Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is it hypocritical to be against a religious test and yet admire a nominee's religious commitment?

In his October 7th column, E. J. Dionne joins Ed Morrisey of the Captain's Quarters blog in saying that it is:

1) hypocrital to insist that a nominee not be questioned on personal religious views because it would be a religious test


2) use what is known about the nominee's religious convictions as a positive argument to energize public opinion for confirmation.

Let's follow the reasoning on that by changing the central parameter to another legal prohibition. It is illegal to have a racial (or gender) standard for political or judicial office. Thus, one's race or gender is not to be considered as an impediment or help to holding office or a basis for asking questions of a nominee. But, is the admiration expressed for Colin Powell, Condi Rice or Janice Rogers Brown hypocritical in noting their race (and gender in the case of Rice and Brown)? I don't think so. In fact, I think there is appropriate pride in those who have broken glass ceilings to move to the top in governmental and judicial positions.

It is not hypocritical to mention race, gender or religion as a positive factor in appealing for public support. That does not change the fact that such factors must never be used as an official, governmental standard and subject to official questioning.

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