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“Jesus Was Too Smart to Run for Public Office”

I know, I know—I should be blogging about Annapolis, and the recent hubbub throughout the entire Jewish community about what happened there, if anything happened there, if what happened there matters at all, what Abbas promised or didn’t promise, whether Ehud Olmert should be replaced with Netanyahu, and so on. It all demands some incisive prose, I know. But frankly, I just can’t right now. I’ve spent probably an hour a day deleting emails on these topics from my various inboxes every day, so I know that there’s plenty of information out there if you want to go looking (unless, of course, you’re having an allergic reaction to the deluge of urgent subject lines yourself). I want to spend just a few minutes on some insanity a bit closer to home—my home, anyway.

The CNN/Youtube Republican debate was this past week, and in the name of public duty and my desire to craft the best anecdotes, I watched the whole thing—all thirty-four questions and subsequent evasions. It was brilliant. I mean that. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before—and we’re talking about television on the internet here, folks. I’m a big Youtube fan, and I’ve seen some wacky stuff, but this really deserves just a few words, so here we go:

Maybe my favorite moment came almost immediately: asked about illegal immigration, my man Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney went for each other’s throats. No, that’s too dignified. Better is the comparison made by my roommate, who, hand over her mouth in horror, asked if, when they were done pulling each other’s hair, would they throw sand at one another? These men want to be President of the United States! Not that dignity necessarily goes with the job, but come on! (The argument in question managed to devolve from the policy implications of providing “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants to whether Mitt Romney hired “illegals” to mow his lawn, to who had the worse “holier than thou” attitude vis-à-vis being tough on immigration.)

But, honestly, such theatrics are perhaps simply the inevitable product of political theater. Embarrassment aside (and for a real fun game, just picture Rudy G at a G-8 summit), I was a little horrified at how the questions asked of the Republicans seemed to reflect what I had assumed were my own biased assumptions about the Republican constituency. Most of the questioners were white and male (more than twenty out of thirty-four is a pretty high percentage). Three separate questions about guns (with the usual perversion of the second amendment.) Two questions about candidates and religion. (And while I thought it was fun to watch Mike Huckabee squirm when asked what Jesus would do in regard to the death penalty, it’s a little creepy to know that we should care what Jesus said. That’s perversion of another amendment.) A question from a retired gay brigadier general that got an outright rude and disrespectful response from Duncan Hunter. A well-put query from a black youth in Atlanta about black-on-black crime that was met with a convoluted ramble from Mitt Romney about promoting marriage. A question about the penalty for abortion, should it become illegal, that as ever, assumed the woman in the question has no agency and no decision-making capacity.

I guess my point here is that it’s easy, as a liberal, to be offended by political discourse in America. (Consider me a great example of this.) It’s a bit more over the top, I think, to be offended by a mainstream event—specifically broadcast to me via a media source my generation depends upon—as not just a liberal, but a Jew, a queer person, a woman, and as someone who wishes Rudy Giuliani would stop talking about Mayor Koch. That’s impressive. To summarize: as Gov. Huckabee put it, Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office. As we all know, Jesus was a liberal. You do the math.

–Mel Weiss