The publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper that has endorsed Sharron Angle and has one of the nation’s most conservative-libertarian editorial pages, today addresses Angle’s controversial statements from a newly discovered TruNews Christian Radio interview. In short, Sherm Frederick said Angle needs to rethink her rhetoric:
Our government has gotten off track and I’m with Angle when she makes that point. It is not helpful, however, when she explains things like she did in this interview. Sharron Angle says she prays to God every day for guidance in her “political walk”. My advice: Pray harder.
[Update: Sherm later changed the last two words of his post to “Listen harder.”]
When a partial transcript from the Angle interview surfaced yesterday, her statements caused quite a stir. Among other things, Angle said we are “a country entrenched in idolatry” and in “violation of the First Commandment” because we are overly dependent on government. The story was picked up by numerous national news sites including ABC, CBS, Politics Daily, Washington Post, The Daily Caller and Huffington Post.
The fact that Angle’s religious beliefs inform her politics has already been established, though, so is this much ado about nothing or a possible game-changer? Only time and the next set of polls will tell. Her extended remarks include the following:
I’m not sure what continues on after 2010. I know people are very frightened about what’s going on in this country. And these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government. And you’ve just identified the real crux of the problem. I’ve also been endorsed by a PAC out of Washington D.C. and the name of that PAC is Government is not God. And I thought that that was so appropriate because that is really what’s happening in our society and we need to take our country back.
Angle’s brand new communications director, Jarrod Agen, sent out the following statement in answer to all the morning media inquiries yesterday:
Only the supreme arrogance of Senator Reid would believe that he has a divine right to rule over mere mortals by ramming through Obamacare, billions in reckless spending, and yes, buying cocaine for monkeys. The fact is, Reid has acted like he’s all-powerful and accountable to no one. People are frustrated because, like Sharron, they understand Washington has become a giant, unseen, omnipotent force whose presence is felt in all our lives whether we like it or not.
After the statement was out, the campaign said they meant it partly tongue-in-cheek and then circulated past remarks by Harry Reid on faith and religion including the following:
Harry Reid Has Said, “I Don’t Think You Can Separate Your Religion From Your Politics, Its Part Of Your Personality. It Is Part Of Who You Are.” (Tyson Snow, “Sen. Reid Explains Mormonism And Liberal Agenda,” BYU NewsNet, 2/24/01)
Reid Has Said, “I Also Say That My Faith And Political Beliefs Are Deeply Intertwined. I Am A Democrat Because I Am A Mormon, Not In Spite Of It.” (Harry Reid Speech At BYU, 10/9/07) Reid Said That He Hoped People Followed The Teachings Of The Church In Order To Create A Better World.
Harry Reid: “I bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the foundation for the blessings we now enjoy laid by the young boy and assassinated Prophet Joseph Smith and with certainty, I testify of Gordon B. Hinckley as our modern day prophet. It is finally my plea and prayer that we will follow the teachings that we know to be true, and in so doing create a better world.” (Harry Reid Speech At BYU, 10/9/07)
Reid Said, “But Regarding The Republican Primary, Let Me Say In Passing, I Hope That Mitt Romney’s Presidential Bid Is Determined By His Political Stands, And Not His Religion.” (Harry Reid Speech At BYU, 10/9/07)
Most public officials choose to keep their religious beliefs private altogether, so did Angle go way too far for public sensibilities in saying we are a nation of idolators that has, through our government, broken the First Commandment? The Harry Reid campaign put out two press releases saying she did. The first missive started off like this:
Sharron Angle believes her campaign for US Senate represents a holy crusade — a religious “war of ideology” in her words — against government programs like Social Security and Medicare. You have got to take just six minutes to hear this for yourself.
This morning, a blockbuster set of radio interviews that have surfaced in news reports show that Sharron Angle’s unyielding antipathy toward all government programs is based not simply on political and ideological beliefs – it’s based on what she believes to be a religious crusade against government.
The Reid communique ended thus:
Sharron Angle’s newly-unearthed rhetoric makes crystal clear that her opposition to programs like Social Security, Medicare, & unemployment benefits for “spoiled” Nevadans is rooted in her belief that these programs violate – not the US Constitution – but God’s 1st Commandment. Angle has previously (and unabashedly) stated her view that she literally believes the separation of church and state to be an “unconstitutional” doctrine and that she’s been called by God himself – who prepared her much like he prepared Moses, Paul, and Jesus for their journeys – to run this cycle in the Nevada US Senate race. [emphasis original]
In an email exchange late yesterday, Angle’s communications staffer Agen said of the Reid press releases and in answer to some of my questions:
It’s hypocritical for Senator Reid to be attacking Sharron today for discussing her religion.
There is a great deal of anger, particularly in Nevada, with the growing size and power of government and the growing size of government spending. As we saw from the elections yesterday, Harry Reid’s efforts to push through programs like the $2.5 trillion health care and $862 billion stimulus are against the will of many voters. Her comments speak to a point of frustration amongst these voters — that the Federal Government and politicians like Harry Reid are acting like they are all-powerful and not being help accountability. That needs to stop.
And yes, voters are tired of “campaign speak” and canned politicians like Senator Reid. They want honestly and they want someone who is willing to discuss the issues that affect voters’ everyday lives.