Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An atheist and a blonde walk into a bar...

Dan Newman, a Democratic political strategist, recently said "Anti-atheism remains the last remaining prejudice that a majority of Americans don't mind fessing up to." For most Americans, the atheist/agnostic is in the same category as the dumb blonde. Nobody gets riled when they hear a demeaning joke about a dumb blonde like they would if the same demeaning joke were told about a Jew or an African-American or a handicapped person or a gay person. The same is true if an atheist is the butt of the joke. Who cares? Atheists are just grizzled, muttering, God-hating curmudgeons nobody listens to. We need to tell demeaning jokes about somebody, so telling them about dumb blondes and atheists is still politically correct.

Rep. Pete StarkIt's significant that Congressman Pete Stark's recent acknowledgement of his agnosticism made headlines. Should something like that have been news at all? Newman said that a confession of non-belief is "political suicide." It remains to be seen if Stark will survive the suicide attempt.

What's even more significant is that, while Stark is the highest-ranking elected official who has acknowledged his agnosticism, Karl Rove is actually the highest-ranking official, elected or appointed, who has acknowledged his agnosticism. And that acknowledgement has not made headlines.

On the Amazon detail page for The Architect: Karl Rove and the Dream of Absolute Power, Vanessa Bush, in her review for Booklist, writes "Himself an agnostic, Rove has masterminded a strategy that has helped to broaden the Republican base beyond its pro-business, anti-government heritage to appeal to devout evangelicals. In a calculated effort to weaken the Democratic base, Rove has engineered plans to use the anti-abortion stance to attract Catholics, the anti-gay stance to attract black churchgoers, and the pro-Israel stance to attract Jews."

Oww. Information like that hurts my brain. Why did I have to learn that Rove is an agnostic? I thought he was probably an Episcopalean or a Catholic. But even more mystifying is the fact that, according to Larisa Alexandrovna's review of the same book on TheRawStory, Rove's adoptive father, Louis Rove, became openly gay when Rove was a young adult, and Rove loves and admires him and speaks of Louis' unselfish love during Rove's childhood. Alexandrovna continues "One might think that such a sensitive family situation might have kept Rove from using it as a political ace-in-the-hole. Instead, Rove made sexual orientation—specifically, gay marriage—the centerpiece of a presidential campaign aimed at getting out conservative voters in states like Ohio." Oww oww owww! Stop! Stop!

There's a word for the paradoxical divisions in the brain that Rove exhibits: schizophrenia. In looking over the explanation of schizophrenia (Greek for "divided mind") in the medical encyclopedia on the website of the National Institutes of Health, I see that about the only listed symptom that applies (as far as I know) is "delusional thoughts of persecution or of a grandiose nature." That certainly applies to Rove. As Bush writes in her Booklist review: "The authors maintain that these tactics are all part of a scheme to maintain Republican dominance of all aspects of American government for the next 30 years."

Could we have Rove undergo psychological testing? Aren't you curious to know how mentally healthy an extremely influential Deputy Chief of Staff is? Inquiring minds want to know.

There's no question of his intelligence. The authors of The Architect say Rove is "a man of almost startling intelligence." Nobody in his right mind would think that Rove develops political strategies that are in extreme contradiction to his personally held beliefs because he's too dumb to know any better. Naw, he ain't dumb. But it's true that high intelligence is often accompanied by mental illness of some type. A mild, subdiagnostic case of schizophrenia might explain how Rove can focus so exclusively on winning in the political game, to the exclusion of considering how winning affects him personally. If Rove's objective—the ideal, ultimate neoconservative government successfully taking over all three branches of government and nullifying all liberal influence—were to be achieved, Rove himself—the agnostic—and his father—the openly gay man—would be at significant risk.


Winter Patriot said...

Guys like Karl never realize until it's too late that the monsters they are building are going to eat them eventually.

Anonymous said...

Old Pete Stark is not just an atheist...but he also hates the military...
Check out where he phoned a constituent National Guardsmen and insulted him, his intelligence, and his ability to think independently. Folks like this do not deserve to be in Congress...

Jonathan Versen said...

I don't know about the monster eating Rove. Conservos care about maintaining appearances and results, and if Rove had continued to deliver through November 2006, hardly anybody on the right would care. Likewise, social conservatives swooning over oft-married serial adulterer Guiliani don't see a problem in their support of "mayor 9/11" as long as he continues to offer the right the bootlicking rhetoric that flatters and appeases them.

Their hypocricy is repellent, I agree. But that doesn't make it a less enduring trait of persons with authoritarian mindsets.