I have been a reader of The New Republic for years now, which fact has on occasion raised the eyebrows of friends. Once, at a Christian conference, I had a copy of TNR in my backpack, sticking out in a back pocket. During a break one of the conferees walked over, bent down, and whispered quietly, "You know, that sort of thing can get you in trouble 'round these parts." He was joking, of course - mostly.
But I appreciate TNR's best efforts to get things right. The lead editorial in the current issue (September 23) raises concern about the blatant inconsistency of the Obama Administration and Speaker Pelosi when it comes to the matter of corruption in politics. The editors remind the readers that Democrats - especially Obama and Pelosi - campaigned on promises to clean up Washington, drain the swamp of stench, bring an end to politics as usual, and so forth.
And yet the undeniable corruption of Congressmen Rangel and Murtha goes completely unaddressed by Democratic leaders. Everyone in Washington, and, I would bet, even a few university professors, knows that these men are not playing by the book. Yet they continue to serve in important leadership roles, without a word of caution or comment from the President or the Speaker.
TNR is outraged. They want these guys out, and they want Democratic leaders to stand up like men and do the right thing. But why? Is it because it's the right thing to do? No. I mean, come on, it's still TNR. Their point is that if Democrats don't get rid of these guys now it will hurt them big time in the next round of congressional elections. They don't want corrupt congressmen around to become "potent symbols" for the Republicans.
So this is the way we think in secular America: The only determiner of right and wrong is what works to achieve political agendas. Pilate would have nodded politely.