[eDebate] Falwell dies

David Glass gacggc
Sat May 19 23:45:56 CDT 2007

the New York Times seems to think it proper that when one dies,  an
honest assessment of their impact be made.  Here are a few words from
Frank Rich, from today:

May 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The Reverend Falwell's Heavenly Timing

HARD as it is to believe now, Jerry Falwell came in second only to
Ronald Reagan in a 1983 Good Housekeeping poll anointing "the most
admired man in America." By September 2001, even the Bush
administration was looking for a way to ditch the preacher who had
joined Pat Robertson on TV to pin the 9/11 attacks on feminists,
abortionists, gays and, implicitly, Teletubbies. As David Kuo, a
former Bush official for faith-based initiatives, tells the story in
his book "Tempting Faith," the Reverend Falwell was given a ticket to
the Washington National Cathedral memorial service that week only on
the strict condition that he stay away from reporters and cameras. Mr.
Falwell obeyed, though once inside he cracked jokes ("Whoa, does she
look frumpy," he said of Barbara Bush) and chortled nonstop.

This is the great spiritual leader whom John McCain and Mitt Romney
raced to praise when he died on Tuesday, just as the G.O.P.
presidential contenders were converging for a debate in South
Carolina. The McCain camp's elegiac press release beat out his rival's
by a hair. But everyone including Senator McCain knows he got it right
back in 2000, when he labeled Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson "agents of
intolerance." Mr. Falwell was always on the wrong, intolerant side of
history. He fought against the civil rights movement and ridiculed
Desmond Tutu's battle against apartheid years before calling AIDS the
"wrath of a just God against homosexuals" and, in 1999, fingering the
Antichrist as an unidentified contemporary Jew.

Though Mr. Falwell had long been an embarrassment and laughingstock to
many, including a new generation of Christian leaders typified by Mr.
Kuo, the timing of his death could not have had grander symbolic
import. It happened at the precise moment that the Falwell-Robertson
brand of religious politics is being given its walking papers by a
large chunk of the political party the Christian right once helped to
grow. Hours after Mr. Falwell died, Rudy Giuliani, a candidate he
explicitly rejected, won the Republican debate by acclamation. When
the marginal candidate Ron Paul handed "America's mayor" an opening to
wrap himself grandiloquently in 9/11 once more, not even the most
conservative of Deep South audiences could resist cheering him. If
Rudy can dress up as Jack Bauer, who cares about his penchant for

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