by Tom Shales
Consensuses form so quickly now -- faster than frost on a window pane. The vice presidential debate had barely ended last night when agreement emerged from within the vast media morass that Joe Biden had forcefully redeemed the honor of the Obama Administration, Paul Ryan did all right by himself and running mate Mitt Romney, and Martha Raddatz of ABC News had done a much better job at moderating than puffy and pompous Jim Lehrer did at the presidential debate earlier this month.
A depression has descended upon me. I look at the blank screen, and those are the words that come into my mind. I do not believe for a second that Mitt Romney will win the election. I do believe that at this moment he is tied, 50-50, in various national polls. Many of my fellow Americans have at least temporarily disappointed me.
A great many Americans no longer believe in the separation of Church and State, and indeed deny it is a principle found in the Constitution. Yet the wording of the First Amendment is quite clear, and its importance to the founders is underlined by its being first. Certainly it was clear to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."