Who Needs Eggheads?

by digby

I'm under the weather and don't have the energy today to delve into this article about Leah Daughtry in today's NY Times, but I will point out that it's fairly startling to find out that a high level member of the Democratic Party derisively refers to those who would credit chemotherapy with a cancer remission as "eggheads:"

Dancing down front, in an aisle between pews, was a woman in an elaborate dress with a lace corsage whose breast cancer had been eradicated, Daughtry had said, through the prayers of her church sisters: “The eggheads will say her chemotherapy worked, but everyone who uses chemotherapy isn’t cured.”


“The intellectuals, the egghead types — Pentecostalism is incomprehensible to them. They don’t understand the spirit-driven. I can make the trains run on time, and they have a hard time reconciling that with my religion.”

I know this is all part of the Democratic party's new identification with faith and to the extent it doesn't require that people who believe in science are derided, I guess it's none of my business. But is it really necessary for everybody on both the left and the right to take every opportunity to adopt anti-intellectualism as a way of distancing themselves from the loathed "eggheads?" I just don't see how it's good for the country.

I had one of those Tom Friedmanesque taxicab moments today on my way to the airport in Austin. My driver was a very talkative African American guy from New Orleans who had no idea I was in town for a political event and just started talking about the plight of the African American family, church leaders' inclination toward rewarding themselves at the expense of their parishoners, the government failure of Katrina, the need for people to be given a fair shot early in life so they don't have to catch up etc. He used a lot of Bible verses to illustrate his points, was obviously very religious, well educated and concerned. He was just a lovely guy, open, passionate, friendly --- the kind of person who has really thought about these issues and really works at trying to figure out ways to change the status quo.

Anyway, he talked a mile a minute and I didn't say much until we were almost there when I asked him if he was excited about Barack. He smiled broadly and said, "Oh it's so wonderful to see. I never thought I would see the day. But I don't know what to do because he isn't pro-life and he believes that marriage isn't just for a man and a woman. And I'm afraid that if he gets in he's going to put Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court and she's going to outlaw everything I believe in."

I don't really have a moral to this story. We parted ways smiling and laughing and I wandered into the terminal to cough and sniffle for a while before I got on the plane. Clearly the vast, vast majority of black Americans are thrilled with Obama's candidacy (as was this guy)and are very excited to vote for him. But for the social conservatives among them, he presents a dilemma, just as the Democrats do in general for all social conservatives. Our big tent doesn't require that you have abortions or be gay, but it does require that you do not believe the government should make laws prohibiting others from doing so. And it's pretty fundamental, definitional stuff --- civil liberties and equal rights are matters of moral belief and principles. Social conservatives just can't sign on that. Can these beliefs be reconciled under one political party?

Meanwhile, the institutional religious right is unimpressed with the Democratic outreach. Indeed, they are slowly and reluctantly making their way to the guy who doesn't really give a damn about any of their concerns --- but because of the make-up and tradition of the party will probably give them as of what they want as he can:

"I never thought I would hear myself saying this," Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. "... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might." Dobson and other evangelical leaders unimpressed by McCain increasingly are taking a lesser-of-two-evils approach to the 2008 race. Dobson and his guest, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, spend most of the pretaped Focus on the Family radio program criticizing Democratic candidate Barack Obama, getting to McCain at the very end.

In an advance copy provided to The Associated Press, Dobson said that while neither candidate is consistent with his views, McCain's positions are closer by a wide margin.

"There's nothing dishonorable in a person rethinking his or her positions, especially in a constantly changing political context," Dobson said in a statement to the AP. "Barack Obama contradicts and threatens everything I believe about the institution of the family and what is best for the nation. His radical positions on life, marriage and national security force me to reevaluate the candidacy of our only other choice, John McCain." Earlier, Dobson had said he could not in good conscience vote for McCain, citing the candidate's support for embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, as well as concerns about McCain's temper and foul language

It's all about the courts to Dobson and friends. They know very well that Justice Hillary Clinton is going to outlaw the religious right if Obama becomes president. At least McCain won't allow that to happen.

I don't know how this works out. The underlying differences can't just be swept under the rug while we all hold hands and work on poverty and global warming together. At some point, something will have to give. (And I think I know what that will be.)

Update: Teddy San Fran has more on Daughtry