You know, him.
Call it a softball pitch for comedy writers on The Daily Show, that snarky program that, truth be told, has been known to twist politicians’ words around a bit.
I can only imagine.
“Did you hear what Alabama’s Mike Rogers proposed this week? That the United States should bomb Iran? That the Bible condones it? That the national media thinks ‘that fellow’ walks on water?”
It’s all about context, of course.
Rogers, the Saks Republican, didn’t say the United States should “hit” Iran.
He also didn’t say the Bible condones turning other nations into rubble.
He did say the national media will have “that fellow” walking on water during this year’s election.
(On that last point, a few relevant questions: Why not say the president’s name? Does calling Barack Obama “that fellow” or, as he’s done before, “this ol’ boy” play that well to voters? What if Obama, in a snit of sixth-grade name-calling, referred to Rogers as “that former county commissioner”? That would deserve a sincere apology from the commander in chief and his party. Hmm …)
In other words, it doesn’t dilute one’s zealous opposition to his politics or his policies if you utter his name.
In fairness to Rogers, let’s explain what he did say when he spoke to Lee County Republicans at the Hotel at Auburn University. (It’s worth noting that he also spoke here Thursday to the Anniston Kiwanis Club, where he discussed, among other things, his efforts to protect the workload at Anniston Army Depot.)
According to the Opelika-Auburn News’ Joe McAdory — a good journalist, I must say — Rogers described in Lee County his concerns about the escalating tensions between Iran, Israel and the West over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Rogers is no fan of Israel, a key U.S. ally, using its military to take out Iran’s nuclear sites.
The key word is “if.”
“If Iran’s going to be hit, it’s got to be us,” Rogers said. “If Israel hits, every Arab country in the region will start swinging at Israel. We can’t let that happen.
“It’s going to be ugly.”
The ugly part we agree on. The “hitting” part — that it has to be the United States — not so much.
Later, Rogers addressed Obama’s proposal to cut a sizeable chunk out of the Pentagon’s budget. Proponents of a smaller military point to the end of the Iraq War and a drawdown in Afghanistan. Opponents claim anything other than a Reagan-like approach to armed forces — bigger and better — is courting global disaster.
If Rogers had simply taken one of those sides, his comments would have required only a few drops of ink.
“They (Democrats) believe if we shrink our military, the rest of the world won’t feel threatened by us and will like us better,” Rogers said. “In the Bible, you show me where that worked out for anybody.”
OK … well … I’ll give Rogers this much: The Bible is full of people smiting other people — Israelites and Philistines and others. If you want to cherry-pick passages, take a look at 1 Samuel chapter 4, where the Battle of Aphek and its death toll are described. “The slaughter was very great,” it says in verse 10.
Parts of the Old Testament aren’t for the faint of heart.
In that sense, Rogers is right. In terms of biblical imagery, it’s true that nations with weak armies were sometimes defeated by those with more soldiers and better weapons. (Though, as an astute pastor explained to me this week, it wasn’t a feeble military that hurt the Israelites. God made an example of them at Aphek for tolerating false prophets.)
Nevertheless, the Israelites lost 34,000 men and the Ark of the Covenant at Aphek. From a military standpoint, how could it have been worse? It was a biblical version of Waterloo, of Cold Harbor, of the Germans’ invasion of Poland, of the first Gulf War.
The losers suffered. Mightily.
Yet, if Bible references are a preference, wouldn’t it have been better — and in line with Christian beliefs — to invoke the value of soft power and peace instead of saying, “you show me where that worked out for anybody”?
That kind of tough-guy political rhetoric flies against the notion of a proud, confident American nation that flexes its military might only when attacked or when all other options have been exhausted.
As a congressman, Rogers garners headlines when he speaks. Perhaps he should also follow a sound formula: consult wise people of faith before invoking biblical imagery.
Phillip Tutor — firstname.lastname@example.org — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at twitter.com/PTutor_Star.