Faith and Consequences

Gail Collins has a wonderfully snarky op ed in today’s New York Times that describes the GOP voter’s predicament:

Mike [Huckabee] is soaring ahead in the early polls, in a surge to the front of the pack that suggests Republicans cannot come to grips with the idea that they are supposed to nominate either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani for president. There has to be a way out! What about Huckabee? He has a good heart! True, his brain doesn’t seem to have a single thought about foreign policy or know much about domestic policy, for that matter. But one well-functioning body part is better than nothing. …

… The Republican pack is one extremely unappealing bunch of politicians, and it’s no wonder that the poor voters have developed buyers’ remorse before they’ve come near the cash register. Huckabee is this week’s exercise in avoidance, and he’s not likely to be the last.

If Iowa opts for Mike (More Sincere Than Mitt, Less Weird Than Rudy), chances are that New Hampshire voters will decide that going that way lies disaster. They’ll probably go for Mitt (Fewer Wives Than Giuliani and More Money Than Anybody Else). Once the small states have spoken, Florida voters may be so appalled by the idea of having to listen to Mitt talk about his beautiful marriage for four years that they’ll opt for Rudy (More Consistent Than Mitt and Remember 9/11). While some candidates are focusing on small states and face-to-face campaigning, Giuliani seems to do best in large states where very few people have actually met him.

Then, somewhere around South Dakota, Fred (Extremely Tall) Thompson’s strategy will finally unfold and the voters will give him the nomination because they’ve forgotten he was ever in the race.

Collins’s op ed, and this Huffington Post piece by Sam Stein, provide fairly unflattering portraits of Huckabee. We learn from Collins that Huckabee once attempted to stop an abortion for a 15-year-old retarded girl who had been raped by her stepfather. We also learn that the Rev. Huckabee likes to get presents. (When then-Governor and Mrs. Huckabee publicly renewed the vows of their 30-year marriage, they registered their wish list at Target and solicited gifts. Wedding gifts are exempt from ethics restrictions in Arkansas.) And Stein assures us that Huckabee is serious when he says he wants to take the nation back for Christ.

I didn’t watch the last GOP debate, but apparently Huckabee’s performance got a big boost from Alan Keyes. Although John Dickerson claims that

Huckabee didn’t need Keyes to help him. He did just fine on his own. His front-runner status fit him Wednesday afternoon (unlike his suits) as he gave thoughtful answers on issues from education to unemployment.

But Collins wrote,

In a great bit of luck for the Huckabee team, the event included Alan Keyes, a candidate so wacky he’s generally excluded even from the none-too-selective list of Republican debaters. It was the perfect way to combat the impression that Huckabee’s religious beliefs, which seem to rule out evolution, are extreme. Next to Keyes, he looks like a logical positivist.

As near as I can tell, Romney’s “religion” speech of last week had no impact on his chances for the nomination. People queasy about his Mormonism are still queasy about his Mormonism. The Weekly Standard endorsed Romney last week, calling him a “full-spectrum conservative.” They seem to think that Romney, more than the other candidates, could keep the fracturing conservative coalition together. But this tells us that, for all their pandering to the Christian Right, the urban elitists of the National Review never really understood the Bible Belt culture and values they claimed to champion.

John Meacham writes at Newsweek:

So it has come to this: the 2008 Republican Iowa caucuses have descended into a kind of holy war. The clash centers on issues that are, in Saint Augustine’s phrase, ever ancient, ever new: the nature of God, the disposition of power and the sanctity of conscience. The skirmish pits Huckabee against Romney in a story of hardball politics and high-minded history, of shadowy slurs and noble principles.

Fights about faith and politics have been with us always. In 1800, there were advertisements saying voters could have “Adams and God, or Jefferson and no God.” Andrew Jackson resisted the formation of a “Christian Party in Politics.” Abraham Lincoln buried a proposed constitutional amendment designed to declare the nation’s dependence on, and allegiance to, Jesus. A century ago, in the 1908 campaign, William Howard Taft, a Unitarian, was attacked as an apostate by supporters of William Jennings Bryan, an evangelical Christian. “Think of the United States with a President who does not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but looks upon our immaculate Savior as a … low, cunning imposter!” The Pentecostal Herald said in July 1908.

Three weeks away from the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, it seems clear that we have not moved very far beyond where we were in the Taft-Bryan race.

Even Charles Krauthammer is bothered.

This campaign is knee-deep in religion, and it’s only going to get worse. I’d thought that the limits of professed public piety had already been achieved during the Republican CNN/YouTube debate when some squirrelly looking guy held up a Bible and asked, “Do you believe every word of this book?” — and not one candidate dared reply: None of your damn business.

But this is a monster of the Right’s own creation. They’ve spent years cultivating the Christian Right as a political force, and now it’s a political force. What did they expect?

Is it just me, or does Charles Krauthammer look like a turtle?

22 thoughts on “Faith and Consequences

  1. No, it’s not just you.

    I’ve been half expecting the Huckabee surge (and Giuliani collapse) for a while now, because he’s really the most logical candidate for the hardcore authoritarian evangelicals. A lot of them were settling for Giuliani, but I suspect they weren’t thrilled with reminders of his infidelity; at the same time, Huckabee started getting some more press and looking more like a contender.

    What all of this illustrates is that the GOP is less a party than a coalition of extremist factions.

  2. “Separated at birth:
    Malignant reptile . . . . Benevolent reptile”
    They both look like they could take off one of your fingers, but only Krauthammer looks smug about it.

    I swear, it’s like each Republican frontrunner has been barfed out of the Wayback Machine. Giuliani is stuck in a particular week in September, six years ago; I think they found Romney somewhere in 1986 or so. Huckabee reminds me of that evil robot John Ritter played on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a sort of automated Bluebeard who would marry women and then imprison them in a 1950s-style dungeon.

    At least, for all their myriad faults, the Democratic candidates know what freakin’ year this is.

  3. “this monster is the right’s own creation”
    Danm right darlin’, I hope the monster eats ’em all…..
    Ye reap what ye sow.

    I’m back from my trip to outer Mongolia, to my home in Kissimmee, the soon to be breakaway Republic of Boriquistan….

  4. Republicans lack a candidate the are FOR. They are all running AGAINST. For a long time, it was certain they were running against Hillary. That was the only virtue Rudy had for most Repugs; he was deemed the Repug most likely to defeat HER!

    Now polls have the early contests up for grabs for Dems as well, at least in the early primaries, so the race for the Repgs is about which single-issue Repug you like.

    Off topic, I admit –

    Two stories raise questions in my mind about Republicans and women. One story is an old story, new to surface. An American woman working in the Green Zone was kidnapped and kept in a shipping container and raped repeatedly for some extended period of time by employees of a subsidiary of Halliburton. Talk about your company perks. She was rescued but nothing happened! There is federal jurisdiction, but the administration has burried the complaint, made no charges or investigation, despite repeated inquiries by a Senator. Which is why it’s going public. Cover-up and Halliburton bring one name to mind, but the woman was reportedly gang-raped and unquestiopnably rescued. How do you figure this won’t come back to haunt you?

    The other story from last week has to do with a rapist Huccabee requested a pardon for while he was governor.The guy went on to commit rape and murder. Why pardon the slug? Maybe, if Huculberry Hound had reason to think the guy was innocent, but – how do you figure it won’t bite you in the ass if he returns to violence against women – and yes – they frequently DO.

    So what is it about Republicans that they think violence against women is a misdemeanor or less?

  5. “I’d thought that the limits of professed public piety had already been achieved during the Republican CNN/YouTube debate when some squirrelly looking guy held up a Bible and asked, “Do you believe every word of this book?” — and not one candidate dared reply: None of your damn business.”

    This was a favorite trick of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention – they liked to ask it of Seminary Professors, and then fire the ones that said “no.”

    I, personally, would not vote for anyone who said “yes.”

  6. Turtles ain’t reptiles…They’re amphibians…

    But Krauthammer’s as reptilian as they come…

    Forked tongue and all…

  7. What a line-up of losers the republicans are fielding. Huckabee is leading the pack in the weirdo factor, and Guiliani is ahead in the moral deficiency department. I’m surprised he’s still in the race..after revelations of taxpayers paying over $400,000 to taxi his bimbo around and supplement his extra-martial nookie costs, and then on top of that his goomba Keric providing retroactive and amended lies to cover Guiliani’s adultery. The man knows no shame, and thinks he can drag his harlot to the status of First Lady. Guilani is the real reptile..he’s a lounge lizard..I mean really, his pursuit of the flesh reads like a chapter from Swamp Hoyden.

    And Huckabee is a watered down version of Pat Robertson.. He’s way out there in fantasy land.

  8. Here’s the Rethug ticket in ’08: Huck and Rudy – interchangeable as Pres and VP.
    Huck will bring in the Religious nut’s. Rudy will bring in the torture, war, hate and fear crowd.
    It’ll be a perfect storm of Dominionism, domination, hate and fear. And Rudy will wear a donitratrix’s “gown of gold” and leather to the inaugurataion, where Huck will pick at his bass guitar to “Born to be Wild,” and a new version of “War, What it is it good for?
    Unlimited corporate profit’s. Huh!”

  9. So the Fundies are being pressured to abandon one of their own (Huckleberry) and vote for the “establishment” candidate (Romney) who belongs to a religion they hate.

    It’s one thing for partisan voters of either party to vote for someone other than their favorite candidate because of “electability” but it’s entirely different to ask religious voters to compromise their beliefs.

  10. The really delicious part is that the fanatics can’t be reasoned with. This could pay dividends well into the future.

  11. I just read “Somewhere There’s An Idiot,” your post from January 2006.

    I write posts like that as well, but the idiots are the Bush-bashing, anti-American multiculturalists.

    Merry Chistmas and Happy Hanukkah!

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  13. Americaneocon is a community college professor last seen whining about radical feminist former friends who stopped talking to him when he became a 9/11 Republican.

    Seriously–the guy has problems.

  14. I’m still wondering what the neocon meant by “Chistmas.” That flying monkey from Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked?

  15. Turtles are reptiles, not amphibians, and what do you have against them? They’re much pleasanter than Krauthammer.

  16. It remains to be seen whether the establishment can destroy Huckabee but the problem is once the core of the GOP unites behind their guy, how do you stop it?

    This is the perfect storm for Huckabee. Krauthammer and the rest are scared because they know a Huckabee nomination means the GOP will become a regional party for a very long time.

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