JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE SO-CALLED SADDLEBACK DEBATE: FUNDAMENTALISM CREEPS FURTHER INTO AMERICAN NATIONAL POLITICS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

No matter how fair or open it may have appeared, isn’t there something inappropriate and off-putting about presidential candidates being questioned in a church, a fundamentalist one at that?

Of course there is. It not only goes against the traditions of separation of church and state, but it set a bad precedent for the future.

What on earth is the point of a question, for example, about abortion? The President of the United States has absolutely no authority on such matters.

Of course, those who don’t think about what they are saying will respond that the future appointment of Supreme Court judges matters.

But such appointments are almost never issue-specific, nor should they be. Issue-specific appointments would quickly debase the institution and would represent more of a threat than the one perceived over the particular issue.

The question, as many others were here, is irrelevant.

This event takes on another dimension of oddness when you consider the fact that McCain is well known for being about as religious as Elmer Gantry.

If you put a Bible in his hand, I wouldn’t be surprised, in the words of the great Charles Laughton in “Witness for the Prosecution,” if the testament were to leap from his hand.

Anyway, this event only further highlights the close-to-meaningless nature of American presidential elections. Real issues are almost never dealt with. Access and influence are purchased by contributions. And the great imperial establishment goes on as though there were no vote.

The only truly significant thing that happens are the thousands of appointments, plum jobs wanted by small armies of trough-seekers on both sides, wanting them to shape resumes for still more plum jobs with corporations and lobbies.

And, yes, it certainly wasn’t a debate, but when was the last time American candidates actually debated? Lincoln-Douglas.

The regular ritual now of TV debates is little more than a dual press conference, not entirely different in content and difficulty from what one might have seen from Brezhnev and Kosygin. No debate ever. A few one-liners thrown in now and then. Softball questions from establishment journalists.

A last note, McCain was (deliberately?) late. He had the potential advantage, which he was not supposed to have, of watching Obama’s answers. They were, after all, asked the same questions.

Whatever the case, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

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