dubya and the bible bashers

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    In Exodus, the Ninth Commandment admonishes, “Thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor.” God wasn’t joking around there. But time and again, Bush and Rove have relied on repugnant lies to discredit their opponents. In the final days of the Texas governor’s race in 1994, barroom rumors swirled that Governor Ann Richards was a lesbian, and that she had appointed “avowed homosexuals” to her administration. Those rumors were lies, but Bush won the race.

    In 2000, Bush squared off against John McCain in the hotly contested Republican presidential primary in South Carolina. Rather than go one on one with the war hero and popular pol, Bush let shady henchmen do his dirty work for him. In the final days before the showdown, Bush supporters waged whisper campaigns and distributed parking-lot handouts spreading the vilest of lies: that McCain was mentally unfit to serve after his long captivity in Vietnam; that his wife was a drug addict; that the senator had fathered a black daughter with a prostitute.

    Bush won that race, too.

    Little has changed this time around. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth emerged this summer to attack John Kerry’s admirable military service in Vietnam, veteran observers of past Bush campaigns immediately recognized Karl Rove’s handiwork. And with less than a month to go until November, the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group abruptly preempted regularly scheduled television programming to air a propaganda film that denigrates Kerry’s war record. The media markets affected by this decision just happen to be in swing states.

    Just how low will George W. Bush stoop for a victory?

    For most candidates running for office, foul play is par for the course. But Bush is not like most other candidates. If he is a Christian, he is called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a beacon of goodness and righteousness in a society havocked by moral depravity. In late May, Bush said as much to a group of Christian media players during a rare unscripted interview.

    “I think a person's faith helps keep perspective in the midst of noise, pressure, sound -- all the stuff that goes on in Washington … ,” he explained. “It is one of the prayers I ask is that God's light shines through me as best as possible, no matter how opaque the window … .

    “I'm in a world of … fakery and obfuscation, political back shots, and so I'm very mindful about the proper use of faith in this process And you can't fake your faith, nor can you use your faith as a shallow attempt to garner votes, otherwise you will receive the ultimate condemnation.” (emphasis added)

    You can't, that is, if "ultimate condemnation" is your real concern. For the purposes of winning elections, it seems to do just fine.

    Ayelish McGarvey is a Prospect writing fellow.
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