Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush Uses Mandate to...Anger Christians?

Christians, usually the first to get used, and the last to know. They represent a goldmine of unending faith and energy which leaders have tapped in to for 2000 years. Need a war? Make it a crusade. Need followership? Threaten with hell. Need money? Play on their fears. Lately Republicans have schrewdly tapped into this jet stream of zealousness to deny but with President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers a storm is brewing from the Christian right.
What are they so upset about?

Before I get into that--full disclosure--I am sympathetic to those Christians who voted for Bush and hoping for some radical religious change in this country. Five years later they have Vietnam Part 2 (Iraq), a huge deficit, high gas prices, inept government agencies, and now a blown opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court bench. These Christians are fodder for their inept ministers--of which Bush is the head--trying desperately to be taken seriously in a world that left them behind 100 years ago.

Bush will never be accused of being logical, and this time he has managed to both anger conservatives and baffle Democrats by picking Harriet Miers to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In the process the president also officially ruined the life of Alberto Gonzalez, whom he joked about nominating, and did not. Meirs' defining characteristics are that she is from Texas and that she worked for Bush.

Liberals are complaining of cronyism.

Conservatives have much more to be angry about.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and long-time Bush supporter, wrote that he is "disappointed, depressed, and demoralized."

David Frum had this to say in National Review--a conservative stronghold: "There is no reason at all to believe that she is a legal conservative."

This is the president who ran on a platform that he would nominate judges in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, known as the two most conservative justices on the bench. One justice, O'Connor, retired. Another, Rehnquist, passed away shortly after that. This was answered prayers to Christians. O'Connor was a moderate, Rehnquist was a moderate conservative. Their vacancies left two openings, Christians eagerly awaited the Thomas or Scilia-like nominations from the White House.

First came Roberts, probably a moderate. He was happily confirmed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Now Meirs, a woman Democrat Harry Reid actually recommended to the president! Many are already comparing her to the moderate O'Connor.

So, for all the effort, Christians who elected Bush for this very reason have gained....nothing. Probably less than nothing. There is also the tendency for judges, once they are on the bench to move to the left. This is probably because--unlike politicians like President Bush or Tom DeLay, Justices are appointed for life. There is no motivation to work off the fears of the masses for re-election. So, if history is any guide, these already moderate choices will probably drift left.

Of course, this pattern of using Christians is hardly anything new. The Catholic Chuch kept the Bible in Latin for hundreds of years while Christians toiled in fields. Christianity fought against science for hundreds of years until it rendered itself ineffectual while science cured diseases and improved quality of life. And today many Christians are still in the dark, with the help from ministers, televangelists, and politicians. They are busy toiling the fields while those they keep in leadership keep them in the dark.

Bush asks conservatives to trust him and his nominees. Is there any reason to think that this isn't business as usual? Tom DeLay can barely go a few months without being censured or--now--indicted. Pat Robertson and other televangelists have collected millions of dollars from people in the name of irrational fears. Millions of Christians happily piled into their Church’s busses, drove to the voting booths, and elected a guy who promised to change the Supreme Court bench if given the chance. He has broken every other promise he has given. It is time to stop having faith, and start looking at the facts.

If I were a Christian who had voted for Bush, I'd feel pretty stupid. In fact, that is how I felt about two years ago, before any of this. How much will Bush's Christians supporters put up with? Republicans have made fools out of them and abused their trust. Probably not unlike other Christian leaders they're involved with.

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