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January 18, 2012

Column #1,586

Which Conservative Deserves Support?

By Mike McManus

One yardstick for measuring the Republican candidates is their faith and how it had guided them in considering public policy.

First, some history.  The January issue of “Christianity Today” interviews Gary Scott Smith, author of “Faith and the Presidency from George Washington to George W. Bush.”  He notes that Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel was stoutly opposed by the State Department and by his Secretary of State George Marshall.

However, Truman’s  “understanding of the Bible and his belief that the Jews deserved to have a Promised Land” led him to oppose Marshall, asserts Smith.  “Truman saw himself as a kind of Cyrus giving back the land to the Jews.”   Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed the Jews who were in exile, to go home.  

Before the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Santorum was asked if he would sign a “pledge of fidelity to your own spouse and to respect the marital bonds of others.”

Santorum was initially taken aback, but did sign it. He told CNN’s Candy Crowley, “I pledged fidelity to my wife when I was married to her, and I pledged to not get involved with any other relationships.  When you look at the amount of disregard of such vows by Members of Congress - the infidelity, and not keeping the vows to people you love,” it “undermines” the public’s faith in government.

“If you can’t be faithful to those you are closest to, how can you be faithful to the people you represent?” Santorum asked. Good question.

What about Newt Gingrich, whose infidelity led to the destruction of his first two marriages.  He had an adulterous affair with his current wife for five years before she became his third wife.  His second wife announced this week that Gingrich wanted an “open marriage,” so he could live with Callista as a mistress. Recently he converted to Catholicism and claims to be repentant.

He was a brilliant Congressman who helped Republicans regain control of the House for the first time in 40 years.  He did fight for welfare reform, twice vetoed by President Clinton before it was signed in 1996. He did work with Clinton to achieve years of a balanced budget. 

However, the House voted by 395-28 to reprimand Gingrich and ordered him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in two centuries that it had disciplined a Speaker for ethical wrongdoing.  He had violated a tax law and lied to an Ethics Committee.

Unfaithfulness in Gingrich’s personal life paved the way for his public infidelity. 

Mitt Romney apparently has a strong marriage.  But he supported abortion as governor before he switched after running for President.  When the state’s top court voted 4-3 that traditional marriage was unconstitutional, it suggested the Legislature re-write the law. But Romney by-passed that step, ordering town clerks to perform same-sex marriage.  He now says he opposes same sex marriage, but favors gay adoptions and same-sex civil unions.

Therefore, there is a search for a conservative alternative to Romney as the Republican nominee.

All of the Republican candidates are proposing big tax cuts to stimulate the economy.  Santorum would triple the current child tax credit of $1,000 and reduce federal taxes that penalize married couples who both work by an average $1,500.  He would also cut corporate taxes on manufacturing to zero to bring back factory jobs. Cost: $1.3 trillion in 2015.

Gingrich would eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest that is also $1.3 trillion in new costs, while Romney’s tax cuts are “only” $600 million because he would eliminate those investment taxes only for married couples with incomes below $200,000.

Warren Buffett, worth $45 billion, says it is “baloney” that tax rates are too high: “I find the argument that we need lower axes to create more jobs mystifying, because we’ve had the lowest taxes in this decade and about the worst job creation ever.”

Santorum would pay for his tax cuts by slashing federal spending by $5 trillion in 5 years, by far the deepest cuts proposed by any candidate. While the others would gradually raise the age for Social Security and Medicare, his plan would cut current benefits to seniors.

Last weekend Santorum won the support of three-fourths of 150 conservative and evangelical leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.  They hoped to gather behind one conservative challenger to Romney.

Ironically, it is Gingrich who is moving up in the polls due to a better performance in the debates. 

However, character is more important than debating skills.

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