- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

Lord knows a conscientious man doesn't have a prayer of casting a responsible vote this year.

So much good will abounds that men of steady purpose, steely conviction and unbending rectitude are pushed in all directions at once.

So many saints, so little time.

Thousands of Republicans are still in insulin shock, having consumed more sugar in Philadelphia than Hershey can wrap around all those nuts in a year. So many folks have been inclusified that soon there won't be any infidels left.

Churches, if Democrats may use the term this year, are full of voters who haven't been so confused about such an important decision since the last time they voted to call a pastor.

Joe Lieberman may never make it to the White House, even through the back door reserved for vice presidents, but if Billy Graham hasn't settled on who he wants to succeed him as national chaplain he might consider good old Joe. This man can preach. The only thing missing when Al introduced him in Nashville was the swell of the mighty Wurlitzer, the scent of sawdust and a rousing chorus of "Just As I Am."

Some of us were getting a little giddy about the prospect of voting for Al Gore, since that would make two Baptist boys in a row. We hadn't had a Baptist in the White House since Harry Truman, and Bill Clinton has been a role model a godsend, you might not say for the nation's children. We might never get another chance like this for three full terms of dissing dancing, drinking beer and chasing girls.

But the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who ought to know, reminded us in Philadelphia (where the gays were on the podium and the Christians were in the closet) that a convention is not a church. We thought that freed us to vote for George W. after all, since we haven't had a Methodist in the White House since William McKinley in 1896, if you don't count Miss Hillary (and John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church but never actually put aside Anglican respectability himself, probably wouldn't). Depending on what the meaning of millennium is, that's already from a previous millennium. Voting for another Baptist suddenly seemed like a selfish thing to do.

Then along came Joe Lieberman, and we're more or less told that if we don't vote for Al the Baptist so Joe the Jew can be the vice president we're a bunch of anti-Semites, bigots and redneck yahoos. But since my two grandchildren are half Jewish each is quarter Jewish, and that adds up to a half it might not pass the good-citizenship test for me to cast a vote on such personal and parochial, so to speak, grounds.

We must search for Talmudic wisdom on this. Joe Lieberman could no doubt shed light, but it would be just my luck to find him on Saturday when he couldn't touch the light switch. Now we learn that Dick Cheney is a Methodist, too. Do two Methodists outweigh one Jew? Since Hillary dragged Bill off to the Methodist church on most Sundays, where he could count on a fashionable preacher telling him that he and Monica hadn't really been such scamps and cut-ups as all that, is it really fair to apply the William McKinley test to George W.'s claim?

We'll all be going to divinity school over the next three months, learning from the great media theologians of the day the differences between Al's deep-water baptism and the modest Methodist sprinkle jobs applied to George W. and his sidekick Dick, and what's kosher about Joe and what's not. We'll also learn whether Joe is up to the usual tasks of slashing, gouging and kicking expected of vice-presidential candidates.

He got a rabbinical lesson yesterday in being slow to take insult, even repeated insult. Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, appeared to have taken his text from the New Testament, preaching the Christ-like example of turning the other cheek, at least to the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He rebuked the president of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP for dissing Joe as a Jew whose interest "primarily has to do with … money and those kind of things," and cited Mr. Jackson as the moral authority for the rebuke. This is the same Jesse Jackson who hangs out with Louis Farrakhan and who disdained New York City as "Hymietown," inhabited mostly by "Hymies," but who now poses as the czar of religious tolerance, saying nice things about good old Joe (if not necessarily nice things about the "Hymies").

The Washington Post, which is no doubt expert in these things since it once described evangelical Christians as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command," naturally doesn't quite know what to make of a Democratic ticket with not one but two candidates with a profound fear of God. So yesterday it sneered at the sincerity of George W.'s profession of his faith in Christ. Well, of course it would.

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