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Tilting at Windmills

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January 5, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

VERTICAL....Apparently the latest hot word to convince evangelicals that you're one of them is "vertical." Who knew? It's like trying to keep up with the latest from the hip hop world.

In other trendy word news, the American Dialect Society has chosen "subprime" as its word of the year. And it's not just an adjective anymore! MSNBC claims that it's also a verb, as in "I completely subprimed my Algebra test yesterday." Other ADS winners here.

UPFDATE: James Joyner and Mark Kleiman are unimpressed with the notion that "vertical" is evangelical dog whistling. I link, you decide.

UPDATE 2: David Domke, co-author of The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America, says "vertical" is unquestionably an example of dog whistle politics: "Conservative evangelicals often talk about the need to prioritize their vertical relationships with God first and foremost before worrying about horizontal relationships among people. It's the individualized 'get right with God' approach of conservative Protestantism....I've been present a number of times when "vertical" rhetoric — the exact word — has been used in evangelical circles. It's indeed a way of speaking one hears in many churches, part of the faith vocabulary of the evangelical and fundamentalist subculture."

Kevin Drum 12:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (75)

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Comments

My pick was Colbert's "Superstantial"

Posted by: Martin on January 5, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Cheez, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. So now if a candidate says he wants to move the country up instead of left or right, this is some sort of indecipherable code message to his secret cabal of supporters. I thought it was the Huckabee supporters who were supposed to be rubes confused by simple things, not the sophisticated liberal bloggers.

Posted by: Counterfactual on January 5, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

In reviewing the Huckabee site, I suspect the "vertical" was a typo that the proofreader missed. Should have been "virtual."

Posted by: Tom Inglesby on January 5, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

speaking of the latest news from the hip-hop world,

Indonesia, China and Mexico have massive reforestation projects underway. If you search, you can find out where to donate and become CO2 neutral.

Other things to look for in 2008:

The U.S. will double its manufacture of PV cells in 2008, as will China, Germany, Japan, S. Korea. The U.S. will more than double biofuels and wind energy production in 2008. The U.S. will more than double fuel production from feedlot waste, packing plant waste, municipal waste, and municipal sewage. California will dramatically increase its water desalination (using waste heat from the cooling water) -- Carlsbad alone will start producing 10 million gallons per day sometime in 2008. Canada will dramatically increase oil production in 2008, and Canadian oil will displace first Middle Eastern oil, and then Venezuelen oil, in American imports. There will in 2008 be mass production of catalysts to (a) make CO (for plastics and synfuels) and O from CO2 using sun and other underused sources of energy; (b) make H2 from H2O using sun and other underused sources of energy; (c) make H2 for fuel cells from a mixture of ethanol and water; (d) make biodiesel from cellulose. The U.S. will start manufacture of cellulosic ethanol in commercial-scale quantities in late 2008. Stay alert for items of local interest to send to me. None of these good developments ever seem to make the main local or national news -- you have to search for them.

Of course, if you would rather read about evangelicals, that's cool too.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 5, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

All I can say is that I'm pretty unimpressed with either Joyners' or Kleiman's arguments (with Kleiman, this comes as no surprise).

Yes, Huckabee does work the "vertical" politics metaphor into his campaign in other ways. Yes, Huckabee appeals to Christians explicitly, and not just using dog whistles.

But how hard is to see that Huckabee might still profit by trading off what is a dog whistle appeal? Obviously, everything he can do to appeal to his Christian base without simultaneously turning off those who are less than friendly to fundamentalist concerns is to the good. That is the very point of dog whistles; you can never have too many, I should think -- unless you get caught.

And how hard would it be for Huckabee and his campaign to realize that he could safely build a line of talk around a metaphor like "vertical" to achieve precisely this effect? Is the cleverness required for that leap, well, supernatural?

The only real question in my mind is this: how pervasive, and widely understood, is the "vertical" metaphor in the Christian Right community? If it's comprehended by virtually all of them, I'd be astonished if Huckabee and his campaign didn't do this deliberately.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 5, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

This just in.....

... We are getting a signal, yes a signal from above, that, wait...., yes I'm getting it, that GOD wants the wonderfully informed American electorate to vote for Huckabee...

...now back to our regularly scheduled programing.

Later...

Now, Mr Clueless, just why do you think the almighty has chosen Huckabee to be the next US president?

"Well, for one thing, Ah like him. Fer another, he ain't black. Ain't no way God wants a black fella runnin' this country!

Vertical politics. Oh my!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 5, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler on January 5, 2008 at 12:41 PM:

Of course, if you would rather read about evangelicals, that's cool too.

Wow, Marler...That's great information. Maybe you should consider starting a blog of your own to discuss those things you want to talk about.

Of course, if you would rather bash Kev about what he chooses to discuss, that's cool too. It's not as if there's any other blog out there to visit.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 5, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The only real question in my mind is this: how pervasive, and widely understood, is the "vertical" metaphor in the Christian Right community? If it's comprehended by virtually all of them, I'd be astonished if Huckabee and his campaign didn't do this deliberately.

I'm not a fundamentalist, but I am a Christian, and I'd never heard the metaphor before. I know a sample of one is not good enough, but I really don't think it's a term used a lot in mainstream Christianity. If you're trying to lump all Christians together, don't. Some of us aren't fundamentalists, and many of us are Democrats!

Posted by: pol on January 5, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

pol,

My comments were about Huckabee's right wing Christian base, and nobody else. Obviously, they are the targets of a potential dog whistle here.

My strong impression is that there are a lot of peculiar things that that bunch might have heard about that other Christians would never have encountered.

I'd like to hear from those who might be the know to comment on the point.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 5, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I meant,

I'd like to hear from those who might be in the know to comment on the point.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 5, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

This discussion is of subprime interest to me. I'm going up Vertically (aka climb stairs) and take a nap. As I walk past my dog, she will roll Horizontally begging me for a belly rub. After the nap we will go out and waterboard on the puddles left behind by globally warmed, rapidly melting glaciers.

Posted by: rational on January 5, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the Joyner and Kleiman analyses seem more concerned with pedantically correcting Marshall than actually thinking through the issue. To some segment of the population, which includes at least Marshall and others at TPM, Kevin, me, and even Joyner and Kleiman (though for some reason they don't want to admit it) and thus probably lots and lots of others, there is nothing self-evident about the meaning of "vertical" in this context. Not all codes are dog-whistles, and just because some non-believers understand the code doesn't mean the code doesn't work. This is clearly some sort of code. Maybe not the best, but there you have it. Joyner especially seems a bit too eager to insist that Marshall is wrong wrong wrong here for calling "vertical" a dog-whistle. I don't care about the particulars, but it's pretty clear that there's something fishy with the term, even if it isn't a true dog-whistle. Hell, if "vertical" means merely escaping left and right politics and lifting the country up, that's fine, but from some of the links and from Huckabees explanation, I got the distinct impression that the "lifting up" wasn't some throwaway political metaphor, but an actual desire to lodge American politics in the politics of the Kingdom of Heaven. This isn't about treating Huckabee like a boob -- only non-believers think such desires are the desires of a boob -- it's about listening to what the man is saying.

Posted by: km on January 5, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us who've spent a fair amount of time speaking with evangelical people and reading evangelical material know that they are constantly making an effort to create their own music, their own entertainment, their own cultural artifacts and, to a degree, their own language and terminology.

It is simply self-evident that Huckabee is making an effort to demonstrate that he is part of the evangelical subculture by using their cultural artifacts in public.

Posted by: Tyro on January 5, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Are you sure he didn't say "vertigo"?

Posted by: melonhead on January 5, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

First, language: can we agree in the future not to modify "dogwhistle" as Josh and others have begun to do (i.e., "clever dogwhistle"), with this British political term? It is by definition clever: designed for a specific canine listener (a trained sheepdog, for example, or, in politics, a voter eager to do its master's bidding).

One of the TPM links, cited by Kevin above, is a pretty standard radical-right Christianist riff on personal and social morality. Oddly (and predictably), the pastor was preaching in favor of a death penalty case then being argued before the Missouri State Supreme Court (I skimmed the text only), but you can read it here: Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church sermon.

The pastor argues from the famous Old Testament account of David sending Uriah to his death in battle so David could enjoy Uriah's wife, Bathsheba:

Surely David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah but his heart rightly saw that the vertical sin and vertical culpability were of far greater weight than the horizontal effects of his sin. This kind of thinking is completely lost on the Missouri Court. There is no vertical thinking in their argument, only horizontal thinking. If we were to summarize their argument it would be this, People don't think juveniles should be executed so they shouldn't be. An evolving human standard of decency has eclipsed a divine standard of justice.

Huck is clearly citing this highly, umm, interpretive quasi-doctrine of verticality, which must have some currency in his theological circles. (As an aside, I'd like to hear Garry Wills, for example,address the merits of this outlandish moral reasoning.)

He seems to be employing the usual Christianist cultural indictment of so-called secular American values, which are derided as "horizontal.'

Dog whistle? I dunno. My sense of Huck is that he really thinks this way and therefore has only one whistle out there in the field with his sheepdogs. Some hear it, and others don't. And in Iowa, looks like 33% of the GOP voters heard the whistle. Fasten your seatbelts. We'll be in SC soon.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 5, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I wish Huckleberry hadn't gotten horizontal with his wife and sullied the gene pool so horribly....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 5, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler wrote: "Other things to look for in 2008: The U.S. will double its manufacture of PV cells in 2008, as will China, Germany, Japan, S. Korea ..."

Here's a good one:

Toshiba to Launch Innovative Rechargeable Battery Business
11 December, 2007

Toshiba Corporation today announced the commercial launch of the SCiB the Super Charge ion Battery -- a breakthrough rechargeable battery primarily targeting the industrial systems market that can recharge to 90% of full capacity in less than five minutes. The battery offers excellent safety and a long-life cycle of over 10 years, even under conditions of constant rapid charging. Toshiba aims to make this high potential battery a mainstay of its industrial systems and automotive products businesses, with global sales of 100 billion yen targeted for fiscal year 2015. The first SCiB will be shipped from March 2008.

[...]

In addition to applications that include battery-powered bicycles, motorcycles, automated guided vehicles, electric forklift trucks and construction machinery, which already use rechargeable batteries, the SCiB is also a promising candidate for emergency power sources, electric power regeneration in wind power systems and stabilization of electric power supply. Application in hybrid cars is also planned, with the intent of extending application to electric cars in the future, after advancing development of a high-performance SCiB cell.

Technical details are available at the Toshiba press release linked above.

This is the innovation that's been needed to make pluggable-hybrid and pure electric vehicles the mainstream choice for cars. At an appropriately equipped charging station, you will be able to charge your electric car in about the same amount of time it now takes to fill a gas tank. Or slow-charge it, less expensively, from off-peak electricity via house current overnight.

Also, the current issue of Scientific American has a feature article entitled "A Solar Grand Plan", whose authors assert that "by 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions". Key points:

  • A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

  • A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

  • Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

  • A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.
  • $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

Note that the $420 billion in subsidies spread out over 39 years is approximately equal to the US military budget for a single year.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

quite simply it means he is a "rapturist". Get caught up not left behind!

Posted by: chris on January 5, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

How on earth are we to take a vertical thinking person seriously?

I can't imagine a campaign where science takes a backseat to Jesus. I can't imagine that there are folks who would vote for a guy who BELIEVES in the absolutely insane notion that the earth is but a mere 6,000 years old.

But then again, maybe I just don't have much of an imagination.

To all you Hucksters... wake up.

I can't wait for future debates. Imagine all the Bible questions. Time for all the reporters to become biblically literate. No point in believing in science any more.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 5, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Huckabee's language is DEFINITELY dog-whistling. I've got a book just out on religious politics, and I just posted on streetprophets about this:

http://www.streetprophets.com/

Posted by: David Domke on January 5, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Note that vertical also alludes to the "Great Chain of Being" - goodness and power trickles down from God to Kings to Aristocrats to the middle class to manual labors to the underclass to slaves, getting diluted along the way.

Also you should check out how many positive references there are to "stable social order", where people know their place. In a stable social order aristocrats stay aristocrats, the underclasses stay the underclasses, and the middle class can look up to the first and look down on the second.

"stable social order" is also comming up with people like Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds warning of "social unraveling" (i.e. Negro riots) if Obama loses.

It is fine to talk about raising the goodness of people, but if you use an explicit vertical metaphor then the hidden implied elephant is the non-good people at the bottom of your scale and the need to buy guns to protect yourself in case they get "uppity".

So I think "vertical" is a measure of social rank (= social order).

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on January 5, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised to hear Obama say something very similar. What's at issue here is that people are tired of feeling divided and polarized. They are looking for a "feel-good" presidency. I think that's the new conventional wisdom-that people are looking for a Reagan or a Carter. Hmmm, this is eerily reminiscent of the late '70s. You had the defeat of Vietnam (Iraq?), high oil prices and stagflation, there was a palpable sense of burn out back then and I think there is now. Huckabee and Obama are responding to that, IMO.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 5, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

On being vertical:

"The direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sadness and distress, for the cessation of unease and depression, for finding the way, for the direct realization of unbinding is this: the application of present-moment awareness ... when standing, know directly I am standing ... when lying down, know directly I am lying down ..."

--The Buddha, Mahasatipatthana Sutra

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson wrote: "I can't imagine that there are folks who would vote for a guy who BELIEVES in the absolutely insane notion that the earth is but a mere 6,000 years old."

I don't know why you can't imagine that. You know very well that there are folks who believe that themselves, and that they vote. In fact, you know very well there are quite a lot of folks who believe that themselves, and many of them are not only very diligent about voting but are activists who work diligently to get other like-minded folks to vote.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time we all fortify ourselves by rereading Bertrand Russell's wonderful essay Why I am not a Christian

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Just read the Update links by Joyner and Kleiman and agree: Huck has deployed a deceptively secular definition of vertical (on his website) suggesting that all vertical means is lifting people up.

But Huck is nevertheless indisputably wedded to the Christianist meaning. I'd like to hear Huck define both, honestly, to "horizontal" Americans.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 5, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Vertical as opposed to horizontal.

Because you have to fuck in a toilet stall standing up.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on January 5, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the "vertical/horizontal" phrasing is by no means new; Barth himself uses it in his Church Dogmatics, with "horizontal" representing human relationships mediated through original sin, and "vertical" being the action of Christ. My wife, who grew up in evangelical circles, immediately recognized it from those days as well.

Posted by: thwab on January 5, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

But Huckabee seems to be working mainly a populist campaign, underplaying republicanism and trying to appeal to all sides. On his website, and also on Leno the night before the Iowa caususes, references to his background as a pastor were made in the context of social consciousness rather than doctrinal christianity.

If he wins the Republican nomination, interesting things may happen. Many Republican elites, and the neocons, may vote for the Democratic nominee, whereas Huckabee's populism may bring in some traditionally Democratic votes. In a addition to his dimples and winning smile, he's gone from 300+ pounds (and diabetes) to running marathons and writing "eat right" books, he plays blues on the guitar (with a band, no less) and he can joke with Leno without looking nervous or out of place. This guy is going to be a formidable candidate.

Posted by: JS on January 5, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

thwab,

I don't mean to get too far in the weeds here, but, yes, there's the Christian meaning, understood by Karl Barth (who is sometimes described as a neo-orthodox Christian; not an evangelical). Then there's the Christianist understanding, which appears to be something much different and not identifiable as Christian, in the traditional sense, that is.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 5, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is ... If vertical is not a reference to God, what is it a reference to? Is he telling his supporters he wants to ... what ... vertically integrate ... what? I don't get it. It's so obviously a reference to Jebus.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 5, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Huckabee's populism may bring in some traditionally Democratic votes

I agree. Why, he may get as many as half a dozen.

In a addition to his dimples and winning smile, he's gone from 300+ pounds (and diabetes) to running marathons and writing "eat right" books, he plays blues on the guitar (with a band, no less) and he can joke with Leno without looking nervous or out of place.

Don't forget raising a son who tortures and murders dogs. This man is multitalented, that's for sure.

What I don't understand is ... If vertical is not a reference to God, what is it a reference to? Is he telling his supporters he wants to ... what ... vertically integrate ... what?

I will defer to the people familiar with today's hep evangelical lingo, but anytime I hear a campaign slogan/vague reference which is that cryptic to most of us, I assume it means something important to a key constituency. If not fundies, who?

Posted by: shortstop on January 5, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

as many as half a dozen

Maybe. But "democrats for huckabee" brings 17,500 Google hits.

This guy is dangerous because he appeals to many people on both sides.

Posted by: JS on January 5, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

That should be "15,700" hits.

Posted by: JS on January 5, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

He's just hoping to be left (or right) standing at the end of the primary cycle. Much as I wish he could be the candidate we're up against, the guy has so much weird baggage, the other Repugs will kneecap him before that can happen. The obese, dog-torturing son and aggressive rape-murder advocacy are enough.

Posted by: Kenji on January 5, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I actually think this is quite smart and clever on Huckabee's part. It shows very astute political awareness of his base, but not in a crafted way. He himself is grounded in this Vertical eschatology, so it is not surprising that he would adapt it to a political message. As such, I don't think it is a dog whistle, it just represents the reality of his own thinking and his own beliefs. I think if you were to ask him about how this idea of Vertical reasoning applies to theology, he would probably tell you the truth - that it means that our political structure draws its inspiration from God, not from the horizontal process of reason carried out by Man. Good politics serve God's command, not the wants of man, yada yada yada...I think it's crap, but it is what this guy, and his followers believe. Now if he denies those are his beliefs when questioned about it, then he is definitely playing dog whistle politics.

Posted by: Seth on January 5, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

dog-torturing son

Of course, Romney (personally) and Giuliani (wife) have dog-torturing problems of their own. Seeing as how the Republicans come out in favor of torturing people, the business with dogs is hardly surprising.

Posted by: rea on January 5, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

How long should one spend on that vertical relationship with God? Whenever I try to communicate with Him, I get no reply. Better to be horizontal, I think (teehee).

Posted by: Rula Lenska on January 5, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Doc at the Radar Station: "What's at issue here is that people are tired of feeling divided and polarized. They are looking for a 'feel-good' presidency."

Well, let's all then vote for Dr. Phil.

Snarky comment aside, I happen to think that at this moment in our history, political polarization is a good thing, because it is high time that we as Democrats state in a collective full-throated roar exactly who we are and what we stand for. Damn it all, but it is now incumbent to both stand up proudly for simple human decency and the inherent dignity of our fellow man and woman, and to stop soft-pedaling to voters our own progressive and liberal values as though we need apologize for them.

Fuck these so-called "evangelical Christians." Since when did they ever garner a monopoly on truth? And further, why do we let their nonsensical claim to such pass unchallenged?

I'm all for removing the churches' 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt status. Then these "evangelicals" can freely meddle in Republican politics to their black hearts' everfuckin' desire, and the rest of us don't have to suffer the dual indignity of being unjustly labeled as morally bankrupt by these quasi-religious brigands, whilst simultaneously subsidizing these assholes with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Nuf ced. Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 5, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

secular animist, thanks for the information. I think that it is especially important to note, as you do, that substantial energy security is actually less costly than what the U.S. spends on its military. Mass production of those batteries will push electric, HEV, and plug-in HEV vehicle programs through a huge barrier.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 5, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

secular animist,

two more things I expect to see in 2008: (a) a new coal-fired power plant that sequesters 100% of its CO2 output; (b) a coal-fired power plant retrofitted to sequester 80% of its CO2 output. If accomplished, these achievements will slow the movement away from coal as a power source. A year feels like a long time, but a year from now (ok, not quite a year) we will be able to score which of our expectations were satisfied, and progress (or lack of it) should be an important theme of the elections.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 5, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Vertical relationships are sooo 1970s. Think ITT, think IBM 1970, think all those enormous conglomerates in many disparate ventures that were broken up in the 80s. Think internal transfer pricing phonying up your actual costs and incentives.

I prefer my relationships horizontal.

Posted by: jerry on January 5, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Take off the tinfoil hat.

I'm an Evangelical, and vertical isn't a code word. I've never heard it in a sermon.

Posted by: Justin on January 5, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I could be reasonably described as anti-evangelical, but this is starting to get ridiculous. The parsing of individual words as an evangelical dog whistle. Please. The guy has been as open about his religious views as someone can be. Why would he need to do this.

Posted by: vrk on January 5, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, since Bush and Rove destroyed moral the new meaning, I think, for 'vertical' would be upright, upstanding, moral, christian perspectve.

During the winter solstice the sun stops moving, to the naked eye, for three days, [rebirth] then moves vertically up at the group of stars called the Crux or crucifix.

I'm a religious person and frankly I dont trust politicians using GOD to get elected.


Posted by: Xisithrus on January 5, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Growing up in Switzerland (late 40’s and 50’s), my grandparents, conservative catholics, frequently referred to public figures they admired as being “ein senkrechter Mann”, (a vertical man), who had a “senkrechte Einstellung” (a vertical way of seeing things).
It implied that the man, his behavior and opinion were above board, righteous, god-fearing, uncompromising, unyielding, unwavering; standing up for god, country and morality like a pillar.
When I read Huck’s quotes, I had no doubt about what he was saying. My grandparents would have loved him.

Posted by: Polacca on January 5, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

I immediately picked up on "vertical." It surprised me that so many people had never heard of it the way Huckabee used it.

I am not anything near evangelical, but I know people of a whole variety of viewpoints and life perspectives.
In the past 3 years there have been 2 people who explained to me that they were trying to develop their "vertical" relationship with God and trying to put it before their "horizontal" relationship with anyone (or anything) else.
I wondered why it seems that it is mostly right wing politicians who tend to use "code" words. Then I remembered something from one of the (Bill) Clinton campaigns where they said something along the lines of "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
I had read assorted "recovery" lit which was rather prevalent at the time, and that quote was right out of Recovery.

Language is pretty interesting, and it is enlightening to listen to the languages of different perspectives.

Posted by: ClareA on January 5, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Make no mistake folks: if you are a Christian, God expects you to deal well with others, even if, especially if, they are sinners just like you. You are expected to extend God's grace and charity to others, to be forgiven your trespasses, as you forgive those who trespass against you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty on January 5, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I could be reasonably described as anti-evangelical, but this is starting to get ridiculous. The parsing of individual words as an evangelical dog whistle. Please. The guy has been as open about his religious views as someone can be. Why would he need to do this.
Posted by: vrk on January 5, 2008 at 5:51 PM

I agree. The concept of a "dog whistle" is that only certain people can hear or decipher the message. I'd argue that religious and secular people are both hearing this message reasonably clearly. This concept of "vertical" is nothing more than a relatively shopworn metaphor that's already been used before.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 5, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about getting vertical, but there are a number of people with whom I'd like to get horizontal.

Posted by: Anon on January 5, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Subprime" is bovine excrement. It's what we used to call "high risk." My, how the American language has dumbed down.

Posted by: raj on January 5, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Huckabee and his dim-witted adherents are actually on a parallel track with reality--never intersecting, but yet up is down.

Posted by: Sparko on January 5, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

OT, but sheer dynamite! To anyone who's followed Sibel Edmonds' long ordeal at the hands of the American "justice" system, it should be readily apparent that you can "take this one to the bank".

As for the unidentified "senior official" mentioned below, the name Bolton fairly leaps to mind. And, it emerges, several of our strident NeoConNazi warmongers have been burning the candle -- or more accurately, "fuse" -- at both ends:

For sale: West's deadly nuclear secrets
The Sunday Times (UK)

A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.

Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office. ...

Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan. ...

[Don't miss it! There's much more in the full story.]
.

Posted by: Poilu on January 6, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist, here is the latest Carbon Sequestration Newsletter:

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enjoy

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 6, 2008 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding "Vertical," I have tried to show that the horizontal, front/back axis of our bodies is just as valid a spiritual metaphor, and one much more in line with liberal values. The vertical, "Great Chain of Being" is inherently authoritarian, as George Lakoff has shown in "Moral Politics."

At http://www.metaself.org/index2.html I lay out a model of the self based on all three axes of the body and our many metaphors that use them. In the menu on the left, go to Tools and Resources, then Psycho-spiritual Tool.

Posted by: Peter Carleton on January 6, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Vertical is just another evangelical word for Rapture.

Of course, vertical goes both ways, up or down, so I'm placing my bet on the Rapturist evangelicals going down due to all the "hell" they've been giving everyone else.

That is, if one believes in that kind of stuff.

Posted by: The Oracle on January 6, 2008 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

i questioned a coworker of mine who i know is a huckabee supporter about the "vertical" thing. her response was that he is simply stressing the fact that his vertical relationship with god is more important than his horizontal relationships with man. she managed to do this in a way which said "you would have known that if you were going to a REAL church."

Posted by: navarro on January 6, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

All you have to do is Google "God vertical horizontal". You'll get nearly 150,000 dogs hits.

Posted by: bob5540 on January 6, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a Southern Baptist just like Huckabee and I've never heard the word "vertical" used in this way before. And, yes, I'm also a liberal. Never voted for a Republican in my life and never will.

Posted by: e. nonee moose on January 6, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Someone should ask him what tangent he's working on when he brings up this vertical crap. Are people always asking for his sine? Is he warding off the thetans? Is Jesus his cosine? What's the deal?

Posted by: bag on January 6, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

As an ex-evangelical, his phrase made sense to me the first time I heard it. It's just a simple 'let's look to Heaven'-type of comment. Nothing to do with the Rapture, and no explanation needed.

Posted by: stidham on January 6, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I am a Democrat. I hate Bush’s presidency. I hated the war in Iraq before we were involved and continue to. I think we are in deep sheet politically and economically due to the money wasted on this war. I believe we need a President who can get us out of it. I am not going to vote Democrat if Obama gets the nomination. Depending on the Republican nominee, I might vote Republican - because he could be less evil then Obama.

Change is a beautiful word that sounded very seductive when used by Obama, especially today considering the sheet that we are in. Without change, mankind would stand still. However it is only a seductive word at the moment. What we need right now is somebody who can and knows how to navigate us out of where we are and Obama is not this person. There were political leaders before that wanted change, but what they achieved was destruction - like in Russia &Iraq. Not all changes are good and it is extremely important when, where and how changes are implemented!
What is Obama’s position today in Kenya?

Posted by: an on January 6, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I grew up in a very conservative, evangelical, republican kind of church, and this didn't ring any bells for me. If it's a dog whistle, I don't think it's a very good one.

Posted by: Dave on January 6, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Aside from whatever you think of Huckabee himself, the "vertical" meme makes sense. Here's how I think it does: "horizontal" means comparing races, sects, classes etc against each other in competition. "Vertical" means looking at what's better versus what's worse for the national interest. It's a good way to frame the issues, albeit not all there is to our problems.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on January 6, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Another idea could be expressed something like: "We are all in this big fishbowl together, it's getting mighty filthy, so let's straighten it out or all the fish will die, little and small." Oops. "Fish" = "Jesus" I wonder if I've got ideological tinnitus...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 6, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I see from a clip on MTP that Huckabee used "vertical" during the debate last night, attaching a secular meaning: "politics that leads up . . ." I think he said.

What about the possibility that this dog-whistle--if, as I believe, it is a dog-whistle--works on three levels: (1) to seculars drawn to Huckabee's congenial optimism, for whom vertical simply means lifting people up, (2) moderate evangelicals familiar with mainstream Protestant teaching on vertical relationships with God, and (3) Jesus Camp warrior types accustomed to extremist teaching and preaching on the term vertical, as evidenced in the Laurel Highlands Presbyterian Church sermon linked first on TPM.

Just a thought.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 6, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

paxr55, I think you nailed it. His core constituency is (2) and unfortunately (3). He needs (1) to get anywhere.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 6, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Doc, thanks. Was reading this thread and comparing with the one over at Street Prophets and this occurred to me as a result. One possible interesting fallout in the event of an Obama-Huckabee contest is that mainstream Evangelicals will have to choose between Obama's brand of Christianity and Huck's. It'll be hard for them to choose Huck's when they ponder the crazies in the extremist camp and what it might mean for the country.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 6, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

paxr55, That's why I think a Huckabee nomination will ensure the Dems win in a big way. I don't think Huck can carry enough states outside of the South. The northern evangelicals will tilt toward Obama, the southern ones will go for Huck. But the secular vote will overwhelmingly go to Obama, IMO across party lines. Even if Hill or Edwards gets it. George Will in the WaPo today really razzed on Huckabee: "Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?"

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 6, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Vertical" was also a buzzword in the self-help business management literature at one point, where it was equally vacuous. I guess I'm not surprised to learn that for-profit Christian literature is as full of New Age, trendy buzz words as everything else.

Posted by: Jalmari on January 6, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you know what they say; Man is saved not by verticality alone, but by verticality along with a horizontal relation with others

I think it was Aquinas who said "Verticality without horizontals is dead."

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 6, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

The northern evangelicals will tilt toward Obama, the southern ones will go for Huck.

Oh, without a doubt. Obama (or Edwards) would trounce Huckabee in the general.

I was thinking out loud, though, about how these two candidates (Obama, Huck, and even Edwards), fluent in the language of faith, would affect Evangelical conversations about their values, their controversial role in presidential elections, etc.

It's not something we'll likely hear about out here in horizontal land, but I foresee some, ahem, soul searching among well-meaning Evangelicals who know they've been used and abused in the GOP's politics of hate and fear.

Anyway, it might present a historic opportunity for Dems to make some inroads among the foot soldiers in a now-ragged and dispirited GOP army.

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