A FUND-RAISING LETTER from James Carville, Rasputin to the Clintonov Dynasty, shows that as this administration and its supporters grow increasingly desperate, they are resorting to a tried-and-true tactic --- savaging conservative Christians.
In the appeal from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Carville allows, "I like to think of myself as a warm and caring human being." Those are the very words that spring to mind in any discussion of James Carville, just as "sincerity" and "integrity" are intimately associated with his boss, the president.
To demonstrate his compassion, the architect of Clinton's electoral triumphs launches into a five-page rant on the Christian Coalition, "a tightly-organized and lavishly financed right-wing group," which, Carville cautions, has taken over the GOP and set its sights on the nation.
"We're the folks who stand between these ambitious preacher-politicians and the political power they crave," the solicitation exhorts. If Republicans achieve a veto-proof Senate this year, they will "be in a position to pay off, with interest, the enormous political debt they owe to the religious right-wing."
After the legions of piety win political power through their Trojan elephant, "they will do to the country what they have done to the Republican Party," Carville writes.
This slime-slinging is vintage Carville and reflects liberal disdain for those who take religion seriously. Just a few weeks ago, Carville characterized special prosecutor Ken Starr as a psalm-singing nut case who "goes down by the Potomac and listens to hymns," while praying that "all Sodomites and fornicators" be cleansed from the capital.
Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal called W. Hickman Ewing Jr. of Starr's office a "religious fanatic." Ewing's fanaticism consists of being a born-again Christian and a churchgoer. Blumenthal apologized after 53 congressmen signed a letter to Clinton demanding the president repudiate his remarks.
And then there's Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, a major Democratic donor. He's angry at the Southern Baptist Convention for its boycott of his company -- an action prompted by Disney's persistent attacks on traditional values ("Ellen," etc.).
Interviewed on "The Today Show," Eisner noted that the boycott passed at the same convention where the Baptists renewed their commitment to proselytizing Jews. That, said Eisner, is "something that hasn't been recommended since the ‘40s in Europe."
What happened in Europe in that decade wasn't an effort to convert Jews but to annihilate them. The Disney head creates a fantastic equation -- the boycott equals proselytizing equals genocide. Eisner neglected to tell us whether the Baptists are an evangelical Waffen SS or Death Head Brigade.
The natives are restless, Bawana. The drums, beating on the left, are speaking: Religious conservatives evil, want to shred Constitution, trample Bill of Rights, abolish civil liberties and establish oppressive patriarchy over lives and bodies of women.
Eisner, Blumenthal, Carville -- take a few deep breaths. If you believe this trash, you're weak-minded. If you don't, and are spreading anti-religious hysteria for political advantage, you are beneath contempt.
Yes, the Christian Coalition is scary. Its legislative program includes passage of the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act to punish countries that oppress Christians, ending the marriage tax penalty and support for school-choice experiments like the District of Columbia Student Opportunity Scholarship Act (recently vetoed by the president), which would have provided tuition grants for 2,000 students from poor families.
Now, it's quite possible that Carville and his master consider this an extremist agenda, legislated virtue and the moral equivalent of theocracy. For significant majorities of the American people, these proposals all seem fair, commonsensical and necessary.
In truth, the Coalition, Southern Baptists and other religious conservatives have more controversial goals, including an end to abortion on demand, opposition to gay rights legislation and equality for religious expression in the public sphere.
Democrats are perfectly free to disagree with them, to argue against their program, to attempt to refute their positions.
Come to think of it, the First Amendment even allows them to lie about, slander and demonize religious conservatives -- an option of which liberals avail themselves with increasing frequency. But, in so doing, they demonstrate the honesty and decency of a James Carville.
© 1998, Dist. by Creators Syndicate. Reprinted by permission.