- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

This campaign has not been kind to God.

Joe Lieberman continues to give Jews, or at least Orthodox Jews, a bad name. Bill Clinton, the sorcerer in chief, and his apprentice Al Gore have brought more shame to the Baptist persuasion than any deep-water believer since Lizzie Borden, and all the returns aren't even in yet.

Al's contempt for Buddhists, using their temples as places to scarf up loose C-notes from unsuspecting nuns, is well known, but Democratic contempt for religious faith isn't restricted to the exotic minority denominations.

Worst of all, perhaps, the Democrats, who long ago wrote off white evangelical Christians as beyond hope and grace, treat black congregations as both convenient and quaint, something out of Mississippi Delta blackface minstrelsy (" … it's Silas Green from New Orleeens … "). Just give Ol' Black Joe a pat on his old white head and send him out to vote early and often.

The double standard Democrats use to judge the religious faith of others is well known, of course, but The Washington Post's celebrated put-down of white evangelical Christians ("poor, uneducated and easy to command") is invoked as well by liberal Democratic politicians trolling for votes among black Christians.

The president's performance at black churches over the weekend was typically shameless. Bill Clinton wouldn't dream of turning a Sunday morning worship service into a vulgar political rally at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock (or at Hillary's fashionable Foundry Methodist Church in Washington), and if he did he would risk not being welcomed back. Neither would Al, who first got religion at a little Baptist chapel in Tennessee and studied theology at Vanderbilt's stiff and proper divinity school. In their own churches they reserve the Lord's house for the celebration of faith, not a pep rally for sordid candidates to grub for votes and money.

The photographs of the president's pious pose, his hands folded as if in prayer while lifting his eyes heavenward (or at least ceilingward), was enough to make Al ask, as he tells us he often does, "what would Jesus do?" (Weep, probably.) The juxtaposition of the photograph of presidential "piety" to the photograph of the president on the cover of Esquire magazine Monica's view of the president said everything about Bill Clinton and what he thinks of the office and what he thinks of the people who honored him with it twice. In your face, America.

There's no mystery about why Al and Tipper have embarked, at the beginning of the last week of the campaign, on their Magical Mystery Kissing, Caressing, Cuddling and Snuggling Tour of the Heartland. An open-mouth kiss in East Lansing, a big wet one in Muskegon, a hug and a hickey in Fond du Lac by the time they get to Portland this morning wary staffers will be trying to find screens to throw around them if the passion slips beyond kissing toward bundling and worse (or better). You could never catch Bill behaving with Hillary like this, and Al wants to make sure America gets it.

But the Jimmy Swaggart Chair in Exploitative Theology goes this year to Joe Lieberman. Just when everyone from the Anti-Defamation League to the Lost Creek Association of Faith Healers and Snake Handlers was getting over the retching and gagging at Joe's performance on the stump following the Democratic National Convention, with his clumsy imitation of Elmer Gantry's invitation for sinners to hit the sawdust trail, Joe shows up at Notre Dame to preach a sermon about the need to tolerate religious folk.

Joe's message was a good one, and a needed one: "We have practically banished religious values and religious institutions from the public square and constructed a 'discomfort zone' for even discussing our faith in public settings, ironically making religion one of the few remaining socially acceptable targets of intolerance."

True enough, but no one is willing now to hear Joe say any of these things, so craven has he become to pander to the unholy needs of the patron who put him on the ticket. Even The Washington Post throws up: " … the Joe Lieberman introduced to the American people in Tennessee is not the Democratic vice presidential candidate now on the campaign trail. Sen. Lieberman's earlier champions have to swallow deeply as they watched him waffle on tort reform, affirmative action, school vouchers, Hollywood and Social Security privatization issues on which he had shown a refreshing willingness to stand up for what he believes."

When he was questioned closely by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," Joe denied everything, showing that he learned from the two Sunday-school boys in the White House: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes and ears?"

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