Dodd's Whole Lott-a Hypocrisy

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Chris Dodd earned my respect in opposing the petty Democratic revenge plot to prevent John Ashcroft from being confirmed as Attorney General. He saw through the misleading statements and baseless criticisms of a man who is eminently qualified for the job he now holds. For many it was their way to express their outrage at Bush's victory after a bitter recount battle. For others it was simply hatred of anyone who could possibly hold the most reasonable consistent pro-life view that being caused to come into existence by a crime doesn't rob one of one's (relative) innocence. Either way, the two Democrats who retained their spines were Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold.

So it's with a note of sadness that I have to label him a hypocrite. He's pulled a Trent Lott, this time with Robert Byrd's racist past (involving the KKK many years ago and the n-word on CNN not too long ago) replacing Strom Thurmond's segregationist policies during the mid-20th century. The statements of both Lott and Dodd revealed something, but it wasn't any outright racist attitude on the part of either senator. What it showed is that the concerns of many black people are not on the mind of either senator enough to prevent them from saying such things. John McWhorter cogently argued this with Senator Lott's case, and I think it's true of Dodd as well.

Now if only black voters would start seeing that Democratic lip service to civil rights values is too often no more than lip service. Dodd's case shows at least that the myth of Democratic caring and Republican indifference can often be mistaken. The fact that Democrats are more inclined to continue destructive policies (such as resisting the recent welfare reform requiring more responsibility) along with resisting the truly progressive ideas Republicans are offering (regardless of the fact that they may not be the best versions of those ideas around -- at least they're offering them, which I can't say about most Democrats) shows that the indifference will be found among more than just this one senator showing his indifference in a moment of devotion to an honored party member.

In Dodd's case, his comments about Lott are now coming back to haunt him (see the links above for more on this). At least Lott didn't have that to deal with. This smacks of a much stronger hypocrisy than simply spouting off civil rights phrases but not doing anything about any real problems. Now he's made the exact mistake he had criticized Senator Lott for making. His call for Lott's resignation brings his own condemnation down on himself.

Or is this just something about their names? If so, I guess it's a good thing we don't have any senators named Fogg, Hopp, or Momm. (Check out Instapundit for more on this.)

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6 Comments

like the double-entendre, intended or not, of "(relative) innocence".

None intended. That was just a concession to two things: the doctrine of original sin and our common description of those who didn't provoke a crime or wrong as innocent, even if they're guilty of something.

I know this is not really the place to bring this up, given the topic, but since I've been thinking about theology recently (esp. the Atonement), what about original sin...It is common now to hear that it is based on a mistranslation, but, nevertheless, it does seem almost essential to Christianity that man is debased and wicked without God's saving grace. But, the word 'original' is interesting. This doesn't mean that man is inherently wicked, since Adam according to scripture was created without sin, correct (although with the ability, obviously, to sin)? What does 'original' mean? The obvious idea is that sin originates with man, not with God, but since man is created by God, his nature is owed to God,so, in what sense is the origin of sin with man, other than the fact that man first commited sin? (I'm playing a bit dumb here, since I'm aware of certain moves in this regard, but, I am ignorant enough to ask for some elucidation, and, since I'm lazy, you're a good enough source as any I could look to easily for an answer). Also, a request, since I'm about to post about these issues as well, is that you say a bit more about interpretations of the atonement that vary between Substitution views vs. Role-Model views, since I favor Role-Model views (informed by the idea that not just any role-model will do, it must be the Incarnation to do the job), and can't see how any substitution view will do the job (since partial atonement views seem more correct and so Jesus' death is a necessary but not sufficient condition on salvation for anyone). This obviously has to do with the posts on partial vs. full atonement etc. you posted before...(I can't obviously insist you do all this for me, maybe you can just email me or refer me to a favored source, once again, I'm lazy, and while many others look in to this site, I happen to know you and can plead favoritism....)

It can't be an essential property, because it wasn't there to begin with, and it won't be there in the end. It's not about the origin of sin, since the devil first committed sin. Humans weren't the first sinners. It's not a causal notion at all, for the reasons you mention.

I think the main aspect is that sin is part of who we are at this point, and every aspect of human existence is tainted by it. Thus sin is a condition (as opposed to sins, which are attitudes and actions). Having sin might be thought of as a having a disposition to reject the things of God, not that it always happens or that every aspect of our beings is fallen absolutely (or then we'd never do anything good). I would say that it's more than just a disposition, though. It's the lack of a disposition to pursue God with the right motives, at least without intervention from God to transform our dispositions. (Catholics believe infant baptism does this. Reformed thought says that it's at God's initiative and irrespective of anything anyone does to bring it about.)

Etymologically, then, the reason it's called original sin is that it's originally part of our nature in some sense, since the beginning of each person's existence (Adam and Eve excepted), a real ontological condition but not an essential part of our nature.

On the atonement, I know a lot less than I should. I can give some links. I'm assuming you read my discussion with Wink in the comments on the Lagadonian thing a couple weeks ago. He questions substitution in a way that I think is consistent with an orthodox view. I'm not sure what the Role-Model view is, but it doesn't sound orthodox to me unless it's only part of what the atonement accomplishes.

Here's a standard Baptist presentation that I'm sure Mike McQuitty would largely agree with. I believe what this guy calls the Moral Influence view is what you're calling the Role-Model view.

Here's what seems to me to be a criticism from a Reformed perspective of a number of other theories.

This one seems more historically focused and less critical but seeing all of the views as aspects of the atonement. It includes a couple that aren't in the others.

I probably have some good resources on this, so maybe I'll have to read up on it some and then post something at some point. It probably won't be high on my priority list in the next two weeks, though.

Hey Jeremy, thanks for all the links and feedback...[by the way, the 'role-model' or 'exemplar' view goes back to Abelard, and is somewhat Pelagian, the idea being that the atonement is partially accomplished by Jesus' example of someone who would not be swayed from his divine mission no matter the cost, and the atonement is fulfilled when we follow the example and try to be like Christ]

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