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9 Ball Girl
05-27-2005, 07:45 AM
Preaching to the Choir? Not This Time

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
WASHINGTON

It's that time of year again when President Bush turns up around the country in sumptuous commencement robes, assures thousands of college graduates that a C average does not preclude the presidency and urges them to go forth and do good.

Calvin College, a small evangelical school in the strategic Republican stronghold of Grand Rapids, Mich., seemed a perfect stop on Saturday for the president's message. Or so thought Karl Rove, the White House political chief, who two months ago effectively bumped Calvin's scheduled commencement speaker when he asked that Mr. Bush be invited instead.

But events at Calvin did not happen as smoothly as Mr. Rove might have liked. A number of students, faculty members and alumni objected so strongly to the president's visit that by last Friday nearly 800 of them had signed a letter of protest that appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Grand Rapids Press. The letter said, in part, "Your deeds, Mr. President - neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war - do not exemplify the faith we live by."

The next day, Mr. Bush was greeted by another letter in The Press signed by some 100 of 300 faculty members that objected to "an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq" and policies "that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor."

At first glance, it seemed as if a mainstay of Mr. Bush's base, the Christian right, had risen up against him. At second glance, the reality was more complex. The protests at Calvin showed that Mr. Bush's evangelical base was not monolithic and underscored the small but growing voice of the Christian left. That movement, loosely defined as no more than several million of some 50 million white evangelicals, opposes abortion and generally supports traditional marriage. But as a group it is against the Iraq war, the administration's tax cuts, Mr. Bush's environmental policies and, not least, the close identification of evangelicals with the current White House.

A leader of the Christian left is Jim Wallis, the editor and founder of the Christian political magazine Sojourners and the author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It." Mr. Wallis, whose book has been on the New York Times best-seller list for the past 15 weeks, appeared at Calvin College on May 5 and is advising Democrats on how to appeal to religious voters.
"The monologue of the religious right is over," Mr. Wallis said in an interview before Mr. Bush's appearance. "There is a progressive, moderate evangelical constituency that is huge."

Others see the group as a far less powerful force, but they acknowledge that the Christian left cannot be a cheery development for Mr. Rove. "Were this movement to continue to grow, it could create some problems, probably not for President Bush but for future Republican candidates," said John C. Green, the director of the Ray Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron and an expert on the voting patterns of religious groups. In short, Mr. Green said, "Democrats have an opportunity to get some votes."

One question is whether Mr. Rove knew what he was getting into when he asked that Mr. Bush be invited to Calvin, a theologically conservative college in the tradition of the Christian Reformed Church that is politically more progressive than other evangelical colleges. (Faculty members estimate that about 20 percent of students opposed Mr. Bush in 2004.)

Mr. Rove secured the invitation through Representative Vernon J. Ehlers, the Republican who represents Grand Rapids and who attended Calvin.
"I think they understood the nature of Calvin," said Jon Brandt, Mr. Ehlers's press secretary, who also attended Calvin. "The White House isn't stupid."
That would be the view of Corwin Smidt, a political science professor at Calvin and the director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics. Mr. Bush's visit, he said, was both "rewarding the faithful" who voted for him in 2004 and a strategic positioning for 2006.

That is when Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune and a member of a Michigan family that has been a major contributor to the Republican Party and Calvin College, may challenge Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat. Republicans will also try next year to unseat another Democrat, Senator Debbie Stabenow.

As for Mr. Bush, his commencement address on Saturday drew no protests in the Calvin field house other than from students who wore buttons that proclaimed "God is not a Democrat or a Republican."

One other small objection came from the bumped commencement speaker, Nicholas Wolterstorff, a Democrat, a former Calvin academic and a recently retired philosophy of religion professor at Yale. Dr. Wolterstorff said in an interview last week, "Here's a Yale professor being bumped by a Yale graduate with a very average college record." He said he planned to stay home and garden in Grand Rapids instead of attending the president's speech.

Dr. Smidt, a Republican, had a different view of the presidential visit. "I do think it's an honor for the college," he said. "Even if Bill Clinton had come at the height of Monica Lewinsky, I don't think I would have objected then, either."

Drop1
05-28-2005, 11:27 AM
George is one dumb sucker. I love that information over load look he gets,when asked how things are going. Glad to see Jesse Jackson making a political come back in Mexico. Too bad Fox didn't give him a pair of boots. Al Sharpton went over real big.I think next year he is going to be the graduation speaker.

Qtec
05-28-2005, 01:19 PM
[ QUOTE ]
I love that information over load look he gets,when asked how things are going. <hr /></blockquote> /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

So do I!
Q

cueball1950
05-29-2005, 08:46 PM
LOLOLOL...you got to much time on your hands Wendy....lol

Wally_in_Cincy
05-31-2005, 08:35 AM
I heard a good one at his press conference this morning. He said "they are disassembling. That means they're not telling the truth."

/ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif