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Jewish World Review / Sept. 18, 1998 /27 Elul, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Stopping him before he sins again

IT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO BE A LEADER'S RELIGIOUS COUNSELOR. In the case of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More was executed after he refused to grant Catholic Church approval so the king could divorce Catherine of Aragon and to acknowledge Henry as the supreme head of the Church of England. More was a man of principle who upheld his church's standard, but Henry started his own church that had a more liberal attitude toward such things as divorce. He died from a venereal disease after marrying six women. Today, More is celebrated as a man for all seasons.

At Richard Nixon's end, he had only Rabbi Baruch Korff and Billy Graham standing with him. When Graham heard the tapes, even he expressed shock and disbelief.

Now it's Bill Clinton's turn. If it is true that the final refuge of scoundrels is religion, then surely we are witnessing Clinton's last stand before he is shown the door. Clinton feels about religion the way he feels about sex. He likes the kind that makes him feel good but requires nothing of him. That's why some of his best friends are the liberal clergy who cloak him with the mantle of respectability even while he lives and lies as he pleases.

The president is employing a trinity of ``personal spiritual advisors'' he says he'll meet and pray with weekly. The purpose, one concludes, is to keep him from chasing skirts. If so, the three will need to work eight-hour shifts, seven days a week.

One of the chosen is Tony Campolo, a liberal Baptist who teaches sociology at Eastern (formerly Baptist) College in St. David's, Pa. Campolo likes to irritate conservative evangelicals. When he speaks of justice for the poor and the dangers of materialism, he is on solid biblical ground. But recently Campolo has been urging conservative Christians to accept homosexuality, a subject on which the conservatives, not he, are on solid ground.

Another of the counselors is the Rev. Gordon MacDonald, who left the ministry 12 years ago after acknowledging an adulterous affair, but was ``restored'' two years later and now pastors a church in Lexington, Mass. The third person was not immediately known.

About those who claim they are being used and manipulated, Campolo says: ``It would not be the first time that Christians have been taken in. But we would rather be men of faith who believe that God is working in the life of the president than to join that army of cynics, many of whom are religious leaders, who cannot accept a plea of forgiveness at face value.''

Which face? The other face is bringing in a new team of legal and political advisors. While one team thinks it can save the president's soul, the other team will try to save his behind. Church and state never looked worse together.

Clinton has manipulated religion since he joined a Little Rock church after losing an election. He also joined the choir, positioning himself behind the pulpit so the TV audience could see him. He uses religion the way he uses women, and -- like some conservative Republican politicians who use conservative preachers -- he embraces them to give himself credibility, not caring that their credibility is compromised.

Some preachers don't get it. Too many love the limelight and think that they will be the ones to influence the king. In the process they get their theological pockets picked.

Clinton needs a man of the couch more than men of the cloth. He fits the definition of narcissistic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which include the following: ``(1) reacts to criticism with feelings of rage, shame or humiliation (even if not expressed); (2) is interpersonally exploitive: takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends; (3) has a grandiose sense of self-importance, e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be noticed as `special' without appropriate achievement; (4) believes that his problems are unique and can be understood only by other special people; (5) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love; (6) has a sense of entitlement; (7) requires constant attention and admiration; (8) lack of empathy: inability to recognize and experience how others feel ....''

All of these, as Ken Starr's referral affirms, are part of Bill Clinton's makeup. So, pray with the guy if you like, brothers, but you'd help him more of you persuaded him to see a good shrink.


9/15/98: Repenting when the end is near
9/11/98: Faithfully executing: Congress vs. the President
9/10/98: The degrees of separation between Dan Burton and Bill Clinton
9/08/98: Joe Lieberman and the Democrats' conscience
9/04/98: Clinton vs. Reagan and the struggle for power
9/02/98: If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout
8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
homosexual behavior
7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.