Obama Golden Rule Gaffe

Erik:
I’ll be honest. I didn’t notice this until someone else pointed it out. But, now I’m wondering who wrote the President’s recent spontaneous affectations of faith. The speechwriter probably has a fancy diploma, but he sure as heckfire didn’t graduate from Bible school.

William:
Interesting! You got me curious so I googled and found one source (among many) –

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/obama-talks-about-his-faith-2/

By the way, my own personal take is that Cain’s words “am I my brother’s keeper?” do NOT necessarily translate into “I AM my brother’s keeper” although many understand the verse in that fashion. Moses said, somewhere, (paraphrasing) “This day is placed before you good and evil, life and death; CHOOSE therefore LIFE.” So, you see, GOOD is each person’s free-will choice and not something may successfully be imposed upon people.

Excerpt:

“I’m a Christian by choice,” the president said. “My family, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. My mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn’t raise me in the church, so I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead. Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes and we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”

Mr. Obama went on: “But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.’’ Yet he said that as president, he also “deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith.’’

Erik:
This rule is pure iron pyrite: “the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead–being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me.”

I was not talking about the conflation of New and Old Testament passages. That certainly is a standard reading of Jesus’ own words, in which he states that he accepts everything within the Old Testament.

I was talking about the twisting of the Golden Rule to mean EXACTLY the opposite to what most Christians take it to mean.

To be clear, “treating others as they would treat me” means the exact opposite to ‘doing unto others as you would *have* others do unto you.’ That “have” is a pretty derned important word in that particular sentence. Without it, one rapes rapists, murders murderers, harasses harassers, slaps slappers while turning ones check only to those who would turn theirs first, etc… and so on.

That’s just a gaffe, of course. The President didn’t mean to to get it wrong, even if secretly believes that the Golden Rule is a bunch of hooey.

But, it is a telling gaffe. It’s even more telling since his affected faith credo was obviously first focus grouped, then carefully crafted by a wordsmith, and then rehearsed by the President beforehand. I would not be the least bit surprised if the President hadn’t uttered the words precisely as they had been written.

Like I said, the gaffe is very telling.

William:

Erik admitted that he did not notice the gaffe until someone “brought it to his attention.” I was so preoccupied with the vitriol of the initial post that I too did not notice the gaffe until Erik pointed it out to me.

Jefferson indicated in a letter to someone that he desired to “erect a wall between church and state” and it is unfortunate that those very words did not find their way into the Constitution. Why should every candidate have to do a stump speech tour through the Bible Belt and loudly profess that “they have taken Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior; as the ONLY WAY that leads to heaven?” Why does a candidate like Huckabee have to explain to Newsweek what his understanding of “Biblical In-errancy” is (which, by the way he got ass backwards in light of II Peter 3:16.) Why did Bobby Jindal conveniently choose to convert to Catholicism in high school when is family religion was perfectly good for the likes of Mohandas Gandhi. I feel certain that Jindal would have converted to Islam had his parents moved to Indonesia and he would have become a Theravadin Buddhist had they moved to Sri Lanka.

Why does Jeb Bush marry a Roman Catholic Hispanic wife but then wait YEARS before converting to Roman Catholicism? Did he convert out of a deep spiritual conviction or was it a politically convenient move because of controversies arising in the Episcopal/Anglican communion?

From the point of view of Judaism the Christians got “the golden rule” all wrong. Christians pejoratively call the Jewish analog “the SILVER rule.” The Jewish rule was given by the likes of Hillel and Shamai as follows: “that which is HATEFUL to you DO NOT unto others.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_the_Elder

We all know what is hateful to us but it is presumptuous for use to assume that we know what is GOOD for others, and run about the world with our gun-point democracy and our missionaries who create “rice Christians” (converts in India who are starving and will do anything for a bit of rice and some blankets.)

So, Erik, since you are such a good Christian with immaculate Christian values and deep theological insights and since Christian values are absolutely ESSENTIAL for American political leaders, therefore you have a huge problem with what Paul said in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Based upon what Paul said there is no person who is worthy of the presidency. Whatever are we to do? Would you actually advocate putting A SINNER in the office of the president?

Erik:

“Erik, since you are such a good Christian […]”

When did I ever say anything like that?

What I was talking about was the clear meaning of the President’s words. Do you disagree with my interpretation of them?

William:
Erik, how can I be sure that you are a person of integrity who is worthy to represent the American government? How can I be certain that you are not some “whited sepulcher” which appears outwardly to be something pure and clean but inwardly is filled with impurity? Of course, Erik, I cannot know with certainty anything about your true nature.

Erik, how can I see you as “a patriotic American” when you seem to be attacking and demeaning your “commander in chief?” Perhaps I may construe your posts as an attempt both to overthrow the existing regime and also to insert into American government a “religious test” which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution?

Didn’t Jesus say something like “with what measure you measure out unto others so shall it be measured out unto you?” In the spirit of that verse I think we should put Erik under the same microscope that Erik uses on Obama to see if Eric measures up and passes the test.

Erik, you advise me to ask Jeb Bush about his beliefs and not discuss it with YOU. But am I not EQUALLY entitled to ask YOU why you do not write your concerns directly to the White House. Is it not your patriotic DUTY to make some formal statement of your serious concerns? Do you mean to say that you do not care enough about America to “do the right thing and write the letter?”

Are you NOT a high principled idealist who would even put his career on the line to speak out for truth and justice. Or are you a “part-line company man” who parrots the party line. I dare say that you would today condemn the McCarthy “witch hunts” BUT if you were living in the McCarthy era would you have the courage of an Edward R. Murrow to risk everything and speak out against what you see as wrong or would you conform and march in goose-step fashion in hopes of your continued employment and your next promotion?

Erik:
+++
‎’But am I not EQUALLY entitled to ask YOU why you do not write your concerns directly to the White House.”

Entitled? Why you sure are. Ask away.

“Is it not your patriotic DUTY to make some formal st…atement of your serious concerns?”

Nope. A FACEBOOK post was sufficient. Perhaps I will write a letter tot the editor!

“Do you mean to say that you do not care enough about America to do the right thing and write the letter?'”

So far, I have courteously answered all of your questions, while noting that you have not bothered to answer mine. perhaps I will answer this question with a question. What does this have to do with Global Warming on Mars?

“Or are you a ‘part-line company man’ who parrots the party line.”

This isn’t even a question. What does this have to do with the plight of the Plataeans during the Peloponnesian War?

“I dare say that you would today condemn the McCarthy ‘witch hunts'”

I suppose you can dare to say that.

“BUT if you were living in the McCarthy era would you have the courage of an Edward R. Murrow to risk everything and speak out against what you see as wrong or would you conform and march in goose-step fashion in hopes of your continued employment and your next promotion?”

How the hell am I supposed to know that? I can say that I would hold the President accountable for his words, since I am doing that right now. But, I can’t really talk about such a counterfactual scenario, since, of course, it is counterfactual.

William:
You see, Erik, the “golden rule” is a two way street. I am attempting to do “to you” exactly what you are attempting to do to Obama, namely, to twist and distort his words and actions in order to make him look bad. Anyone who reads this long thread would most likely come away with the impression that I favor Obama and am willing to overlook an understandable slip of the tongue but that YOU are most anxious to attack any little gap in his “armor.” You say that you stood long hot hours in the sun in order to “show respect” to the president but perhaps what you did was simply self-serving so that you could brag to everyone that you stood long hot hours.

Erik, you say you could care less about what I think of you so does that mean that Obama does not care what you or I or others think about him?

Erik, are you saying that you do not care what I think about you because you ONLY care about people who agree with you and stick to the “party line?”

Jesus said something about “you shall be judged for every word which proceeds from your lips.” We see the truth of Jesus’s words in the public reaction to this GRG (Golden Rule Gaffe.) But we also see the truth in the fact that each of us leaves a “footprint” with everything that we write or post on the Internet. We are all potentially under that same microscope of scrutiny and the only things which spares us is if we are a nobody (such as I am) and therefore no one really cares what we say or think.

Erik:

“I am attempting to do “to you” exactly what you are attempting to do to Obama, namely, to twist and distort his words and actions in order to make him look bad.”

Thanks for explaining. Too bad you failed, I suppose.

“Anyone who reads this lon…g thread would most likely come away with the impression that I favor Obama and am willing to overlook an understandable slip […]”

Such a brave soul would be entitled to such an opinion.

“You say that you stood long hot hours in the sun in order to ‘show respect’ to the president but perhaps what you did was simply self-serving so that you could brag to everyone that you stood long hot hours.”

I supposed that I would find this offensive if I thought that you had given any thought to your words before you wrote them. My motives were exactly as I said they were. You have already said that you don’t know me well enough to trust me. That’s fine. But, that is another thing altogether from asserting that I might be lying. I request that you take that back. You have no evidence to support your claim, and everyone who does know me knows that what I said is the God’s honest truth.

“Erik, you say you could care less about what I think of you so does that mean that Obama does not care what you or I or others think about him?”

I didn’t say that. That is a product of your imagination. And, as to the rest of the statement, I have no idea what the President thinks, being that I am not a mind-reader.

“Erik, are you saying that you do not care what I think about you because you ONLY care about people who agree with you and stick to the ‘party line?'”

Ditto Ibid.

“We are all potentially under that same microscope of scrutiny […]”
Not really. Careerist politicians accept greater scrutiny than average citizens only because they have to. There are many things that can be said about public figures which would be inappropriate to say about a private citizen. The President accepted that burden. If he does not like it, too bad for him.

William:

Erik, I will “take back” whatever you like since I actually value your on-line acquaintanceship (although I am not certain that the phrase “take something back” has any real meaning.) But sure, list everything you would like me to “take back” and I will publicly put my name to it.

Erik, I feel that I like your intellect and value YOUR acquaintance far more than you like or value Obama, but then again I might be wrong.

The only REALLY sad thing about this thread will be if no one else finds it interesting enough to participate on either side of it. I think it is interesting and controversial. After all, I am only doing what I was trained to do for 4 years at SJC, namely take an opposing position and give you a good run for your money, which I assume is what you are also doing.

Taking “offense” or umbrage is a good defensive measure (although it is a form of ad hominem) since it ends the entire conversation with an “I am right; you lose; and I am taking my bat and ball and going home.” If Obama were on our friends list and reading all this do you feel he would be offended by you or suspect that you are imputing to him mendacity?

I should think you would be pleased that someone is engaging you and giving you some resistance.

By the way, I never implied that you are lying. I totally believe that you did stand in the long hot sun for hours to appear respectful to the office of the presidency and it is totally possible to respect an office even if one despises the individual who holds the office. I have the right in my own mind to question your MOTIVES for standing long hot hours. If a movie star were scheduled for an appearance and people stood in line overnight with the hope of getting a glimpse or perhaps even an autograph then I would assume that they somehow respect and admire that movie star BUT it might also be the case that they hope to SELL the autograph or a photo or boast to others that they saw someone famous.

Erik:
‎”Taking ‘offense’ or umbrage is a good defensive measure (although it is a form of ad hominem) since it ends the entire conversation with an ‘I am right; you lose; and I am taking my bat and ball and going home’ […] I never implied that you are lying.”

William, you explicitly questioned my honesty, without any evidence whatsoever to support the implications of the question. That is not an appropriate debate tactic.

You are welcome to question anything I say, especially if you have evidence which contradicts what I say. What you are not welcome to do is to baldly question is my word. My word is something which I hold quite dear.

When I talk about my motives for doing this or that, I am essentially giving my word that what I have said is true (as best as I can recall). When you question my word, you ipso facto imply that you believe that I might be lying.

I accept that you did not intend to do that, but, since we are actually talking about the strict reading of a given public person’s words, perhaps this subject is made that much more apt. Regardless of your intention, your words meant what they meant.

In such cases, a simple clarification afterwards is sufficient for remediation. That is, were I in your position, I would have said something to the effect of, ‘Oooooops, I did not mean to question your integrity, please allow me to withdraw the offending remark,’ and then left it at that.

As to your point about ‘offense as a rhetorical tactic,’ let me just say this. I think that in our entire FACEBOOK friendship you have had a chance to read similar words written by me twice. You could thus infer that even if this were a ‘tactic,’ it is one that I do not use routinely.

And, more to the point, as a matter of manifest fact, there was no need for me to use any sort of debate tactic at all, since you know very well, as I do, that I was quite right about the most important fact under discussion: That the President made a rather illuminating gaffe. That is beyond question, right?

William:
Erik, if you were for example to launch a diatribe against homosexuality and I were to conjecture that in reality it is some form of “Jungian Shadow” (which often it is) I would not be calling you a liar but rather I would be psychoanalyzing your to find motivations which you may not even realize yourself. I am certain that you felt in your heart that those long hot hours in the sun were the right thing to do and done with an admirable motivation. I do not question your honesty in that regard. BUT it might well be that you do not want to face the possibility that your actions are under scrutiny and that if you do not “go the extra mile” (another of Jesus’s expressions) then some people might feel that it reflects upon your character.

Yes Erik, you were totally correct in everything you posted about “the illuminating gaffe.”

I, for my part, fail to see why the American public concerns itself with the religious beliefs/practice of any politician or the lack thereof. Obviously many Americans DO concern themselves (which I see as flying against the spirit of the founding fathers and the Constitution) and in fact a significant percentage of Americans are convinced that Obama IS a Muslim (which you quite correctly pointed out is TRUE since Islamic societies consider the son of a Muslim father to be a father even if he never practices or confesses Islam.)

Some people do not see the gaffe as a big deal or anything more than an impromptu extemporaneous slip of the tongue. Others have an agenda to find it “very revealing” as you have so aptly pointed out. Eric, you seem convinced that these were not Obama’s extemporaneous words but actually the script of some oafish speech writer (in which case the gaffe is very revealing about the speech writer and reveals that the president should hire someone else.)

+++++

I need you on my list more than you need me since you are about 10 times smarter and more accomplished than I am so I shall certainly retract (take back) whatever you ask me to “take back” and will most humbly apologize for giving you or others the notion that I suspect you are a liar.

I just got home from a long trip.

I will point out the following technicality:

This entire thread BEGINS with YOUR WORDS (sic) “I’ll be honest.” which does imply or suggest that sometimes you are NOT honest, which leaves us open to the suggestion that sometimes you are DISHONEST. But I am analyzing YOUR OWN WORDS.

I will post this and then view the Youtube link above.

Of course I have no idea, Erik, whether or not you personally identify as a Christian. I would ASSUME that you must to be so upset over Obama’s GRG (golden rule gaffe). Now, IF you are a Christian then you are supposed to LOVE your enemies (and I am certainly NOT your enemy; on the contrary I greatly admire you) AND ALSO you are supposed to REJOICE AND BE GLAD “when people say all manner of evil things against you falsely.”

This is why I am greatly surprised that you take such serious offense and my words. Also, I believe you stated earlier in the thread that you do not CARE what I think. So, if you do not care what I think then I am puzzled why you would care if I think you are a liar (and I never said that or thought that.)

I shall soon turn 62 and I have 1.) never ONCE asked anyone to “take something back” (not even in early childhood) and 2.) I have never once demanded an apology from anyone. Whenever people have chosen to apologize to me, I always silently feel a certain contempt for then since to me an apology has no real meaning. It is like those people who elbow their way through crowds exclaiming “EXCUSE ME.” Their politeness is false. Once a woman did something very thoughtless and dangerous and then kept apologizing to me until I said “IF you were truly sorry then you would have been careful to begin with.” The danger I see in the “forgive me I am sorry” routine is that it is like James Bond 009 “license to..” do all sorts of things over and over and over.

Anyway, I would not intentionally say something if I knew you would get upset and unfriend me. So let me know if I need to grovel or apologize any further. I did think I was giving you a run for your money on a level playing field and that it is an interesting thread, but obviously I am mistaken.

Sorry!

Erik:

“This entire thread BEGINS with YOUR WORDS (sic) ‘I’ll be honest.’ which does imply or suggest that sometimes you are NOT honest, which leaves us open to the suggestion that sometimes you are DISHONEST. But I am analyzing YOUR OWN WORDS.”

Yes, William. I make no claims regarding my personal perfection. In fact, if you read my words carefully, you would know that I conceded my fallibility a number of times in this very thread. What I also said was that my word was important to me. When I talk about my personal motivations, I am giving my word. Because I value my word, and attempt to keep it valuable for others, I prefer that my word be accepted at face value during bullshit sessions such as this, except when there is evidence that I have either misspoken or dissembled. And, being that I am human, I certainly acknowledge both are possible. But, in this case, no such evidence could possibly have existed, since I said exactly what happened. This seems simple enough to me.

As to your apology, I already accepted the non-apology, but thanks anyway. I was not fishing for a better apology, by the way. I was just trying to explain to you what I meant, since you appeared not to understand.

“Of course I have no idea, Erik, whether or not you personally identify as a Christian.”

That’s because I rarely talk about such things publicly. Yes, I do identify myself as a Christian, but not a good one. I sure as heck don’t proselytize, and I will invariably choose football over church. Like the President, I was not raised a Christian. My father was a lifelong militant atheist and my mother has had an ever-changing array of trendy New Age spiritual belief systems, and accompanying cosmologies, which only intersected with Christianity coincidentally and tangentially. I don’t take communion when I attend Catholic mass, which I do often enough, because I am not a Catholic, but I have nothing against that church. I think it is a force for good. I won’t describe which church I do belong to, since I attend that church even less often than Catholic mass. On the other hand, were I ever to feel the need to explain to everyone at a Bar-B-Que about ‘what a good Christian I am,’ I’d hope that I would get the Golden Rule right. I’m just saying…

“I shall soon turn 62 and I have 1.) never ONCE asked anyone to ‘take something back’ (not even in early childhood) and 2.) I have never once demanded an apology from anyone.”

Well, good for you. Apparently, you aren’t me.

“Whenever people have chosen to apologize to me, I always silently feel a certain contempt for then since to me an apology has no real meaning. It is like those people who elbow their way through crowds exclaiming ‘EXCUSE ME.’ Their politeness is false.”

I don’t live in such a world. I live in a world in which people make all sorts of mistakes (sometimes mistakes which wrong others), regret them, and then seek to remediate them. In such cases such people often apologize to those whom they have wronged. I teach my kids to apologize under such circumstances. I always attempt to force myself to do likewise, though a genuine apology is always a bitter pill to swallow.

“Once a woman did something very thoughtless and dangerous and then kept apologizing to me until I said ‘IF you were truly sorry then you would have been careful to begin with.'”

That speaks volumes.
++++

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