In the tsunami of words leading up to last weekends analysis of the congressional deal on the debt ceiling, many of the principals and their spokesmen outdid themselves in overflowing rhetoric. One stands out in particular, however. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) called the bi-partisan leadership agreementwhich has yet to be approved by the rank-and-filea sugar-coated Satan sandwich. Cleaver, who is an ordained minister, is generally to be found on the left-most fringes of the House of Representatives Congressional Black Caucus. Clearly, I dont agree with Mr. Cleavers politics, but Im intrigued by his use of language.

What jumped out at me first was the memorable phrase sugar-coated. President Abraham Lincoln used that term in his famous July 4, 1861, Message to Congress. The government printer objected to Lincolns sentence: With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for thirty years... But thats not dignified, objected John D. Defrees. He might have said its not presidential. With the country being torn apart, with Congress reconvening in just days, President Lincoln might have turned on Defrees and ordered him to print it and pipe down. But he didnt. He just smiled tolerantly and said: Well, Defrees, if you think the time will ever come when people will not understand what sugar-coated means, Ill alter it; otherwise, Ill let it stand. We do still understand what sugar-coated means. So that phrase has stood for the past one hundred fifty years.

Thank you, Congressman Cleaver, for bringing this venerableLincolnexpression back into public usage. I can appreciate your quotable quote at least that much.

Now, as to your Satan sandwich line, its odd, but a lot my friends agree with you, but for entirely different reasons. They know the devil is in the details. And they surely dont like these details.

Id like to raise a point of order, though, Congressman Cleaver. My question is this: Why is it the atheizers are not objecting to your use of religious language and imagery in describing a measure coming before you in the House of Representatives? They are zealous to jump on any small town council where Jesus name is invoked. They are forever seeing a dreaded establishment of religion where we see only free exercise.

How come theyre not picketing you, Mr. Cleaver, when you invoke Satans name in a public policy debate? Do we need to capitalize it? Do we need to give it the Rolling Stones honorificTheir Satanic Majesties Request? Hey, if its an establishment of religion to cite the name of Jesus, does their strange silence mean Satanism is OK? Wheres the ACLU in all of this?

Or, are these folks really an Anti-Christian Litigation Unit? Are they perfectly content when left-wing politicians employ religious language and imageryso long as its not Christian or not conservative? Is it only when Christians gather for prayer and discuss public policy that these atheizers become exercised?

Their phony talk of defending civil liberties for all of us is what is truly sugar-coated. In fact, their deep hostility to Christianity is obvious. And there just may be another

dish on the secular menu. But its not Congressmans Cleavers Satan sandwich. With so many attacks and so many kinds of assaults, youd have to say the atheizers are cooking up a Satanic Stew.