Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Sensuality of Silence - Revisiting the Film Drive

The first time I saw Drive, like many others, I could not pin down its tone. Meditative, mythic, elegiac, violent, imagistic, silent, subtle, sensual, allusive, perhaps existential and even playful. Any sense of classification eluded me. Drive challenged my expectations in most if not all scenes. (I don’t imagine my cousin enjoyed my little asides, “Yes, but why does he know how to drive so well, or I don’t think you realize how few words he has said so far! What is this movie?”) I imagine if I knew more about the history of movies I could easily place Drive in some sort of tradition. In fact, just on a hunch, I imagine many would categorize Drive as a sloppy pastiche of styles, an homage to varying style with a story added as an appendage arm. I find it hard to pay attention to such a critique because just experiencing that movie, without any attempt to place it in context, engendered the same set of reactions just as an encounter with real evocative art.

I tend to assume that of all the mediums, as a culture, we view movies through the least artistic lens - critics, academics, and obsessives excluded. Many factors contribute to this anecdotal hunch, but the simple transience of the movie experience as the next frame comes along against your will, guides our experience of this work as fleeting, as something we consume then leave. With a book we can earmark the page, or underline a paragraph, or re-read a sentence again and again to ourselves or to a friend. We can cut from it and paste, facilitating analysis. We can do this with movies as well, but they require more activity from the viewer to dissect a scene. In the case of something like Drive, you can love the movie, but not take it seriously as art, as something to contend with, to dissect and reassemble, to explain, which testifies to its intelligence, as all intelligent good art should not so easily call attention to itself as such. It turns into the job of the viewer to call attention to the artistic elements and effects.

With Drive, finding a starting point presents a challenge because of its density. Like many other intelligent movies it rarely panders to our desire for neatness, for a clear dividing line between the light of the good and the darkness of the bad. We expect to feel disgust for the father, Standard, but instead he elicits a complex range of emotions. Most of the characters, superbly acted all around, in my opinion, receive a full enough treatment to give them flesh. (I didn’t think Mulligan received enough attention for her devastatingly tender portrayal of a maelstrom inner world covered over by a longing smile. True, her character tends to the stereotypes of women, but she sees right through them at every turn.) But assuming these more foundational elements of art, the movie contains ambitious efforts, efforts to use tone, silence, color, imagery, in a sense, style as a storytelling method as much as dialogue or action, to embrace the ambiguity of life through the intense ambiguity of the characters.
Silence permeates throughout the movie in manifold forms. We know nothing about the Driver; not even his name. Refn drops hints of a background, at best. Instead, almost like a biblical character, the Driver receives his definition from his ambiguity. Not attaching a backstory allows us to focus on his moments, movements, raw emotions, and  facial expressions, without a context. His violence doesn’t need to symbolize a regression to a violent past etc, but simply portrays unleashed violence. It takes the character into the realm of archetypes, while staying firmly grounded in a compelling story. Renf creates a character so elusive as to be universal, existential, and mythic. Think of Gosling’s apparent emptiness but as apparent endless depth. Refn’s story at once feels so allusive and and yet so complete and self contained. The protective lover, the harsh, violent exterior covering up a loving, sensitive soul, a troubled background, eruptive violence, but none of these stories can actually cage the slippery Gosling. Time and time again artists remind us that the most lasting characters are those that whose motivations we barely understand.
The setting, in a similar manner, mystifies its sense of time. The roving and plentiful shots of the city at night looks sharp, neat, futuristic. The aesthetic and music is pure 80s, but the situation, the tonal imagery and lighting touches of the 40/50s. The aesthetic, melds the loneliness and color of an Edward Hopper painting to the meticulous coloring of a Wes Anderson movie. 

However, Drive adds ominous tones and shocking violence, in the true sense of the word. I don’t think people realize the talent required to create violence in a way that doesn't either evoke camp, torture porn, sentimentality, or cartoonish style, but in a way that feels eerily real - sudden, random, haunting, gratuitous, but still mundane.
The whole movie is lovingly tended to, each detail thought of and through, color coordinated, each light perfected. For example, His room: bare, ascetic in the manner of nomads and saints, contains few objects, but we do see a numerous shots of a book, two in fact, next to his bed. (This creates a playful dramatic irony for the end of the movie. When Bernie tells the Driver he must give up,  “Any dreams you have, or plans, or hopes for your future... I think you're going to have to put that on hold. For the rest of your life you're going to be looking over your shoulder.” we laugh a little because he already lives this lifestyle.)
To answer the main criticism of the movie i.e. its mimicry of old styles we can explain that the use of some cliched, perhaps, classic techniques represent less a tribute or homage than a perfection of the craft, or at least a new realization of its potential. Think of the first five minutes of UP, which is essentially a montage, but here with a considerably darker content. A montage is a silent short film: shots with only music, exaggerated evocative action, with an emphasis on setting, scenery, sound, and facial expressions.
The elevator scene encapsulates the brilliance of this movie. 

This youtube clip doesn’t do the cinematography justice, so try Netflix at 1:11, but you can still see all the important dynamic components in this clip. Gosling, pleads with Irene to protect her in a voice that evokes a child's neediness for a parent, and a more archetypal sense of a man protecting his woman. (Though the one claim undercuts the other. The Driver needs to protect Irene more than she needs his protection. In that vein, the Driver’s love for Irene rarely feels simply sensual, sexual, or even intimate in an adult sense, but always contains something very familial, elemental about it, almost parental.) Here, Refn, as he does throughout the movie, plays with and off our expectations. We expect immediate violence. We see the door close, slowly, ominously with an extended shot of the elevator doors, ominous music begins to play, but instead of the gruesome violence that will inevitably come, Refn transcends the scene into an existential universal realm of a platonic Tenderness.
Time slows down. The lights preternaturally change. Gosling, again in this ambiguity of love/need to protect pushes his arms against Mulligan, as the lights dim. He turns around, gently touches her stomach and they kiss, for the first time on screen in what feels like infinity as the camera slows down, in contrast to sped up 80s music. Because of the altered lighting, the positions of their body, you barely see their actual lips embrace, as silence and intimacy pervades the moment too much to warrant shameless voyeurism. We see their lips when they part, but as they kiss the light in the elevator draws our attention away from the intimacy. The lights return to normal, the driver moves in for what appears as a second kiss, but in a split second, with a clench of a jaw, times returns, and violence shatters the sensuality of silence. Gosling literally stamps out a person's head as Mulligan watches. The scene ends as they stare at each other, dumbstruck, not saying a word since the kiss, but speaking volumes. Gosling, as with much of the violence bears a look of resignation. A distate of the results of his power and violence more than the violence within him.
So much for the singular focus on Drive, because I believe its heavy reliance on the sensuality, intimacy, and ambiguity of silence plays a prominent part in numerous other important movies. But let’s save that for the next post.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Analyzing Obama's Commencement Speech - The Ambivalence of Eloquence

It almost seems unfair to compare and contrast Romney’s speech with Obama’s. In some ways, it feels like looking at the writings of a teenager against an adult, but in some important ways they overlap. With regards to Obama’s speech, I think we can easily assert a number of points. First, he speaks and writes with more eloquence and tact than Romney. We already know of Obama’s charismatic oratory abilities, his humor, his aplomb, his comfort with shifts in tones, his poetic and aphoristic abilities(Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table), and Obama uses them all in full force in this speech. Not that this carries any political weight per se, although an eloquent speaker can move masses. (Conversely, the horrors of the world are painted in the words of some of the greatest speakers and demagogues.) However in terms of their character or political capability their rhetorical abilities doesn’t indicate much. In fact, we know Obama can speak, well, very well. We know he speaks with a confident poise that at the same time evinces a calm, a comfort, and a reassuring quality. But we’ve also learned to grow wary of eloquence. A way with words has a way of hiding meaning behind beauty. Obama’s made many phenomenal turn of phrases in the forms of promises he didn’t or couldn’t deliver upon. Pascal reminds us that, “True eloquence makes light of eloquence.”
    In a more substantive manner, in contrast to Romney, Obama makes the speech considerably more about the actual graduates than himself. He never mentions anything in the way of elections, he never even implicitly mentions Romney, and thankfully, he presents a much truer account of the reality facing America today. He describes an ambiguous future full of unknowns and challenges that will take courage to surmount. He mentions the economic crisis, income inequality, a stagnant congress, a fettered political machine. (However, in one instance, Obama presents a rosier picture of the nature of history than warranted based on actual history. See below.)
None of this takes away from the politicized nature of the speech. Both Romney and Obama took this opportunity to express the interests of important populations of voters, but Obama accomplished this task with much greater maturity and diplomacy. The names he invokes as models represent significantly less ambiguous moral characters than those of Romney, but both do so in an attempt to situate themselves in a certain tradition whether that be the tradition of the Christian right or the Liberal left.
    I find it interesting to note though, despite some clear differences, that we can point to numerous striking similarities in both the flow, structure, and content of the speeches. They both speak/preach, ultimately, of a message of American pride in our resilience and strong work ethic, of the need for a more engaged youth, and personal responsibility. Hope underlies the basic notions of both of the speeches, and they both end on a story of personal adversity, or a time when they beat the odds and persevered. They also present a picture of a rosier picture than most would assume that borders on naivete “See, the question is not whether things will get better -- they always do. The question is not whether we’ve got the solutions to our challenges -- we’ve had them within our grasp for quite some time...” I find it hard to swallow this particular promise of things always getting better, it seem as though Obama has access to a different history than we do.
    In fact, parts of Obama’s speech strikes me as slightly offensive, and in an vehemently feminist egalitarian speech, as backwards, pandering, and belittling to both sexes. There’s a position many men take in regards to feminism, a sort overcompensation that amounts to a degradation of men, that undermines the egalitarian spirit. When Obama discusses both inherent bias of the constitution a document not signed by any women, but one malleable enough to accommodate all civil rights he explains, “No woman’s signature graced the original document — although we can assume that there were founding mothers whispering smarter things in the ears of the founding fathers. (Applause.) I mean, that’s almost certain.” And in almost the exactly similar vein in discussing the lack of women in Congress Obama explains, “Now, I’m not saying that the only way to achieve success is by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder or running for office — although, let’s face it, Congress would get a lot more done if you did. (Laughter and applause.) That I think we’re sure about.”
    Sound innocuous at worst, and praiseworthy at best, but let’s think about what he is saying. First off, I seriously doubt that the founding mothers were actually whispering smarter things in the ears of the founding fathers, as a historical fact. Conceptually, this type of assertion not only whitewashes history, but creates a strange hierarchy in which women curb the appetites of the more powerful unwieldy men of the world. It pegs women as the better half, which in essence limits women to another role of sorts. In Judaism, this is the sort of argument we refer to as the Binah Yeseirah arguments. Furthermore, it belittles men, painting congress as stagnant because of how much it resembles a piggish, stubborn men's club, as if women in politics do not engage in petty quarrels or make decisions or non-decisions based on money, as if they live on a different moral plane than men. Looked at even more, Obama can make these statements only because of the powerful position of men in the world. His statement testifies and reinforces the inequality that he references. Women don’t need anybody to tell them how powerful they are or can be, especially not the most powerful man in the world. Of course, I don’t assume Obama intends any of these implicit ideas, rather it signifies a mainstream way to speak about inequality.
    With that being said, Obama’s speech offends less, and not only for rhetorical reasons. Much of his speech involves the obvious cliches and inspiring stories, but one sentence stands out that creates an important contrast between Romney and Obama (Besides of course for certain positions on issues such as gay and women’s rights...) In the end of his speech, in the moment of vision for the future, of summation of America’s goals right now, Obama states, “f you are ready to fight for that brilliant, radically simple idea of America that no matter who you are or what you look like, no matter who you love or what God you worship, you can still pursue your own happiness, I will join you every step of the way.”
    First, let’s notice Obama’s rhetorical ingenuity. He deploys a  clever rhetorical maneuver of inclusiveness that conveys a sense of collaboration instead of more traditional hierarchical leadership (I will join you...I will be right there with you...). In general Obama succeeds in this speech in speaking as one of the people, not the leader of the people. He doesn’t sympathize from a perch, but empathizes from amongst the crowd. Throughout his speech, he balances stories that reinforce the classic American dream of  going from rags to riches, with the converse American value of the inherent worth of the unsung life, of the mundane:
Those quiet heroes all across this country — some of your parents and grandparents who are sitting here — no fanfare, no articles written about them, they just persevere. They just do their jobs. They meet their responsibilities. They don’t quit. I’m only here because of them. They may not have set out to change the world, but in small, important ways, they did. They certainly changed mine
Additionally, Obama casually references both the preamble to the constitution (how we made this union more perfect) and the Declaration of Independence (still pursue your own happiness), but adapts the phrases to his purposes, implying a more egalitarian happiness and a union already made more perfect.This creates a nice connection to the foundational roots of the revolutionaries while making room for change.
Obama’s vision stands in stark contrast to the Christ heavy vision of Romney. Romney’s vision excludes while Obama seeks to include, to make room for more people. Romney, in his speech, hopes to enlighten the world with his moral certainty while Obama seeks to make room for a multiplicity of visions. Perhaps this defines an essential difference between the two candidates, one that holds more substance than Republican and Democrat. 
OK, but now what? Does this type of analysis actually add to the conversation or simply further the constant back and forth between accusations of fundamentalist Christians imposing their backward faith on the rest of us vs. moral decadent liberals corroding the fiber of our society? Will something like this actually sway anybody? I don’t know, one hopes, but probably not. I do take comfort in the fact that part of the job of citizens is to make explicit what politicians hide in their rhetoric. To at least make clear for all the stakes of the game here. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Analyzing the Rhetoric of Mitt Romney - A Commencement Speech for the Ages

I tend to shy away from politics, until recently. I felt that politics entailed too much ambiguity and ambivalence to talk coherently about any aspect of it, without expertise, but I don’t feel that I need any sort of expertise to read, carefully and analytically, Mitt Romney’s graduation speech at Liberty University. Romney’s speech demands a response, not silence, or even cynical resignation. Some context will help. Liberty University, to quote Wikipedia, “is a private Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty's annual enrollment is 12,000 residential students and 60,000+ studying through Liberty University Online. LU is currently the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world.”
The university, founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., and currently run by his son, is a bastion of extreme conservative thought. It’s hard to know what to list as shocking about the University, whether the homophobic, racist, chauvinist statements of both Falwell’s or some of the fundamentalist policies of the University which fly in the face of any sense of academic freedom (espousal of creationism in classes, a museum with a fossil labeled as 3,000 years old.), but as you can imagine, reading about the University might provide some shock as to their tactics and positions. (We will look at this in a bit...) But you cannot fully blame a political candidate for talking to a strong base of people key to his victory, but you can judge his words. I think you could break down any one of his sentences and find not only a hidden context and prejudice, but some flat out lies, self-promotion, simplistic thinking, elitist moralism, and mere pettiness. Here we Go!

1. For the graduates, this moment marks a clear ending and a clear beginning. -
Yes, this, like most of graduation speech will be full of unhelpful cliches, but what’s more interesting about Romney’s cliches is how wrong they are. The end of college no longer signifies either a clear end or a clear beginning. Rather it signifies for many a scary and ambiguous time in which they must confront broken dreams, an economy in crisis, a job market in shambles, and the psychological challenges of emerging adulthood in a world in which we can not expect the luxuries of our parents despite how hard we work.

2. Some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete your studies. One graduate has said that he completed his degree in only two terms: Clinton’s and Bush’s. -
So first he launches straight into poorly veiled politicized self-promotion. After a few meager words about the graduates he draws attention to himself, his importance, albeit implicitly here. Second, he tells a story that clearly excludes president Obama, as if he doesn’t or didn't exist, as if his presidency equalled nothing. (Perhaps I misunderstand the story he quotes, but he calls the person a graduate, implying from the class 2012, because otherwise why refer to him with the ambiguous terms graduate in the context of a graduation speech.)

3. In some ways, it is fitting that I share this distinction with Truett Cathy.
In general, quoting other people and name dropping is a staple of graduation speeches, but who you quote often says about what you respect and value. Romney, consequently, name checks a lot of interesting people - here, first, Truett Cathy, who, “In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Cathy as the 380th richest man in America and the 799th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion.”
Hello donations from the 1%.

4. ...And with credit to Congressman Dick Armey: The American Dream is not owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.
Hmmmm, Dick Armey, where do I know that name from? Oh right, he’s homophobic, moralistic, and wants to limit artistic freedom. See his statement on Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky -
In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a reporter asked him what he would do if he were in President Bill Clinton's position. He replied "If I were in the President's place I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, 'How do I reload this damn thing?'"

5. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year stretches. And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have.
That’s a theme for another day. But two observations.
Just some real casual and totally inconspicuous self-promotional Obama bashing in a graduation speech, way to stay classy. Also, comparing the accomplishments of thousands of young graduates to the burdens of the President of the United States. Good argument.

6. In his 73 years of life, Dr. Falwell left a big mark. The calling Jerry answered was not an easy one. Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary. Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.
Not exactly how I would qualify another moralistic, homophobic, chauvinistic, fundamentalist person, a person who had this to say about 9/11-
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" [42] Falwell further stated that the attacks were "probably deserved," a statement which Christopher Hitchens called treasonous.
Also, Falwell found himself in the position, somehow, of “‘calling the homosexual-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches "brute beasts" and "a vile and Satanic system" that will "one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven’”
Read more about the cheerful, non-hateful words Falwell here.

7. America needs your skill and talent. If we take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are.
Not only is this simply naive, ambiguous and nonsensical, or directional at all (what’s the right course, because as far as I’ve seen no one really knows) but wrong. Many experts assert that part of problem lies in education, or in the type of education, and that given student debt college might actually not be worth it at this moment, especially given both the economic crisis and the astronomically rising prices in colleges, I don’t see how this canard helps the graduates, though it does help romney put forth good religious conservative beliefs. America does not need your skill and talent, it needs cheap labor, our ph.ds our on an all time high level of food stamps. The collegiate dream, as it stands, is dying. (Read here, here, here.
Even if you disagree with the author, the sheer volume of books being written about the worthlessness of a college degree, begs for some more complexity than reinforcing an outdated version of the american collegiate dream.    

8. Of course, what the next four years might hold for me is yet to be determined. But I will say that things are looking up, and I take your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.I consider it a great life honor to address you today. Your generosity of spirit humbles me. The welcoming spirit of Liberty is a tribute to the gracious Christian example of your founder.
Wait did I hint yet that I am running for president? Oh I did? Well, a third time can’t hurt you. Also, welcoming spirit? To whom, not to homosexuals, or people who disagree with their moral certainty, of course.

9. Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.
    Note the battle metaphors...Also, this really sounds like a fundamental difference in a lifeview i.e. the purpose of education: to teach a single correct path or to teach how to choose a path for oneself. Freedom to choose or Freedom to live the correct life, to live out our so called purpose. So much of this statement instills fear in me. This sounds like a ultra-orthodox right wing Jewish statement to make. Moral certainty, clear standards, spiritual ideals, sounds very much like the making of a rigid ideology that a person shoves onto the world, whether it fits other peoples desires or not. Also note the denigration of colleges that focus more on academic and religious freedom.

10. That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ. May that be your guide.
Ok, this is a packed sentence. Let’s take it apart. On the whole, America being the most religious country in the world, I’m not sure how to take Romney’s warning that these fundamentalist values will not be the object of public admiration. Also, this creates a an Us vs. Them mentality that goes in line with his metaphor of armour, as if he is sending troops into a war.
Fair point about Christian faith, but Billy Graham along with true christian heroes like Bonhoeffer who fought against the tyranny of the Nazis? The same Billy Graham who on tape made vile anti-semitic statements, statements he doesn’t recall making.

11. You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life.
    Breathe, deep. OK, first of all, hey world, case closed on our problems! Romney quoting one academic in a simplified manner has found the solution and cause of all our problems: Culture. Phew, I was real worried there for a second that perhaps the problems stemmed from something considerably more complicated, but it’s good to know that Culture makes all the difference. And what culture is that? Perhaps an amalgam of numerous cultures, nope. The Judeo-Christian Culture, which of course can be spoken as a singular type of culture, not a pluralistic, dynamic culture. Judeo-Christian culture does no wrong, it seems.

12. The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family. The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters.
As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman
    Hey, this sounds kind of nice, I like personal responsibility, all for the dignity of work. Wait a minute, how did family get in there? And what is the definition of a family? Oh, wait for it, that’s the definition of a family, one based on a marriage between a man and a woman. Also, cool study, and way to name drop Rick Santorum, because Rick Santorum really represents some cogent, logical, intelligent points of view. Also, I am not a statistician here, and besides the elitist implications of the studies, since when does correlation equal causality?
    Also let’s see who funds the Brookings Institute - “At the end of 2004 the Brookings Institution had assets of $258 million and spent $39.7 million, while its budget has grown to more than $80 million in 2009. Its largest contributors include the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her husband Richard C. Blum, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Pew Charitable Trusts, the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation; and the governments of the United States, Japan, Qatar, Taipei, the District of Columbia, and the United Kingdom.”
    Hey, in case you were wondering, Romney doesn’t believe that homosexuals have the right to get married, but that can’t be news.

13. The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.
But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.
    Ok, Romney raises a good point. The nature of religious freedom deserves our attention as a complex question. Does religious freedom entail freedom from religion, or freedom to practice, or both, and if they clash, then how do we resolve that class, but his conclusion of perhaps religious conscience a complete non-sequitur, as if somehow not agreeing with a religious conscience automatically leads to a belief in a sort church of government. Q.E.D. folks.
    No greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action. If that does not count as religious elitism, I don’t know what does. Is this a sermon, are all graduation speeches sermon, in some way or another? This though, we can just qualify as religious. The line between praising a religion for its achievement and elitism gets mightily blurry, mightily fast.  
    Ok, I’ve already written enough for one day, and I hope to flesh out the implications of these criticisms in the next post, but here, I just wanted to open this up to discussion, and to notification of who our candidates truly are, or how they truly represent themselves. 

The full speech can be found here.