Well, it’s not often I get called a sneak and sophist at the same time. :) But I have a thick skin.
As to trying to sneak something by anyone–as if that would actually be possible with this group!–I meant only to suggest that one possibility for the almost uniform dislike of President Clinton by Mormon Republicans might be that Mormons consider marital fidelity an indispensable quality of their public servants, because of the Church’s teachings. . . .
(Yes, “eclipse” was a bad choice of terms, but it looked so cool when I typed it.) Let me be clear: As a Democrat who voted for Clinton twice, I nevertheless found his personal behavior appalling, did not believe that it was an outrage for him to have been impeached, and further did not think that it would have been an injustice for him to have been convicted and removed from office. Lying and obstruction of justice strike at the heart of our system of justice, and should not be tolerated in anyone (regardless of one’s definition of “is”), especially the chief executive of our country.
But President Clinton did not lie in the course of abusing public power like, say, President Nixon did in the Watergate scandal. Whose conduct was worse? I believe that in a public servant, abuse of power is far worse than infidelity, even though as moral sins infidelity might be worse than abuse of political power (plus, think of all the figures in American History who have failed the fidelity test–Hamilton, Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower, LBJ, off-hand). Yet one can still find many Saints who minimize President’s Nixon’s lying while villifying Clinton. Closer to home, I find it fascinating that the dissembling, lack of preparedness, and general hubris of the current administration re the Iraq War is easily overlooked by my neighbors–could it be that it’s because President Bush has the moral commitment and discipline that Clinton lacked when it comes to groupies?
As to Lyle’s comments, I respectfully disagree. Clinton spent political capital to get both bills passed, especially RLUIPA, when he dissed his base (which generally opposed it) and cut deals to get the bill through only six weeks before the 2000 Election. A commitment to religious liberty was something he cared very much about about which he was very well informed–he thought Smith was wrong, and that religious groups are constitutionally entitled to exemptions–and this commitment permeated his administration, notwithstanding the political realities that sometimes overrode it. By contrast, the Republican base has always been ambivalent about religious exemptions. The secular/business base generally opposes federal interference with state prerogatives, like RFRA and RLUIPA, and the religious base–overwhelmingly conservative Christian–has never been very excited about enhancing the religious liberty of nonChristians (other than Jews). It is impossible to imagine the current President spending political capital with Putin to get the Russian authorities to stop harassing Mormon missionaries–it’s simply not an issue he or his base cares very deeply about. (Faith-based funding, however, now that’s a different story.)