The Truth, Mainly - 02/21/2000

Comic Relief not an Issue
by Leon Satterfield

In a NY Times column last week, Gail Collins called Donald Trump's quitting the presidential race "a terrible blow to the second-most-important function of a national election. Which is, of course, comic relief."

Donald's funny all right, but Ms. Collins needn't worry: there's going to be plenty of comic relief as long as George Dubya Bush is in the race.

Why is Dubya so funny? My take is that it's because-are you ready for this?-his campaign has been infiltrated by clandestine Democrat operatives fanatically dedicated to making Dubya look so silly that we wet ourselves.

Imagine the scene:

Clandestine Democrat Operative #1: "Let's see. South Carolina. How about we advise Dubya to wear a clown suit when he visits Strom Thurmond? That would look pretty silly."

Clandestine Democrat Operative #2: "Or even better, let's advise him to speak at Bob Jones University. That would look even sillier."

CDO #1: "Bob Jones University? The Buckle on the Bigotry Belt? Why would any presidential candidate speak there?"

CDO #2: "We'll tell him that Pat Robertson says it will win the Religious Right. Dubya will kiss a frog if Pat tells him it will win the Religious Right."

And the next thing we knew, there was John McLaughlin doing his Sunday afternoon TV rant.

Bob Jones University, he was yelling at the other panelists, is full of virulent anti-Catholic bigotry and everyone knows it. So why, running for president of a country where 65 million Catholics make up the single largest denomination, would Dubya kick off his South Carolina campaign there?

While he was hollering, he superimposed on the TV screen these lines from the Bob Jones University website:

"The Roman Church is not another Christian denomination. It is a satanic counterfeit, an ecclesiastic tyranny over the souls of men, not to bring them to salvation, but to hold them bound in sin and to hurl them into eternal damnation. It is the old harlot in the Book of Revelation, the mother of harlots."

Yeah, I had a hard time believing it too. So I checked out the BJU website and there it was-along with lots of other stuff by Bob Jones, the college founder, and his male progeny with names like Bob Jones Jr., Bob Jones III, and Bob Jones IV.

Bob Herbert reported in the NY Times that Bob Jones Jr. had written back in the 1980s that "all the popes are demon-possessed," and that "The papacy is the religion of the Antichrist and is a satanic system."

Had the school, Herbert asked a BJU spokesman, ever taken back such statements? The answer: "I don't believe so."

Bigotry at BJU isn't directed only at Catholics. Gays aren't even allowed on campus; in 1998 a gay grad was told he'd be arrested for trespassing if he ever visits his alma mater again.

And interracial dating is forbidden because, the spokesman said, "there is a held belief from way back in the institution that that was biblically wrong." In the good old days, it was never an issue because African-Americans weren't allowed to enroll, but that changed when the feds threatened to withhold funds.

And that is where the President's Son, the Governor of Texas, the holder of degrees from Yale and Harvard, decided to begin his South Carolina campaign.

It gave John McCain the chance to say that if he ever spoke at BJU, "I would condemn openly the policies of Bob Jones." He would, he says, say "Look, what you're doing in this ban on interracial dating is stupid, it's idiotic and it is incredibly cruel to many people."

And it gave Alan Keyes the chance ("while Mr. Bush looked skyward," according to the NY Times) to raise a leadership question in the Tuesday debate:

"Does leadership consist of going into Bob Jones University where serious questions, in fact, do exist about religious bigotry and racial bigotry? Going in, taking the applause, risking nothing because you refuse to raise the issue? That's what G. W. Bush did."

On last Sunday's "Meet the Press," Tim Russert confronted Dubya with another statement from Bob Jones III: President Reagan "broke his promise to us when he took on Mr. George Bush, a devil, for vice-president."

Dubya's reaction:"Well, you know, each of us change in life, and now he doesn't believe George Bush is a devil."

Russert: "Did he tell you that?"

Dubya: "No, but he would have told me that, I presume."

So there are lots of things to worry about in the campaign, but the likelihood it might lose its comic relief is not one of them. Not as long as Dubya's money holds out and those clandestine Democrat operatives are at work.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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