Paul Krugman is a professor of economics at Princeton University who, in his eagerness to obtain appointive office in a future Democratic administration, has moonlighted for some years now as a columnist for the New York Times, where he has worked assiduously to develop talking points for Democratic candidates.  His ambition is transparent, and it is sometimes entertaining to watch him daintily avert his eyes from Clinton-era scandals while taking on the machinations of the Bush administration.  (Neither of the present authors, it must be stressed, has much sympathy for the Bushies, who have striven heroically to cover themselves in something other than glory.)

Alas, however, Professor Krugman strayed far from his vocation in the dismal science with his column of April 13, 2007, entitled “For God’s Sake.”  The target of his wrath was the temerity of the Regent University School of Law—an openly Christian law school located in Virginia Beach.  Regent’s crime?  It succeeded in placing 150 graduates in the Bush administration.  No good Ivy Leaguer can allow such bumptiousness to pass unnoticed.

The sheer uppityness of those folks at Regent probably pushed him over the edge.  What else could explain the tone and tenor of the column?  Professor Krugman tries to deny that he is a conspiracy theorist even while proving that the paranoid style is alive and well.  Like some latter-day Joe McCarthy, Tail-Gunner Paul has here in his hand a list of 150 graduates of Regent University now working in the Bush administration.  Although “the Christian right’s strategy of infiltration” into the corridors of power has been set back by the administration’s current political travails, Krugman ominously intones, “it would be wildly premature to declare the danger over.  This is a movement that has shown great resilience over the years.”

What Tail-Gunner Paul cannot stand is “the sheer extremism of these people.”  Why, just look at the extreme things that “these people” do!  Take the new U.S. attorney for Minnesota—she’s actually “in the habit of quoting Bible verses in the office.”  What kind of crazy country are we living in?  We’d better amend the Constitution to require religious tests for federal office!

This, after all, is what Krugman is really gunning for.  He may or may not have objections to allowing people with private religious convictions to serve in government.  We don’t know the man personally, so we can’t really say.  But what he wishes to forbid is the public manifestation of that belief.  A Catholic who goes to Mass on Sunday may or may not be tolerable in public office, but what would be absolutely intolerable is a Catholic who takes seriously the injunctions of the Second Vatican Council.  After all, Lumen Gentium declares that the laity are “called by God . . . [to] contribute to the sanctification of the world.”  And again: “All the laity . . . have the exalted duty of working for the ever greater spread of the divine plan of salvation to all men.”  And, with respect to political participation, Gaudium et Spes adds: “Christians . . . should be a shining example by their sense of responsibility and dedication to the common good.”  It is this sort of Christian, by Krugman’s account, who poses a mortal danger to the Republic.

Amending the Constitution can be tough, however.  So we offer a more limited proposal designed to assuage Krugman’s anxieties.  Let’s all insist that the candidates in the next presidential election make a solemn promise never to hire anyone to work in their administrations who might conceivably be linked to the Christian Right.  Surely, the threat that such “infiltrators” pose to the American Way of Life is every bit as serious as the threat from domestic communists in the depths of the Cold War.

Or maybe not.  Maybe the real threat to liberty, tolerance, democracy, and peace in this country comes from people such as Paul Krugman.