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Commentary Detail

The Silly Season is Truly Upon Us
Commentary by: Mark Shook
Aired May 29, 2008

It appears as though we are in the season of political “mentioning.” The candidates for president from both parties are engaged in a delicate do-si-do around a group of potential vice-presidential running mates. We should take great pride in the mentioning of our own Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill. In terms of her influence and clout, she has clearly moved from the back bench of the U.S. Senate to a front row seat.

Being “mentioned” is certainly no guarantee of actually being put on the ticket. The presumptive nominees and their staffs will be especially diligent in vetting their proposed running mates. As a public service, I would like to caution would be VP nominees as to a new stumbling block on the way to political fame and glory.

If I were a hip-hop artist I would title this number, “Who's your rabbi, priest, pastor, Imam, and Swami?” Along with tax records and health history, candidates will now be asked to list their religious mentors. The records of these clergy will be scrutinized by the cable news outlets and YouTube for juicy material which could embarrass the ticket. It may be too late for current nominees to switch religious advisors in mid-prayer, but perhaps, for those waiting for the next election, these tips might prove to be helpful:

• Make sure that your religious mentor comes from a bland religious community that is never controversial.
• Read all policy statements ever written by the denomination in question, going back 100 years, for disagreeable positions taken.
• Deniability is important. For five years before you become a candidate, make sure that you never attend worship services in your own congregation. You might have to disavow the content of those services.

The silly season is truly upon us. It is going to be an interesting summer.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Mark Shook

Mark Shook


Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.

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