“The creation of man whom God in His foreknowledge knew doomed to sin was the awful index of God’s omnipotence. For it would have been a thing of trifling and contemptible ease for Perfection to create mere perfection. To do so would, to speak truth, be not creation but extension. Separateness is identity and the only way for God to create, truly create, man was to make him separate from God Himself, and to be separate from God is to be sinful. The creation of evil is therefore the index of God’s glory and His power. That had to be so that the creation of good might be the index of man’s glory and power. But by God’s help. By His help and in His wisdom.” – Robert Penn Warren in All the King’s Men
After losing his first race for the governorship of Alabama because his opponent made him seem in favor of civil rights, the late George Wallace is quoted as saying that he’d never be “outniggered again.” Sometime in the last few weeks, Al Gore and his guys must have decided that they were in danger of being outgodded by the Republicans and that they weren’t going to wait until it happened before they did something about it.
Ecce Joe Lieberman! With Joe, who is the next thing to a certified rabbi, Al is able to show the voters that, if elected, he’d have what amounts to a clergyperson or political duenna posted in the Oval Office to make sure that no teenage blowjobs would be performed on the heaving body of this President. Is standing guard against cocksuckery in high places a waste of Vice Presidential time and talent? Probably not. Given that a previous Vice President had called his office a lukewarm pitcher of piss, and given that the think-tanking policy wonks all agree Vice Presidents have nothing to do, why not put the next one on anti-blowjob patrol?
Rabbi Joe’s selection confirms the arrival on the national stage of the Religious Left. Whether the Religious Left can successfully battle the Religious Right, however, is an open question. The Republicans have been in the God business for a very long time, in fact ever since their founding in the 1850’s. They know how to do it, and occasionally they’ve even managed to do it well. That has been trying enough at times, but now–egads!–we’ve got born-again liberals. I am tempted to leap up and cry, “God save us!” but I can’t, under the circumstances, think of a less felicitous ejaculation. (For younger readers, this last word is used in the sense of the fourth definition found in the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary .)
The Democrats, though they have often had religiously minded Presidential nominees–Bryan, Wilson, Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and, yes, Bill Clinton–have generally not worn their religion on their lapels. Bryan in 1896 et sequitur was an exception and he lost, then he lost again and then he lost again. Whether Bryan’s pulpit-pounding oratory had anything to do with his defeats, his gaseous flights of politico-religiosity couldn’t win for him. When they’ve won, the Democrats, if only because they have been too polyglot to chance putting God on the ticket, have left religious campaigning to the Republicans. They should have continued to do so. After all, they are the political party which believes in a homosexual “lifestyle,” abortion and lascivious mass entertainment, advanced ideas of self-realization through orgasm, etc., etc. With all their sexuo-cultural baggage they have continued to win their share of elections, perhaps because more people than you might suspect agree with them on these matters, or because they stand for other things which voters deem more important–or they did until the party got religion.
With the Religious Right and the Religious Left riding high on every TV station and Pat Buchanan doing his God-and-country routine, the only secular candidate left in the field is Ralph Nader. When you hear him, which is generally at 3 a.m. on an obscure cable channel, you don’t get blather on God and family values. Perhaps that’s because he’s not forced to cover up whom he’s taken money from and what he’s really for by graying out the landscape with God fog.
The politicians have slimed over everything with religion. There are days when you listen to these ginks and you wonder what office they’re running for. Are they running for President or Pope or Dalai Lama or Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church? Our politics have relapsed backward into the worst kind of 19th-century Bible-spouting, earsplitting bombast. The incessant clangor of tremulously proclaimed and loudly bellowed pieties from the righties were giving us enough splitting headaches without the lefties finding God and inflicting another kind of migraine on us.
Instead of consorting with movie stars while half of the West went up in flames, the Democrats might have found themselves a better Jewish nominee, one who might carry or convey something other than religious cant. Why not Russ Feingold, if we’re truly interested in campaign reform? Or if it wouldn’t turn the stomachs of the corporate interests that have purchased the party, what’s wrong with Paul Wellstone? Both these men appear to be as Jewish as the unremarkable Senator from Connecticut, but they do have the added disadvantage of standing for things we once associated with the Democratic Party.
Who the hell is going to vote for somebody because he promises not to perform lewd acts in the Oval Office? Enough of hammering us with vows to restore the dignity of the Presidency and enough of God on the stump. People who talk about how religious they are invite meditations on hypocrisy. People who repeatedly talk about how religious they are invite the idea that they are charlatans, cranks, crackpots and emotionally unsuitable for responsible jobs. It’s worse than “the vision thing,” which is a variation on the religion theme.
Those articles by political writers explaining that George W. Bush or Al Gore is trying to get a “vision” make me antsy. They make me think of a pubescent First Native American, as we say these days, out in the brush fasting and fainting until God comes to him in a dream and gives him his adult name. The more these guys talk religion, the more it seems they have something to hide. Perhaps it’s that, when they went out into the brush and sat on a rock for three days without food, God never came.
That may be a sign. “One nation under God,” the pledge says–and that may mean that we’re down here and God’s up there minding his own business and we should stop bothering him because he knows from nothing about the tax bill or performing bee-jays on V.I.P.’s and, anyway, he made us to operate the government on our own with but a modicum of pious, public yammering.
Running even ahead of God in this campaign are kids, moms and family values. Conceding that applehood and motherpie are seemingly intrinsic elements in the American political process, there comes a time when you hear these phrases repeated past meaninglessness, a time when you want to stick a finger down your throat and throw up. God and familyhood have been used past all decency, all taste and all purpose. You can only hope, perhaps forlornly, that the politicians who employ these hackneyed words and phrases with such remorseless crudity will lose votes and discredit themselves in the end. Let us pray–whoops!–another couple of months of this rolling barrage of hollow pieties and nobody will believe their crap.
Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this binge of religiosity is our learning that Joe Lieberman takes seriously the Biblical injunction to observe the Sabbath. The rest of us should follow his example. The country cannot adopt a more salubrious practice than to go home before sunset every Friday and pull the plugs for 24 hours. No phones, no faxes, no TV, no cyberations, no radio, no Walkman, no stereo, no MP3, no electronic devices of any kind. Pull the plug on all of ’em and for one rotation of the earth let us have quiet. No one under the age of 35 or 40 in the United States has had the experience of noiselessness–that is, one moment without music, religious pitch men, chatter, commercials, dune buggies, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc. Only You-Know-Who can say what might happen if Americans were to hear themselves think.