Here are two examples of charges and counter charges that were made, not by the candidates themselves, but on handbills circulated by their surrogates and campaign managers:
“John Adams is a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who secretly wants to start a war with France.”
“If Thomas Jefferson wins, murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced. Are you prepared to see your dwellings in flames? Female chastity violated?”
But is all of this new? In one of last Sunday's lectionary texts we were reminded of charges of a scandal 3000 years ago that rival the worst of any we see today. And the national figure facing the hot light of public blame and exposure was none other than the beloved King David himself.
Had David been running for another term in office back then, we can only imagine the vitriol that would have been leveled against him--with lurid details of adultery, murder, conspiracy and worse. He was in fact guilty of secretly conspiring with his army commander Joab to have his illicit lover's husband killed by putting him in a defenseless position in battle, all in a shameless effort to have his wife Bathsheba for himself.
The major difference between David and most politicians today is that when he was confronted with the awful truth of what he did he acknowledged his wrong, repented of it, and accepted the judgment he deserved.
God's response to his prayer of remorse and lament (as found in Psalm 34, one of the other lectionary texts for last Sunday) was to both punish David and to graciously forgive him, honoring him for not resorting to denial, rationalization, defensiveness and blame.
Imagine candidates of either party today being willing to simply take responsibility for past wrongs and to make an about face in their behavior.