Friday, 26 December 2003

The Toast versus the Most

Steven Taylor’s Boxing Day edition of the PoliBlog Toast-O-Meter is now available. And, for those of you living in a hole, it shows Dr. Howard Dean with a commanding lead—but facing a serious uphill struggle in head-to-head polling against George W. Bush.

Also of note: Jeff Quinton has the latest South Carolina primary news, while Robert Prather doesn’t see Anyone But Dean (a.k.a. Dick Gephardt) looking much better than Dean himself.

When all else fails, lower your standards

The Mississippi Board of Education is considering making a change to its math requirements in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act.

It seems that the NCLBA requires states to test students on the highest level of math required by the curriculum. Currently, Mississippi requires geometry, but only gives standardized tests on Algebra I.

So rather than comply with federal law by giving standardized tests on geometry, the Mississippi Board of Education is considering dropping the geometry requirement.

Yet another illustration of the law of unintended consequences.

Dean's newfound faith

The Boston Globe suggests that Howard Dean isn’t really a secularlist after all; instead:

Presidential contender Howard B. Dean, who has said little about religion while campaigning except to emphasize the separation of church and state, described himself in an interview with the Globe as a committed believer in Jesus Christ and said he expects to increasingly include references to Jesus and God in his speeches as he stumps in the South.

Dean, 55, who practices Congregationalism but does not often attend church and whose wife and children are Jewish, explained the move as a desire to share his beliefs with audiences willing to listen. [emphasis mine]

Well, it’s nice to see Dean takes his faith so seriously that he considers it to be a strategic asset in his campaign. Me, I’d rather he be honest with the public than start engaging in calculated pandering to voters—but, then again, I already find Dean loathsome on so many levels that I’m probably not in his target demographic.

I also tend to agree with Jeff Jarvis and Matt Stinson that people of faith will find Dean’s attempts to speak on faith deeply insulting—particularly if they know that it is part of a calculated strategy by Dean. And I don’t think regionalized campaigning can really work in the modern era—Bush probably lost as many votes as he won by visiting Bob Jones University in 2000, for example.

Incidentally, I saw a shorter version of the article in today’s Memphis Commercial Appeal, so it must be getting wide play.

One other thing: like Matt, I don’t think the fact that his wife and kids are Jewish should make any in how Dean’s religiosity is perceived (if anything, the faith of the people I know in families with mixed religions seems stronger than the norm). His other behavior alone is sufficient to make his sincerity about the nature of his faith questionable.

Link via email from Erick Erickson.