Cal Thomas and the Gospel of the Pharisees
by Christopher Manion
by Christopher Manion
Cal Thomas, the widely-syndicated Christian columnist, fairly salivated for years over Bush's foreign forays and his "Big Government Conservatism" at home. But now Cal has suddenly delivered a blast against government spending ostensibly based on principle. Should we take him seriously? After all, perhaps he's just upset because it's the Democrats doing the spending this time.
Thomas has promoted himself as the poster boy of "Christian" op-ed values for years, but I wonder if his frequent indulgence in hypocrisy isn't more reminiscent of the Pharisees. In beating the drum for war, Cal the Christian has led his fawning flock down a treacherous path, running the risk of trading true Christianity (and millions of souls) for a this-worldly, politicized, and murderous sect run by Armageddonites and bellicose nonbelievers. If the recent reports that Christianity is losing adherents in America are true, a goodly portion of that attrition might well be attributed to the poisonous propaganda that Mr. Thomas, Pastor Hagee, and their neocon allies have served up in service of war, war, war — always in the name of the Prince of Peace.
Look at Thomas Monday, assailing astronomical government deficits under those nasty Democrats! Now look at the same Cal in January, cuddling lap-dog of the outgoing big-war-spender George Bush on his last visit to the Oval Office. Is this mere cognitive dissonance? Look further: during the presidential primaries in February 2008, Christian Cal was channeling David Frum and criticizing principled conservatives for not backing pro-war big spender John McCain. "Too many modern conservatives seem embedded in a concrete slab of pessimism, preferring to go over a bridge and drown rather than ‘compromise' their ‘principles,'" he wrote, employing the mocking scare-quotes in the original. Gee, Cal must think those Christian martyrs of old were pretty pessimistic too, preferring to hang on to their faithful principles unto death, and getting only a concrete slab (although possibly salvation as well) for their efforts.
After all this, are we suddenly to believe that Christian Cal has suddenly gotten religion?
The more likely explanation for Cal's outburst during the primaries is that he was obviously vexed with Dr. Ron Paul, who was telling the truth about the war, the Fed, and the profane profligacy of both political parties. And guess what? Cal actually admitted it: "If you can't get elected, your principles can be talked about on the lecture circuit, but are unlikely to be adopted in Washington," he wrote. (Gee, doesn't that sound like the temptation that Satan used on Jesus in the desert? "All these kingdoms have been given to me…." [Luke 4])
In the light of all these deviations, we might ask, is this really a man who cares about principle at all? Or are these just the predictable perorations of a self-promoting personality cult addict? Christian Cal glides with ease from contradiction to contradiction — but committed Christians should read the label: this is the way of the neocon gospel, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, it was the sellouts and idolaters who betrayed conservatism and delivered the country to Obama's revolutionaries on a silver platter — but it's the people in the pews who have paid the price. Dr. James Dobson, a Christian leader who has kept politics at arms-length as a rule, recently observed the wreckage on the battlefields of the culture wars: "Humanly speaking," he said, "we can say that we have lost all those battles." I believe that Dr. Dobson is correct. And today it's pretty obvious that the forces of banksters and neocons who brought us to ruin with profligacy at home and endless wars abroad could care less about the tens of millions of Christians without whose critical support George Bush would still be just another failed trust-fund-baby businessman.
It has been a very long and distressing eight years for traditional conservatives, however defined. Countless pro-family Christians were betrayed by their "leadership" who climbed aboard the Big-Government-Republican Hummer, even as the neocons were steering it off a cliff and giving the pro-family folks the back of their contemptuous hand. While the neocons (predictably) jumped ship before the crash and are now sitting pretty, the millions of Christians whom they masterfully manipulated continued to rely on bellicose palaver from the likes of Christian Cal. Thus, they remained faithful to Bush long after the neocons were betraying him left and right. Karl Rove never told them the signals had been changed; he didn't dare — he needed their votes.
This is the essence of betrayal. As a result, today the conservative coalition is in ruins, sold out by the self-dealers, the war profiteers, the personality cultists, and the blatant opportunists who manipulated American patriotism and the faithful for their own private, and often very profitable, agendas. That Cal Thomas cheered them on is not only a blight on his judgment, but an enduring insult to millions of Christians in whose name he pretended to speak to power.
Lucky for Cal that Christ called on us to forgive. Forgive, yes. Follow? Never again, callous Cal.
April 17, 2009
Christopher Manion [send him mail] is a columnist for The Wanderer, America's oldest independent Catholic newspaper, founded in 1868. He is president of Manion Music, LLC, which produces copyrighted, royalty-free music collections for telecommunications media and commercial and hospitality sites that use background music or music-on-hold. He writes from the Shenandoah Valley, where he is a volunteer Spanish translator for local law enforcement.
Copyright © Christopher Manion 2009. All Rights reserved.