Congressman Tony Hall, the plain-spoken Democrat from Dayton, Ohio, is not flashy. There is no mane of flowing white hair, no sonorous voice uttering benign inanities, no wall of toothy photos with the powerful and chic. There are a few snapshots displayed in his waiting room beside a citation from a mayors' prayer breakfast and a tiny TV. One shows Hall ladling a serving of beans into a bowl for a child, apparently in Africa. Another shows him standing next to a camel, and both of them face the camera head-on for their portrait. The resemblance between the two is striking: sandy-brown hair, appraising eyes, and a cautious smile. For both man and beast, the wide-set eyes dip down at the outward corners, suggesting sobriety, perhaps a tinge of melancholy. Neither one is likely to be persuaded to buy a bridge; neither is likely to try to sell you one.

Tony Hall is not a typical denizen of Capitol Hill. Compared to the other shining lights, he presents a modest display: practical, industrious, and determined. Hall brings to mind the turtle, that single-minded, thick-shelled creature who, as the saying goes, gets nowhere without sticking his neck out. Stylish he's not, but that was never an essential component of success.

Yet this unpretentious man could represent a model for a new way of doing politics, offering hope to Christians weary of the clumsy fit offered by current partisan alignments. For some Christians, the Democratic party has put itself beyond the pale due to its support of abortion and and its lack of support for a traditional sexual morality. But the Republican party is on shaky ground as well. So-called country club Republicans were deserted in the last two presidential elections as Christians suspected them of ...

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