following in the footsteps of the last "publick Hypocrite" to sit in the Oval Office, by locking up the twin endorsements of establishment Republicans and the fringiest of the faithful.  It seems the shephards and their sheeple learned nothing from the last fucking faith based thing they supported, and so we're set to repeat 2000 all over again.

Corruption of the best is the worst of all.

Originally posted to Fed up Fed on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 08:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jeebus This is 2 Generations Older Than (8+ / 0-)

    you're talking. Big conservative money, mobilizing fundamentalism. It was at least 15 years along when it got Reagan the Republican nomination.

    Pre George Bush:

    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 09:56:59 PM PDT

  •  Exactly what America needs now (7+ / 0-)

    Another superstitious, gullible, not too bright, empty-suited, meat-puppet from Texas - ready to redeem the country and solve its innumerable problems with "prayer."

    On the bright side - there are plenty of gun in the hands of Gawd-fearin' Murca-luvin', shitheels out there who might consider honoring my request of "just shoot me now."

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:38:28 AM PDT

  •  Recommended (4+ / 0-)

    Your title is brilliant. Your assessment is spot-on and timely. America stands at a crossroads right now: will we go "back to Bush" or will we do right by our children, our elderly parents, the men and women who have sworn to defend our constitution (not market Americanism all over the globe), and the working folks who made and continued to make this country a beacon for the rest of the world (still not perfect, but, in the right light, trying hard to improve).

    I love this diary. Please keep publishing.

  •  Can I copy and Paste (3+ / 0-)

    this article all over the internet. This is way too much fun to keep to ourselves.  All points are well made.  

    Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

    by tikkun on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 08:11:22 AM PDT

  •  ppl will vote for the bad in the hope of the good (5+ / 0-)

    Religious voters will be swayed not by Perry's specific beliefs and the policy platform associated with it, but by the hope that the good they see in their religion (as opposed to Perry's) will finally have a champion.  I've seen it: you can debate them, get them to agree with many of your points, but keep pushing and eventually they crack and admit that "we" (read: they) need even the glittering progressive utopia in all its self-actualizing glory to nonetheless have explicitly Christian (read: Baptist fundamentalist) motives and methods, or else it's all for nothing.

    Perry is one of them; whatever his flaws, they'll vote for him on that basis.

    •  Yup (2+ / 0-)

      I think he'll also benefit from the aggressive efforts to chuck President Bush's two terms down the memory hole perpetrated by every single Republican operative and News Corp commentator.  All of Bush's sins will accrue to President Obama, all the virtues of Christ will belong to Republicans, and all the demons of Hell will once again be loosed upon the world by another anti-intellectual God-bothering "publick Hypocrite" from the great state of Texas.


      "Any of you other goat motherfuckers want to put a hoof on my bridge?" -- Stephen Colbert, 8/1/2011

      by Fed up Fed on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 09:07:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But, we've already seen this movie, and there (2+ / 0-)

      aren't enough the teh stoopids to convince America to go back to the Bush nightmare...I say hopefully.

      Just doing my part to piss off the right wing smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 10:27:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like your optimism...but (2+ / 0-)

        I said the same thing in 2000.  I couldn't understand why the Christian community couldn't how phony Bush's faith-based hooey was.  But he took the Christian Right to the cleaners, and the only lesson they learned, apparently, was don't trust George W. Bush.

        "Any of you other goat motherfuckers want to put a hoof on my bridge?" -- Stephen Colbert, 8/1/2011

        by Fed up Fed on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 10:39:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They didn't even learn THAT lesson, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fed up Fed, tekno2600

          or Dubya would never have had a second term.

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 11:33:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm part of the Christian Community (0+ / 0-)

          but not that one.  Please don't get us confused.

          Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

          by tikkun on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 12:02:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hope my diary was respectful (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm not a Christian, but my wife and kids are.  I ran my intentions by her before I hit publish with the intention of conveying that the people who vote for these publick Hypocrites, as Franklin called them, are mislead by insane self-aggrandizers like Hagee and Wagner.  I tried to be respectful, which is why I chose "Corruptio optimi pessima" as my title and the theme of the piece.  The corruption is self-evident, and the best refers to the Christian religion, for which I have some admiration mixed in with my general wariness of all things spiritual.

            "Any of you other goat motherfuckers want to put a hoof on my bridge?" -- Stephen Colbert, 8/1/2011

            by Fed up Fed on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 12:40:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It was! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Fed up Fed

              I just hope that progressives are careful to respect the self identification of progressive Christians as Christians.  I loved diary; you did a great job with it.  This is a small quibble.

              Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

              by tikkun on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 01:08:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Though I don't think that is a small quibble at all.  Mutual respect and admiration seems to break apart, even on the progressive end of the personality spectrum, when religion interjects.  I want to hit people like Perry on their hypocrisy and blatant manipulation of what should be an inviolable aspect of every person's individual experience.

                When guys like Perry interject a fake faith into their public campaigns for high office, it forces tribal loyalties to the surface and is a deliberate strategy to bypass the rationality of those who feel obligated to support him.  I want to talk about these things, but I don't want to broad brush the rest of the religiously-inclined in the process.  So I appreciate you raising the issue, and I will make sure that I keep it to the forefront in any subsequent diaries on this topic.

                "Any of you other goat motherfuckers want to put a hoof on my bridge?" -- Stephen Colbert, 8/1/2011

                by Fed up Fed on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 01:24:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  One Way To Do This (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Fed up Fed

                  Read Fredrick Clarkson's talk 2 action site.  He outlines the different types of theocrats by name and description.  Using their names in a way that 1. educates people about the goals of  the theocratic  we're up against 2. sets them apart from progressive Christians without having to rename progressive Christians will go along way toward informing people of the danger without having the discusssion sidelined into the tiresome conversation about the differences between Christians and, for example, Dominionists.  It's quite possible to copy Clarkson's decriptions from the website to be pasted into posts to answer questions about the meaning of the terms when they do occur.

                  Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

                  by tikkun on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:43:15 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  It's not that the Hypochristian Right has learned (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fed up Fed

          anything. They'd love to believe the next flim flam man in bad suit. It's just that you can't show Nightmare on Bush Street two times in a row and expect everyone else to think it's new. Wingnuts love the sound of Perry pious sounding lies, but the novelty is gone. It just doesn't work. What's his next move, to claim that he's a "compassionate conservative?" He's just a money changer, posing a preacher, pretending to be a politician. Like most con men, he think no one is on to him, but his ploys are obvious, just the the suits he buys that are two sizes too small, so he can try to make his insecure anatomy look bigger than it is. You'd have thought he figured out as a teenager that that doesn't work, but then again, if Ricky was mentally mature, they wouldn't allow him in the T-Publican party.

          Just doing my part to piss off the right wing smart ass comment at a time.

          by tekno2600 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:24:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  On the plus side.. (2+ / 0-)

    If he wins, Gary Trudeau can just recycle all his cartoons from 10 years ago.

    Not that anybody will be able to afford a newspaper to read them...

  •  As for repeating 2000, I'm hoping a lot (2+ / 0-)

    of people learned their lesson.  They don't call it "blind faith" for nothing.

    I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

    by notdarkyet on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 10:02:14 AM PDT

  •  I always like Jefferson and Franklin's reasons (3+ / 0-)

    for supporting separation of church and state. Jefferson feared corruption of the state by the churches, and Franklin feared corruption of the churches by the state.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 10:06:23 AM PDT

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