I seem to recall an unending stream of anger, dismay, paranoia and jackassery about the allegedly theocratic tendencies of the Bush administration (see Ross Douthat’s epic dismantling of the more highbrow versions of this fever dream). There was a whole 60 Minutes segment dedicated to the idea that Bush was speaking in secret code to Christians by using — shudder — biblical references and the like in his speeches. The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (never a fantastic idea if you ask me), was the subject of eternal hand-wringing. For some on the left, Attorney General John Ashcroft was an evangelical Medusa’s head petrifying all who cast their gaze upon him. For others, he was a source of endless ridicule.
Anyway, I can only imagine how people would have reacted if, in May of 2004, John Ashcroft was called in to brief minister-members of the Christian Coalition on how to maximize their effectiveness in the upcoming presidential election. That is exactly what Eric Holder is doing for the Congressional Black Caucus.
Now, I think this is unseemly and I find all of the “new Jim Crow” talk a fairly deranged and cynical affair. But I don’t see this as a threat to separation of church and state or anything of the sort. I just know in my bones that if something similar happened under Bush, the usual suspects at the New York Times would be gasping in all the predictable ways. Indeed, politics from the pulpit never seems to bother the Left when the congregation is black.