Monday, March 27, 2006


Last Refuge

Samuel Johnson, the great English writer, once observed that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Johnson's wise aphorism, which until now has stood up quite well to the test of time, may now, at last, need to be revised.

In this, the age of public piety and corruption on a grand scale, it may now be more accurate to say that fundamentalist Christianity has become the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Consider Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State who helped George Bush steal the 2000 presidential election. Following that election, Harris was rewarded with buckets of Republican money which helped her win election to Congress. Now, she is running for the Senate.

Harris' campaign ran into trouble lately when defense contractor Mitchell J. Wade admitted that he illegally influenced Defense Department contracting officials and bribed Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, since sentenced to eight years four months in prison, with $1 million in cash, a Rolls Royce, a boat, and an antique Louis Phillipe period commode, among other gifts.

Wade has now plead guilty to four criminal charges stemming from his role in the Cunningham probe. He admits giving Harris illegal campaign contributions.

Although Harris has been urged to withdraw from the senate race, she's so far refused.

According to yesterday's St. Petersburg Times, Harris' "rocky Senate campaign" is taking an "increasingly evangelical Christian bent."

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."

"It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her," said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. "She's grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on."

... Harris has been aggressively campaigning for support among religious conservatives, hitting large churches and headlining a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in Broward County last weekend. She told hundreds of attendees she was "doing God's work" with her campaign.


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