The Preacher vs. The Professor

As I was nearing 125th Street this morning on my bike ride, I saw a large billboard advertisement for Time Magazine. On it were pictures of Bush and Kerry from one of the debates. There they were side by side. And it hit me, we have a simple choice. The Preacher vs. The Professor.

These two pictures were so illuminating.

Bush was exhorting his parishoners to believe, to follow him to the promised land.

Kerry was standing upright and discussing the issues in his classic nuanced way.

This is our choice. Strong and wrong vs. nuanced and right.

I read Ron Suskind’s Without A Doubt piece on Bush in the NY Times Magazine last weekend and it’s been running around the back of my brain ever since.

No matter what political affiliation you are, this is a must read. Because we’ve got a preacher in the white house. If that’s OK with you, then vote for him. In case you don’t want to go read it, I’ll quote just one paragraph where Bruce Bartlett, a close advisor to Reagan, speaks about Bush:

”This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,” Bartlett went on to say. ”He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.”

I was raised a Catholic. I spent my youth listening to priests tell me how to behave and what to believe every Sunday morning. Then I’d come home and hear my Dad, whose spirituality is much more personal than programmed, tell me how the Pope condemned Gallileo to his villa until his death for stating his belief that the earth was round. Well you can guess what I took from that experience.

Fast forward to the present. I don’t believe in absolute truth. It doesn’t exist. The search for truth is what makes life meaningful for all of us, but we’ll never get there. Because there is no final truth.

George W. Bush, the preacher, believes in absolute truth. John Kerry, the professor, searches for it every minute.

That is why I will vote for the professor a week from Tuesday. And if you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Iowa, or Oregon, I sure hope you’ll join me.