Archive   |   Bio   |   Discussion Group   |   Q&As   |   RSS Feed   |   Opinions Home

Eddie Long isn't practicing what he preaches -- Opinion Focus with Eugene Robinson

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Eugene Robinson
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 1:00 PM

_______________________

Eugene Robinson: Hi, everybody. Welcome to a special Thursday edition of our regular discussion. No preliminaries today -- let's just get started.

_______________________

Rahm Emmanuel: Hi. How do you think the resignation of Rahm Emmanuel will effect the White House? Is there any reason to hope that the new Chief of Staff will make those of us who voted for Obama feel optimistic again? Thanks.

Eugene Robinson: Rahm's departure will remove some of the fire from a White House that could use some more passion, in my view. But, depending on the replacement, a new chief of staff could cheer progressives who feel that Rahm was less than fully committed to the progressive agenda. Which he denies, by the way.

_______________________

Eddie Long: Gene, if you are going to discuss Eddie Long and his homosexual hypocrisy, you should also discuss the allegations of financial fraud which may put an end to his empire before the sexual trials get started. That's the other part of the story floating around Atlanta these days.

Eugene Robinson: You're referring to Tuesday's column about the travails of the Atlanta preacher accused of sexual misconduct with four male church members. I felt that this column was about sex, not money. But in retrospect, I think I might have made more than a passing reference to Long's lavish lifestyle and his preaching that Jesus wants us to be not just pious, but also rich.

_______________________

Been there: I, too, was in a relationship with a man 5 years older than my father when I was in junior and senior HS. He wasn't a preacher, but a teacher. I didn't get new cars, cash and bling, but I did get taken out to dinner every week and on trips to upstate NY and the Jersey shore. I got to drive his car. I was his special one.I realize that a man is innocent until proven guilty. I will say from experience that after watching the TV interview with Jamal that the pattern fits. These young men are doing what I should have done 25 years ago, but was too afraid to hurt my parents and myself. I know that there were more "special ones" after me when the only way to quietly extricate myself from this relationship was to move out of state to go to college.I think though, whether improper sexual relationships took place will be hard to prove, given that it is a he said/he said thing. I think the bigger picture will be the money trail (cars, college tuition, etc.). Your take on the paper/money trail?

Eugene Robinson: These are civil suits, so the burden of proof is less than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard in a criminal proceeding. I think it will depend largely on what kind of evidence the young men can produce, and a lot of that would come from following the money trail.

_______________________

Election Disaster for Democrats?: Michael Moore says that he doesn't think the coming election will be nearly the disaster for the Democrats that many are predicting. His logic is that people won't want to return to the disaster that George Bush and the Republicans brought us. Do you think he has a point?

Eugene Robinson: Michael Moore is good at a lot of things, but I'm not sure political prognostication is one of them. There are, however, quite a few signs that Democrats are beginning to "come home" -- that they're paying attention to the election, and that more of them intend to vote. That's really the key. Democrats have to closes the enthusiasm gap, or they are toast.

_______________________

Obama: I have been a supporter of Obama since he took office. My patience is wearing thin and I think I am not the only one. Someone needs to take him aside and tell him to stop blaming the base for his failures. Instead of scolding us perhaps he needs to critique himself and the party he leads. They are totally ineffective in the way they get out their message. I am afraid that his arrogance is getting in the way of self reflection and self correction. This saddens me deeply. The last thing this country needs is the Republicans back in control.

Eugene Robinson: Look, I've been arguing the "base" position on issues like Wall Street, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, etc., all along. I have to say, though, that I understand the administration's frustration. From their point of view, they haven't enacted the whole progressive agenda but they've gotten more of it done than anybody since LBJ. (That's their view.) And they wonder whether progressives really think they'll fare better if the GOP wins control of one or both houses of Congress.

_______________________

Unemployment Cure: You recently criticized the GOP's proposed Federal Hiring Freeze saying it "...would only ensure that unemployment remains higher than it otherwise would have been." You wrote that this meant the hiring freeze was somehow mutually exclusive with the GOP's pledge to create jobs. You used the freeze as an example of a GOP promise that would "...immediately destroy jobs."First off I would like to assert that a "freeze on new hiring" does NOT destroy jobs. They did not say they would immediately cut the headcount by 15% (although if they had, many in the working world would have supported it). My question: Do you really believe an effective way to address high unemployment is by having the Federal Government hire enough workers to compensate for private-sector job losses?

Eugene Robinson: That would be one way to do it, although it wouldn't be politically feasible. If the government found a way to employ more people, those people would have money to spend buying goods and services that businesses provide, and those businesses would be able to hire more people to produce those goods and services, etc.

_______________________

His preaching that Jesus wants us to be not just pious, but also rich.: This alone should have made anyone familiar with the New Testament suspicious. Camel through the needle's eye? Sell all you have and follow Me?

Eugene Robinson: Yeah, when a preacher is riding around in a Bentley, that's never a good sign in my view.

_______________________

Tea party silver lining: Forgive me for referencing a previous topic, but I came to an interesting conclusion about the tea party phemonenon. I think that you and I have a similar attitude the Tea party philosophy, but on the other hand, I think that the movement's success may be hopeful sign. Here's why:Nobody is happy with the way politics happens in Washington. Both parties get failing grades on public opinion polls, and for good reason. The tea party represents a large body of largely Republican voters who perhaps somewhat naively think that they can change things (and God help us if they ever do). However, their numbers and enthusasim are forcing Republican strategists to change their game, and although tea partiers will probably be disappointed with the results, the tea party will have an effect.The danger for Democrats is that they do not have a parallel movement, so the strategists are doing business as usual politics. I believe that that is why they are facing losing the house. It might have been naive for President Obama to have held out for his principles in efforts such as health care reform, but the consequences might be a tea party victory in November. So far, republicans are showingh that they get it, and Democrats are showing that they do not.On the other hand, if the Democrats also seek renewal, they might reach redemption-- not this cycle, perhaps, but an intelligent, realistic Democrat tea party incarnation jsut might lead to salvation.

Eugene Robinson: I've tried -- I really have -- to appreciate the thing about the Tea Party that I really want to admire, which is the anti-establishment spirit and ethos. But I can't get past the fact that there are so many other impulses in the movement that I think are destructive and even oppressive. I don't understand, for example, how you can advocate getting government out of our lives and at the same time dictate to people whom they can marry, or tell women what they're allowed to do with their bodies, or advocate the effective establishment of a state religion. And then, yes, there's also the tinge of racism. And of course the fact that their prescription of slashing government to its 1789 dimensions is completely ridiculous in this day and age.

_______________________

Government employment?: "If the government found a way to employ more people, those people would have money to spend buying goods and services that businesses provide, and those businesses would be able to hire more people to produce those goods and services, etc." So under the Robinson plan the governement should hire everyone who loses their job and pay them to do something? Anything? Since every governement employee costs several times more in pay and benefits than they generate in tax revenue, this will surely lead to bankruptcy! Please go back to ECON 101 before you publish any more foolish arguments about taxes or government hiring.

Eugene Robinson: You wouldn't keep this hypothetical jobs program going forever, just as long as you had to in order to get the economy growing again. The benefit would not just be in the taxes those government employees pay, but in the revenues derived from increased activity in the private sector. As the economy grew, of course, the deficit would become a smaller percentage of GDP and thus less of a problem.

_______________________

Divided Gov: What do you think about the school of thought that IF GOP takes control of Congress, it may prove to not be such a bad thing? I'm for divided government... it not only tends to prevent bad legislation from getting through, but it may also help restore Obama's image in the same way it did for Clinton in '94.

Eugene Robinson: I don't think it would be bad at all for Obama's image and political standing. It might, in fact, do him good in terms of 2012, since he'd have a GOP Congress to run against. I don't think there's anything inherently good, though, about divided government. It can keep bad legislation from getting passed, but it can also keep good legislation from getting passed. It would depend on what attitude the GOP took -- whether they decided to work constructively with the president, or continue to "just say no."

_______________________

O'Donnell in Delaware: Do you think voters in Delaware are so set in who they are going to vote for that Christine O'Donnell can hide and make no appearances? Or is she so afraid to be seen speaking off the cuff that it could only harm her chances?

Eugene Robinson: I think O'Donnell and her advisers have made the decision -- and it may be the right one -- that it can't possibly do her much good to go on national television and have to answer questions about witchcraft, mice with human brains and monkeys that are or are not evolving in the people before our eyes. Or questions about the schools she claimed to attend but didn't really.

_______________________

Moderate Republicans: I've noticed that the short list (Maine + Brown) of rep. moderates always leaves out Lieberman. I don't care what he calls himself that's where his heart and vote is.

Eugene Robinson: I actually have to disagree. I've slammed Lieberman on any number of occasions, but he's not a Republican. On most issues -- DADT, for example -- he's with the Democratic mainstream. I wouldn't even call him a Blue Dog-type Democrat. He's a Democrat who disagrees with his party on national security issues, who played an unhelpful role in the health care debate and who sometimes, frankly, seems to delight in ticking people off.

_______________________

Obama Market Rally: I know the economy is hurting in many areas, but when the Dow went from 8,000 to 6,600 within a couple of months of Obama's inauguration, it was common to hear how the market had lost confidence in him, it was in some way his fault. Now the Dow is up 35 percent since he took office, and those same critics are silent. I guess I shouldn't expect anything less?

Eugene Robinson: No, that's pretty much what I would have expected -- total blame, no credit.

_______________________

Mike Castle: Is he going to run in Delaware? There is chatter to that effect. Wouldn't that likely help O'Donnell win, which I doubt he wants?

Eugene Robinson: I believe Castle has decided not to run as a write-in. I think it would gall him to no end if he helped elect O'Donnell.

_______________________

I suggest we vote for other people's representatives ...: The reason we hate Congress but keep electing them is because no one seems to blame their own Congressman or woman for the problems. It's always the other guys. So I say we swap districts. I.e. People in Virginia's 3rd district vote for the representative of Oho's 8th, and so on. It would be interesting to see what we'd come up with.

Eugene Robinson: It would be interesting for a few minutes, then probably a disaster. But your make a point that should be a reality check for all of us: Every two years, we all have the opportunity to fire our congressperson; every six years, we have the chance to fire our senator. If we keep electing the incumbents, it's because we apparently want them to remain in office. So how, then, can we complain about Congress? We're the ones who decide who gets to go to Washington and make our laws.

_______________________

Silly Wish: Part of me wishes that the Tea Party and/or Republicans could get control of everything so that they can not only run us into a ditch, but have the car explode on impact. That way maybe people will wake up and see that their default solutions to everything (cut taxes, lax regulation) is not going to be enough to fix the problems we have.

Eugene Robinson: I see the temptation, but look at your vivid phrase: "have the car explode on impact." I'm afraid that's exactly what would happen, and it's hard to imagine how great the collateral damage might be.

_______________________

Coalition government: What progressives fail to understand is that the Democratic majority is a coalition of left and center. Without both together, the enterprise doesn't stand. Perhaps the compromises between left and center should have been made more explicitly, and perhaps that would help with the hurt feelings all around?

Eugene Robinson: Actually -- and I'm trying to be nonpartisan here -- I would argue that the Democrats have made far more concessions to the center than the Republicans have in recent years. There's a big caucus of "moderate" Blue Dogs in the House, and there's a bunch of moderate Democratic senators as well. But where are the moderate Republicans? If they were covered by the endangered species act, we'd have the handful who remain in breeding zoos by now.

_______________________

Michelle Obama's school lunch initiative.: Can you explain why they are pushing for this increase in school lunches at the expense of food stamps? Aren't these likely going to be the same people with kids who need school lunches? It makes no sense. That's like robbing the poor so you can give to the church collection plate.

Eugene Robinson: That's the game in discretionary federal spending these days -- shuffle the dollars around. The big money goes for entitlements, defense and debt service. The rest is, relatively speaking, chump change.And with that, folks, my time is up for today. See you next Tuesday -- but at 2 p.m., not the usual 1. And not to engage in shameless self-promotion, but what the hell: Tuesday is when my new book, "Disintegration," is released, and so I'll be chatting about that -- as well as any breaking news.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Discussion Archive

Viewpoint is a paid discussion. The Washington Post editorial staff was not involved in the moderation.

Network News

X My Profile