Mark Kleiman argues that there is reason to doubt that Edwards, a "husband of a woman dying a painful death, as a grieving widower, and as a single parent of two young adolescents," could "give his job [here, hypothetically, as president] his undivided attention...."
I think this assumes too much about the Edwards's attitudes about the meaning of life, death and public service. But set that aside. Every first couple faces the risk that some time during the president's incumbency the president's spouse might be stricken with deadly disease or death; the fact that Edwards' wife already has a fatal disease just makes the issue more salient.
The proper response to this state of affairs, then, can't be that a spouse's terminal illness effectively bars one from seeking the Oval Office--unless one wants to argue that a spouse's terminal illness during an incumbency generally requires that the incumbent resign. And even if that were the argument, then all that would follow is that Edwards should proceed in his bid and, should he win, continue his service until the relevant exigencies arise.
Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are right that theism is a ridiculous idea. (N.B.: This is not to say I think one is therefore justified generally in ridiculing religious people for holding such beliefs; I don't.) But their leading causal claim--that theism is a peculiar gateway to nocuous irrationality--is so obviously overblown, and history has bludgeoned us with counterexamples so many times, that even to name those counterexamples seems hackneyed: Mao; Stalin; Pol Pot. But there they still are. And while the examples lend no support to the standard cant propounded by some theists ("But atheism has caused far more evil than theism..."), they do rather clearly point up the obvious third variable that Dawkins-Harris seem always to elide: Authoritarianism. And if authoritarianism is the problem, than the focus by Dawkins-Harris on religion is worse than tangential; by Harris' own logic, it "inadvertently shelters" authoritarianism by diverting attention from the problem to but one of its local manifestations.
Their subsidiary claim--that the world can do without religious reasons for meaningful, moral activity and a happy and productive life because there are equally good secular reasons--presupposes that all those with religious impulses are capable of, or have the time for, doing the significant therapeutic work it takes to stand equal to life in this "pitiless, indifferent" universe. Let's face it: Some people will ever need to believe in a world enchanted with spirits, succeeded by a life ever after. And why not let them, if they are otherwise healthy and productive, and as long as they mind their own metaphysical business? Harris and Dawkins, for all their energetic atheology and amusing snark, never really provide a plausible answer to that question.
Kevin Drum has this cute quotation of General Tony Peak about President Bush:
America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment. If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.
Some of the commenters (for various reasons) want to insist that Bush is not "stupid" but just "willfully ignorant" (or the like). I don't get the distinction. Persisting in willful ignorance is but one form of stupidity.
I've been slamming at CRS with interviews, shows, photo shoots and other miscellany. Also, we've just embarked on a two-week radio tour. As if that weren't enough, I left my laptop in my Nashville hotel room this morning. (This comes to you via host computer.)
These events have obviously conspired to keep this a No-Post Zone in recent days; and so it will remain for the next two weeks or so...