On talk shows, Clinton brings out worst in callers


You don't get the calls on C-SPAN that you get on other call-in shows.

The calls are much more likely to be about employer mandates for health care than whether O.J. Simpson should give up hair samples.

C-SPAN is about as serious and informative as television gets. And the most frightening thing about appearing on it (at least for me) is that the questioners often know more than the people they are questioning.

Though I may be changing my mind about that last point.

I was on C-SPAN last week and, as always, I kept track of the calls. I have always believed this is a good way of finding out what the nation really cares about.

The first call criticized the White House staff for stealing towels.

OK, fine. Cute story, next question.

The second call attacked Bill Clinton for attacking the religious right rather than the "irreligious left."

OK, fine. Let's move along.

The third call attacked Clinton for being a whiner. "Wah-wah-wah," the caller said.

What was going on here?

The fourth call attacked Clinton's Surgeon General, M. Joycelyn Elders, for attacking what she called the "irreligious right."

The fifth call attacked Clinton for his inability to withstand criticism.

L The sixth call attacked Clinton for attacking Rush Limbaugh.

The seventh call attacked Clinton for being a "a consummate liar" and advised everyone to read the Bible, "Acts 5, 1 through 6." (I later did so. It begins: "But a certain man named An-a-ni-as, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession" but kept part of the profit and was criticized for it by Peter. An-a-ni-as then dies. Is that clear?)

At this point on the show, I mentioned that I had never been on C-SPAN when all the calls were critical of Bill Clinton or anyone else for that matter.

After that, a few calls came in praising Clinton -- "I really like this president and he's not really as left as people make him out to be," a man identifying himself as a Clinton Republican said -- but at the end of 90 minutes, I counted 17 calls against Clinton, nine for, and a couple that couldn't be classified.

The calls attacking Clinton were not only more numerous, however, but some were particularly vicious and loony, the likes of which I had never heard on C-SPAN. Such as the one that accused Clinton of having a "murderer" for attorney general because she killed innocent Christians at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco.

The tenor of the calls surprised me. But it really shouldn't have. I should have known that the religious right has been beating its drums against Clinton in an outrageous manner for some time now. Like Jerry Falwell, who is selling a videotape ($40 plus $3 handling) accusing President Clinton, himself, of murder.

Those who oppose Clinton have a right to do so. But some of them believe they are not just expressing their own opinion, but the revealed word of God, which they have a holy duty to impose upon the rest of the nation.

Is accusing the president of murder and also calling his wife a lesbian and a "femi-Nazi" really what God has in mind, however?

"Is that in a good Christian spirit?" Clinton asked in a recent radio interview. "I think it's questionable."

To say the least.

After the C-SPAN show, I drove back to my office to find a call on my voice mail. It was from a woman, whose voice grew angrier as she went on:

"I was watching the Commu-Nazis in action on C-SPAN this morning. I was watching you cover up and protect that pathological liar in the White House.

"It's really funny that the only people who called to protect him are whores that want an abortion, leeches, bureaucrats and welfare pimps.

"I mean why would anyone defend a sewer rat -- or her husband, the president.

"I mean you people are ridiculous. I mean you people are pathetic. I mean you've got cover-up written all over you. And everybody knows the only people that want Clinton are the whores, the femi-Nazis and the welfare pimps!"

The call reminded me of what one caller to C-SPAN had said earlier that morning: "Christianity is based on three things: Love your God; love your neighbor; love yourself."

But it seems to me that too many people are managing only that last one.

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