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What would candidate Christ do?

cover image

As a born-again politician, he might shock those who throw his name around

By Jimmy Breslin

January 10, 2000
Web posted at: 11:24 a.m. EST (1624 GMT)

I suggested that he not give away the bus money," said Nicodemus, the campaign manager for candidate Christ. "But he gave it to every derelict we passed. They are his favorite people. He loves them, and he hates money."

Nicodemus and a large crowd of reverent volunteers, all of them broke, were trudging along behind the candidate on the cold highway outside Red Bud, Ill., far from the Iowa caucuses. "If we ever get there, we could win the thing easy," the campaign manager said. "He has very good name recognition. Way bigger than Lincoln."

He waved an arm in exuberance. "They can't even steal an election from him by voting dead names. Our candidate will come right in with his Lazarus move. He'll have a million at any poll by nightfall. They may come in shaking a lot of dust off them, but they'll be voters."

Candidate Christ, he said, merely by his presence could demolish these temporal politicians who use his name like it was a commercial product.

In particular, candidate Bush. "How can he say he carries me, Jesus Christ, in his heart," candidate Christ asked, "when at the same time he stands by while people are put to death?" He spoke in a soft voice that carried for a million miles.

The candidate continued, "How can he love Christ and take part in capital punishment? I say to you there have been 112 people put to death so far, while he maintains that I reside in his heart. Did not a woman beg for her life and he refused her? I say to you there will be chastisement for using the name of Christ in vain. My position is to listen to the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to death."

Nicodemus, the campaign manager, said, "My candidate has a thing about executions."

He shrugged. "On the other side of life, he can't get mad when he hears from some 60-year-old infant, some poor dupe like this guy in Queens who kneels down in church with two old women to give him some clout. He calls up, 'Please, Jesus, I'm playing my dead father's police-shield number in the lottery. Please let me win. It'll make up for the terrible loss.'"

"Then the old women say, 'Please, Jesus, he's been so sad since it happened. It's only been five years.'"

"He almost let the guy win."

Nicodemus looked up the highway and shook his head. There was a long way to go. "If we ever make Des Moines, the television would show him once, and they wouldn't let him off. They'd keep him on for 36 straight hours. The election would be over right there. Instead, look where we are. On foot. And we don't even have anything to eat."

Candidate Christ seems mildly bothered by his rivals. "Gore says he is a born-again Christian. There is only one born-again Christian, and he's walking with you right now."

He mentioned that Bradley, by refusing to discuss Christ on television, was not posing as an interpreter of God's design, as are so many others. But in the crowd following Christ, Nicodemus, a mortal who thrives on suspicions, said, "If Bradley won't even mention the name, could he be denying Christ? Let me see him get away with that."

The candidate said McCain has publicly recalled how he used the name to stay alive in prison. Candidate Christ then said it would be far better if he wouldn't use the name any more at rallies, as if quoting some cheap temporal philosopher.

"Bauer uses the name in Iowa the most," Nicodemus bristled. "He is as white as cows being milked. Wait until he sees our candidate. I mean, you can see for yourself, our candidate is good and Middle East swarthy. When Bauer sees the color of Christ's skin, I'll tell you what Bauer does. He drops dead--no, I can't talk like that. What Bauer does is pass out right on his face."

But the worst? No question: anybody for capital punishment who claims Jesus has a house in his heart. Candidate Jesus could confront them in Iowa now, later in the year or century, or in 10,000 years. Time doesn't matter. He owns it.

Later in the day, Nicodemus realized this at a roadside restaurant named Eat. He had enough for a hamburger and French fries. He thought to himself, "Don't let anybody see me. You shake this whole crowd down and won't find $2."

In the parking lot behind the stand, he found maybe 300 people, all with hamburgers and French fries and soda. They all said that whenever they looked down at the paper plate there was another hamburger. Now campaign manager Nicodemus thought maybe they could make Iowa after all.


Cover Date: January 17, 2000

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