The other night, I overheard someone say, "I can't vote for Obama. I think he really is a Muslim."
This past Saturday, I read a column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times that included the following:
And then there was Mrs. Clinton on “60 Minutes,” being interviewed by Steve Kroft. He had shown a clip on the program of a voter in Ohio who said that he’d heard that Senator Obama didn’t know the national anthem, “wouldn’t use the Holy Bible,” and was a Muslim.
Mr. Kroft asked Senator Clinton if she believed that Senator Obama is a Muslim. In one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date, Senator Clinton replied: “No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know.”
As far as I know.
Wouldn't it have been refreshing to hear Senator Clinton respond to Kroft by saying, "Steve, I don't know why you are asking that question. It has nothing to do with a person's qualifications, and I am not going to spend time on it or respond to those kind of questions." Instead, she clearly felt that it would be beneficial to her campaign to give the kind of answer she did.
Which is more disturbing, that a candidate feels that such an answer will help her cause and would stoop to such a tactic? Or that such an answer might actually help her cause?
There are lots of ways to count how many people are affiliated with different religions in America, but one thing is clear. People's choice of religion has no bearing on their patriotism, or their qualification for public office. And using a particular religious belief as a code word for the country's concerns about terrorism or some other issue just is not right. Can't we please expect the candidates for the highest office in the land to take these teachable moments to expand the horizons of America's voters rather than helping them descend along despicable paths?