Saturday, February 24, 2007
Unscrewing the Right Politics
The New York Times has a good article on the struggle the Righteous Right is having in coming up with a candidate able to fit within its ideological ... um ... straight jacket. The threat is that, like 1996 where, despite their utter hatred of Bill Clinton, the far Christian right would not vote for Bob Dole out of distrust for his complete commitment to their ideals.
Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as "agents of intolerance," and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.
Many were also suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights. (Mr. Romney has worked to convince conservatives that his views have changed.)
The Council for National Policy, a secretive group founded 25 years ago by the Rev. Tim LaHaye as a forum for conservative Christians to strategize about turning the country to the right, presently has such members as Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. It has been vetting the various aspirants to the mantle of the Christian Nationalist candidate for president at a meeting at a Florida resort this month.
[I]n a measure of their dissatisfaction, a delegation of prominent conservatives at [the Council's meeting in] Amelia Island tried to enlist as a candidate Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a guest speaker at the event. A charismatic politician with a clear conservative record, Mr. Sanford is almost unknown outside his home state and has done nothing to prepare for a presidential run. He firmly declined the group’s entreaties, people involved in the recruiting effort said.To get an idea of Sanford's abilities and ideas, there was a previous "statement" he made on evolution that might be enlightening.
One problem is that the alternatives to McCain, Giuliani or Romney have limited fundraising prospects. But even beyond that, each has baggage that some in the Council find problematic:
Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas gets good marks for his emphasis on restricting abortion and amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage but loses points for being insufficiently troglodyte on immigration, supporting the President's guest worker plan, and not being inflammatory enough in his rhetoric about Islamic terrorism.
Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has strong personal ties to many of the Evangelical leaders, since he was a Southern Baptist minister and head of the Arkansas Baptist convention before becoming governor. He faces resistance from some limited-government, antitax participants for presiding over tax and spending increases in Arkansas.
Representative Duncan Hunter of California is a supporter of Iraqi troop surge and, as we have already seen, more than sufficiently fascist on immigration. But his stance on trade has alienated the business wing of the Republican Party, compounding his substantial fundraising problems.
Why do I suspect that screwing all our Constitutional rights won't count against them either?Mr. Norquist said he remained open to any of the three candidates who spoke to the council or to Mr. Romney. He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex.
"It’s called secondary virginity," Mr. Norquist said. "It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians."