Dobson v. Obama: Thems fightin’ words!

In case you missed it, earlier this week Dr. James Dobson used the “Focus on the Family” broadcast to criticize Barack Obama’s understanding of the Christian faith and accuse him of “deliberately distorting the Bible,” “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter,” “willfully trying to confuse people,” and having a “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”

Deliberately? Willfully? Fruitcake??? Those are more than strongly worded criticisms. I do believe thems fightin’ words!

My initial reaction was to leave it all well enough alone. In my opinion it was a bit of a non-story and I figured it wouldn’t get much attention from most folks. Boy was I wrong! I can’t believe the amount of chatter I’m seeing around the blogsphere about the good doctor’s remarks.

Rather than rehash all that here, I figured I’d offer up a few resources (available as comments) and let you folks make up your own minds about it all.

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18 thoughts on “Dobson v. Obama: Thems fightin’ words!

  1. Aw heck, while we’re talking about “fruitcake interpretations of the Constitution” let’s have a gander at Article VI of said document, shall we?

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned , and the members of the several state legislatures , and all executive and judicial officers , both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    With that in mind, it’s interesting that such a supreme Constitutional authority as Dobson would be calling upon a presidential candidate to defend his theology.

  2. well, not that i think Dobson is right on, but if Obama is at a Sojourners gathering and speaks about theology and offers a view, it can be critiqued. that’s fair.
    here’s the thing for me: Obama, like all candidates, is going to exploit religion(s) for his own gain…just like he’ll manipulate a crowd seated behind him to only evoke hope, not fear (see his campaign’s movement of the two muslim women). it’s a game. it’s a scary, power/ego driven game and he’s a part of it.
    james dobson is also a player in the game and will exploit his position and Bible to advance his team, whatever that may be.
    oh, i just can’t take it. back me up tim brown!

  3. And in fairness, I’ve been critical of Obama’s faith-based “exploits” when I’ve felt they were either over the top or out of line.

    I don’t think that Obama’s address at the Call to Renewal conference could be considered one of those “exploitations.” It took place long before he was running for the Presidency, and he was invited there to give an acceptance speech as a recipient of their annual “Amos and Joseph” award, which is an award “given to honor public leaders who are using their position of influence to speak out against poverty.”

    I mean, I guess if Obama is invited to attend a conference of Christians, who have assembled to discuss the role of faith in politics and the issue of poverty, and he’s asked to speak about the theme of the conference in accepting his award he could have talked about the mating habits of Pandas instead. But it was probably better that he offered some personal reflections on the matter. But it’s not like he got up there and said “Ok, now let me break down the major theological imperatives of the Old and New Covenant as it pertains to injustice. I hope you brought your Greek and Hebrew lexicons with you today!”

    If Dobson wants to pick apart his speech and point out his own theological differences, that’s one thing. Him using the power and reach of his program to broad-stroke Obama as a “fruitcake” and accuse him of trying to “deliberately distort” the Bible – without demonstrating a tangible understanding of anything Obama actually said – well now that’s something entirely different altogether.

    (Not to mention, it borders dangerously close on “fear mongering.” )

    I try not to be a shill for Obama. (Which is why I hesitated to post about this – I’m trying to keep it to a minimum number of Obama posts on the front page) And I’m certainly not a Dope for Hope. Which is one of the things that sucks about being vocal in my support of him. The constant feeling that I have to defend myself on everything he says or does. (You’d be going through this same thing had Ron Paul ever made it out of the starting gate! 😉 )

    I like the guy, I think he’ll do a fine job as President. I like many of his policies, some not so much. That’s about as far as it goes.

    You and I disagree on the crowd control issue. (It wasn’t him, or his staff, but rather local campaign volunteers. He immediately spoke out against it, and personally called the women to apologize.) But fair enough.

    The issue of faith has certainly been a lightning rod for Obama. But I still contend that a great deal of it has been forced on him. If he’s speaking a whole lot about how he’s not a Muslim and trying to build up his credentials with Christians (ie, 80% of the American voting public) it’s because for the most part he’s had to.

    I’m only offended when it’s blatant and contrived. And yes, it’s part of the game. And they all have to play it. (Well, except for McCain for some reason. I’d love to hear a little – anything – about his theology. Wait, I take that back. No I wouldn’t because I don’t think any candidate should HAVE to discuss their faith to be elected).

    But yes, it’s part of the game. You’re right. But I’m not completely cynical about it. Close, but not completely.

    Don’t hate the player! 😆

  4. i hope you don’t feel the need to defend yourself to me. i never mean that to happen. i think you have been pretty objective through this whole thing considering you’re madly in love with obama and want to have his babies.
    i like the guy and don’t think he’ll do a “bad” job as president. i think he’s in the right place at the right time and will most likely be president. i don’t see the country falling apart because of it either…actually, i see the country picking up again in a couple years and he’ll be thanked and bush will continue to be blamed (see Bush, Sr > Clinton presidencies).
    finally and most importantly, i certainly don’t judge you to be any less or more a follower of Christ because you support him. (i do that for other reasons!)

  5. finally and most importantly, i certainly don’t judge you to be any less or more a follower of Christ because you support him. (i do that for other reasons!)

    What, like taking my four year old to the track to bet on horses? 😆

    You don’t make me feel that way. No one in particular does really. It’s weird and hard to explain.

    I think it’s something flawed in my DNA. The same way I feel like I have to constantly separate myself from “those kind of Christians,” I also feel the need to separate myself from “those kind of Obama supporters.”

    Alot of that is elitist and sinful on my part.

    And alot of it is because, well, those people are nuts and I don’t want them speaking for me! 😆

  6. I read that point by point comparison expecting Dobson to be making left-field claims (which it seems he was) and expecting Obama to just be riding a safe middle-ground in reality. In actuality, Obama was pretty explicit about faith and I found myself agreeing with his take on most of what he said. Crazy.

  7. I tend to aggree that thier shouldnt be a “faith test” for any political office. Im actually quite sick of hearing about it. I wonder at times how much this debate really bothers Obama though because the longer people argue about his faith issues the less time they spend looking at his policy and plan issues.

    I’de be far more interested in people discussing and debating (and possibly eliminating) Obama as a canidate because of his tax and healthcare plans rather than his faith. Sadly however I dont believe that will happen. Unfortunately many Christian voters are generally blind to issues outside of abortion, gay rights, faith.

  8. On a side note I don’t know who I feel the best canidate is. I’m not even sure if I think there is a lesser of two evils here.

    I have a immense problem with Obamas plans to raise the capital gains tax to fund his programs. And I have problems with Mcains war plans and inconsistent voting patterns.

    lol I tend to take the role of the doomsayer this year I tend to think we may be completely boned.

  9. I have a immense problem with Obamas plans to raise the capital gains tax to fund his programs.

    I guess that’s one way of putting it. 😆

    Another way of putting it would be that you oppose Obama increasing the capital gains tax on individuals who make more than $250,000 a year so that he could provide tax cuts to over 150 million middle-class workers and eliminate the income tax for seniors making less than $55,000 annually.

    Some call it “redistribution of wealth.” Some call it “tax fairness.” If you buy the notion of trickle down economics, you’ll view it one way. If you think the economy is built from the ground up, you’ll view it another.

    It’s all spin. And I get that.

    But Obama’s capital gains proposal is really just a repeal of Bush’s capital gains tax cuts. The rate was 28% percent under Clinton, and Bush cut it to 15%.

    To really break it down, you’re going to end up getting into the age-old, stereotypical left vs. right debates. “The Republicans only care about lining the pockets of the rich with tax cuts.” “The Democrats just want to tax us all to death to pay for their programs.”

    If it’s of interest, here is a pdf outliining Obama’s “Tax Fairness For the Middle Class” proposal.

  10. I read that point by point comparison expecting Dobson to be making left-field claims (which it seems he was) and expecting Obama to just be riding a safe middle-ground in reality. In actuality, Obama was pretty explicit about faith and I found myself agreeing with his take on most of what he said. Crazy.

    That was really my objection. It really seemed to me like someone gave Dobson the Cliff-Notes to base a tirade on. It’s inconceivable to me to think he could have actually read or heard that speech and come to the conclusions he did.

    So it was either completely irresponsible and ignorant, or deliberate and malicious. Neither are acceptable (to me anywyay) from a man with Dobson’s following and the reach of his radio broadcast.

  11. Clinton raised the capital gains tax to 28% in his first term. Then as a major part of his relection campaign was a promise to lower the capital gains tax from 28% to 20% for upper income and 15% to 10% for middle income which he eventualy did. Bush just continued the cuts. The economics of it all seem to point to there being considerable growth when the capital gains taxes are low although it is arguable that there are coincidences.

    And in actuallity any person who has a 401-k plan would be affected by a capital gains tax.

    on a side note i dont like either term “Some call it “redistribution of wealth.” Some call it “tax fairness.””

    “OH YEAH!” im not a fan of kool-aid

  12. The last thing on Earth I’m qualified to do is talk economics in-depth. But this whole thing has sent me on a capital gains scavenger hunt. 😆

    First things first. I’m glad you admitted “it’s arguable there are coincidences.” Obviously the whole well-being of the nation’s economy isn’t contingent upon the capital gains tax. If it were, we’d have a hard time arguing that a cut in the tax is good for the economy given its current state.

    Now to address a couple things you said with what I’ve come across…

    Clinton raised the capital gains tax to 28% in his first term.

    I’m not so sure that’s true. According to this, it looks like Clinton inherited a 28% rate from the previous 2 administrations (Reagan and Bush 1).

    Some other interesting things to note.

    For the majority of the tax’s lifespan, since it began in 1916, the ceiling on the rate has ranged between 25-39%. The current Bush rate is the lowest it’s been since the run up to the Great Depression.

    Obama has said he’d not likely go as high as Clinton’s 28%. Even if he did, that rate would still be at the low end of the median for the bulk of the tax’s lifespan.

    And in actuallity any person who has a 401-k plan would be affected by a capital gains tax.

    Not according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In this report they pointed out that:

    Most middle-income Americans own much or all of their stock through 401(k)s, IRAs, or other tax-preferred saving accounts. They do not pay taxes when their stocks within those accounts go up, so a change in the tax rate doesn’t affect them.

    Another thing I found interesting in that report:

    The Bush Administration Treasury Department examined the economic effects of extending the capital gains and dividend tax cuts. Even under the Treasury’s most optimistic scenario about the economic effects of these tax cuts, the tax cuts would not generate anywhere close to enough added economic growth to pay for themselves — and would thus lose money.

    Like I said, I’m nowhere near qualified to chew the fat on economics. Just some stuff I found online that seemed relevant.

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