Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 11:46 pm
Ellis Henican: 'A party that's beyond belief'
Thursday, January 20 @ 10:13:06 EST
Ellis Henican, Newsday
The Party of God is now fully in charge of the City of Earthly Advantage, and the faith-based finger-pointing has only begun
It's another four years for a leader who considers himself as God's own prophet, a man who says he can't even imagine someone serving in the White House "without a relationship with the Lord." Like it or not, we have a president who just convinced half a nation that Republicans and Republicans alone have a clear-channel, exclusive pipeline to God.
And he's not stopping now.
Even yesterday, George W. Bush stood at dusk on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument, and he previewed an inaugural address studded with allusions to the divine.
"We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom, and America will always be faithful to that cause," he said to the shivering crowd, again invoking the Almighty in support of worldly political goals.
It's the same thing that the Rev. Jerry Falwell was driving during last year's campaign. Jesus, Falwell was certain, had officially endorsed Bush.
"For conservative people of faith," the politically powerful reverend said, "voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush. The alternative, in my mind, is simply unthinkable."
Here's a little more: "I believe it is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush."
Get used to it. And don't think it didn't help Bush.
He's a president who doesn't just wear his religion on his sleeve. He stuffs some in his boots, puts more in his pockets and always has extra to spare.
But as his big day arrives - his first clean-shot inaugural, the swearing-in outside the Capitol, the big parade to the White House - a vicious wind is blowing up Pennsylvania Avenue. Snow and ice are everywhere. You have any idea what slush like this can do to a pair of Tony Lamas?
Maybe that's what the Democrats meant when they said Bush would get four more years "when hell freezes over." Looking around this locked-down capital yesterday - well, who could say it hadn't?
David Domke is a professor from the University of Washington. He's been busy counting all the times Bush has been mentioning a higher power in the speeches he gives. It was 10 in his first inaugural address and another 14 in his three State of the Unions for a first-term average of six references per speech. That easily beats Ronald Reagan's 4.75. Even Jimmy Carter, famous for his piety, managed only two mentions of God in four trips to the big podium. Franklin Delano Roosevelt at 1.69 and Lyndon Johnson at 1.50 bring up the rear among God-citing modern presidents.
But it isn't just the numbers, Domke says. There's something different about the way Bush cites God.
"It's one thing to state that there is a God and that Americans should listen to Him, which is what presidents have generally done," Domke said. "In contrast, Bush speaks as if he knows exactly what God wants."
And the confidence that brings may be part of the problem here as this second term begins.
But that'll have to wait one more day. Last night, the Bushes, George and Laura, were busy dancin' with the ones that brung 'em here: Three candlelight dinners for donors who contributed $100,000 or more for the inauguration and then Texas State Society's "Black Tie and Boots Ball."
All of it is following a sprinkled-with-religion Bush-populism theme, geared to the kind of populists who believe in giving money to Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Defense - not taking money away from them.
But while the tanked-up donors had their inaugural fun around town, a scarier presentation was under way on Ninth Street at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. It was the Republican National Committee having its 2005 Winter Meeting.
The star of that show was Ken Mehlman. It was Mehlman who ran the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, and yesterday he got his earthly reward, the party chairmanship.
To repeated thunders of applause, Mehlman vowed to round up enough gun owners, right-to-lifers and religious conservatives to create "a durable majority" that will keep Republicans in power for decades and decades to come.
"We can deepen the GOP by identifying and turning out Americans who vote for president but who often miss off-year elections and agree with our work on behalf of a culture of life, our promoting marriage, and a belief in our Second Amendment heritage," Mehlman said.
Say amen to that.
If this doesn't scare you, nothing will.
Reprinted from Newsday:
"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac
"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."
~Harry S. Truman