NYT's Timothy Egan Hits 'Biblical Bully,' Asks: 'Is God Listening to Rick Perry?'

On MSNBC Friday afternoon, openly gay Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart (while substituting for host Martin Bashir) cited his newspaper competition to mock Gov. Rick Perry’s religious-right stances.

“Timothy Egan has an interesting column in the New York Times,” he insisted, “that pointed out that when Rick Perry prays to God, they tend to not get answered. For example, he prays for rain, they have an extreme drought. He holds prayer services and the markets tank. Is God listening to Rick Perry?”

But that loaded question is nothing compared to Egan’s actual screed on the Opinionator blog on Thursday. Remember before these excerpts that Egan was an "objective" national reporter for the Times for decades. This is your secular-left media elite when it's ready to roar.  Egan began by noting Perry offered an official day of prayer to ask for an end to drought:

In the four months since Perry’s request for divine intervention, his state has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.  Nearly all of Texas  is now in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the worst in Texas history.

Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.  Farmers cannot coax a kernel of grain from ground that looks like the skin of an aging elephant.

Is this Rick Perry’s fault, a slap to a man who doesn’t believe that humans can alter the earth’s climate —  God messin’ with Texas? No, of course not.  God is too busy with the upcoming Cowboys football season and solving the problems that Tony Romo has reading a blitz.

In several places in this column, Egan seems to be mocking not only God or Perry or Republicans, but the entire state of Texas as an ignorant redneck backwater. It continued:

But Perry’s tendency to use prayer as public policy demonstrates, in the midst of a truly painful, wide-ranging and potentially catastrophic crisis in the nation’s second most-populous state, how he would govern if he became president.

“I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this,’” he said in a speech in May, explaining how some of the nation’s most serious problems could be solved....

That was a warm-up of sorts for his prayer-fest, 30,000 evangelicals in Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Saturday. From this gathering came a very specific prayer for economic recovery. On the following Monday, the first day God could do anything about it, Wall Street suffered its worst one-day collapse since the 2008 crisis. The Dow sunk by 635 points.

Prayer can be meditative, healing, and humbling.  It can also be magical thinking.  Given how Perry has said he would govern by outsourcing to the supernatural, it’s worth asking if God is ignoring him.

Or, if you work at The New York Times, you might suggest that God is a harmful fantasy of the delusional, exploited by politicians like the Pied Piper of Hamelin rounding up the rats. But never fear, Egan thinks the entire Republican field is a caucus of crazies:

Though Perry will not officially announce his candidacy until Saturday, he loomed large over the Republican debate Thursday night.  With their denial of climate change, basic budget math,  and the indisputable fact that most of the nation’s gains have gone overwhelmingly to a wealthy few in the last decade, the candidates form a Crazy Eight caucus.  You could power a hay ride on their nutty ideas.

By contrast, Tim Egan must have thought the entire Democratic field four years ago was an awe-inspiring salon of epic geniuses, including Dennis "Department of Peace" Kucinich. We have yet to see Egan wondering if God is ignoring Barack Obama -- perhaps because Obama himself was presented as an almost God-like savior.

Egan concluded by hammering Perry as a menacing "Biblical bully" for praying to the Christian God in public, and like a good liberal, says the federal government is much more reliable than that so-called Almighty:

To Jews, Muslims, non-believers and even many Christians, the Biblical bully that is Rick Perry  must sound downright menacing, particularly when he gets into religious absolutism. “As a nation, we must call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles,” he said last week.

As a lone citizen, he’s free to advocate Jesus-driven public policy imperatives.  But coming from  someone who wants to govern this great mess of a country with all its beliefs, Perry’s language is an insult to the founding principles of the republic.  Substitute Allah or a Hindu God for Jesus and see how that polls.

Perry is from Paint Creek, an unincorporated hamlet in the infinity of the northwest Texas plains. I’ve been there. In wet years, it’s pretty, the birds clacking on Lake Stamford, the cotton high. This year, it’s another sad moonscape in the Lone Star State.

Over the last 15 years, taxpayers have shelled out $232 million in farm subsidies to Haskell County, which includes Paint Creek — a handout to more than 2,500 recipients, better than one out every three residents.  God may not always be reliable, but in Perry’s home county, the federal government certainly is.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis