Judge Eismann caught up in morass of Christian Coalition
Commentary by PAT MURPHY
How fitting that the Idaho Christian Coalition, which demands squeaky
clean behavior in politicians, finds itself engulfed in an untidy family feud with ugly
inferences of (gasp!) fraudulent conduct by members.
The fuss is about the election year questionnaire that has become a
signature political device of the coalition. Directors of the Idaho Christian Coalition
are pleading with the public to disregard the newest version bearing the coalitions
name, insisting questions werent approved. The board also asks volunteers not to
distribute it in churches.
But another coalition member, Kelly Walton, has been on Boise television
showing what he claims are minutes of the coalition board approving the questions and
distribution of the questionnaire.
So, is someone lying in the holier-than-thou Christian Coalition?
No matter. Its too late for the Christian Coalition to disavow a
document designed to influence elections. Since its creation by Pat Robertson (he dropped
the title "Reverend" to create the impression politics and religion werent
being mixed), the Christian Coalition has acted as a virtual political action committee
for Republicans by distributing pamphlets in churches to energize support for political
This is the outfit to which District Judge Daniel Eismann has tied his
political fortunes in hopes evangelicals will install him on the state Supreme Court. He
pandered by submitting to coalition questionson abortion, evolution, gun
ownershipthat his rival, incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Cathy Silak, wisely
refused to answer out of ethical concerns.
Whatever else might separate them, this much is certain: Eismann seems all
too willing to disdain accepted ethics expected of judges by willingly expressing advance
opinions on a wide range of issues, including abortion, evolution and gun ownership, in
exchange for coalition support. Lawyers whove been critical of Eismann feel he
cant fairly judge issues on the high court if hes already expressed a public
Justice Silak, on the other hand, understands obligations of a judge to
hear cases on their merits and the law before rendering an opinion.
Put another way, Eismann leaves the impression he doesnt want to be
bothered with facts or lawyers arguments. Hes already made up his mind on some
issues, and is willing to trade opinions for votes.
This cheapening of the judiciary will get worse, as long as judgeships
remain an elective office mired in political promises. Promises-for-votes will get more
irresponsible as some candidates choose to pander to voting blocs with promises for
whatever their hearts desire.
"Straight Talk" John McCain is busy retracting campaign
positions since bowing out of the presidential sweepstakes. He confessed he was guilty of
"political expediency" for not expressing his real opinion that the Confederate
flag should be hauled down from the South Carolina statehouse. He says he feared hed
Now, in what seems to be more political expediency, McCain endorses the
man he said earlier was ill-equipped to be president.
And then he staged a $5,000-a-plate fund-raiser Monday night in Washington
to which he invited donations from PACsgroups he roundly denounced during the
Maybe he should henceforth be identified as Sen. John "Mc-Con."
Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the
Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.