Saturday, March 3, 2012 Does Santorum's JFK Speech Screw Ups; and So Does Jon Stewart

Kennedy's speech made Santorum sick, not because there is anything wrong with the sentiments of the speech, but because Santorum is one extremely sick and corrupt individual.  Santorum was seeking to find a way to disrespect an historic figure, and to pander to a narrow and evil segment of the conservative base that has tragically warped ideas on religion, an ugly and intolerant segment of conservatives.  There was a time when moderates were the majority and in control of conservative politics, there was a time when the conservative side of politics was led by genuinely principled people.  Now it has been hijacked by extremists, liars, delusional conspiracy theory lunatics, and fanatics eager to coerce and compel the broad spectrum of our nation to their narrow and ugly views using government as their whip, because they cannot persuade the minds of most of us to their wicked positions.  The hallmark of such people is their aversion to fact, their appeal to emotion, and that they will so very willingly lie, and lie and lie to grasp power.

I am ashamed of Santorum's expectation that people are unfamiliar with the original, or that we are now so lazy that despite the easy access through the internet of the original material, we won't look at it for ourselves, and think for ourselves, and see for ourselves what an ugly liar he really is.  While the clips are a bit long - watch them.  This is one of the seminal speeches in our history; we should know it, we should revisit it when one side tries to make religion the issue. It is the same side making religion an issue this election that made it an issue in the Kennedy election.  Know your history, or you are doomed to repeat it; to know your history, make it a habit to go to the primary sources.  I'm angry that Santorum believes a lot of people don't know or care about history; and I'm even more angry that he might be right.  Santorum and his supporters demonize those who follow a different conclusion of conscience or religious practice than he does; these are the same people who fear Muslims, or even Protestants, and demean them as inferior, or to be feared.

The person who is inferior, and perhaps to be feared if he is successful as a liar because of what he intends to do with power if he gets it, is Santorum.

I was going to seek out the whole JFK speech, and fisk it with Santorum's ignoble rant, but did it first.  Please watch the speech before reading the analysis; doing so will give it more depth if you know the whole, not just the excerpts and sound bytes.
Santorum’s Twisted Take on JFK & Religion

Posted on February 27, 2012

Rick Santorum misrepresented what John F. Kennedy said in 1960 about church-state separation. According to Santorum, Kennedy said that religious people could “have no role in the public square” and “should not be permitted . . . to influence public policy.” But Kennedy didn’t say those things. He said he wouldn’t take orders from the Vatican if elected president.

On ABC’s “This Week,” the former Pennsylvania senator said Feb. 26 that Kennedy’s embrace of an “absolute” separation of church and state made him sick.

Santorum, ABC’s “This Week”: I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.
. . . Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate. Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith. . . . [T]o say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up.
And on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the same day, Santorum said Kennedy’s “absolute” separation means “people of faith should not be permitted in the public square to influence public policy.”

Santorum, NBC’s “Meet the Press”: That is not the founders’ vision. That’s not the America that was made the greatest country in the history of the world. The idea that people of faith should not be permitted in the public square to influence public policy is antithetical to the First Amendment, which says the free exercise of religion — James Madison called people of faith, and by the way no faith and different faith — the ability to come in the public square with diverse opinions, motivated by a variety of different ideas and passions, the perfect remedy. Why — because everybody is allowed in.
It’s true that in his famous address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on Sept. 12, 1960, Kennedy stated his belief in an “absolute” separation. But Santorum reads into that speech things that Kennedy did not actually say.

Kennedy, who was then the Democratic nominee for president, was assuring Protestant ministers that he would not be taking orders from the Vatican should he become the first Catholic to be elected to the White House.
Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1960: I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president — should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.
But in his speech — and in his answers to several questions and answers that followed — he referred to the church “hierarchy” and the Pope, and church doctrine. He never said that religious people could not voice their opinions. We find nothing in Kennedy’s words that could be reasonably construed to say that Kennedy would not “consult with people of faith,” as Santorum claimed.

To the contrary, Kennedy made clear his support for “religious liberty” and said he wanted the president to be “responsible to all.”

Kennedy: I would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the first amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty; nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. . . .

I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none, who can attend any ceremony, service, or dinner his office may appropriately require of him to fulfill; and whose fulfillment of his presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual, or obligation.
In the questions that followed Kennedy’s speech (which can be seen in a video of the entire event posted by C-Span) the ministers asked whether the Vatican would “direct” him or would be “guiding” him as president.

For example, in an exchange that starts at about 28:08 on the C-Span recording, Kennedy was asked whether the Catholic Church had a right and “privilege” to “direct” members in areas including “the political realm.”
Question: [W]hat we would like to know, if you are elected president, and your church elects to use that privilege and obligation, what your response will be under those circumstances.

Kennedy: If my church attempted to influence me in a way which was improper, or which affected adversely my responsibility as a public servant sworn to uphold the Constitution, then I would reply to them this was an improper action on their part; it was one to which I could not subscribe; that I was opposed to it. It would be an unfortunate breach of, an interference with the American political system.

At another point, Kennedy was asked (starting at about 33:40 on the C-Span recording) about a statement attributed to Pope John XXIII, that “the Catholic hierarchy has the right and duty of guiding” Catholics “to the common aid.”

Kennedy: Guiding them in what area? If you are talking about in the area of faith and morals, and the instructions of the Church, I would think any Baptist minister or Congregational minister has the right and duty to try to guide his flock. If you mean by that statement that the Pope or anyone else could bind me in the fulfillment, by a statement in the fulfillment of my public duties, I say no. … It all has to do with what you mean by ‘guide.’

But none of the ministers asked Kennedy if he meant that “faith is not allowed in the public square” or that he “won’t consult with people of faith,” the assertions that Santorum now puts in Kennedy’s mouth. Kennedy didn’t say those things, and if any of the ministers who were present in 1960 thought that’s what he meant, none of them said so at the time.
– Brooks Jackson
And then we have the equally astute, shorter, and more entertaining satiric take on Santorum from Jon Stewart, as counterpoint to the serious.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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