Seinfeld fans will fondly recall George's constant refrain after he decides--on a whim--to propose marriage to a woman he does not much like, let alone love. "We had a pact," he yells at his best friend, Jerry, who promised George to also undergo the "maturation process" and get hitched. This is a long-winded way of saying that when I read Daniel Bergner's New York Times Magazine feature on Leah Daughtry, I felt compelled to scream "We had a pact!" more than once.
Daughtry is a preacher and political operative currently working as chief of staff to DNC head Howard Dean. She is also a Pentecostal and one of the leading Democrats in charge of reaching out to evangelical voters. Anyway, back to the pact, which, though never formalized, I understand as follows: Secular liberals and Democrats go along with increasing outreach to religious voters and religious organizations--even if it makes them uncomfortable--on the condition that those religious voters do not mock the secular liberals for being unpious, pointy-headed elites. If that condition is violated, the pointy-heads get to mock the unbelievable solipsism and absurdity of the religious voters.
Earlier, quoting a verse from First Corinthians, she told me that God had granted her the “gifts of administration.” This, she explained, is her first and most natural calling: to keep things organized, to make things happen from behind the scenes. And she let it be known that she doesn’t appreciate the fact that the media — partly because they are “fascinated with the Pentecostal thing,” she said with subtle annoyance — has begun to focus its mostly positive attention on her, to push her from the background to the forefront. “The intellectuals, the egghead types — Pentecostalism is incomprehensible to them. They don’t understand the spirit-driven. I can make the trains run on time, and they have a hard time reconciling that with my religion.”
It is true that there are many things us eggheads do not understand. For example:
Dancing down front, in an aisle between pews, was a woman in an elaborate dress with a lace corsage whose breast cancer had been eradicated, Daughtry had said, through the prayers of her church sisters: “The eggheads will say her chemotherapy worked, but everyone who uses chemotherapy isn’t cured.”
Charming stuff. Perhaps Obama can now shelve his ambitious health care plan.
Anyway, Bergner's piece covers familiar territory, but is probably worth reading if only because Daughtry is--in the end--a rather compelling character.