Letter to the Editor: Political discourse full of arrogance and lies
Once again, the political season is becoming the crazy season. Within the last few days, I heard a rather serious student of public affairs lamenting the fact that politics and the media are making us "dumb" - his word, not mine. He also said that civility in our public discourse is lacking and that most of us have lost the ability to listen to and understand those with viewpoints that are different from our own.
I'm writing to quickly address two points. First, the local theater recently ran a movie that was highly critical of President Barack Obama. That movie was clearly meant to cause its viewers to oppose Obama. One of the many lies and distortions in the movie was the assertion that Obama is using executive orders excessively and implying that he is doing so more than other presidents.
The allegation was that Obama had issued several hundred - around 900 as I recall - executive orders to date. It took me just a minute or two on the Internet to learn that, to this point in his presidency, Obama has issued fewer executive orders than his immediate predecessor had issued to the same point in his presidency.
As of Sept. 20, 2004, President George W. Bush had issued 160 executive orders. That's 3.64 per month during the first 44 months of his presidency. As of Sept. 25, 2012, President Obama had issued 139 executive orders. That's 3.16 per month during the first 44 months of his presidency.
Ronald Reagan issued 380 executive orders during his 96 months in office - 3.96 per month on average. George H. W. Bush issued 165 executive orders during his 48 months in office - 3.44 per month on average. And Bill Clinton issued 363 executive orders during his 96 months in office - 3.78 per month on average.
In short, it's clear that it's simply untrue that Obama has abused his authority to issue executive orders, unless the same charge is also more strongly leveled against his four immediate predecessors - three of whom were Republican. And if the concern is a valid one, conservative icon Ronald Reagan is the greatest offender.
(From a study at the University of California at Santa Barbara.)
Second, Pastor Dirk Currier had a letter printed in last week's paper regarding amending Minnesota's Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It struck me as unusually arrogant for a Christian minister to characterize as "untrained refs" and as an "unbiblical voice" the thousands of other Christian ministers who have a view that is opposed to his.
Currier's degree of confidence and certainty - not Christian humility - verges on being a claim to infallibility. That he can be so dismissive of other Christian clergy - most of whom have invested eight years of their lives in serious theological study and are conscientious and as committed to their faith as Currier is to his - is surprising to me.
Currier also says that many churches have bowed to cultural pressures - as if his hasn't. One of the biblical passages that he cites focused on divorce and adultery - nothing about gay marriage! Unless Currier is also promoting a constitutional amendment that prohibits divorce and/or adultery, both of which are quite commonplace in this country, he too has bowed to cultural forces.
One has to wonder why he considers gay marriage to be such a threat that it has to be constitutionally outlawed but says nothing so severe - at least not publicly - about the documented, measurable, and real causes of marital stress and breakup (such as alcoholism, abuse, poverty, and the like). One has to wonder what is really going on here.
Also, none of the Bible verses that he quotes contains a commandment or a prohibition. They seem only to express preferences and value judgments but without making any mention of gay relationships. And what martyrs died because of their opposition to gay marriage?
I oppose the proposed constitutional amendment. But what I oppose even more is an effort on the part of some to impose their religious views on the rest of us.