Hillary Clinton's quick out-of-the-gate start has put her way out in front of her fellow Democrats in "the hunt for the great American Catholic voter of 2008," writes New York Observer columnist E.J. Kessler.
Bringing Jesus into her criticism of the Republican-passed bill in the House of Representatives that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally, and make it a crime to aid an illegal immigrant, Mrs. Clinton said, "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because the bill would literally criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
Back when she had the power in 1994, however, the Scriptures didn't seem to stop Hillary from devising a health-care scheme that would "literally criminalize" the behavior of patients and physicians who dared to operate outside the dictates of her master plan, with fines up to $10,000 and prison terms up to 10 years "for each instance."
A physician who ordered a few extra X-rays for a patient he considered to be particularly at risk, X-rays not authorized under Hillary's one-size-fits-all model, could well have found himself behind bars, not exactly the way one would think a good Samaritan doctor should be treated for going a bit outside the lines in order to help a patient.
In any case, today's Mrs. Clinton, speaking more of salvation than incarceration, has aimed her faith-based arrows at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, and other GOP leaders, stating, "It is hard to believe that a Republican leadership that is constantly talking about values and about faith would put forth such a mean-spirited piece of legislation."
Seeking additionally to build up her religious and "pro-family" credentials, Mrs. Clinton recently threw caution to the wind and got in bed with "man-on-dog" Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, described by Kessler as "the Senate's two most conservative Catholics," to push for a bill that'll have the government delving into the purportedly evil effects of the electronic media on kids.
True, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" won the Oscar this year for best original song, understandably a tune that causes jitters in some circles. But there's something even scarier about Rick and Hillary teaming up to launch a government-directed investigation into which music, TV programs, and movies are allegedly harmful to human development or insufficiently helpful in advancing the civic good.
That sounds too much like how things ended up in China, where for purity and the collective good the Maoists fired up the book-burning apparatus and record-smashing machines in order to destroy anything that didn't fit into the central plan. In the Maoist model, the rightful function of music, books, and the performing arts is to increase productivity, downgrade individualism, and promote collectivism.
Nonetheless, Kessler sees Hillary hitting all the right religious buttons: "Unlike most Democrats, she sounds sincere when she employs Jesus language." Even husband Bill, writes Kessler, can be employed to enhance Hillary's religiosity: "Once upon a time a follower of an evangelical denomination -- a Baptist named Bill Clinton -- begged her to marry him."
Add some conciliatory and less-liberal language on abortion and gay marriage -- plus some "pro-family" tinkering, like her bill to make cars safer for children -- and Kessler views Mrs. Clinton, "one of the most overtly Christian politicians in the country," as the Democrats' best shot in recapturing the nation's so-called values voters. "Count on this: With Catholics and other faith-based voters, Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat best positioned to speak to their issues."
IN OTHER FAITH-BASED POLITICAL news, it looks like Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed may have joined the ranks of televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.
Reed's 1998 e-mail to mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- "I need to start humping in some corporate accounts," reports Salon's Michael Scherer -- set the stage for Reed to rake in more than $4 million from Abramoff's clients, including casino-operating Indian tribes.
"Reed worked, as he put it in one e-mail, to get 'our pastors all riled up' -- organizing his unwitting followers to oppose gambling regulations and new casinos that would have competed with Abramoff's clients," reports Scherer.
Explained Abramoff's partner Michael Scanlon to one Indian tribe: "We want to bring out the wackos to vote against something. The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the Internet and telephone trees."
The lesson, on all sides: Be very skeptical.
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