Friday, December 06, 2002

The Weak in (National) Review - Let me refer you to David Frum's Diarrhea for December 6, 2002, (Maybe I shouldn't poke fun at a person's diary in such a mean way in the Rush Limbaugh manner; but, oh well ... it is public ... and I am in a mischevious mood ... and it is published in National Review - but, really, this is all in fun and I bear no ill-will or malice towards Frum.) In this online weblog, Frum compares Bush's speech on the occasion of the lighting of the national tree with that of Clinton. He glories in the fact that Bush clearly professes his faith, and implies that Clinton's more "tolerant" (Frum's own characterization) speech is somehow atheistic ("rests on a belief in nothing at all"). While I am all for the need to recapture meaning in ritual religious festivities - as opposed to the meaningless term "holiday" (i.e. a day off from work) - where appropriate, I think Frum is way out of bounds to claim that just because Clinton speeches tended to be inclusive, Clinton (and those who think Clinton's approach is appropriate) are somehow ashamed of who they are and what they believe - unlike Bush. First of all, this is very presumptuous. I don't see how Clinton's personal faith has anything to do with a national public speech. Couldn't Frum admit that Clinton, or anyone for that matter, could be firm in his/her faith without always broadcasting it whenever a religious "holiday" comes around? Secondly, how does Frum explain the clear reference to Christianity in Clinton's speech: "the land where a homeless child grew up to be the Prince of Peace." Clinton's speech does not "rest on a belief in nothing at all" - but rests on the recognition that many Americans have many faiths - which, in my mind, is the more appropriate symbolism to be projected in a public speech by a President elected by Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, etc. Frum is proud that Bush is not "ashamed of who he is and what he believes." Why, then, does Frum feel the need to explain that Bush is "a man of religious tolerance"? If there is no shame in professing one's religious identity publicly and exclusively, why the need to also demonstrate "tolerance." Perhaps Frum is recognizing implicity that a public speech made by a President at a "national" event should be for all American Citizens of All Faiths, and that it is not a personal reflection for Bush's personal faith.

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