Hillary’s Political Faith and the Press

March 27, 2006

Can someone please explain why Hillary and Bill Clinton always get a pass from the secular left when they invoke God in their public discourse? Why is Dan Quayle ridiculed for championing family values while Hillary is glorified as a dutiful disciple of evangelist John Wesley?

Do the God-mocking among us doubt the Clintons’ sincerity and thus not perceive them to be a threat to their sacred church-state separation doctrine? Or could there be some other reason we don’t see hysterical editorials when the power couple mention Jesus Christ, as when Hillary recently dragged Him and the Good Samaritan into the immigration debate?

Why is no one calling Hillary an “American Taliban”? Why don’t the media pillory Hillary like they did John Ashcroft for saying, “We have no king but Jesus?” Shouldn’t someone step forward and ask, “Can a deeply religious person be president?” like Tony Mauro, then of USA Today, inquired concerning Ashcroft: “Can a deeply religious person be attorney general?”

In 1992, Bill Clinton likened his Republican opponents to the Pharisees and the “sanctimonious money-changers” of the New Testament. In 1996, he received a glowing tribute from the media for ranking “near the top of the list of presidents who have talked comfortably about religion” — as if, all of a sudden, they deemed that a good thing. That same year, Hillary received kudos for urging her party to reclaim the mantle of family values. (Memo to the short-term memory challenged: The libs’ nose-holding scramble to reconnect with “values voters” didn’t begin with their soul-searching group therapy in the aftermath of the 2004 election presidential election.)

Of course, the journalists praising the Clintons were the same ones who defended Hillary against those lampooning her quasi-seances with Eleanor Roosevelt and her dabbling in other New Age concepts, such as Michael Lerner’s “Politics of Meaning.”

Aren’t we witnessing a glaring double standard here? When the Clintons brandish the Bible, where is Maureen Dowd to warn of an impending theocracy? Why doesn’t the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne vilify Hillary for “the exploitation of strong religious feelings” and using “religion as a wedge issue” like he did George W. Bush after the 2004 election?

Do you remember when Hillary, during a speech in Albany, N.Y., in January 2005, suggested that “religious and moral values” were important in combating teenage sex? Or how about her speech that same month in Boston to the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation — a group that recommends faith-based remedies for gang criminality? There, after multiple references to God, including thanking Him for the Ten Point program and its workers, she said, “I’ve always been a praying person.”

Why didn’t anyone skewer her for that like they did President Bush for reportedly saying that when he was contemplating attacking Iraq he prayed “for the strength to do the Lord’s will?” Do these now-silent critics presume Hillary means something else by “praying”? Or do they excuse her because they believe she favors keeping religion a private matter?

Nice try, but Hillary has been quite clear on that point, too. At the Boston speech she said, “There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.” More pointedly, she said there must be room for religious people to “live out their faith in the public square.”

Also don’t forget the trio of spiritual advisers Bill Clinton surrounded himself with following his DNA-coerced confession of relations with “that woman.” Not to mention Clinton’s statement in a post-presidential sermon to his former fellow congregants at the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. that, ‘You cannot imagine the peace, the comfort, the (SET ITAL) strength (END ITAL) I have drawn from my Sundays here.” Hum, could he have been talking about the same kind of “strength” President Bush had in mind in his prayer concerning Iraq? Surely not, right? Liberals don’t cross that hallowed line.

I’ll not address the curious context of Hillary’s particular biblical references, as others have covered that subject well. But I will say that when certain famed liberal politicians, like Hillary and John Kerry, invoke Scripture, it seems transparently incongruous.

It’s as if they’re saying, “Look at me, Middle America, I am bilingual, too: I can talk Scripture as fluently as I can speak English, and I can interweave religion and politics as seamlessly as Roy Moore. So vote for me, Bible-thumpers.”

The next time the secular media crucifies a conservative politician for openly professing the relevance of faith in his public life, try to remember their refusal to inflict the same rhetorical punishment on those in their ideological camp — and ask yourself, “Why?”