Republican Party

The Bitterness That Drives Mike Huckabee

There is a truly exceptional review of Mike Huckabee's latest book up on Religion Dispatches that argues that the driving forces behind Huckabee, his campaign, and his new book tour are resentment and bitterness.  I have to say that I completely agree with that assessment ... probably because I happen to be the one who wrote it:

Billed as an inside look at “the movement that’s bringing common sense back to America,” the book is part campaign memoir, part policy statement, and partly a challenge to all Americans to stop being so fat, lazy, and mean. But mostly it is a means for Huckabee to settle scores with all those who failed to support his candidacy, see its genius and, consequently, to save America from itself.

From the very beginning, Huckabee makes no effort to conceal his disdain for his presidential rivals and seemingly goes out of his way to invoke Mitt Romney wherever he can, mentioning the former Massachusetts Governor by name more than sixty times in the first one hundred pages. While Huckabee doesn’t have anything particularly nice to say about Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, or John McCain—the others barely rate a mention—it is Romney who personifies everything that is wrong with the Republican Party.

It’s clear that Huckabee resents Romney’s wealth and the millions of dollars he pumped into his own campaign. Huckabee and his staff, who were often just scraping by, at one point blasted Romney for attempting “a leveraged buyout of the Republican presidential nomination,” calling him one of those “political wannabes with self-inflicted funding [who] let themselves be sculpted and focus-grouped into what a high-priced pollster thinks is a winning package.” Time and again he mocks the former Massachusetts Governor for spending millions, yet failing to win half the votes that Huckabee and his rag-tag campaign racked up, dismissing Romney’s entire campaign as a fraud perpetuated solely by the fact that his “net worth bought him instant status … [as] a serious contender.”

While Huckabee nurtures a deep personal dislike of Romney, what he truly despises is everything Romney represents: the rich, East Coast, insider elites who dominate the Republican Party. Huckabee, the son of a fireman who struggled to make ends meet, effectively wages class warfare against the party insiders and libertarian “faux-cons” in Washington; he lashes out at the likes of The National Review and the Club for Growth, whom he calls “the silk-stocking crowd,” for looking down their noses at the blue collar “values voters” that Huckabee claims to represent. Two chapters are devoted to holding himself up as the representative of those who shop at Wal-Mart and not Neiman Marcus; of those who eat at The Waffle House rather than Ruth’s Chris Steak House; of those who watch “Touched By an Angel” and not “Desperate Housewives.” He expends several pages rehashing old campaign attacks on his record from the Club for Growth and several more pages striking back at The National Review for their opposition to talk that John McCain might pick him as his running mate. But even here Romney remains representative of everything that “was wrong with our party.”

But you don't have to take my word for it.  Here's Huckabee displaying that bitterness during a book tour stop in Iowa earlier in the week:

Appearing on Christian conservative Steve Deace’s drive-time program, Huckabee said though he was criticized by “establishment Republicans” during his unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination, he has been proven right time and again.

“When I said the economy was beginning to sputter, I was absolutely pilloried by the Wall Street Journal and the National Review and all the other snobbish folks who thought that I was just a dumb hick from Arkansas who didn’t have a clue,” he said.

...

Huckabee’s book has gotten a lot of attention, mainly due to the portions that discuss his fellow Republicans. He was particularly hard on Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, whom he described in the book as having an “ever-changing reason to deny me his support.” He also accuses Bauer of putting national security before social issues like the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.

Deace seemed to share his opinion of Bauer.

“The phrase ‘Better for one man to die than the whole nation to perish’ comes to mind,” Deace said.

Huckabee said he couldn’t pull any punches with the book because if he did he would lose credibility with his supporters.

“I want people to know the truth. I got a reputation during the campaign as someone who was plain spoken, who didn’t try to sugar coat or frost things over,” he said. “I would have lost credibility if I had written this book and not told some of the things that I try to at least bring forth.”

But the passages that discuss his fellow Republicans are just a small portion of the book, and the attention they are getting is disappointing, he said.

“Shouldn’t be surprised that people would take a few passages out of a 240-page book and act like that’s all that’s there,” Huckabee said. “This book lays out not just what’s happened and why we’ve had the problems we’ve had in the conservative movement, but it also lays out how we get our groove back.”

I take issue with Huckabee's repeated assertion that his attacks on Romney and various GOP-insiders constitute just a "few passages" in his book because, in fact, they make up the bulk of the first 130+ pages. 

Huck may like to pretend that the purpose of the book was to help resurrect the conservative movement, but the fact is that it was written to settle scores and position himself for a future run at president.  As such, his relentless trashing of the very Republican institutions from whom he will need support the next time around is inevitably going to grab the bulk of the media's attention.  If he wanted the press to pay attention to his "Fair Tax" proposals or dedicated to bad-mouthing Mitt Romney and the Religious Right.

Religious Right Tells GOP “We’re Not Going Anywhere”

There have been several articles in recent days from conservative Republican and Religious Right leaders arguing about how the GOP can re-establish itself as a viable force in American politics after getting thumped in the last two elections.  Immediately after the election, some voices emerged suggesting that the only hope was for the party to throw the right-wing elements overboard, a suggestion that was not surprisingly met with outrage by the leaders of that section of the base.  

Now it seems as if the GOP’s “culture warriors” have found their voice and decided to fight back on their own terms.  Thus, you have Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina arguing that what the party really needs is to establish tighter control over its “franchise” and just who had the right to call themselves a “Republican” because the party’s “tent cannot be so big as to include political franchisees who don’t act on the core tenets of conservatism.” And you have Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and RNC Chairmanship hopeful, calling on the GOP to “renew our commitment to our Party’s timeless principles…by reconfirming our commitment to be the party of smaller government, lower taxes, individual freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, the importance of family and the exceptionalism of America.” 

Along the same lines, you have Rod Dreher arguing not only that the social conservatives were in no way responsible for the GOP’s current plight, but that they offer the only route to political salvation for the party:

[W]as it the religious right that conceived and executed the disastrous Iraq war? Did preachers deregulate Wall Street? Did evangelical leader James Dobson screw up the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to Hurricane Katrina? Jack Abramoff — did he concoct his crooked lobbying schemes during long protest vigils outside abortion clinics? To be fair, religious conservatives didn't stand up to any of this. We own a share of the GOP's failure. But to scapegoat us for the Republican implosion is preposterous … far from being the demise of the GOP, the coming generation of evangelicals, Catholics and fellow travelers can be the seeds for the conservative movement's intellectual rebirth.

In case they weren’t being clear enough, the Right is making sure that its place in the party is clearly understood:  

"People are trying to rebrand the GOP; they're trying to find a course for the future. They want to get back in power, and many of the voices that the GOP is listening to are telling them we need to be moderate, we need to jettison the social conservative issues, we need to not talk about life or marriage," [David Nammo, executive director of Family Research Council Action] contends. "And if that is what the direction of the GOP is going to be, I think they're going to find themselves in the minority party for many years to come."

Even James Dobson has gotten in on the action, personally penning a response to Kathleen Parker entitled '”We Won’t Be Silenced”:

[W]e don’t need an embossed note from Ms. Parker — or anyone else — to take part in the political dialogue — of either party. Our invitation to engage the process comes straight from our Founders. We will continue to stand up for the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage and the right to have a say in the principles that will continue to guide this nation founded on biblical  principles. Where Ms. Parker gets it most wrong is in writing that socially conservative Christians are an “element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.”

We’ve never been that marginalized in our culture and government — and won’t be anytime soon, the efforts and epithets of big media notwithstanding.

If the moderate elements in the Republican Party thought they could just re-brand the GOP by dumping the Religious Right base, that base has now made it abundantly clear that any effort to that will result in an all-out war for control of the party that will likely doom it to minority status for years to come.

Heads We Win, Tails You Lose

The Religious Right is understandably concerned about what a Barack Obama administration will mean for their influence and agenda in the coming years and its leaders are already hard at work trying to reign him in by suggesting that, despite his clear victory, he doesn't have any sort of mandate: 

Wasting little time, conservative Christian groups have already drafted open letters to Obama stressing their opposition to abortion, and are taking steps to reassure supporters that they will fight any attempt to give the new administration a blank cheque -- especially on social issues.

"Barack Obama can clearly claim a mandate from the American people on the economy, maybe even our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world, but he cannot claim a mandate to impose or to advance a liberal social agenda," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council ...

Though conservative Christians won't have "the same type of relationship we had with the Bush administration," Perkins said the passage of amendments in three states that banned same-sex marriage shows their values have staying power.

"This was, I think, more of a referendum on the Republican Party than conservative values," he said. "We focused upon the marriage amendments in the three states ... They passed in two states (California and Florida), which Barack Obama carried handily."

Fair enough, but what about the various anti-choice issues that were also on the ballot and all lost? Those apparently don't count:  

None of the state referenda on abortion -- including one on parental consent in California and a "personhood" amendment in Colorado -- passed on Election Day, but [Richard] Land said conservative Christians will be undeterred by those losses at the polls.

"Pro-life Catholics and pro-life evangelicals aren't going anywhere," he said.

So the anti-gay amendments that passed prove that Obama has no "mandate to impose or to advance a liberal social agenda," but conversely nothing at all can be concluded about choice issues even though every such initiative failed just because the anti-choice forces say so?  

FRC Tells GOP: It's Us or Them

for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.One of the prevailing themes of the Republican Party at the moment is rampant finger-pointing in which just about every faction of the party is blaming every other faction of the party for the fact that they keep losing elections. 

First you had moderates blaming the Religious Right while the Right was blaming the Republican leadership for being insufficiently committed to the right-wing agenda and others were blaming the anti-immigration "nativists."

Now comes the Family Research Council complaining that Rep. Pete Sessions, incoming Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, dared to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans and warning that any moves toward treating them like a legitimate element of the party will only undermine the GOP's efforts to reach out to Black and Hispanic voters and will ultimately doom the Republicans to being in the minority for the foreseeable future:

According to a press release from the pro-gay "marriage" group, Log Cabin Republicans, one of the first stops for the newly elected Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), was the fundraising dinner for the homosexual organization. The release states that Representative Sessions said that the GOP cannot win elections and reach out to voters if it continues to oppose the issues that Log Cabin stands for, presumably including same-sex "marriage." My team sought clarification from Sessions' office and was told he did speak to the Log Cabin group, but that a copy of his remarks was not available. If the Log Cabin portrayal is true, it is disturbing on a number of accounts. One, Sessions' new position as the head of the NRCC is to train and recruit new candidates for the Republican Party. If this is his idea of "campaign advice" then the Republicans better prepare for a longer term in the minority then they faced prior to 1994. Secondly, if the GOP is serious about reaching out to new voters, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, then it should look closely at the exit polls on issues important to families. Both minority groups strongly support traditional family values that embrace life and protect marriage, two things the Republican Party once stood for also. Under these circumstances, pro-family voters should reserve judgment about giving their financial support to either political party.

FRC might soon actually have a lot more say in these sorts of matters now that Ken Blackwell, one of its own Senior Fellows, is contemplating his own run for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

There’s No Such Thing As Free Absolution

It was just last week that the National Black Republican Association unilaterally absolved White Americans of their sins and guilt.  But now it looks like they didn’t just do it out of the kindness of their hearts and are now expecting something in return, namely that Barack Obama issue an official proclamation apologizing for the Democratic Party's 150-year history of racism. And just to make it easier, the NBRA is put together its own draft version for him to use:

We, black American citizens of the United States and the National Black Republican Association, declare and assert:

WHEREAS, the healing of wounds begins with an apology, and the Democratic Party has never apologized for their horrific atrocities and racist practices against black Americans during the past 150 years, nor held accountable for the residual impact that those atrocities and practices are having on us today,

[Dozens of purported examples of Democrats being racist over the last 150 years]

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party's use of deception and fear to intimidate black Americans into voting for Democrats is consistent with the Democratic Party's heritage of racism that included sanctioning of slavery and kukluxery -  a perversion of moral sentiment among leaders of the Democratic Party; and the Democratic Party's racist legacy bode ill until this generation of black Americans,

NOW, THEREFORE, for the documented atrocities and accumulated wrongs inflicted upon black Americans, we submit this petition to the head of the Democratic Party, Barack Hussein Obama, for a formal proclamation of apology for the Democratic Party's 150-year history of racism.

For good measure, the NBRA also worked in its own unique explanation of the Republican Party’s so-called “Southern Strategy,” which it also cites as further proof that the Democrats are racist:

WHEREAS, Democrats expressed little, if any, concern when the racially segregated South voted solidly for Democrats; yet unfairly deride Republicans because of the thirty-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party that began in the 1970's with President Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," which was an effort on the part of Nixon to get fair-minded people in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values, and who were discriminating against blacks.

Of course, as we’ve pointed out before both President Bush and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman have apologized for the party’s use of the Southern Strategy … but apparently it is the Democrats who should be apologizing for not commending Richard Nixon for finally getting voters in the South to stop discriminating against blacks.

The Huckabee Bitterness Tour Rolls On

As Mike Huckabee travels the country promoting his new book, the overarching theme seems to be “It Should Have Been Me,” in that the book is essentially a 200 page gripe about how the Republican Party lost its way and ended up losing the election primarily because it failed to choose him as its nominee:

The former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who won eight states and more than four million votes in the Republican Presidential primaries, spent Election Night at home in Little Rock. Eating takeout in the den with his family and a few staffers, Huckabee wasn’t surprised to see Barack Obama win, although he couldn’t help but think that things might not have turned out the way they did had he been the nominee. “It would’ve been very different,” he said the other day. “Because I would’ve campaigned that the economy was headed toward meltdown. And I was saying this back when I was getting laughed at by the Wall Street Journal and pilloried by the National Review. They were just dicin’ and slicin’ me for not following the company line.”

And while his book is basically an extended attack on Mitt Romney and all that he represents, it looks like Huckabee doesn’t exactly have warm feelings about Sarah Palin - or rather, he’s really miffed that all the insiders who wrote him off suddenly rallied about Palin when the only difference between the two was that, unlike her, he was arguably qualified for the position:

Asked about Sarah Palin, he responded, “She, uh, was an appropriate choice, because she put John McCain back in the game.” That was the get-along answer, but a few minutes later the new, aggrieved Huckabee resurfaced. He recalled, “It was funny that all through the primary—I mean literally up until McCain got enough delegates to win—people said, ‘You know, Huckabee’s really running for Vice-President. Gee, Huckabee would be a great Vice-President.’ And from that day forward, when I actually was no longer running for President, nobody ever said, ‘Gee, Huckabee would be a great Vice-President.’ ” Neither was he quite so unperturbed by the Palin pick: “I was scratching my head, saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. She’s wonderful, but the only difference was she looks better in stilettos than I do, and she has better hair.’ It wasn’t so much a gender issue, but it was like they suddenly decided that everything they disliked about me was O.K. . . . She was given a pass by some of the very people who said I wasn’t prepared.”

I think that is actually a really smart observation on Huckabee’s part. Why was it that all the Religious Right and Republican insiders who dismissed Huckabee, with his ten years of experience as governor and staunch record on their issues, rallied around Palin with her limited time in office and a record utterly devoid of accomplishments?

And yes, we are looking at you, Gary Bauer.

Bauer Clearly Has Not Read Huckabee’s Book

Earlier this week, Time had an article on Mike Huckabee’s new book in which the former presidential candidate lashed out at various Religious Right leaders like Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and Gary Bauer. Today, Bauer has issued his own press release in response to that article, voicing his own disappointment in Huckabee’s pettiness:

"As a former candidate myself for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2000, I understand the disappointment Governor Huckabee must feel about his failure to win the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008. It is unfortunate, however, at a time when the GOP needs to close ranks and seek unity, that Governor Huckabee in his new book has aimed his fire at his fellow Republicans.

"In addition, Governor Huckabee expresses frustration that when he sought my endorsement in 2006 and 2007, I was concerned about issues of national security and military strength in addition to values issues. I plead guilty. The defense of the United States at a time we are at war with jihadists should be the concern of every American. Indeed, I did not endorse Governor Huckabee in 2008, because I reached the conclusion he did not sufficiently understand national security issues. That was a "deal breaker" for me as I believe it was for many other conservatives.

"In spite of our disagreements, I look forward to working in the future with Governor Huckabee to build a Republican party that is committed to smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, the sanctity of life and family values."

All I can say about this statement is that it is obviously based on the Time summary of the book and not on having read the book itself.  And I can say that because I am currently in the process of reading it myself and Huck makes it pretty clear that he has no use for the likes of Bauer, whom he calls “politically clueless,” as he sees himself as one of the new leaders of the Religious Right movement, along with a bevy of currently fringe right-wing figures who supported his campaign, such as Janet Porter, David Barton, and Rick Scarborough.

Inside the Council for National Policy

Sarah Posner sends a dispatch from inside the most recent Council for National Policy gathering, the secretive right-wing umbrella group that vowed to bolt the GOP if Rudy Giuliani was the nominee and whose members wept tears of joy when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate:

While the CNP was trying to look to the future last week, it seemed hopelessly enamored of its aging leaders. When I arrived to meet Warren Smith, the conservative evangelical activist and journalist who had invited me to chat, we ambled past anti-evolutionist Ken Ham, who was holding court to a small but rapt audience in the hallway; eyed Left Behind author and CNP co-founder Tim LaHaye, who was shuffling in and out of the "CNP Networking Room;" caught a glimpse of Rick Santorum, who since being booted out of his Senate seat has led the charge against "radical Islam" from his perch at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center; and spotted the religious right's anti-feminism doyenne Phyllis Schlafly, 84, who had earlier that day delivered a speech to the CNP Youth Council on how to "find your place in the conservative movement."

Although the CNP's meetings are closed to the press, Smith filled me in on some details: Conservative direct-mail entrepreneur Richard Viguerie, a patriarch of the modern conservative movement, rallied the troops by pointing to prior comebacks, from Reagan to Gingrich to Bush. Viguerie, Smith told me, "is saying that we need to fight for conservative ideas and conservative values and not worry about who embraces them." Smith added that the group talked "about changing the culture, entertainment, media, TV" -- a longtime goal of the religious right's dominionism that it seeks to achieve by taking over social, cultural, and government institutions, much like religious-right figures are now plotting their new takeover of the Republican National Committee.

"What I'm hearing is that there is no loyalty to the Republican Party," said Smith, meaning no loyalty to the party as constituted but loyalty to one purged of insufficiently conservative members. "What Richard Viguerie talks about is not a third party but a third wave. Basically there needs to be a flowering of grass-roots conservative activism and local groups, local PACs. He's basically saying you've got a Republican county commissioner in Buzzard's Breath, Texas, and he's not a conservative? Run a conservative against him."

[A]ctivist and radio host Janet Porter, an early Huckabee backer in the 2008 campaign, told me she favored either Palin or Huckabee in 2012. Porter is straight out of the wing of the movement that is all frothing ideology, and no stone-cold strategy. That explains her ongoing fixation with the long-debunked lie that Barack Obama does not have a U.S. birth certificate, and her attempt to stop the electoral college from voting next month in the formality that will officially make him president.

Porter insists that Obama has not produced a U.S. birth certificate (he has) and that he was actually born in Kenya (he was born in Hawaii). She claims to be awaiting the results of the lawsuits filed by attorney Philip J. Berg, whose effort to halt the presidential election because of the alleged question of Obama's U.S. citizenship was rebuffed by the United States Supreme Court.

When I asked Porter about the mood around the CNP meeting, she said, "My mood is more upbeat than those who don't actually know these cases are being filed and that there's actually still a chance to maintain the freedom that we have. We're not going away. Win or lose, whether this goes through, whether it amounts to anything, we just believe that [for] something this important we need the answers. And we're going to fight for freedom, and we're going to use whatever freedom we have until it's taken away with the efforts of hate crimes, ENDA, fairness doctrine, wiping out all the pro-life legislation. Everything's on the line."

My skepticism showed, I suspect. "I think this might be a little more newsworthy than you think," she insisted and handed me a flyer about her effort that read: "Not extreme. Not fringe. Just Constitutional."

Kathleen Parker Invites More Hate Mail

Conservative columnist didn’t win any friends among the right-wing die-hards in the Republican Party when she penned a column in September calling on Sarah Palin to drop out of the campaign in order to stop the damage she was doing to John McCain’s campaign and the GOP.  Needless to say, her message did not go over well and the right-wing backlash ended up becoming a story in itself.  

So it is probably safe to assume that her latest column is probably not going to win back any friends among those who see the Religious Right as the foundation of the Republican Party and Sarah Palin as its future:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners ...

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows.

For its part, the “oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP” has no intention of letting the so-called moderates in the party throw them overboard.  Nor, as I’ve said before, does the GOP have any incentive to actually do so – at least not until the party can nominate a presidential candidate who openly eschews the Religious Right and still wins the election or the Right gets a dream nominee who makes the right-wing agenda the centerpiece of their campaign and then gets utterly destroyed at the polls.  Until then, the Religious Right and the moderates in the Republican Party are going to be stuck with each other whether they like it or not.

The Right Goes Into Denial

I fully understand the Religious Right's need to explain the trouncing the Republican Party experienced at the polls and fight back against the idea that they were somehow to blame.  I likewise understand their standard post-electoral trick when explaining such losses is to claim that the reason the GOP lost not because of the Right, but because the candidates and the party were not sufficiently committed to their right-wing agenda. 

But what I don't understand is this incessant effort to rewrite history, especially when the time frame at issue was just a few weeks ago:

Some pro-lifers, [Mike] Huckabee said, abandoned the Republican Party in recent years because it failed to stand up for pro-life principles. Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2006 and then padded their majorities this year.

"We didn't lose elections because we were pro-life," Huckabee said. "We really started losing elections when we didn't act like that mattered. And so, the people who really do care about issues -- whether it's marriage, life, Second Amendment -- felt like, 'If this party isn't going to have a significant different stand than the Democrats, then why not just vote for the Democrats and give them a chance?'"

To hear Huckabee tell it, traditional Religious Right voters have started abandoning the GOP for Democrats because the Republican Party has abandoned the issues that they care about like marriage, abortion, and guns. 

When did that supposedly happen?  I've been watching the Right and the GOP pretty closely for several years now and I don't recall them ever offering up a bunch of pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-gun candidates.  In fact, I don't recall them offering up any such candidates.

And wasn't it just a few weeks ago that the Right was crowing that the Republicans had produced the strongest pro-life, pro-marriage, most conservative platform in party history?

For some reason, the Right is busy trying to convince itself and everyone else that the reason the Republicans lost this time around was because they had become just like Democrats on the social issues that traditionally conservative voters care about which, as anybody whose been paying any attention knows, is not even remotely true.

Porter Asks God to Prevent Obama From Taking Office

Just last week I was noting that Janet Porter had squandered whatever tiny shred remained of her credibility when she joined the crackpot right-wing conspiracy theory that Barack Obama (if that is his real name) was not a natural born citizen of the United States and was therefore ineligible to be President.

Today, she takes to the pages of WorldNetDaily, the home of insane right-wing ravings, to explain as cleary as she can that the very existence of the nation is at stake if Obama is not stopped and that "the gallows for our freedoms are already being built": 

The good news is the real election hasn't taken place yet. The Electoral College doesn't meet until Dec. 15. That gives us less than a month to find the answers to the looming questions regarding whether Barack Obama meets the constitutional requirements for the office of president ... If you believe in life, liberty and the family, you already are a target. The henchmen are selected; the gallows for our freedoms are already being built. And the only candidate in history to never move an inch to the center during the campaign has no intentions of changing his agenda of outlawing our viewpoint with the "unfairness doctrine," "thought crimes," "The Employment Non Discrimination Act" the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and all the rest. As I wrote about in my book, "The Criminalization of Christianity" (which will surely come true if we don't act now), "Never fail to do the right thing for fear that the opposition will attack you in response. The other side can and will attack you anyway, at a time of their own choosing rather than yours, regardless of whether you act" ... In four years, we won't be able to recognize what's left of our country. And if you think taking on this issue right now is hard, try doing it when our radio airwaves are shut down and our freedoms are stripped from us, as he has promised to do. And with Obama's promise to pass the so-called Freedom of Choice Act as "the first thing" he does, you can say goodbye to the notion of protecting unborn children again – and goodbye to every law in all 50 states that notifies parents, keeps our tax dollars from footing the abortion bill and prevents even a single partial-birth abortion ... With God, all things are possible. Eight years ago the election was called for Al Gore, and he never took office. If God is the same today as He was yesterday, He can still split the sea, raise the dead, stop the sun and reverse the results of the popular vote if the basic requirements of the Constitution are not met in the candidate.

Also pushing the case that Obama is ineligible for the office is Alan Keyes and his running mate Wiley Drake, who are claiming that they are really doing Obama a favor by trying to eliminate any "doubt as to the legitimacy of his tenure": 

In response to questions about why the suit was being filed, Ambassador Alan Keyes commented, “I and others are concerned that this issue be properly investigated and decided before Senator Obama takes office. Otherwise there will be a serious doubt as to the legitimacy of his tenure. This doubt would also affect the respect people have for the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. I hope the issue can be quickly clarified so that the new President can take office under no shadow of doubt. This will be good for him and for the nation.”

The scary thing is that these people and their views are not only not shunned by the Republican Party and its right-wing base, but are actually embraced - after all, Porter was co-chair of Mike Huckabee's Faith and Family Values Coalition during his presidential campaign and Keyes was once the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois.

We're Good At Complaining, Just Not Governing

The Hill has an odd article about how conservative and right-wing bloggers are actually looking forward to the coming Obama Administration and Democratic control of Congress as an opportunity for it to develop into a powerful force that will reshape the Republican Party:

A Washington in the hands of Democrats offers online pundits on the right a fresh political target and a chance to vent against their ideological opponents. The reverse scenario allowed their liberal counterparts to blossom during the blogosphere’s infancy, when the GOP controlled the Congress and the Bush administration held power between 2003 and 2006 ...

“The rightosphere will be much better when the right has something to oppose,” said Jon Henke, who writes at The Next Right.

Obama and Democrats will eventually provide conservatives with a “unifying grievance” that they can seize on. On the Democratic agenda could be universal healthcare proposals that would expand government programs, union-backed card-check legislation that would allow workers to bypass secret-ballot elections when unionizing, and calls to reverse momentum to expand offshore drilling, Henke said.

Being in the opposition is also a natural posture for conservatives, who want smaller government but have seen GOP lawmakers in the last few years create more federal programs, expand the deficit and spend greater sums of taxpayer dollars.

“It’s hard to be anti-state when you are state,” Henke said.

Presumably, the desired outcome of this effort will be for Republicans to eventually retake the White House and Congress and actually govern, which is something these bloggers seem to be admitting they aren't all that good at or interested in.

After all, if they are "much better when they have something to oppose" and can't complain about the state when they are the state, what exactly do they intend to do if their plan actually bears fruit and they someday end up back in control?

Hopefully they'll figure out that puzzle before they actually end up in power. It's kind of important.

FRC to GOP: You Need Us, So Stop Blaming Us

The Family Research Council is getting fed up with suggestions within the Republican Party that its best hope for winning future elections is to jettison the Religious Right base of the party and are warning that efforts to actually do so will all but spell doom for the GOP :

To those of us in the pro-family movement, the Establishment's diatribe is a familiar one. When the GOP succeeds because of social conservatives, our importance is ignored. When the party fails for overlooking us, values voters are somehow to blame. With the exception of Gov. Sarah Palin and some hollow overtures by the Democratic Party, the 20 percent of voters who cited "moral values" as their first or second priority in this election had no real horse in this race. Maybe that explains why believers were less active in this election cycle. More than four million Americans who go to church more than once a week and voted in 2004 stayed home on November 4. Those voters would have made up half the difference between McCain and Obama. As the members of the Republican party jockey for position in this brave new Congress and sort out their internal leadership, a commitment to life and marriage is non-negotiable. Without it, the prospects of a Republican revival are bleak.

It is interesting that FRC focuses on the decline among voters who attend church more than once a week as evidence that it was the demoralization among "values voters" that doomed McCain because, while exit polls from 2004 and 2008 do show such a decline, they also show that the number of voters who attend church "weekly" actually increased by nearly half a million (though as an overall percentage of the voting population such voter were down slightly from 2004, there was an increase in actual numbers due to greater turnout.)  And among those voters, Barack Obama did substantially better than did John Kerry. 

So one way to interpret that is to say that, despite all their talk, the Religious Right and the GOP cannot claim to be the sole political representatives of religiously active voters.  Of course, that would only end up undermining the very case that FRC is trying to make which is why they chose to highlight this specific subgroup as "proof" that the GOP needs to wed itself to the so-called "values voters" if it wants to win elections.

RGA Snubs the Future of the Party

If Sarah Palin is slated to become the future of the Republican Party, someone apparently forgot to make that known to the Republican Governors Association which just announced its new leadership ... and one name was conspicuously absent:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was voted RGA chairman, taking over the top job from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who will now serve as finance chairman. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is vice-chairman, while Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will serve as chair for the annual RGA gala, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will head up the recruitment effort.

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will also sit on the RGA’s executive committee.

“Republican Governors are natural leaders who will find solutions to our nation’s challenges and bring back the Party,” Sanford said in a statement.

Not on the list? Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who also attended the Miami meeting.

Via Think Progress

Throwing the Right Overboard to Save the GOP?

Yesterday, I noted that Tony Perkins was declaring Sarah Palin the "future of the [Republican] Party."  You know who will probably not become the future of the Republican Party?  Christine Todd Whitman, at least if the Religious Right has anything to say about it, because she says that Palin and people like Perkins are exactly what is causing the GOP to lose:

Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.

Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.

In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.

You know who else probably won't become the future of the GOP? Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander, or Peter King:

As Congressional Republicans lick their political wounds and try to figure out how to bounce back in 2010 and beyond, they might want to consult with Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and Peter T. King.

Senator Collins, Senator Alexander and Representative King were among Republicans who defied the odds in a terrible year for their colleagues. Their re-elections provide a possible road map for how the party can succeed in a challenging political environment. The answer, the three veteran politicians agreed, is not to become a more conservative, combative party focused on narrow partisan issues.

“What doesn’t work is drawing a harsh ideological line in the sand,” said Ms. Collins, of Maine, who early in the year was a top Democratic target for defeat but ended up winning 61 percent of the vote while Senator Barack Obama received 58 percent in the presidential race in her state.

“We make a mistake if we are going to make our entire appeal rural and outside the Northeast and outside the Rust Belt,” said Mr. King, of New York, who easily won re-election in a region shedding Republicans at a precipitous rate.

“We can stand around and talk about our principles, but we have to put them into actions that most people agree with,” said Mr. Alexander, of Tennessee, a self-described conservative who was able to attract African-American voters.

As much as I would love to see the GOP dump the Religious Right, I don't have much faith that it will actually happen.  In fact, the best chance the party had to do so was with John McCain, but instead of standing by his infamous "agents of intolerance" remark, the "maverick" utterly caved and capitulated to the Right.

Until the GOP can nominate a presidential candidate who openly eschews the Religious Right and still wins the election or the Right gets a dream nominee, someone like Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin, who makes the right-wing agenda the centerpiece of their campaign and then gets utterly destroyed at the polls, the Religious Right and the Republican Party are going to be stuck with each other for the foreseeable future, whether they like it or not.

Let The Right Wing Resurrection Begin

It has been less than twelve hour since the historic election that saw Barack Obama become President-elect of the United States and the Democratic Party widen its margins in the House and Senate, and while we are still months away from them actually taking office, the Religious Right is already warning that their first order to business will be to presecute Christians:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, believes Senator Obama was elected, in large part, because the church in America has failed to address sin in its own ranks and also in society.

Perkins says Christians should pray for and return to a biblical model of holiness and righteousness. And believers in America, he adds, should prepare for persecution.

Tony Perkins"We are going to see, I think, unprecedented attacks against our faith through measures like the hate crimes [legislation] to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," he says. "We're going to see attacks on innocent human life through the Freedom of Choice Act, trying to erase all the gains that have been made in the pro-life movement. And I think even our freedoms are going to come under attack."

And before that happens, other right-wing leaders are rallying the troops to launch their own right-wing attacks with Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, declaring that Obama has already "failed miserably":

"Americans have made a grave mistake in electing Barack Obama to the presidency," Fr. Pavone wrote. "He said during the campaign that he does not know when a human being starts to have human rights. How can one govern from that starting point of ignorance? Governing is about protecting human rights; to do it successfully, you have to know where they come from, and when they begin. The President-elect has already failed that test miserably."

Fr. Pavone sounds a note of defiant confidence, declaring that the pro-life movement is winning in the culture and that "a new chapter of the pro-life movement has just begun. ...We will keep marching toward that pro-life America we seek, and won't stop until we get there."

For its part, the Christian Defense Coalition has announced its own "The Birmingham Letter Project" which they plan to use to "challenge the radical pro-abortion policies of President-elect Barack Obama":

"We will be coming to Washington, D.C., as President-elect Obama is sworn in, to boldly stand as public and prophetic witness for life. As the pro-life community, we will not go silently into the night and allow the violence to continue. Instead, we are issuing this national call for the pro-life community to come to the streets of our nation's capital and be a prayerful voice for those who have no voice.

As for the "conservative movement" that was so badly damaged by President George Bush, Phyllis Schlafly declares that they are already in the process of rebuilding:

"I think we’re going to be looking for new leaders who express conservatism across the board – whether its sovereignty, limited spending, limited government, cuts in spending, cuts in taxes, the social issues – to simply reject these groups who are trying to muscle into the driver’s seat of the Republican Party, such as the multinationals with their ‘free-trade globalism’ agenda ... We have about 30 very good members of Congress who are destined to become good leaders.”

More on Barton’s Stumping for McCain

It’s certainly not going to generate any news that this point, but I just figured I’d highlight this article just for future reference since it reports that Marlys Popma, John McCain’s evangelical outreach coordinator, attended a forum last week where she made the case for McCain alongside David Barton:

Popma and other surrogates from the McCain and Obama campaigns participated in an event at Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill, Pa., last Wednesday.

“Blue Like Jazz” author Don Miller was on the Obama side. He has visited several Christian campuses on the campaign’s behalf and spoke at Messiah earlier that day.

Miller was joined by Shaun Casey, the Obama campaign’s national evangelical coordinator, and Paul Monteiro, national deputy director of religious affairs.

There’s a “passion for social justice among Christian college students,” Monteiro said. “Once we knew they were there, we worked with them.”

On the McCain side, Popma joined David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, and Renee Amoore, deputy chairwoman of the state Republican Party.

This event was held around the same time that Barton was stumping for McCain in Pennsylvania along with Fred Thompson and others, so it is pretty clear that at some point in recent weeks the McCain campaign decided that it would benefit electorally from associating itself with Barton and exploiting his right-wing connections and biased pseudo-history.

David Barton's Biased History

I mentioned yesterday that David Barton was out on the campaign trail, speaking at official McCain/Palin campaign events along with Fred Thompson, actor Robert Davi, and Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli and so it seemed like a good time to dust off this video we put together to accompany our 2006 report on Barton and his pseudo-history.

The focus of the report was on Barton's "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White" DVD, in which he examines the Democratic Party's historical hostility to African Americans and insinuates that similarly racist views are still held by the party today. Barton runs through a litany of Democratic sins - ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to segregation to the Ku Klux Klan - while praising the Republican Party as the party of abolition and civil rights ... until his history lesson suddenly ends after the Civil Rights Act of 1965, after which Barton makes absolutely no mention of the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake or the rise of the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy.”

The video concludes with Barton telling his audience that African Americans cannot be bound blindly to one party or the other, but must cast their votes based on the “standard of biblical righteousness … the principles of Christianity … and an awareness that voters will answer to God for their vote."

Apparently, the McCain camp thought it would benefit from potential voters hearing this sort of biased and fraudulent message from Barton himself during the final days of their campaign.

Bachmann and Musgrave: The Right’s “Shining Stars”

In the last several days, we’ve seen a variety of Religious Right leaders blast the National Republican Campaign Committee for pulling its advertising from the re-election campaigns of both Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO), with David Barton trying to save Musgrave himself and the Family Research Council threatening the NRCC that it will cut off its own efforts to raise money on their behalf. 

Why is the Right so upset about this decision? Because, as FRC explains, when the NRCC abandons the Right’s “shining stars on the Hill,” they are abandoning the Right:

David Nammo is executive director of FRC Action PAC. He says whether it was going to give Bachmann and Musgrave money or stop running ads for them, the NRCC sent the wrong message to social conservatives by announcing it was pulling support for the two conservative lawmakers.

Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)"What conservatives hear when they hear that is, 'Wow, the Republican Party isn't going to back people who are strong on our issues on the Hill.' And it's also going to frustrate and even confuse the people who want to support these two congresswomen," Nammo laments.

"We want people to get out and to vote for these two congresswomen," the conservative activist continues. "They are shining stars on the Hill. They stand for social conservative issues."

High-Level, Top-Secret Right-Wing Planning Set to Begin Next Week

In the last two days, we’ve written a few posts about the Right’s plans for the GOP after the election, noting that they are preparing for the “biggest culture war battles ever” and plotting to dictate the agenda of the Republican National Committee.

Now Politico is reporting that an unnamed group (one that sounds an awful lot like the Council for National Policy) is calling together various right-wing leaders for a top-secret strategy session following next week’s election:

Two days after next week's election, top conservatives will gather at the Virginia weekend home of one of the movement's most prominent members to begin a conversation about their role in the GOP and how best to revive a party that may be out of power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year.

The meeting will include a "who's who of conservative leaders --  economic, national security and social," said one attendee, who shared initial word of the secret session only on the basis of anonymity and with some details about the host and location redacted.

The decision to waste no time in plotting their moves in the post-Bush era reflects the widely-held view among many on the right, and elsewhere, that the GOP is heading toward major losses next week.

One of the topics of discussion will be how to fashion a "national grassroots political and policy coalition similar to the out Reagan years," said the attendee, a reference to the development of the so-called New Right apparatus following Jimmy Carter's 1976 victory and Reagan's election four years later.

"There's a sense that the Republican Party is broken, but the conservative movement is not," said this source, suggesting that it was the betrayal of some conservative principles by Bush and congressional leaders that led to the party's decline.

The article states that “Sarah Palin will be a central part of discussion” and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about the right-wing movement at this time.  That they would even contemplate rallying around a right-wing political neophyte whose placement on the Republican ticket has caused her approval rating to tank and is widely viewed as being at least partly responsible for McCain's slide in the polls demonstrates just how lost and desperate they are at the moment.

The idea that in just two months time, a complete unknown could become not only a VP nominee but, after proving herself an unmitigated disaster, go on to be hailed as the future of the right-wing movement is laughable.

UPDATEThe New York Times has more:

Despite all the criticism, she has many supporters among Republicans who see her as bright, tough and a star in a party with relatively few on the horizon.

“She’s dynamite,” said Morton C. Blackwell, who was President Ronald Reagan’s liaison to the conservative movement. Mr. Blackwell described vying to get close to Ms. Palin at a fund-raiser in Virginia, lamenting that he could get only within four feet.

“I made a major effort to position myself at this reception,” he said, adding that he is eager to sit down with her after the election to discuss the future. Asked if the weeks of unflattering revelations and damaging interviews had tarnished her among conservatives, he replied, “Not a bit.”

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative group, called it a “top order of business” to determine Ms. Palin’s future role. “Conservatives have been looking for leadership, and she has proven that she can electrify the grass roots like few people have in the last 20 years,” Mr. Bozell said. “No matter what she decides to do, there will be a small mother lode of financial support behind her.”

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Republican Party Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/17/2010, 2:12pm
Back in 2009, a battle erupted in the Texas House of Representatives as Republicans fought over which member would serve as Speaker of the House.  The Religious Right lined up behind Tom Craddick, but everyone else supported Joe Straus who ended up winning, leading Rick Scarborough to decry it as a "coup." And now a similar battle is unfolding yet again, as the same coalition of right-wing activists have mounted an effort to replace Straus with someone more inclined to do their bidding: A group of conservative groups is trying to capitalize on that frustration, issuing a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/17/2010, 12:15pm
As I mentioned the other day, James Dobson has dedicated the last three days of his radio program to airing a speech he delivered back in 1998 at a gathering of the Council for National Policy in which he laid out his views regarding the GOP's continual abandonment of the Religious Right and the issues they hold dear.  Today, Dobson aired the final portion of that speech in which he focused largely on attacking the Republicans for ignoring basic moral principles in order to maintain political power and threatened that the Religious Right would leave the coalition if the party continued... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 11/16/2010, 5:09pm
As the Republican Party lurches farther to the right and comes to the successful conclusion of its Southern Strategy, even the party’s most radical candidates can win elections. In an open Democratic seat in Arkansas, where Republicans made significant gains in the election, Republican candidate Loy Mauch defeated his Democratic opponent. According to the Arkansas Times, State Representative-elect Mauch is a staunch Neo-Confederate who is “a current member of The League of the South,” a white supremacist group, and an avowed opponent of Abraham Lincoln and his legacy. He... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/16/2010, 11:06am
As we noted yesterday, the gay conservative group GOProud was urging the Republican Party to ignore the Religious Right's social issues agenda and the effort, not surprisingly, was not going over well with the Religious Right. Concerned Women for America responded by saying that rather than ignoring social issues, such issues must be placed "at the very top of the list," which is a view shared by Gary Bauer, who dismisses GOProud as a "liberal group":  There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the GOP establishment trying to co-opt the Tea Party into... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/15/2010, 1:03pm
If you want to get a sense of the extent to which the Religious Right is locked in a seemingly fruitless but entirely co-dependent relationship with the Republican Party, just take a listen to James Dobson's radio program this week. For the next three days, Dobson is airing a speech he delivered back in February 1998 (presumably at the Council for National Policy meeting) laying out the Religious Right's abandonment issues and experience of repeatedly being abandoned by the GOP. And the reason that Dobson decided to air this speech now is because the big GOP gains in the recent... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/15/2010, 11:13am
There only thing that angers the Religious Right more than being told that their social issues agenda does not matter is seeing the GOP downplay their social issues agenda in order to appease other parts of the conservative coalition. So I can only imagine that this letter from the gay conservative group GOProud and several Tea Party leaders calling on the GOP to ignore social issues is probably not going to go over too well with the Religious Right: A gay conservative group and some Tea Party leaders are campaigning to keep social issues off the Republican agenda. In a letter to... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 11/12/2010, 12:06pm
No stranger to hyperbole, Alan Keyes in his latest column for WorldNetDaily suggests that the war between “Obama’s Mao Zedong-style forced march to socialism” and people who “love liberty” comes down to the question of Obama’s eligibility to serve as President. Keyes claims that while the GOP’s sins of massive spending, elitism, and political moderation are bad, their refusal to endorse Birtherism outright is even worse. According to Keyes, the Republicans in the House can only defend the “constitutional republic” if they ardently contest... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 11/11/2010, 3:53pm
Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our sixth candidate profile is on Lou Barletta, America’s anti-immigrant mayor: Those disappointed to see anti-immigrant zealot Tom Tancredo off the national political stage will find a similar one-issue firebrand in Pennsylvania congressman-elect Lou Barletta. Barletta rose to national prominence as the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a small working class city that in 2006 enacted some of the most draconian anti-immigrant measures in the country.... MORE >