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According to two polls released over the week just passed, President Bush has picked up significant ground among black voters. A New York Times poll showed black support for the president at 17 percent. A poll of larger scope done by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an organization specializing in studying black issues, showed 18 percent black support for Bush. Although black support at this level for Bush-Cheney is still low, it nevertheless represents a doubling of the 8 percent of the black vote that the Republican ticket received in 2000.

In a race that seems to be shaping up as a neck and neck horserace, it can make all the difference for the president to pick up an additional 9 percent of the black vote.

Although some have expressed surprise that the president is notably picking up new support among black voters, those who have been reading my columns over the last several months will be less astonished by these results. I have been writing that traditionally Democratic voters in the black churchgoing community are becoming disillusioned with the Democratic Party and that, in particular, the gay marriage issue has become a focal point of that disillusionment.

The results of the Joint Center poll, which was an extensive survey of current black political attitudes, bear out my observations. Support for Kerry among black Christian conservatives is now 49 percent, 20 points lower than the 69 percent that Al Gore received from this group in 2000. Bush’s support among this same group, now at 36 percent, is more than triple what he received in 2000.

The black community is, by and large, a religious community. When surveyed, blacks respond at higher rates than whites that religion plays a “very important” role in their life.

The interesting reality over recent years has been that blacks have not taken their faith with them into the voting booth as do whites. Regular church attendance has been a reliable predictor of voting behavior among whites, with churchgoers disproportionately voting Republican. Among blacks, this has not been the case.

The gay marriage issue may very well be the tip of the iceberg of change among the black electorate. Gay marriage, and claims equating the gay movement to the civil-rights movement, has been a wake-up call. Black pastors and their congregants are waking up to the fact that the liberal agenda that they have been supporting all these years does not liberate, but denigrates, dehumanizes and enslaves. They are beginning to see the liberal agenda, the welfare state agenda, as a moral problem, undermining the dignity and responsibility that makes men and women free.

This disrespect for personal dignity, the treatment of human beings as objects to manipulate that so characterizes the liberal left, is what was at work in John Kerry’s comment about Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter in the last debate with Bush. Kerry’s dragging Mary Cheney and her private life before tens of millions of viewers – who tuned in to hear a debate between candidates for president – goes beyond being an isolated incident of poor taste. When examined carefully, the remark and Kerry’s behavior tells us about this man and gives a sense why black Christians are so uncomfortable with him.

Although liberals are allegedly the sensitive ones, those who really care about people, once Kerry sensed that he could pick up political points by using Mary Cheney to advance his personal political interests, he didn’t hesitate for a second. It reminds me of Bill Clinton’s observation that he took advantage of Monica Lewinsky because he could. John Kerry took advantage of Mary Cheney because he could. The only thing that stood between his violation of this young woman’s dignity and privacy was his own integrity, judgment and respect for others. The “I feel your pain” liberals of the Kerry-Clinton ilk are con men of the worst sort, for whom others are simply means to their own ends.

These slick operators translate their basic attitude toward others into political behavior by grabbing power by selling a bill of goods to those who are down and out that government can solve all their problems. Rather than telling the truth, that even in the worst economic environment, it is only through personal responsibility that people can pull themselves up, these con men view others’ misfortune as an opportunity for their own political gain.

The substance of Kerry’s remarks was as revealing as his behavior. Kerry knows zero about Mary Cheney’s personal struggles. However, he used her to claim that there is no choice in homosexual behavior. So, in one swoop Kerry threw thousands of years of religious tradition and teaching into the garbage. We’re all victims now. And, of course, from a black perspective, John Kerry will argue that an individual’s sexual behavior is as predetermined as his or her race. So, indeed sexual behavior should fall into the realm of civil rights.

Blacks are picking up on all this. This is what these new polling results are telling us. View this as a trend.

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