Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Iowa night, 2008

For a news junkie like me, there's really not much to say--that hasn't been said or written, I mean. The big story here in the northwest corner of a state most Americans confuse with Ohio and Idaho is the caucuses. They're over, and they're history.

And what a history. David Brooks in the NY Times this morning: "Huckabee probably won’t be the nominee, but starting last night in Iowa, an evangelical began the Republican Reformation."

Terrific line by one of American's brightest commentators. Huckabee is good for absolutely everyone, but probably best for the great swarm of my own close neighbors--Republicans all--who have been bowing to anti-abortion crusaders ever since Roe v. Wade. All a candidate has to do is trumpet his (can't be a her) pro-life stance, and my neighbors fall in line.

On abortion, Huckabee is as adamant as Jim Dobson. But he's not bought into the other issues that gullible Christians have simply mantra-ed for far too long: the sure faith that big government is evil; and second, the incredible notion (for New Testament Christians) that somehow trickle-down economics are what best suits the plight of the poor.

Huckabee is an evangelical most real evangelicals should be proud of--and he won yesterday and won big, over a guy who pandered to social conservatives and spent millions and millions of dollars to do it. All for the silver.

Whether or not Huckabee will be President or whether he'd make a good one remains to be seen. But hallelujah for this!--he's freed evangelicals from their slavish enthusiasm to the old line Christian terrorists, who've accomplished much of what they've done by most basic tomfoolery of all--plain old fear.

If we're being overrun by secular humanists, answer me this: where on earth did Huckabee come from?

But the even bigger story is Obama. I hope my good Christian neighbors sense that his win here in Iowa last night makes America look shockingly different to the rest of the world. The entire planet is, in all likelihood, aghast--more so than any of us. Imagine yourself Iranian, hearing the views of a African-American named Obama, and knowing he could replace the Texas cowboy.

What happened in this state--as Jimmy Kimmel says "a state that has fewer blacks than the Beatles"--is nothing less than stunning, especially since the man, Obama, basically runs on hope. If he's not articulated political specifics, that fact seems to have been okay with Iowans because what Iowans saw in the guy--for better or for worse--is someone they want to lead. Too many Presidential elections--including, famously, the last one--required voters entering the polls to clip a clothespin on their noses. Last night, here in Iowa, good, good men won--candidates people want to believe in, candidates people--dare I say it?--really want to trust.

It was a great day, and a great night to be an Iowan.

Honestly, I can think of five candidates for President in the 2008 election that I like--and no two are any better than last night's winners.

Yesterday, on a fact finding tour in Kenya, Desmund Tutu told an audience who had assembled for a summary of what he found in that embattled country, that he has always been "a prisoner of hope."

Don't know if I'll stay there, but last night's caucus voting makes me believe I too would like to take up a bunk therein.

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