Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Daily Digest

Reagan thought Rudy was "crazy."

In today's Congress, stunts and symbolism seem to be the only way to rein in spending. Tom Coburn wages a lonely battle in the senate.

Roger Simon runs down the reasons Michael Bloomberg shouldn't run for president. (He doesn't stand a chance of winning.) The Weekly Standard also ran a recent hit piece on the self-described "5-foot-7, divorced, billionaire Jew."

Whoever replaces Jerry Fallwell will go a long way toward defining the future of the religious right. John Heilemann nominates another rotund reverend, though the similarities stop there: "The face of the modern Evangelical movement belongs . . . to Rick Warren, the pastor of Orange County, California’s Saddleback Church (regular attendance: 20,000) and the author of The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold more hardback copies (over 25 million) than any nonfiction book in history. Now, on many social issues, Warren is just as conservative as Falwell. Abortion, bad. Gay marriage, bad. Etc. But whereas Falwell described aids as 'the wrath of a just God against homosexuals,' Warren has donated millions of dollars to fight HIV in Africa. Whereas Falwell bemoaned the emerging strain of Evangelical environmentalism as 'Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus,' Warren declares, 'The environment is a moral issue.' And regarding his pro-life stance, Warren says, 'I’m just not rabid about it.'"

A side note: in his new biopic, Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History, John Patrick Diggins argues that our 40th president "seemed to offer a Christianity without Christ and the crucifixion, a religion without reference to sin, evil, suffering, or sacrifice."

Update (6/4): Good news: at least on paper, Rick Warren resembles Falwell's official successor, Frank Page, who was chosen last year as president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, Falwell's denomination and the country's largest evangelical one, in an election that Page saw as a mandate for change.

"I would not use the word 'moderate,' because in our milieu that often means liberal. But it's a shift toward a more centrist, kinder, less harsh style of leadership," Page said. "In the past, Baptists were very well known for what we're against. . . . Instead of the caricature of an angry, narrow-minded, Bible-beating preacher, we wanted someone who could speak to normal people."