It's been clear for some time that the Rovians are running George W. for reelection as the only candidate sanctified by Jehovah Himself. Now, with Iraq not exactly a shining example of presidential epititude, it appears that the "God connection" is pretty much ALL they've got to run on, especially since polls continue to show that the American voting public isn't exactly buying the line that the economy is all better now.
Which accounts for El Presidente's asking the Vatican if it couldn't do something on his behalf, slap those American bishops around a little and withhold the communion cup from any limp-wristed Democratic types. And also accounts for Republicans in the U.S. House slipping a little something potentially useful into H.R. 4520, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, a bill that would eliminate some federal subsidies to manufacturers and cut corporate tax rates. The Republicans wanted to add a provision that would have allowed American preachers to actively campaign for political candidates without endangering the tax exempt status of their churches. No kidding.
Wow. For all his reputation for Divine Intervention in recent American political history, The Supreme Being sure seems to depend on the secret dealings of Republican law-makers to get the job done!
Luckily, however, Satan is not Chairman of the National Democratic Committee for nothing, so just last night (according to the Washington Post), at the final markup of H.R. 4520, the Bush/Cheney Preacher Empowerment Act of 2004 was removed from the bill:
"Watchdog groups -- including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Interfaith Alliance and People for the American Way -- opposed the provision as a step toward dismantling the constitutional ban on state-sponsored religion. Some also called it a 'back-door' attempt to help reelect President Bush, whose campaign is focusing on churches as potential centers of support. But the proposal's fate was sealed when religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, also expressed strong reservations."
Good ole Southern Baptists, man! Maybe someone finally woke up to the implications of being George Bush's bitch.