Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crazy for God, media postscripts

Now this puzzles me because in the Huffington post Frank says

We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

In his book, on page 299 of Crazy for GodFrank writes:

Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, and others would later use their power in ways that would have made my father throw up. Dad could hardly have imagined how they would have help facilitate the instantly corrupted power-crazy new generation of evangelical public figures like Ralph Reed, who took money from teh casino industry while allegedly playing both sides against the middle in events related to the Abramoff Washington lobbyist scandal.

Later on Frank describes his dad as seeming very uncomfortable around the likes of Robertson and in other parts of the book goes so far as to describe how his dad thought the current leaders of the religious right were "not like us" or "not our kind of people".

So if Frank goes so far as to say his father virtually thought these people were idiots or not of the same spirit in his book, what's with the description of Falwell and Robertson as followers of his late father?

Now it may just be me but it seems like Frank is trying to have it both ways. He's trying to rehabilitate his father in Crazy for God as someone who would have been appalled at how the religious right handles things but in Huffington's forum seems to be writing as though the people that he himself recounts his father as thinking were weird at best were followers.

Then again, Frank doesn't have a history of really writing books that rely on rational argument and he particularly has no history of handling anything in terms of nuanced analysis. Not too difficult to see why some people thinks Frank is a bit off. It's not what he writes in any individual setting that makes it seem odd how extreme he gets, it's more the cumulative effect of his output.

Frank believes that writing means he can be honest. But I am afraid I have to ask how honest it is to present his dad in such different lights to different audiences based on what group his is denouncing at any given publishing date. There's not even a mention in the Huffington post entry that Frank believes his father would not have approved of how the religious right handles things now. Of course Frank's main point is that when he and his father denounced America they were regarded as heroes while liberals or putative liberals who denounce America are regarded as traitors.

Trouble is, this is not that new. It's not even that special. Liberals have been talking about how Reaganism destroyed America and took America away from real Americans. Frank is still part of the problem and not the solution, or perhaps it would be more realistic to say there is no solution for the kind of problem Frank's polemic is included within. I stand by my observation that Jesus was crucified by a bipartisan committee. I was prepared to give a fairly generous assessment of Frank comparing his new book to his old book but his other writings have reminded me that he's still a hot head and can be pretty condescending to people he doesn't like, and he can be awfully selective about how he presents a case. Well, it's not like we didn't know this about him all the way back in Addicted to Mediocrity so I guess it's not so much a surprise as an unpleasant confirmation that the character traits that make him frustrating obviously have stuck around. I suppose that would be true of anyone, though, wouldn't it?

Perhaps what Frank should argue is that the hypocrisy in anti-government agitation is really when the political party making the complaint goes from feeling at a loss for power to having power. What Frank should argue is not about Jeremiah Wright but that if people consistenly held to the idea that people have the right to overthrow unust government that we have to realize the real risk involved, that the "right" to overthrow the government that does not deliver what we think God requires of us goes both ways, both left and right.

But neither party complains about the abuse or lack of separation of powers while their party has dominance, which is one of the more serious things to consider. Frank would have a better argument for his position if he made this appeal. The Republicans who endorsed calls for deposing unjust government twenty years ago have to recognize that double edged sword they want to wield. Frank's rhetoric goes both too far and not nearly far enough.

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