In the bitter cold of December 2000, as the disputed Bush-Gore election turned red hot at the U.S. Supreme Court, I was working in the peculiar world of Catholic radio. Pope FM, if you will.
Our little FM station was an affiliate of EWTN radio, and I recall that as the legal battle raged between George Bush and Vice-President Al Gore -- as the presidency hung in the balance -- the network aired a special rosary for life. It never was billed as a prayer for Bush's victory (and legally it couldn't be) but we all knew the score: This was a rosary for the "pro-life" Bush to prevail over the "pro-abortion" Gore.
At least that's what the entire Pope FM staff was praying for. Me included.
I DON'T THINK I ever thought politics could change America's "Culture of Death" into a "Culture of Life." I did, however, think the election was all about federal policy and potential Supreme Court nominations. I thought government could be used to fight a "holding action."
I thought Roe v. Wade could be rolled back, and I thought maybe the Republicans, through political action, could somehow hinder the nation's cultural disintegration so that maybe -- maybe -- revival might come to our culturally and religiously devolving land before it was Too Late.
We were pro-life, true-believing, orthodox Roman Catholics. We stood for Jesus, saving babies, the Pope and EWTN. And it was a given that we'd vote G-O-P in the name of G-O-D.
So in that bleak midwinter, there we sat in our dilapidated little studios in a shabby little strip mall in a ramshackle part of town -- there we sat in the Pope FM conference room reciting the rosary with EWTN, praying for the triumph of a man who ultimately would do little to roll back the tide of fetal homicide in America.
Praying for the installation of a president who would, however, go on to do awesome things in the fields of pursuing an unwise and unjust war, rolling back civil liberties in the name of national security, and in turning CIA "spooks" and Army "grunts" alike into torturers whom -- in a more civilized age -- it would have been necessary to try at Nuremberg.
In a more civilized age, it would have been necessary to try Bush and much of his administration at Nuremberg.
If we really cut to the chase here, I guess what we were after -- at least what I was after -- was forestalling America's judgment by a just deity. Call it what it was: lawyering up and gunning for a cosmic stay of execution.
"Look, Jesus! We voted Republican . . . you know, GOP -- God's Own Party. Well, yeah, we're all driving 2.5 cars and living in too-big houses and bitching about taxes . . . but. . . ." BZZZZZZZZZT . . . as the lights dim all across the New Jerusalem.
MY GOD, look what we did. The economy's even in the tank. It was the original Rickroll.
Looking upon our civic wreckage from a biblical crime-and-punishment perspective is especially interesting -- not to mention ironic. In our political quest to avert -- or at least defer -- divine judgment, we instead may have brought it about.
Because if George W. Bush is not God's judgment upon a wicked people, I don't know what is.
And now -- in the name of salvation through better jurisprudence -- some would have us again do what we did in 1980 . . . and 1984 . . . and 1988 . . . and 2000 . . . and 2004, only expecting different results this time with the GOP's presumptive nominee, John McCain.
Am I saying vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat -- the pro-abort?
NO. To tell you the truth, I suspect there is no morally justifiable choice between McCain and Obama. Maybe the sheer catastrophic potential of someone with McCain's penchant for both wrongheadedness and hotheadedness being in charge of American foreign policy is enough "proportionate reason" to vote for Obama.
Then again, maybe not.
All I know is this one thing: I won't get fooled again.