wright & wrong

By Diogenes (articles) | May 03, 2008

In his 1956 presidential campaign against Eisenhower, taxed with criticism from Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (the "Evangelist of Optimism"), Adlai Stevenson retorted: "Speaking as a Christian, I find the apostle Paul appealing and the apostle Peale appalling."

Stevenson's quip deserves to be remembered because it marks its author as the last Democratic presidential candidate to display accurate and unscripted acquaintance with a biblical author. He knew that Paul wasn't a Pollyanna.

In saying this I find myself in the unfamiliar position of agreeing with Lefties -- at least with those who argue that the flap concerning Senator Obama's preposterous "pastor" is captious and overblown. Like Hillary, Obama is an Ivy law grad. Like Hillary, Obama is a national-level Democratic pol. Of course they don't know what their parsons believe. How could they be expected to? Why would they care?

During the 2004 election cycle there was a mini-flap when candidate Howard Dean revealed that he left the Episcopal Church over a dispute about a bicycle path (he also maintained that the New Testament character he most admired was Job). And back in the early 1990s, Hillary herself -- after circumstances made it advantageous for her to remember she'd been a life-long Methodist -- told us that her favorite book of the bible was The Beatitudes. Embarrassing, briefly, but everyone understood the gambit. Her adopting a faith-life was a move no more momentous than her dumping the Cubs and donning a Yankees ball-cap prior to her New York senate run.

These are Democrats. They view Christians as nature's gammas. At their best, some ministers of religion may be regarded as useful idiots, beneficial for neutralizing the "values vote." To suggest that a Methodist clergyman had concrete influence on Hillary's political beliefs would be as ludicrous as claiming that Ernie Banks shaped her theology. By the same token, the contention that Senator Obama and the Reverend Wright share an interest beyond the politically advantageous disbursement of government monies is itself an exercise in cynicism.

For obvious reasons, Obama's political opponents are making maximum capital out of the wild pitches of his pastor-of-record. Detesting his positions as I do, I hardly regret the damage done to the momentum of Obama's campaign. But it's a mistake to confuse political expedience with the facts of the case. You want to know what a progressive Democrat believes as a matter of spiritual conviction? Find out what pop music he listened to in high school.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.