For the party that resurrects Jesus Christ with the regularity of a heart monitor, some of its members have a mighty peculiar way of showing a modicum of respect for Him.
A bunch of GOP lawmakers were in Israel last summer. (I know what you’re thinking -- as if that troubled land doesn’t have enough to contend with.) After a tough day looking at stuff and expounding upon the wisdom that has left their own country in splints and stymies, the congressmen unwound with a few too many drinks.
Before I go any further with this, I want to note that Calvary is in Israel too, so we should probably be grateful that none of the inebriated congressmen opted for rappelling to round out the evening.
But, with their inhibitions happily set adrift, some of them decided to go for a swim in the Sea of Galilee, the body of water upon which, it is said, Jesus walked. At least one of them, Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, decided that a bathing suit wasn’t necessary at one of the most revered sites in the Christian world. Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Arizona insisted later that he was wearing trunks, although he didn’t sound too sure of it.
(I know it isn’t very Christian of me, but I wondered where the shark from "Jaws" was when it could have really done some good.)
It is probably worth noting that we aren’t talking about a group of privileged kids traipsing around Europe between their sophomore and junior years at college here. We are talking about a group of privileged adults, whooping it up on the taxpayers’ dime, who obviously have very little concern that they are only reinforcing the really lousy opinion that the rest of the world already has of America.
Maybe Mr. Yoder skipped the Sea of Galilee V.I.P. tour the previous afternoon and had no idea of the lake’s history. I mean if George W. Bush could pass himself off as a born again Christian while it suited his political purposes (I almost used the word "ambitions," a real misnomer when applied to W.), I guess it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that an elected official from a state that is steeped in corn and conservatism was only vaguely aware that Christ walked on something that mere mortals can’t. Somewhere.
Yoder is from the state that Dorothy clicked her heels three times and wished to go back to. If there really is "no place like it," we probably should be grateful. The problem in the United States, at least if you look at the astuteness of our elected representatives, is that there are far too many places exactly like it.
Mitt Romney thought the reps’ romp in Israel demonstrated "reprehensible" conduct. Bodies of water are to be revered as the things that make it possible to stash money in a place where you don’t have to pay taxes on it. Romney was just appalled that its importance should be diminished by freshmen members in Congress from his own party.
Only one person in the entire history of the world was capable of crossing water on foot, Mr. Romney said. Even his friends have to use yachts.
In a prepared statement, House Speaker John Boehner said that the prospect of naked drunken people swimming at night would necessitate hiring more lifeguards, so the legislators were to be commended as job creators in the best traditions of the Republican Party.
I’m not sure that any individual opinion of Christianity, conservatism, nude swimming, alcohol abuse, or walking on water matters very much in this particular instance. These people were representing the citizens of this country and their appallingly insensitive behavior was a direct and very personal affront to the most fundamental beliefs of a great many of them. But what makes it doubly infuriating is the fact that the men involved are part of a political party that is always plastering (no pun intended) itself in the media as the "family values" folks, the ones that the rest of us should strive to emulate.
What the rest of us should ponder, however, is what sort of detachment from reality instigates this kind of reckless conduct from public officials. These men, after all, have a major impact on our own lives, whether we cringe at the thought or not.
Sure, the booze played its part, but it has to be more than that. It is more than just the inbred arrogance that Americans like to project to the rest of the world, too. You can’t rummage around for very long without finally arriving at the one word that is the bedrock of any attempts at explanation -- stupidity.
If Rep. Yoder and his fun-time companions want to pass themselves off as God-fearing Christians to their alarmingly gullible constituents they should confine their alcohol-fueled nude swimming while they are representing America to isolated villas and have the Koch brothers pick up the tab.
Prince Harry could join them. As a scion of the most expensively useless family on the face of the earth, he should fit right in with rest of them.
Alden Graves is a reviewer and columnist for the Banner.