Ecclesiastical and political pragmatism, with a beat
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for this paste wad contest between CNN's Anderson Cooper and Renee Ellmers, the Palin-backed Republican candidate in North Carolina's second congressional district who's trying to rescue her sagging campaign against Rep. Bob Etheridge with a commercial equating Muslims with terrorists.
I don't think Cooper did as well as Sullivan suggests. He didn't push hard enough when Ellmers refused to rule out the possibility that Cordoba House's Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf himself was a terrorist. Then he let her get under his skin by accusing him of being anti-religion. Near the end, she goes right over the top by saying that the residents of her district are "Christian people," insulting every non-Christian in North Carolina and the country. Lamely, Cooper just asked if she wanted Muslims' votes. I'd say that's a big no. Jews need not turn out, either.
Afterward, Cooper whined about how mean she was. It was a tie until then, but when you have to get the last word after your subject's camera's been turned off, it means you lost. What the confrontation makes you understand is that if a person has no shame and is willing to say whatever is necessary to win and get power, you can't argue or reason with her. Cooper may believe it's his job to stay neutral and get the facts. But at what point does the obligation to speak truth against ignorance and prejudice take precedence? What if she had said her district consisted of "white Christians"? We'd demand that he denounce her as a bigot. Isn't what she did say also false and incendiary and therefore just as bad?
RCP says the district's still leaning Etheridge's way, but this year, no one can tell.