Saturday, October 08, 2011
What to do ... what to do?
This afternoon, Rick Perry was introduced by the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas, who lauded him as "a candidate who is a proven leader, a true conservative, and a committed follower of Christ."... what to do?
After Perry's speech, Jeffress spoke with a group of reporters, who questioned him about previous statements he'd made about Mormonism. Jeffess stated, unequivocally, that he believes, as does the Southern Baptist Convention, that Mormonism is a "cult." He framed the current GOP primary race as one between Perry and Mitt Romney (who speaks here tomorrow), and the most important goal as unseating Obama. If Romney is a nominee, Jeffress contended, Obama will win reelection because evangelicals will stay home.
Since Mitt Romney is battling suspicion among Christian conservatives about the depth of his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, it is no surprise that he is joining the other major Republican candidates this week to speak at the annual Values Voters Summit, a celebration of the political aims of the religious right.... what to do?
The conference, from Friday to Sunday in Washington, is sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association and other evangelical Christian groups. It aims to energize social conservatives and test the fidelity of the candidates.
The conference planners have obliged Mr. Romney, scheduling him to speak right before Bryan Fischer, who is chief spokesman for the family association ...
Mr. Fischer has stood out for his harsh statements on his daily radio show, likening gay rights advocates to domestic terrorists, arguing that gay men and lesbians should be barred from public office and repeating the discredited theory that homosexuals built the Nazi Party. He has said that American Muslims should be banned from the military and that Mormons, let alone Muslims, should not enjoy First Amendment protections because these are reserved for true Christians. ...
The Romney campaign did not immediately comment on the call to distance the candidate from Mr. Fischer.
Let's see ... if you're a politician, you suck up to people who think you are not entitled to the same rights as "real" Americans and, if you are the people who think they are the "real" Americans, you prefer to keep that nig ... er ... Kenyan socialist Islamist in the White House rather than vote for a Mormon.
In some universe, such stupidity and cupidity would disqualify anyone from reproducing, much less being put in charge of other peoples' lives.
Unfortunately, that isn't our universe.
Update: To give credit where lukewarm credit is due, Romney did not simply lick the asses of the asses. In a rather mild and oblique rebuke to that wingnut's wingnut, Bryan Fischer, Romney said:
Our heritage of religious faith and tolerance has importantly shaped who we have become as a people. We must continue to welcome faith into the public square and allow it to flourish. Our government should respect religious values, not silence them. We will always pledge our allegiance to a nation under God.The audience's reaction was said to be "only tepid applause."
Our values ennoble the citizen, and strengthen the nation. We should remember that decency and civility are values too. One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line. Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate. The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us – let no agenda, narrow our vision or drive us apart.
Fischer, who followed Romney, promptly demonstrated just how mild the rebuke was:
Although he did not mention Mormonism, he did emphasize, repeatedly, that the president of the United States "needs to be a main of sincere, authentic, genuine Chrisitan faith."So can we now put away the rightwing pundits' claim that questioning presidential candidates as to whether or not they accept the science of evolution is irrelevant and their further claim that no such animal as a "Dominionist" exists?
In the rest of his laundry list of presidential prerequisites, Fischer veered from there to discuss the "mythical separation of church and state," the need for a president to "reject the morally and scientifically bankrupt theory of evolution," and to believe in "the same Creator" as the founders-- the "creator revealed in the pages of the Old and New Testaments." That led him to an extended anti-Muslim rant, in which, among other things, he asserted, "I believe it's important that we have a president who understands that Islam is not a religion of peace, but a religion of war and violence and death."
"The threat is not radical Islam, but Islam itself. This is not Islamophobia, this is Islamorealism." ...
Another presidential prerequisite, for Fischer: That he must "resist" and "prevent" the "implementation" of "sharia law." He got a standing ovation for that.
Update II: Heh!
After his speech this morning, I asked the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer what he thought of Mitt Romney's comments about him. His reply:It must be "insulting" to theocrats to be told that America has a tradition of religious tolerance when their whole agenda is to use the government to squash any worldview and any religion other than their own ... not to mention how insulting it is to tell people whose entire stock in trade is to use delusional fears, such as "creeping Sharia Law," to drum up political and financial support that there should be civil and respectful debate.I thought it was tasteless. I thought he was allowing the New York Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center and People for the American Way to dictate the content of his speech, which I think was a mistake for him to do at the Values Voters Summit. That was kind of an insult to the people in the room. ... I don't think it helped him.
The wingnut religious right vote will not win him the presidency. Romney needs to win votes from those who voted for Obama last time because their vote is worth 2 from the religious right. Why? Because the religious right will either vote Romney or not vote at all. They will not vote for Obama, so no loss of votes for Obama whatever happens.
But if Romney gains votes from Obama voters that's a gain to Romney AND a loss to Obama (or at least Romney is inoffensive enough that Obama voters do not vote).
Romney needs to attract or nullify Obama voters more than he needs the religious right. The more right wing he becomes the more votes he may generate, but it's from a pool that doesn't affect Obama's vote, and it would make it harder for him to attract Obama voters - especially the moderate republicans who were Palienated at the last election.
Quite true. And there is no question that any Republican candidate will have to "run to the center" in the general election. The question is whether anyone can become the Republican candidate without the wingnut vote. If not, all of them will wind up saying out loud many things (to be played over and over in Obama commercials) that will scare off the moderates and, at least, stir the left to hold their noses and vote for Obama.
I think that's why Christie opted out. Unless or until the party can marginilize the wingnuts, perhaps as a result of the debacle (as they see it) of a highly unpopular president winning a second term, there is no way Christie can win the nomination. Maybe in 2016 ...