Bill’s Awkward Silence

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Bill Clinton was basking in glory at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. Few presidents so love the spotlight. The occasion for Clinton, however, was not himself, but the reelection of Barack Obama.
To that end, Clinton’s stumping for Obama presents some interesting contrasts, as the press has noted. Quite unnoticed, however, is a particularly compelling contrast relating to religious freedom—an area where Barack Obama has been a foe, most notably via his terribly intolerant Health and Human Services mandate, and where Bill Clinton has been woefully silent.
For Bill Clinton—and for his wife, Hillary Clinton—that silence is conspicuous. Indeed, it may surprise readers to learn this, but both Clintons have been vigorous defenders of religious freedom. First consider Bill Clinton:
As Clinton stated in his memoirs: “I always felt that protecting religious liberty and making the White House accessible to all religious faiths was an important part of my job.” As president, Clinton practiced what he preached. He championed (among others) the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (passed 97-3 by the Senate) and the 1997 Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace. As to the former, Clinton signed it “to protect a reasonable range of religious expression in public areas like schools and workplaces.”
Pointing to these actions and more, my colleague, Dr. Gary Smith, who has studied Bill Clinton’s faith, has rightly described the former president as a “strong advocate” of “religious freedom at home and abroad.”
That’s fair to say. It is likewise true for Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton long supported her husband’s 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, especially its promotion of religious freedom in public schools. In her book, “It Takes a Village,” Mrs. Clinton sounded like a conservative when emphasizing the importance of religion in schools. Quoting her husband, she noted that “nothing in the First Amendment converts our public schools into religion-free zones, or requires all religious expression to be left behind at the schoolhouse door.” She cited these words from her husband: “[R]eligion is too important in our history and our heritage for us to keep it out of our schools.”
Once capable of making law herself, as an elected senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton championed an initiative promoting religious freedom in the workplace. Specifically, in April 2005, Senator Clinton co-sponsored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, joining forces (remarkably) with no less than Senator Rick Santorum, her polar opposite. The law guaranteed the right to religious expression on the job without fear of recrimination. This meant, for example, that an Orthodox Jew who honors the Sabbath cannot be forced to work on the Sabbath against his or her will, or that a Christian can wear a crucifix, or that a Sikh can don a turban. Backers of the bill included a broad coalition of 40 clerics representing nearly every denomination.
The bill, which any reasonable person would support, had opponents among Senator Clinton’s staunchest allies. Predictably, Planned Parenthood and the National Women’s Law Center foresaw calamitous instances of “anti-choice” injustice, such as a situation where a pro-life nurse might request to not provide the “morning-after” pill to a rape victim, or a Catholic pharmacist might as a matter of conscience refuse to dispense birth control. For these “pro-choice” feminists, religious freedom could not be permitted to trump their preeminent freedom: their sacred right to an abortion.
It was this narrow opposition from radical feminists that might have explained why, as the Village Voice put it, “[Mrs.] Clinton’s office has been notably quiet about her involvement” in the bill.
That was then. Today, Mrs. Clinton serves in the Obama administration—though at the State Department, not the Department of Health and Human Services. And today, Mrs. Clinton, like her husband, is silent on the Obama HHS mandate.Indeed, that begs the question: Where are the Clintons now, as the current head of their party, President Obama, continues to stubbornly enforce his HHS mandate requiring all Americans, of every religious belief and denomination, to forcibly fund abortion drugs? Have these fighters for religious freedom said anything at all to the president? Have they voiced even a slight objection? To the contrary, in his glowing endorsement of Obama at the Democratic convention, Bill Clinton gushed about Obamacare, with no mention of the HHS mandate.
For that matter, where are the Clintons on Barack Obama’s unprecedented presidential attempt to redefine marriage, which President Bill Clinton once preserved as between a man and a woman when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996?
Or, in the end, are Bill and Hillary Clinton merely two more blindly loyal liberals and partisan Democrats who unquestioningly follow their party’s leader?
Some things are more important than your political party.

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • AnnaMarie53

    One thing you must remember about Barack Hussein Obama: He is a political creature…period! For him there is no good or bad, no right or wrong, no honor or disgrace, no yes or no, no black or white. There is only politics. He sees everything through this prism, which is why he can be so stubborn about the Catholic Church (and all the other denominations backing her) regarding the issue of abortion, artificial birth control, and forcing religious people to bow to “the messiah’s” will. He truly thinks that this is some sort of political ploy on the part of the Church, not an issue of right or wrong, from which she has no choice to deviate. He cannot conceive of any issue that is so important to anyone that they have no choice but to take an inviolate stand! To him, it is all about what will get you what you want…period. He desperTately wants to lock up the environmental wacko and femi-nazi voting block for the coming election. (Which, scares me to death. If you have no morals of any kind, just what all are you willing to throw under the bus to get your way?)
    The Democrat Party has de-volved into a collection of interest groups, with no overriding philosophy. Therefore, they must have the most fluid, impossible to pin down platform they can come up with. Just look at all the hoo-ha over letting a Catholic cardinal bless the whole mess at the beginning of the convention! They only know what they DON’T want, not what they do.
    What truly saddens and frightens me is the number of otherwise intelligent, kind, caring young people, as well as their elders who should know better by now, staring at Obama whenever he gives a speech (keep an eye peeled for his teleprompters without which his handlers are terrified he will slip up and say what he REALLY thinks!) with these glazed eyes and sappy smiles on their faces, which for all the world looks as if they have just had one slurp too many of the “kool-aid” before being screened to sit in his “illustrious” presence. If you still need an example of the lousy job schools today are doing to teach our little darlings to thing

  • Victoria

    I am astonished at the otherwise intelligent people I know who plan to vote for Obama, “to give him another chance” to fix the economy. They are silent when I mention his abortion voting record, his predilection to increase the size of the government, etc. The schools have been letting us down for years, in teaching logic and ethics.

  • Peter Nyikos

    He had his big chance to fix the economy during his first two years, when the Democrats not only controlled Congress, they even had a filibuster-proof majority in the senate. Instead, he rammed his deficit-exacerbating Health Care Law through a reluctant House, and added trillions to the national debt without having any real economic progress to show for it.

  • Peter Nyikos

    Just this morning I re-read the superb 1711 essay, “Party Feeling,” by the great essayist Joseph Addison. It describes the baleful effects that political partisanship can have on the moral fabric and rational discourse of an entire nation. What you say illustrates very well how deeply mired Obama and his partisans are in these baleful effects.

  • AnnaMarie53

    Thank you for the kind words, Peter. I wanted to illustrate how very far beneath even contempt Obama and his cronies truly are. It is always good to hear your words have had some sort of effect. I hope you day is a good one