My editor here at Forward Progressives has encouraged me to limit articles on punditry and focus more on the issues, especially given we are coming into a presidential election, and highlight things that matter. When presented with the theme for this article, he gave it a green light. Why? Because conservative politicians, politicians who are most likely running for president, are staying silent when their own media “talent” engages in baseless and vile attacks on President Obama. With their silence, they imply their agreement and support for such attacks.
By now, everyone knows what Rudy Giuliani said last week at an event for Wisconsin governor, and probable presidential candidate, Scott Walker, about President Obama’s patriotism. Giuliani is not a pundit; he is the former mayor of New York, and a failed presidential candidate. And Scott Walker refuses to decry Giuliani’s statement. When asked if he thought the ex-mayor crossed a line with his comments about the president, Walker responded “No.” Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
I’ve said repeatedly that (Giuliani) can speak for himself. The president can defend that.
Giuliani’s statements have emboldened conservatives. Suddenly, we’re back to 2007, when every right-winger attacked then-Senator Obama about his “otherness.” Although Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and was raised by a grandfather who fought in WWII, and a grandmother who worked in a munitions factory during the same war, something about him inspired (and still inspires) attacks about his love of America. And his religious beliefs.
Scott Walker was also asked if he believes President Obama is a Christian, to which he responded “I don’t know.” Erick Erickson, former CNN contributor, and founder of the right-wing blog, Red State, took it quite a few steps further. Erickson Tweeted:
I don’t think Barack Obama is a Christian. He certainly is not one in any meaningful way.
Not one conservative politician has condemned Erickson’s comment. Not Mike Huckabee, not Bobby Jindal, not Newt Gingrich, not Michele Bachmann, not Sarah Palin, and certainly, not Scott Walker. These are all people who might run for president, and they are staying mum on this attack on President Obama’s Christianity. Which is odd, because every conservative thinks they are an expert on the Constitution, the document that comes a close second to the Bible in its’ holiness. And according to the Constitution, it doesn’t matter what religion the president is, or is not.
Article 6 of the United States Constitution deals with debts, supremacy, and oaths:
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
It’s that last sentence to which we draw our attention. Bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall every be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
During the 2012 presidential election, Pew Research conducted a poll of Louisiana voters. One of the questions posed was “How much does it matter that a candidate shares your religious beliefs?” The results were quite telling. If you’ll recall, Rick Santorum won the Louisiana primary, beating Mitt Romney by 22 points. Among the folks who supported Santorum, 57% said it mattered a great deal or somewhat that Santorum’s religious beliefs matched their own. Those same voters most likely consider themselves “Constitutional Conservatives,” a phrase repeated time and time again to describe why the right-wing loves America more than the rest of us.
But in the Constitution, the document conservatives claim to love, the document most of them use as a battering ram whenever someone mentions gun laws, the document containing the First Amendment so many conservatives believe only applies to them, says religion doesn’t matter when it comes to public office. Michael Medved, who is most definitely not a liberal, wrote an oped for USA Today in 2012, praising Article 6. From the piece:
The ugliest byproduct of this year’s protracted struggle for the Republican presidential nomination involves the unwelcome return of the discredited, dangerous old idea of imposing religious tests on candidates for public office.
Medved cites the Pew Research poll, then writes:
There’s an obvious irony to this situation: Many of those same social conservatives who claim to revere the plain text of the Constitution seem determined to ignore its prohibition on religious tests for federal office.
You cannot prohibit someone from being elected to public office based on their beliefs, or lack thereof. But Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, all have provisions in their state constitutions, demanding anyone who is elected swear their belief in God. Which violates the United States Constitution.
President Obama is a Christian. But he could be a Wiccan, a Pagan, an Atheist, a Satanist, an Agnostic, a Buddhist, or he could worship the 1966 Corvette, and it wouldn’t matter. According to the document upon which this country was founded, no religious test is required to run for, or be elected to, public office. But according to Erick Erickson, Rudy Giuliani, and the rest of them, the Constitution doesn’t count when it comes to dog whistle attacks on President Obama.
It would be nice if probable conservative presidential candidates came out against Erickson’s comment, but we shouldn’t hold our breath. After all, this is the party that worships parts of the Constitution, and ignores the things with which they don’t agree. Odd – they do the same thing with the Bible.