WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2022
Respect for the viewpoints of Others: Rusty Bowers was the first witness at yesterday's meeting of the January 6 committee.
Bowers is the conservative leader of the Arizona House. For us, his frontier-adjacent, spare speaking style seemed to recall the late Barry Goldwater—and possibly Sandra Day O'Connor, who grew up in deep isolation on a large cattle ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border, nine miles from the nearest paved road.
Back in 2020 and 2021, Bowers refused to go along with deranged requests from Rudy Giuliani and Donald J. Trump. He had supported and voted for Donald J. Trump—but now he refused his requests.
At one point, pausing due to emotion, Bowers made the statement shown below. We were a bit surprised:
BOWERS (6/21/22): Deny your oath, I will not do that. And on more than one—on more than one occasion throughout all this, it has been brought up.
And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired—of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so, for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.
For the full transcript of yesterday's meeting, click here.
Bowers believes that the Constitution is a "divinely-inspired" document. Nor does he seem to be alone in that view.
At the end of the day's presentation, vice chair Liz Cheney made the following statement. She was addressing Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two of the day's other witnesses:
CHENEY (6/21/22):We've been reminded by you, and by Speaker Bowers and Secretary of State Raffensperger and Mr. Sterling, that our institutions don't defend themselves. Individuals do that. And we've been reminded that it takes public servants. It takes people who've made a commitment to our system to defend our system. We also have been reminded what it means to take an oath under God to the Constitution, what it means to defend the Constitution.
And we were reminded by Speaker Bowers that our Constitution is indeed a divinely inspired document. And so it's been an honor to spend time with you and with our previous witnesses here today.
According to the highlighted statement, Cheney believes that the Constitution was divinely inspired too.
For ourselves, we don't believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. In fairness, we can't really say that we disbelieve that proposition. Truth to tell, we've never given the possibility a single moment of thought.
Was the Constitution divinely inspired? Though we were familiar with that point of view, we were briefly surprised to see Bowers state his belief about this matter.
We were a bit surprised, all over again, when we saw Cheney second the motion.
For ourselves, we don't hold any religious beliefs at all. Having said that, we're aware of the fact that many millions of other people do.
In Bowers' case, his voice broke on several occasions as he explained that he refused the deranged requests of Giuliani and Trump because his religious beliefs are so strong. We thought of President Clinton's passage about the Arkansas Pentecostals, and we thought about the wide array of human belief and experience.
Our blue tribe is occasionally somewhat less than perfect when it comes to the task of respecting the viewpoints of Others. We've often mentioned that passage by Clinton as an example of the way a successful political figure may end up being liked and respected, and also winning elections, if he or she is able to form a more ecumenical view.
Clinton wrote about his home state's Pentecostals in his 2003 memoir / autobiography, My Life. We first mentioned the passage in question way back in 2004.
According to Clinton, his state's Pentecostals didn't tend to vote for him when he ran for office statewide. That said, he described his admiration and respect for this group in one of the most unusual passages you'll ever see a Democratic politician transfer onto paper.
Clinton described the way he would always attend an annual meeting of Arkansas' Pentecostals. We'll recommend that you read the whole thing, but along the way, he offered such statements as these:
CLINTON (pages 251-252): Far more important than what I saw the Pentecostals do were the friendships I made among them. I liked and admired them because they lived their faith. They are strictly anti-abortion, but unlike some others, they will make sure that any unwanted baby, regardless of race or disability, has a loving home. They disagreed with me on abortion and gay rights, but they still followed Christ’s admonition to love their neighbors.
Knowing the Pentecostals has enriched and changed my life. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, seeing people live their faith in a spirit of love toward all people, not just your own, is beautiful to behold. If you ever get a chance to go to a Pentecostal service, don’t miss it.
That last statement was a genuine topper! Along the way, Clinton had also said this:
“Besides being true to their faith, the Pentecostals I knew were good citizens. They thought it was a sin not to vote.”
Bill Clinton wasn't a Pentecostal. He didn't share their religious perspectives—and his state's Pentecostals tended to vote against him.
That said, he told the world that he liked and admired them as people. Someone else might have rejected them as the latest gaggle of Others, but Clinton said that knowing these others had "enriched and enhanced [his] life."
Today, members of our flailing blue tribe are embracing certain people from the other side. Lynn Cheney is one such person. Yesterday, Bowers became another—and that's not all!
This morning, there was George Conway, he of the Clinton-chasing "elves," sitting on the Morning Joe panel, eagerly embraced by our side. For the record, we aren't saying he shouldn't be embraced, though we also aren't saying he should be.
For ourselves, we don't hold religious views. On the other hand, we're aware of the fact that several billion other people do, all around the world.
Members of our flailing blue tribe are occasionally rude about people who do. As our ministry continues this week, we'll offer this fleeting thought:
We might have more success, in the political tribe we call home, if we improved the way we play with regard to (several) such matters.
Admittedly, this would be a type of long-term home improvement project. That said:
Within our personal memory, it all goes back to that one nagging incident. It took place in the autumn of 65, during our freshman year!
Tomorrow: Whatever comes next