It's not everyday you open up your Dallas Morning News and read this:
"I'm a Christian, a writer, a military parent and a registered Republican. On all those counts, I was disgusted by an e-mail I just received that's being circulated by campaign supporters of Republican George Allen, who's trying to retain his Senate seat in Virginia.
The message goes like this: "First, it was the Catholic priests, then it was Mark Foley, and now Jim Webb, whose sleazy novels discuss sex between very young teenagers. ... Hmmm, sounds like a perverted pedophile to me! Pass the word that we do not need any more pedophiles in office." Democrat James Webb is a war hero and former Marine, wounded in Vietnam and winner of the Navy Cross. He was writing about class and military issues long before me and has articulated the issue of how the elites have dropped the ball on military service in his classic novel Fields of Fire. By the way, that's a book Tom Wolfe calls "the greatest of the Vietnam novels."...
Mr. Webb also happens to be running against a desperate opponent supported by people who circulated the stupid e-mail, something that reminds me of a 2000 smear campaign aimed at another war hero, John McCain.
I never served in the military. It was my son's unexpected volunteering that connects me to the military family and to my country. And I've been voting Republican for years. My late father Dr. Francis Schaeffer was an evangelical theologian, friend to Jerry Falwell and White House guest of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and the first President Bush. I have nice handwritten letters from various members of the Bush family, including Barbara, thanking me for my books on military service. So I have every reason to stay in the Republicans' good graces. (It's nice to be complimented on television by the First Lady.)
But enough is enough. I've had it with Republican smears."
[Follow the jump. It gets better.]
"The Webb e-mail is the embodiment of the cynical Republican strategists, some of whom must know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Was Agatha Christie a murderer because she wrote about murder?
According to the Allen camp's logic, God would be a pedophile, too. After all, we Christians believe God inspired the Bible. And God-the-author chose to include the "sleazy" story about Lot offering to send out his young virgin daughters to be raped by the men of Sodom.
The Bible has masturbation scenes, rape, pedophilia and God's favorite man King David warming himself with a young virgin in his old age. He's the same man God tells us committed murder after he indulged his peeping Tom fantasies.
Lucky for God-the-author that He's not running against George Allen.
I just got back from a visit to Parris Island and was struck again as I was on the proud day of my son's boot camp graduation there as a Marine in 1999 by the moral credibility of the drill instructors and selflessness of the recruits.
Our political leaders should learn from them. In fact, our future leaders should be them. We need to compare today's leaders to those of the past, who earned credibility beyond the reach of cynicism and irony and cheap smear tactics.
People like Mr. McCain who is "for" the war in Iraq and Mr. Webb who is "against" the war should be respected no matter one's politics or ideas about the war. Why? Because they paid their dues.
My wife and I have reached the tipping point. We plan to go to town hall to dump our Republican voter registration and reregister as independents. I don't care anymore what party someone is in. These days, what I care about is what they're made of.
Wartime demands leaders with character and moral authority. The political party smearing Mr. Webb proves it has neither."
Frank Schaeffer is the author of "Baby Jack," a novel about Marines. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org