The Manassehite Excuse

Aug 27 2012 - 1:02pm

Two thousand, six hundred and thirty-four years ago, times were good in the Kingdom of Judah. The Bible describes Josiah, their 26-year-old monarch, as the best king that absolutely ever was.

King Josiah funded a remodeling project on the Jerusalem temple. During the work Hilkiah High Priest was sorting out the library and discovered a complete copy of the Law of Moses. After scanning it he realized they had a compliance problem so he gave the book to the king's secretary who read the entire Law to King Josiah. The king was appalled, tore his cloak, and ordered his courtiers to seek counsel from God's through the prophetess Huldah.

Huldah was the wife of a tailor. She prophesied the Word of the Lord, about 100 words in Hebrew and 200 words in a typical English translation. Her brief but powerful prophecy ignited a resurgence of religious zeal. Scholars believe that seven books of the Bible were edited and assembled during the revival.

Again, times were good.

Alas, 13 years later King Josiah was killed in battle during an invasion by Pharaoh Neco. The kingdom became a vassal state to Egypt and quickly degenerated into its previous condition of oppression and sin.

The biblical author concluded with the lament that the intentions of good King Josiah for his realm were snuffed out because of the deadly trajectory established by his predecessor, the evil King Manasseh.

Young King Josiah was great, but he inherited too many problems to fully realize his promises of hope and change. The previous Manassehite administration was to blame.

This biblical narrative came to mind when I heard a recent report about former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Two weeks ago she was giving a speech at a Democrat rally in Colorado where she described how a questioner in Missouri had asked her: "How long are you people going to blame the previous administration?' She said, "Forever."

Now that was at a partisan event and everybody got a good laugh at the parody of the current Democratic party doctrine of blaming former President Bush for any and all shortfalls, pratfalls, errors, broken promises, and the general inability of the Obama administration to get the American economy back on track.

President Obama makes a practice of affirming the holiness of the "Blame Bush" doctrine. Last February he declared: "We've made sure to do everything we can to dig ourselves out of this incredible hole that I inherited."

At this point it doesn't matter if the Blame Bush political tactic is based in reality, enough people have an abiding testimony of its truthfulness that it has to be rolled out again and again. We'll all hear it for the next 77 days, plus the corollary tenet, electing the Romney-Ryan ticket will be voting for Bush II.

The fact is, for months all the polls have indicated that this presidential election has become a horse race. Except for those fellas at the University of Colorado who believe Romney will win, pollsters don't think there's enough statistical preference for anyone to predict the outcome. Moreover, unlike any election in my lifetime, this is a season where it feels like most people will be voting against a ticket, not voting for.

The only numbers I've seen that seem to indicate enthusiasm in a particular political direction are published by They call it the "Amazon Election Heat Map" wherein they track sales of books sorted by liberal versus conservative biases. According to the Heat Map, a lot more people are buying conservative books than liberal.

The contrary data from Amazon is that President Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" outsells Romney's "No Apology" by a 60:40 ratio, although Ryan's "Young Guns" outsells Biden's "Promises to Keep" 95:5. The candidate's book sales may be further evidence of zeal to vote against rather than vote for.

If Barack Obama loses this fall he will blame Bush. The recession he inherited was just too deep and damaging to the American economy for any president to effectively lead a turnaround.

If Mitt Romney loses this fall he too will be able to blame Bush. While the root causes of the recession date back to the Clinton years, the Bush administration reaped the whirlwind and passed the storm on to Obama, so it's not his fault. Besides, voters may not trust Republicans to run the economy again.

Both Democrats and Republicans will have the Manassehite Excuse.


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