»  National Review Online

October 24, 2000

   Is God a Democrat?

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Senator Joe Lieberman has now suggested that it is ungodly not to be an environmentalist. Delivering an environmental address at a park in Wisconsin last Wednesday, he said: "If you believe in God, I think it's hard not to be an environmentalist because, you see, the environment is the work of God." He went on to accuse Governor Bush of choosing "to side with the polluters."

Six weeks earlier, speaking in Chicago, Senator Lieberman said that Al Gore's prescription drug plan for seniors was based in the Fifth Commandment, to "honor thy father and thy mother."

Do you see a theme developing here? God is a Democrat! The Gore program is rooted in piety! It is, in fact, just an up-to-date version of the Decalogue handed to Moses on Mount Sinai. To spare you the weariness, the fever and the fret of reading Joe Lieberman's future speeches, here are all ten of the Commandments as he will be presenting them to us in the weeks to come.

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Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  The meaning here is that you cannot serve both God and Mammon. To accord undue respect and precedence to the wealthy — by favoring them with tax reductions, for example — is in clear breach of the spirit of the First Commandment. "They have made a golden calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto!"

Graven images.  The Lord's meaning is obscure here, but most modern Bible scholars take this Commandment to be a proscription of racial profiling. There are still too many of us, even in our law-enforcement services — the great majority of whom, of course, are doing a wonderful job! — that have within our minds a "graven image" of minority people as less law-abiding than whites. Similarly, the Second Commandment directs us to support Affirmative Action — to fight against those who have a "graven image" of minorities as inferior and unworthy to take their proper place in our institutions and workplaces. The solution is to outlaw all these "graven images" in people's minds by Hate Crime legislation.

Taking the name of the Lord in vain.  The Religious Right seek to advance their reactionary, intolerant, mean-spirited social program — discrimination against the differently-oriented, taking away a woman's right to choose, opposition to gun control — under cover of faith and righteousness. Is this not taking the Lord's name in vain? I say to you, they shall have their reward!

Remember the sabbath day.  What Yahweh has in mind here is the need for a minimum wage, without which millions of American workers would have no choice but to work seven days a week just to make ends meet.

Honor thy father and thy mother.  Prescription drugs for the elderly! Social security in a lock box! What could be plainer? And those who seek to drain off money from the Social Security trust fund, built up over the years by our parents' labor, to invest it in risky market schemes — what are they? Enemies of the Lord!

Thou shalt not kill.  Not to be taken too literally, of course. Both Al Gore and I certainly support capital punishment, so long as it is only used in the most extreme cases, after all possible appeals have been exhausted, and of course is administered fairly. Yet there are those — governors of large and important states! — who are cavalier with this, the gravest of all executive responsibilities, and even boast of the numbers they have put to death! They shall find themselves hereafter in the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Adultery.  Often taken wrongly to be a proscription of extra-marital affairs — a shameful (though, of course, not impeachable) form of activity which, by the way, neither Al Gore nor I myself has ever, ever engaged in — the Seventh Commandment is now recognized by theologians to refer to the "adulteration" of our air and water by pollutants, as has happened so grievously in the once-beautiful state of Texas. "He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of those who dwell therin."

Thou shalt not steal.  When Big Oil and the big drug companies can raise their prices with impunity, what is that but theft? They are stealing your hard-earned money — and the Republicans want to let them get away with it! "Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath!" That's George W. Bush's tax plan in a nutshell.

Bearing false witness.  God does not like the politics of personal destruction. When powerful people seek to drag down public servants — men of principle and faith, who may be struggling valiantly with their own personal demons — accusing them of corruption, of shady business practices, of unlawful dealings with foreign powers; and when all this is investigated at a cost of millions, but no evidence of malfeasance found — what is that but bearing false witness? "Their iniquity shall be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations!"

Thou shalt not covet … any thing that is they neighbor's.  In particular, if thy neighbor's kids are getting a private school education you can't afford for your own kids, do not covet! The reason P.S. 857 has failed to teach your kids how to read, write or make change is that miserly, ungodly Republicans in Congress refuse to fund your school system adequately. Vote in Democrats and we will build a glittering new school for you, like the ones in Kansas City, with gyms and computers and stuff — we'll even put in new metal detectors and condom dispensers! These so-called "vouchers" are just an appeal to envy! Which is wrong!

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[Incidentally, does anyone have a good mnemonic for the Ten Commandments? I have always remembered them using the sentence: "One idle damn Sunday, Dad killed cheating thief and lied to cover it." It does the trick, but it's a bit feeble and doesn't make much sense. It also relies on two approximations: "idle" — "idol"  and  "cover it" — "covet."  There must be something better out there. Answers to my email address, please.]