A Pity Obamas Faith Does Not Influence His Liberal Policies

Daily Mail (London), May 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

A Pity Obamas Faith Does Not Influence His Liberal Policies


Byline: RONAN MULLEN

HILLARY Clintons 1996 book on children and community values wasmemorably recalled in a Dayton Daily News cartoon last week. The drawing showsClinton clinging grimly to the Hillary for President podium even as severalparty activists struggle, tug-o-war style, to pull her away.

Shes right, pants an elder. It takes a village.

The events of recent weeks tell us, if we didnt know it already, that theformer First Lady is tenacious. Even though the game is up, she vows tocontinue on, insisting that she is the best qualified to unite the DemocraticParty in the November election.

Tenacity is normally seen as a virtue. Only those who fight on, through thickand thin, have the toughness to lead a country.

As a political virtue, however, toughness has been tarnishedby George W. Bush. His dogged determination, first to go to war in Iraq, andthen to stay the pace, has now lost favour with Americans. His approval ratingsare at an all-time low of 27 per cent.

The other problem with tenacity is that it can tip over into ruthlessness.

Hillary dismayed many when she talked up her support among working,hard-working Americans, white Americansa comment that appeared to play on race issues by equating hard-workingAmericans with white Americans.

Obama is just as bad. He will stop at nothing to convince people whose views heholds in contempt that he is the candidate who represents their views. A fewweeks ago, he slipped up by referring to small-town Americans who cling to gunsor religion or antipathy to people who arent like them. Since then, he has beentalking up his Christian credentialspartly as a response to rumours that hes a Muslim.

Leaflets distributed in Kentucky show Obama under the heading CommittedChristian. Another leaflet dubs him a Christian Leader. Best of all is theleaflet which shows him speaking from a pulpit with a cross behind him. Faith.Hope. Change, reads the heading.

The people who basked in the idea that the only thing wrong with Americanpolitics was the Republican Party and their obsessions with guns, God and thehigh moral ground, should now be smelling the coffee.

American politics is wonderful in some ways, truly appalling in others. On theplus side, the U.S. has a fascinating system of checks and balances to preventstates with larger populations from completely dominating smaller ones. Withineach state, too, the institutions of democracy are strong, with all but one ofthe 50 states having both a senate and a house of representatives, not tomention the offices of governor and various other officers whom people elect.

There is a high degree of interest in elections, and a strong sense of thegreatness of Americas democratic institutions.

Among the downsides are the influence of money on politics but, moresignificantly, the low level of political debate and high levels of hostilitythat now characterise elections. It shouldnt be about whether Barack Obama is asincere Christian or whether Hillary Clinton is more attractive to whitevoters. An honourable politics would steer clear of these issues. Butpoliticians and party handlers are ready to say and do whatever it takes to winelections.

With Obama, Americans are getting the worst of all worlds. They hear theChristian rhetoric spun out to attract devout voters. He does a lot of talk ofbringing people together and binding up wounds. But there is no commitment tovalues rooted in Christianity, which is what voters of all faiths and noneshould be interested in. When he was an Illinois State senator he opposedlegislation to protect babies who survived late-term abortions. He did notaccept, he said, that these babies, fully outside their mothers wombs, withbeating hearts and functioning lungs, were persons in the eyes of the law.

ITS bad enough that religious faith should be exploited in an electioncampaign. This politicises faith, damages the reputations of believers andturns people away from spirituality.

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