Do you know the joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and is informed he needs an operation that would cost $25,000? When he asks if there are any cheaper alternatives, the doc responds, "well, for $75, I can touch up your X-rays."
That's Barack Obama's approach to healing the Dems' affliction when it comes to dealing with religious conservatives on social issues. He's not looking to change the substance, only the appearance.
In introducing Obama, GMA's Robin Roberts did describe him as "one of the Democrats' rising stars." But I think that might be some kind of required FCC label, so we'll cut Robin slack. Particularly so in light of the very probing question with which she ultimately hit Obama, and the telling response she elicited.
The topic was the Dems' uneasy relationship with religion and religious voters, and the speech Obama gave yesterday exhorting Democrats to "compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans."
Frankly, I expected Roberts to accord kid-MSM glove treatment to Obama. But after some nice chit chat, she landed this blow:
"We saw, of course, in the last presidential election moral values very much on the minds of voters who went to the polls. But it's also, when evangelicals talk about the way Democrats traditionally vote, when it comes to gay rights and abortion. So it's not so much the family values that you talk about, but about how Democrats vote. Does there have to be a change there?"
Obama: "There are going to be differences and issues and not all these issues that touch on religious faith are easily resolved. I mean, the fact of the matter is that there are going to be contentious debates around abortion and gay marriage and that's part of our democratic process. My simple point is to make sure that we don't get so locked into a particular perception about how one party or the other thinks that we miss the enormous complexity and diversity of religious views across the country."
Translation: "When it comes to social issues, we Democrats are going to keep voting like the liberals we are. But we have to figure out a way to change the religious voters' perception of what we're up to."
Give Barack high marks for candor, however unintentional, and kudos to Robin for cutting to the chase.
Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle.' Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org