If Jesus Saves, Then He Better Save Himself ...

Does anyone really care whether Newt Gingrich asked for an open marriage from his second wife? (He wanted permission to cavort with his mistress. His second wife said no, so Newt dumped her to make the mistress wife number three.) Just call Newt the Henry the Eighth of American politics.

Does anyone really care whether Willard the Wealthy releases his tax returns? Yes, Mitt Romney is worth a quarter of a billion dollars or more. Yes, he refuses to release his tax returns. Yes, he’s an odd Mormon duck with the charisma of Joseph Smith’s shovel. Just call Willard the Wealthy another plutocrat on the make.

Does anyone really care whether Barack Obama releases, or otherwise permits the release, of his long-form birth certificate, yielding the name of the physician who delivered him in Hawaii oh, so long ago. Why Obama is not a “natural born citizen”, and therefore not fit to be president. Just call him our Alien in Chief.

These are stupid issues, and yet, they are the stuff which fuels our passions and may well decide elections for all sorts of people. Politics is passion. And when there aren’t clear policy options, then by all means focus on issues susceptible to quick and easy symbolism.

Gingrich is a philandering creep. Romney is a lying plutocrat. Obama is a one-man sleeper cell for parties unknown.

Give me a break.

I live in the former Puritan playground otherwise known as New England. We’ve long since lost our place atop the moral pyramid in the United States. Those in the deep South who bang the life out of their Bibles are today’s new Puritans. They know Jesus saves. God Loves us. And unless you are saved you can neither balance a budget, command the military are do much of anything. So the Republican presidential candidates spare no effort to look and sound appealing to the religious right. Just how dumbed down must our political narrative become to assure success in politics?

I think it was the the Apostle Paul who told us “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” If there is a lessen in there, I suspect it has something to do with a sense of humility, a recognition that we’re all a whole lot less righteous than we pretend to be. Folks making visions of righteousness the standard for political office are more than a little creepy. Hence my regard for Rick Santorum, the Grand Inquisitor’s candidate for the White House: crown him with thorns, I say, and then anoint him Pope of North America. Just keep him out of the White House.

And did I just hear that stumblebum from Texas, Rick Perry, withdraw from the race, endorse Newt Gingrich, and then say we can all seek forgiveness and redemption if we but pray for it? This nitwit cannot disappear fast enough: Get thee behind us, Perry.

We get the government we deserve. Judging from what is passing for political discourse in this year’s presidential race to date, we do not deserve much. One in six children live in poverty. Millions of Americans have lost their homes. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Our economy is non-competitive, the prisons are filled, and we are at war without end in a world one step removed from economic catastrophe. These are real issues. So quick, everyone, stick your head in a hymnal and avoid looking at the issues.

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt coined an excellent phrase in describing the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem for his role in the Nazi’s attempt to exterminate Jews. This monster looked so ordinary; evil was just another day in the office. Is it time to coin a new term, “the banality of goodness”? The moral posturing of the right trivializes the powerful claims of faith and the hard work of virtue. Jesus may save; he doesn’t balance the budget.

Watching the scrambling and posturing for the conservative block of Republicans by the presidential candidates brings to mind a classic line from the rock band Jethro Tull: “If Jesus saves, then he better save himself....” Amen, I say.

Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.


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