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“Descending From The Mountaintop”: House Republicans Keeping The Faith

After preaching for weeks about the urgency of Washington taking action to create jobs, lawmakers decided to put their mammon where their mouths are. And so on Tuesday evening they descended from the mountaintop and came forth to anoint a jobs bill of biblical proportions:

H.Con.Res 13 — Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.”

The grace of this legislation, taken up on the House floor, was not immediately revealed to all. “In God We Trust” has been the nation’s official motto for 55 years, engraved on the currency and public buildings. There is no emerging movement to change that. But House Republicans chose to look beyond the absence of immediate threats and instead protect the motto against yet-unimagined threats in the future.

The legislation “provides Congress with the opportunity to renew its support of a principle that was venerated by the founders of this country, and by its presidents, on a bipartisan basis,” supporters claimed in their analysis. “This Congress can now show that it still believes and recognizes those same eternal truths by approving a resolution that will allow today’s Congress, as representatives of the American people, to reaffirm to the public and the world our nation’s national motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ ”

The infidel opposition took a rather different view. “We are focused on jobs measures,” said Brian Fallon, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “The House Republicans will hopefully get the message to do the same, God willing.”

In a dissenting analysis of the legislation, a group of House Democrats took a similarly skeptical stance. “Today we face the highest budget deficit in our nation’s history, a national unemployment rate of nearly 9 percent, and an ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis,” they wrote. “American forces are deployed in combat on several fronts. . . . Yet, instead of addressing any of these critical issues, and instead of working to help American families keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, we are debating whether or not to affirm and proliferate a motto that was adopted in 1956 and that is not imperiled in any respect.”

Then there’s the matter of whether Republicans violated their own promises by bringing up a ceremonial resolution and taking the God bill to the floor without a hearing. House GOP rules forbid suspending House rules to pass a bill if it “expresses appreciation, commends, congratulates, celebrates, recognizes the accomplishments of, or celebrates the anniversary of, an entity, event, group, individual, institution, team or government program.” (It might be argued that God, though an entity, is exempt from the provision.)

So what, pray tell, are Republicans up to? They can tell their constituents that they are doing the Lord’s work in the devil’s town. Because it is still too early to complain about efforts by the ACLU to snuff out Christmas, the In-God-We-Trust legislation provides a stand-in straw man. There’s certainly some appetite for this: Internet rumors proliferated after President Obama’s inauguration warning that he was seeking to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins.

But it also conveys an impression to independent voters that, at a time of economic crisis, Republicans continue to focus on God, gays and guns.

Of course, there may be innocent explanations for the In God We Trust bill. “God” and “job” are both three-letter words with the same vowel. House Republicans may have been confused by the similarity, much like the dyslexic agnostic who wonders if there is a dog.

Notably, the House majority saw no need to protect the nation’s other motto, the one from the Great Seal of the United States that also appears on currency: e pluribus unum. But give the GOP credit for its tenacity: To continue to pursue social policies even while the nation cries out for economic relief requires the patience of Job — not to be confused with jobs.

In support of the God bill, the legislation’s champions quoted John F. Kennedy: “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” But they left out a better-known Kennedy passage, from his inaugural address: “let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 1, 2011

November 2, 2011 - Posted by | Conservatives, Economy, Elections | , , , , , ,

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