Monday, October 01, 2007

Have The Brethren Lost Their Minds?

The jury is out - at least on whether it matters much or not.

First, the particulars:
Alarmed at the chance that the Republican party might pick Rudolph Giuliani as its presidential nominee despite his support for abortion rights, a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop him.

The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate.”

The participants spoke on condition of anonymity because the both the Council for National Policy and the smaller meeting were secret, but they said members of the intend to publicize its resolution. These participants said the group chose the qualified term “consider” because they have not yet identified an alternative third party candidate, but the group was largely united in its plans to bolt the party if Mr. Giuliani became the candidate.

A revolt of Christian conservative leaders could be a significant setback to the Giuliani campaign because white evangelical Protestants make up a major portion of Republican primary voters. But the threat is risky for the credibility of the Christian conservative movement as well. Some of its usual grass-roots supporters could still choose to support even a pro-choice Republican like Mr. Giuliani, either because they dislike the Democratic nominee even more or because they are worried about war, terrorism and other issues.
Gotta love the descriptor "secretive" in front of "Council For National Policy". Makes Dr. Dobson and friends sound like the frakking Bilderbergers or something. I'm also borderline shocked that the NYT didn't make some anti-Romney hey out of this meeting taking place in Salt Lake City, which is, after all, the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. How could they pass up a chance to swipe Christians, Mormons, and Mitt with one "journalistic" punch? Especially since their attempts to drum up a phony schism between Christians AND Mormons ABOUT Mitt hasn't gained the slightest traction.

I also can't help but notice the prominence of the name "Richard Viguerie" in this supposed "super-secret" cabal. Viguerie is, after all, the proprietor of the site, and such a right-wing purist that he has opposed every Republican president of the past forty years, including Ronald Reagan, for the "sin" of not being "conservative enough".

If Dr. Dobson and the FRC folks have fallen in with this bitter old bastard, it's a crying shame, as I've always had a great deal of respect for them, both in their professions, their ministries, and the good they've accomplished for the conservative movement and the GOP. If they've thrown in with Viguerie and decided that it's better to trudge around the political wilderness for all eternity muttering superlatives about their moral and ideological superiority than get back to the "promised land" and reclaim it from the "American Canaanites," if they think some point will be proved by actively hastening the sinister spectre of President Hillary Rodham, well, that would speak to their political instincts being dramatically inferior to their philosophical certitude.
For me, there are any number of ironies to this so-called story. For one, of all the 'Pubbies currently in the 2008 field, the one the Council For National Policy would presumeably most likely support would be ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee - whom Yours Truly just disavowed for his hard-left turn on the war. For another, I happen to agree with the CFNPers that a Rudy Giuliani nomination would split the GOP, though to what degree, and whether it would be "irrevocable," I'm not prepared to guess; but that is precisely why I believe Rudy is unnominatable, which in turn suggests ulterior motivations for why CFNP is trying to turn "America's Mayor" into a boogeyman in order to stampede the evangelicals for whom they purport to speak.

I gotta fall (mostly) in with Brother Hinderaker's conclusion:
It's possible that a group of social conservatives could support a fringe third-party candidate - Gary Bauer, say, as the nominee of the Constitution Party - and it's certain that a few social conservatives would stay home if the Republicans nominate Giuliani or, perhaps, Romney or McCain. That number would be about equal, in my opinion, to the number of anti-war zealots who would stay home rather than vote for Hillary Clinton.

Contrary to the assumption of many liberals, religious conservatives (a group in which I include myself) are not stupid....James Dobson et al. wish that they controlled the Republican Party, and Salon wishes they controlled it, too. But they don't.
When Fred or Mitt gets the nomination, I hope somebody books an interview with Dr. Dobson and/or Gary Bauer and/or Tony Perkins to get their reaction - if anybody can find their "super-secret" bunker.