Hey everybody, let's all pray for the failure of the new president!
Wait, you silly fundie, haven't you heard that it is treasonous to criticize a sitting president in a time of war?
OOOOOHHHHH! I've been waiting to say that for a long time.
...But seriously, folks, I'd like to say a few words about partisanship.
I don't believe in treating both sides equally. That should be clear from my consistently stated position on teaching Intelligent Design in schools (for example, in this press release that I wrote), or their latest smokescreen, euphemistically known as "academic freedom" or "teach the controversy." There is no "controversy" other than the one raised by a tiny minority of religious goons seeking to camouflage their efforts to make political hay. Matt and I have both repeatedly said that it's a good thing to be biased in favor of reality, and not make up reasons to criticize both sides equally. There are not really two sides to the question of whether we landed on the moon, or whether Barack Obama is secretly a reptoid. Or rather, there are two sides, but one side is clearly a bunch of idiots.
So. I've occasionally been accused of being a partisan hack for Obama. I don't love everything Obama does. I have some objections to his overt religious statements, which I believe I've aired out on the show before. I'm not delighted with his choice of Rick Warren as a speaker yesterday. When I specifically object to some of Obama's policies, I'll let you know.
However, it would be a mistake to think that it reflects some sort of unthinking bias if I am less critical of this president than the previous one. Casting around for an analogy... okay, let's talk about movies. I absolutely love Inherit the Wind. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. I own the DVD, I watch it repeatedly. It is an enduring classic with great acting and a powerful message.
If presidents were movies, Barack Obama would not be Inherit the Wind. He would be... oh let's say... Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is a pretty good movie. It's funny. It's got some good performances and quotable lines. If it happened to be on TV I would probably watch it. But it's not in the same league as Inherit the Wind.
On the other hand, the Bush presidency in my opinion has been Plan 9 From Outer Space. There's very, very little for me to recommend it, whether we're considering faith-based initiatives, or otherwise funneling money into organizations with evangelical ties like Blackwater, or constant lip service to the National Day of Prayer, or an aide's snide dismissal of the "reality-based community."
There is simply no comparison. It's not mere partisanship that impels me to say that Barack Obama is likely to be a better president than George Bush. It's simply that it would be hard for him to do much worse. I disagree with the new president on some of his choices, and appreciate him for others -- like his straightforward acknowledgment of non-believers as part of our nation's heritage. A minor thing, it doesn't translate into any policy changes, but it's something Bush would never, ever have done.
However, as with everything, I reserve the right to change my opinion when presented with new evidence. So when Obama does something clearly offensive to the atheist community, I promise you'll hear about it from me.