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Posts published in “Day: August 9, 2007”

Moving here and there

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

Now wait a minute. If someone - including someone on Oregon Senator Gordon Smith's staff - has some way to clarify what he said Tuesday in Roseburg about Iraq, we'd be interested in seeing it. As is, the Roseburg News Review is reporting a view of Iraq that's hard enough to characterize.

The line that's picked up the most national attention is this: “When the president stood on the aircraft carrier (and said) ‘Mission accomplished,’ he was right. He was right as to all we could win." He was . . . right that the mission was accomplished? He doesn't seem to be saying so, in his statement overall, and neither does he seem to be endorsing Bush's larger approach for Iraq. But it's hard to tell.

Here's what he said next: "The rest is for them to win and we need to facilitate that happening instead of forcing our vision on them. They will be democratic if they’re together in their community, not if we’re jamming them together. There, they want to kill each other.”

If they're together, but not jammed together. Smith: “If we have to get moving vans, build housing here and there, I assure you that is much, much cheaper than military action.” Move them . . . where?

Somewhere: “Rather than trying to force something that was first imposed upon the Iraqis by the Europeans in the Treaty of Versailles, let us help them live apart because they can’t live together.”

They will be democratic if they're together, but they want to kill each other if they get too close, so we need to help them live apart. Is that it?

These points evidently were central to Smith's proposed solution to Iraq, which, the News Review said (though Smith's web site has not) he also has passed on to the Bush Administration.

We can't think what else to add. Clarification, anyone?

Them what don’t belong

On Monday we noted that most of what had surfaced about freshman Republican Representative Bill Sali's tenure in Congress has been ordinary - the usual run of national and regional issues, discussed with ordinary conservative slant. Look on his web site and that's what you'll see: Nothing out of the usual for a Republican congressman.

Which doesn't mean, as we semi-pointed out, that there isn't more to the picture. As emerges, for instances, in the fallout from the July 12 Hindu prayer in the U.S. Senate. That event marked the first time a person of that faith had delivered the prayer, and that expression of religion was met with sounds of protest in the gallery - three people who shouted "No Lord but Jesus Christ," "There's only one true God," and called the prayer an "abomination."

Sali did not issue a press release on the matter. But he did have this to say to the American Family News Network:

Although the event generated little outrage on Capitol Hill, Representative Bill Sali (R-Idaho) is one member of Congress who believes the prayer should have never been allowed.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

When we asked Wayne Hoffman, Sali's press spokesman, about the context of the comments (and whether they were accurate), he at first couldn't recall the comments, then quickly corrected himself: "Ah, I get it now . . . Congressman Sali was invited to be on American Family News, a nationally syndicated talk show. This would have been last week, and the comments were made during that show. . . . I would hasten to add that several bloggers have gone into a weird place with regard to this comment, adding bizarre analysis onto this. I’d take it for what it says, nothing more."

Okay . . . So, first, the Family News article is evidently accurate enough, and fairly represents what Sali said - at least, Hoffman didn't indicate it didn't. You don't have to stretch far to see a reasonable source for some of the critical comments piling up, on matters from the apparent misunderstanding of the Hindu faith to the idea that a prayer delivered by a member of a faith adhered to by many Americans (more than 900,000) would endanger the nation's future. (Not to mention the constitutional ban on religious tests for office.) By all means scan the debate (66 comments at this writing) at the American Family News article on Sali - you'll see the religious conservative nerve touched here, and get a sense of some of the counter arguments.

Sali's critics may have to look farther afield than just the official record to find their best grist. Evidently, though, it's there.

RESPONSE A comment from Hoffman on the precedingpost: "Randy, I feel the need to clarify the post you have on your website. Congressman Sali was merely expressing a personal opinion, based on his strong belief in the need to reach out for God’s guidance at the start of each day. That’s all. He bears no ill will toward Hindus, and he has no issue with working with Representative Ellison, nor with the fact that people of his district elected him. If you have questions, please ask."