Sunday, February 21, 2010

If You Are A Fan Of Tim Pawlenty, Thomas Jefferson, Or David Gregory, You Might Want To Read Something Else Today. Like, Perhaps, My Pet Goat

Even though I have broken up with David Gregory and Meet the Press, Rick has not, and against everyone's better judgment, I sat in the livingroom this morning, perusing the Plain Dealer while Gregorius Interruptus played softball with Governor Tim Pawlenty. Tragically, I had already read the more...cerebral sections of the paper by this point of the show and had moved on to the Target ad, so more of my brain was available to process the republican bullshit that was plopping from Pawlenty's maw. This particular exchange, however, made me riproaring, hooting mad:

MR. GREGORY: Finally, a more personal question, I, I heard your remarks this week and something caught my attention. You're an evangelical Christian. And when you talked about the conservative movement, you said what comes first for you is that God is in charge. Describe your relationship with God.

GOV. PAWLENTY: Well, the founders of this nation embraced, also, that same perspective. They said that we were endowed by our creator by certain rights. We're not endowed by Washington, D.C., we're not endowed by the state government or the local government. And so I believe that there is a divine power, I believe there is a God, that God is in charge. And if it's good enough for the Founding Fathers of this country, it's good enough for me.

Now, I'm used to the republicans co-opting God. Believe me, I don't give a crap about any of that. Pretty soon, they'll take sole credit for Him, and that's okay, too, as long as they take credit for all the trouble that organized religion has caused as well, like the Salem Witch Trials, for instance. No, I'm talking primarily about that last sentence uttered by the governor/presidential hopeful from Minnesota. "...if it's good enough for the Founding Fathers of this country, it's good enough for me." ... Wow. Really?

In his defense, Mr. Pawlenty is not the only republican/presidential aspirer who does not know his history. (Or his grammar, for that matter.) But how sad is it when this man not only deliberately misrepresents the intent of the Declaration of Independence, but also---well, let me elaborate:

I. Bless his heart, Mr. Pawlenty did paraphrase pretty well the Declaration's lovely prose, which reads, in part: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. But he conveniently forgot the next qualifying sentence. Here it is: That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Pardon me, for I do not wish to be tedious here. I am always blissfully and proudly aware of the intelligence of my readers at the Dept. Certainly all of you can see Mr. Pawlenty's tragic error and are shouting at your monitors as I did at my television. How pathetic and sad he is that he cannot see how he is, in fact, not in disagreement at all with anyone. He is merely reiterating the role of government, period. To secure citizens' rights. Who is arguing that? What, then, is he really saying? Was he elected by the consent of the Governed? Oh, Tim. Shut up. Before you hurt yourself. Some more.

II. I think even Tim Pawlenty would agree with me that Thomas Jefferson was a Founding Father. After all, as a primary author and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and our country's third president, his credentials are stellar. So, if Mr. Pawlenty's measuring stick is merely "if it's good enough for this country's founding fathers then it's good enough for me", I think a little History Lesson about Founding Father Thomas Jefferson might be in order. Allow me:

--Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian. He believed in God, but completely rejected the idea of the divinity of Christ. On June 25, 1819, he wrote to Ezra Stiles, "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."
--Jefferson owned 200 slaves. He often wrote dreadfully of freed slaves being permitted to remain in the United States, expressing a disgust that they might intermingle with whites: "Their amalgamation with the other colour produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character can innocently consent."
--The above becomes all the more incredible when we recall that Thomas Jefferson had a biracial mistress, the famed Sally Hemings (whom he never freed, by the way), with whom he fathered at least one son, who he never acknowledged, but possibly as many as six illegitimate children.
--Finally, this Founding Father believed that women, "to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men." It was not, therefore, even a remote possibility, that a woman could vote, let alone run for public office because as Jefferson said, "The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor I." Remember, this is the man whose close confidante and adviser was Abigail Adams, one of the Great Ladies of the Age, and until Barbara Bush, was the only woman to be married to and mother to an American President. (You have no idea how much it destroys me to type that sentence. None.) Jefferson also had a great distaste for women who read novels. They risked "a bloated imagination, sickly judgment and disgust towards all real business of life. For a like reason, much poetry should not be indulged." As far as I know, Jefferson did not mention anything about "barefoot and pregnant", but he did say, even to his own daughters, that the happiness of a woman's life depends upon pleasing her husband, period. All other things are secondary, and to his credit, he said "even their love for [him]."

So...this is what is "good enough" for Tim Pawlenty?

My point, and I do have one, is this: Before Mr. Pawlenty--and other republicans who like to toss zingers from America's historical documents and former presidents (like Ronald Reagan, who is now a god for them, even though his trickledown Reaganomics never really did work)--they should do their complete research and know of what they speak.

Or, perhaps most sorrowful, they know that they really don't have to. The vast majority of Americans lately seem to be of the "teaparty"* ilk. They deal in soundbites and one-liners and suck down like pap everything they hear from whom they most want to hear it. It's sickening. No one is calling them on their shit. Well, I am.

*I'm just not capitalizing this dumb organization, either. So there.


  1. Oh I do enjoy your rants! I just get sad these days, so it's nice to see a bit of righteous indignation going on... Just this morning I read a column in the paper that made me sigh & shake my head:

  2. Here's the tiny url for the same article:

  3. Call it, grrrlie!! Proud and out loud. My favorite remark about the tea partyists??--other than being called tea baggers--
    Every tea party needs a mad hatter.
    I'm just waiting for some clever IT genius to dress Sarah Palin as the Mad Hatter in the new Alice in Wonderland movie.

  4. GOOD! Today, as I visit my favorite blogs, I see that all my smart friends are just this mad and are saying it just this loudly. It's time. Point me toward the organizers! We've had enough.

  5. Pawlenty is cut from the same ignorant swag of burlap as Palin. They say whatever pops into their empty little heads and then they believe it's truth. Jefferson, I believe was a Deist. I'm not sure who make me vomit more...people like Pawlenty/Palin or the morons who would vote for them.

  6. Just the other day I got myself all worked up over a similar issue, someone picking and choosing pieces of an Obama talk to serve their own purpose of being an Obama-hater. It really is disgusting. But a lot of the problem, the way I see it, is that too many people don't take the time to read (or listen) to the rest of the story. I am well aware that threre are millions of people out there who do not like certian politians, especially our President. However, one should use valid arguments when discussing "why".

  7. Dreamcoat11:02 AM

    We want to be clear, here. Pawlenty is saying it is "good enough", right? Don't appreciate indoor plumbing anymore? Electricity evil (because it is invisible and occasionally unpredictable)? Where is your powdered wig, my good sir? And to think they closed the Ohio Historical Village because they couldn't find anyone to populate it.

  8. Dreamcoat--Welcome to the Dept. and thanks for chiming in. Your argument shows how some of these absurd remarks can be taken to their natural extreme. It's a point well made and well taken. It highlights the fact that, hey, THINGS CHANGE, and so do ideas, attitudes, and by necessity, so must our governance. Duh, right?

    Nina--Cherry-picking the news and soundbites is done on both sides, and I try not to be guilty of it. That's why I excerpted all of Pawlenty's response and all of Gregory's question. And while I make no secret of my overall loathing of republicans, I skewered a few Democrats in a political post a few posts back. I have a few problems with our President currently, and they are the same ones I had with him when he was a candidate. I'll be discussing them in an upcoming post. (I know you can't wait. ;-> ) I agree with you, however; if you're going to present an argument, it should at least make sense and have some facts/research/sense to back it up.

    apathy lounge--I did a lot of reading and research on the Jefferson As Deist thing, actually. There is, believe it or not, a lot of controversy surrounding that! As well as no really clear definition of exactly what a Deist is. Did you know there is a "southern deist" as well?

    The Other Nance--As a rule, I am not into "organized" stuff. But you'll be glad to know that I am already deep into the notes for another post in which I actually brainstorm about a New Organization For People Like Us. Stand By...

    dbso--Oh hey! Been thinking about you. I wouldn't desecrate and sully the fine work of Lewis Carroll by mentioning it in the same breath as "those individuals." LOL.

    The Bug--Oh, I thought I was over being righteously indignant awhile ago, but it seems I can't let it go. And that article: I have been reading things on that theme for a while now. Isn't it amazing? It's a Palin-inspired phenomenon, I think. I was so hopeful that when we got rid of the Angel of Death in the White House, all of those halfbrains would go back behind their sheds and listen to some more country music and jack up a few more wheel-less pickup trucks and shut the hell up once and for all, but it seems that we just can't get rid of them.

  9. Sigh. I love/hate Jefferson for just this stuff. My favorite thing about him is that he was tortured by his own hypocrisy.

    "For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."

    I think as adults we want to admire our forefathers, and ignore their faults. My daughter, who was probably 8 or 9, was outraged when she learned that Washington had slaves, and yet fought for the 'freedom' of our country. "He has no right to freedom! Unless we can all be free, none should be free!" Out of the mouths of babes, huh?

    You clearly have a strong stomach to be able to watch TV AND read the newspaper in the morning. I have to ease my way in with the funnies, then go on to the front page, and TV is only for evening, when I've had a glass of wine to settle me.

  10. J.@jj--I'm no Jefferson hater, and I actually like when my "gods have feet of clay." I like to be reminded that men like Jefferson, like President Lincoln, like Fredrick Douglass were HUMAN beings. It makes them more accessible, more real, and it makes me feel a little more close to them. It makes me feel a little more hopeful that one day, the chance that a human being of such incredible stature may one day again walk among us. That humanity can still produce greatness. That we are not wallowing in mediocrity forever.

  11. I enjoyed your rant.

    I am constantly saddened when anyone is totally ignorant of history (watching Leno's Jaywalking segments is painful) but especially when it is someone who ought to know better.

    Like some others, I'm on the fence with Jefferson. He was a brilliant man, yet, like all of us, was a product of his time. I admit in the 1960s, although I fought against racism, I accepted my unequal status as a woman without a thought. When the feminists started to point out the problems women faced --- something that never occurred to me --- I realized I should have known better.

    But there are some who were ahead of their time. Twain wrote, “No civilization can be perfect until exact equality between man and woman is included.” But then, of course, many accuse him of being a racist. He himself admits that no one in Hannibal (including the church) spoke a word against slavery. But at age 50 he wrote of blacks: "We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it."

    Speaking of people that ought to know better, has anyone noticed that on Celebrity Jeopardy, news people do very poorly ---worse than actors or comedians? I would think that people who worked in the news industry would be well-read and familiar with current events. Anyone have an explantion for their utter lack of general knowledge ---especially since Celebrity Jeopardy is dumbed-down compared to the regular programs?

  12. CJ--Hi! Thanks for dropping in and adding to the discussion. Twain is an enigmatic figure for someone who left copious correspondence behind, and he is also accused of being very anti-woman as well. I find him fascinating, too. Jefferson was, like many great thinkers and as J above mentioned, plagued by his own brilliant inconsistencies. That doesn't often bother me in men or women who are admittedly changing and growing and accepting new ideas as the world grows and changes. And that, of course, was my salient point in this post.

    As far as Celebrity Jeopardy, I haven't seen it except when SNL does parodies of it--which I thoroughly enjoy--but I will say this: many newspeople simply read the news brought to them or interview the people sent to them. It would seem that they don't do much in-depth reading or researching of it themselves these days; they are more "personalities" rather than actual reporters. That sort of role falls to people like Richard Engel, who actually lives in Iraq and beds down with a unit in Afghanistan, for example.

  13. The BEST ever poster. I want one. I would hang it up over the boys' computer area. Remember the famous saying of Dan Quayle, "The mind is a terrible thing, uh . . . " Instead of "The mind is a terrible thing to waste."

  14. sputnik--I love that graphic, too. It's perfect. I have no idea if it is really a vintage ad with a new slogan, or if the whole thing is doctored up. I found it via Google Image search--can't recall what term string I put in this time, perhaps "stupid republicans"--but it came up in several incarnations. It's a great one.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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