Paul Weyrich

Religious Right Leaders Let Mike Huckabee Down -- Again

As we noted earlier this week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins recently helped lead an effort to get Religious Right leaders to rally around a single Republican presidential candidate in order to maximize the movement’s ability to get a nominee to their liking. Earlier this month, dozens of Religious Right leaders agreed to back Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many Religious Right activists in 2008, wasn’t even a finalist.

The National Review’s Tim Alberta reports that Mike Huckabee is disappointed by the development:

“For reasons I don’t fully understand, years and years of actually doing something and getting things done didn’t matter,” Huckabee said of the group’s deliberations. ”And I don’t understand that.”

…Huckabee, according to sources, has often reminded Perkins and his fellow influencers that a major reason he gave up his Fox News show and launched a 2016 campaign was because he expected to have their backing. Their decision to instead support Cruz, then, seemed to sting Huckabee personally as much as politically. “You know, everybody has a right to do what they want to do. But it was disappointing to me. These are guys I’ve worked with for years and years. Many of them I’ve helped with their projects and their various endeavors,” Huckabee says, shaking his head. A moment later, he adds, “But you know, that’s life.”

It’s not the first time evangelical leaders have disappointed Huckabee. In the 2008 Republican primary race, Huckabee surprised many when he won the Iowa caucus, eventually winning victories in eight states. But many Religious Right leaders at the time weren’t initially convinced he could win and were slow to rally around him. James Dobson didn’t endorse Huckabee until after McCain’s successes on Super Tuesday. Huckabee did not keep his frustrations to himself when he eventually dropped out of the 2008 race.

The Southern Baptist minister said leaders who stood behind pulpits and shared biblical stories of faith were far less likely to put faith in Huckabee’s candidacy. 

“Some people really worshipped at the altar of electability rather than to be faithful and loyal to the principles they were supposed to be committed to,” Huckabee said on a telephone conference call sponsored by Charisma magazine. 

“When it gets to their own political realm, they think more secularly than even the secular people. That was very troubling,” he said. 

Right-wing activist Paul Weyrich said at the time that he regretted not having backed Huckabee when it might have made a difference. It seems likely that Huckabee could have made a strong case for Religious Right backing in 2012; in fact he had strong poll numbers in 2011 and the New York Times suggested that if he had entered the race he would have become the “presumed candidate of evangelicals.” But he seems to have missed his chance when he decided, after sending lots of contradictory signals, to sit that one out.

Ted Cruz Plans ‘Religious Liberty’ Rally At College That Claimed Bible Backing For Racist Policies

Politico’s Shane Goldmacher reported this week that Ted Cruz is planning a major rally on “religious liberty” at Bob Jones University in November.  Even though it has been clear for a while that framing opposition to LGBT equality, abortion and contraception as religious liberty issues is a core strategy of right-wing culture warriors like Cruz, Bob Jones is still a stunning choice. After all, the “religious liberty” Bob Jones is most famous for defending was its long insistence that its segregationist policies were mandated in the Bible.

Of course Cruz’s choice could be a cunning and calculated one based on the fact that his campaign’s roadmap to victory requires a big boost in turnout among conservative evangelicals who are disaffected with politics. Appearing at Bob Jones University, specifically to talk about religious liberty, is the granddaddy of all dog-whistles to the far right.

A bit of background: During the 1970s, the federal government began to crack down on segregation academies that had sprung up in response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision more than a decade earlier.  The IRS formally promulgated its policy that racially discriminatory private schools were not entitled to federal tax-exempt status in 1971. After years of fighting with Bob Jones, the IRS revoked the university’s tax-exempt status in 1976. The school kept fighting, ultimately losing at the Supreme Court in 1983 in an 8-1 decision.

Religion scholar Randall Balmer writes that it was the federal government’s move against segregationist schools, even more than the Roe v Wade decision, that gave Paul Weyrich the opening to create the Religious Right political movement. He tapped into conservative evangelicals’ anger at the federal government interference in segregationist religious schools. In his book about the Religious Right, “Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament,” Balmer wrote about a conservative 1990 conference at which Weyrich spoke:

Let's remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.

Bob Jones University was one target of a broader attempt by the federal government to enforce the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had sought to penalize schools for failure to abide by antisegregation provisions. A court case in 1972, Green v. Connally, produced a ruling that any institution that practiced segregation was not, by definition, a charitable institution and, therefore, no longer qualified for tax-exempt standing…

For his part, Weyrich saw the evangelical discontent over the Bob Jones case as the opening he was looking for to start a new conservative movement using evangelicals as foot soldiers. Although both the Green decision of 1972 and the IRS action against Bob Jones University in 1975 predated Jimmy Carter's presidency, Weyrich succeeded in blaming Carter for efforts to revoke the tax-exempt status of segregated Christian schools. He recruited James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to the cause, the latter of whom complained, "In some states it's easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school."

So what game is Cruz playing? Is he going to play up right-wing fears that the federal government will go after the tax-exempt status of schools with anti-gay policies? Is talking about religious liberty at Bob Jones some oddly aggressive way to make the right-wing argument that there are no parallels between racial discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

Cruz made that argument during a June interview on the Today show, when he declared that “there’s no religious backing” for denying marriage licenses to interracial couples. That, of course, is an absurd argument, as the federal judge who had upheld Virginia’s laws against mixed-race marriages in Loving v Virginia specifically cited the Bible in defense of the law. And as Brian noted in June:

Cruz should know better. After all, the Tea Party leader announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell, one of the fathers of the modern Religious Right movement, who denounced both desegregation and interracial marriages in religious terms.

Indeed, the Southern Baptist Convention was created in a split with northern Baptists over slavery. Southern Baptists preached that the Bible endorsed slavery, citing “slaves obey your masters” verses that were still being used by the Christian Coalition in the 1990s to justify attacks on labor unions.

Seven Times Conservatives Have Admitted They Don't Want People To Vote

Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida.

These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the votes of people who they think will oppose them.

Paul Weyrich

More than 30 years ago, an influential conservative leader explained why his movement shouldn’t “want everybody to vote.”

Paul Weyrich, an operative considered to be the “founding father of the conservative movement” because of his hand in founding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, the Council for National Policy and other influential conservative groups, laid out the GOP’s voter suppression strategy in a 1980 speech in Dallas.

"I don't want everybody to vote,” he said. “Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Phyllis Schlafly

In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers pushed through a package of voter suppression bills , including restrictions on early voting, something that many African American voters had taken advantage of the previous year.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly rejoiced in the news , saying that the early voting restrictions were “particularly important” because early voting had tended to help Democrats:

The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”

Franklin County, Ohio, GOP

In 2012, Republican officials in Ohio repeatedly attempted to cut back early voting hours , fighting off legal challenges from President Obama’s reelection campaign.

Doug Preisse, the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party (whose area includes the city of Columbus), put his party’s case frankly in an email to the Columbus Dispatch:

I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.

Mike Turzai

Before the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai declared that a new voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Greg Abbott

In 2013, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — who has since become the state’s governor – responded to the Justice Department’s accusation that recent redistricting had discriminated against minorities by explaining that the goal was just to discriminate against Democrats and “effects on minority voters” were merely “incidental”:

DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.

'I Don't Want Everybody to Vote' – The Roots of GOP Voter Suppression

The lower the turnout tomorrow, the better Mitt Romney will do. It’s always been this way for Republicans. Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the video below. 

The media frequently reports on right-wing and GOP voter suppression efforts, but they rarely acknowledge the root cause – Republicans do better when fewer people vote. This is the driving force behind the GOP’s draconian voter ID laws and efforts to limit early voting, voter registration drives, and provisional voting.
 
The right wing and GOP have whipped up hysteria around voter fraud, which is virtually non-existent, in order to justify roadblocks to voting for millions of Americans. I’ll let Paul Weyrich explain why.
 
Weyrich is widely regarded as the “founding father of the conservative movement.” He founded ALEC and co-founded the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, Council for National Policy, and Free Congress Foundation, among others.
 
Speaking more than 30 years ago at a right-wing conference in Dallas, Weyrich set out the case for voter suppression. The right-wing and GOP are still acting on it to this day.
 
Watch:
"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

 

Jackson Named "The Paul Weyrich Faith Community Leader of the Year"

Speaking of Bishop Harry Jackson, is seems as if he was recently honored at the first-ever Paul Weyrich Awards Dinner, along with a gaggle of other right-wing activists: 

Well over 230 conservative leaders and guests gathered Thursday evening to celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Weyrich, a colossus in the conservative movement, who perhaps now in death even more than in life reminds conservatives that while they hold a diversity of views, a real bond exists uniting them into one conservative coalition.

Fiscal conservatives, pro-life and pro-family leaders, foreign policy and national security conservatives of many different groups found themselves together in the same room for dinner at Georgetown's Four Seasons Hotel for the first-ever Paul Weyrich Awards Dinner. There they paid tribute the man they knew as "Paul" and recognized those contemporary leaders who share his broad vision of conservatism.

...

Coalitions for America awarded Bishop Harry Jackson, the senior Black pastor of Hope Christian Church and leader of the fight against same-sex "marriage" in Washington D.C., the "Faith Community Leader of the Year" award. The bishop later spoke to LSN and said that unity is "something we have struggled with these last few years." However, he was encouraged by the strides being made, especially with the recent Manhattan Declaration ..."I come at these things as a person of faith," Bishop Jackson told LSN. "None of the stuff that I do I consider political really at all," emphasizing that he views his fight primarily as a "moral engagement based on faith."

"But [Paul] was such a strategist in terms of saying, 'take your principles, and then they have an impact,' as opposed to just sitting on the outside saying 'what to do, what to do.'"

The night honored many conservative finalists and all leaders outstanding in their fields and in their contributions to their movement:

The Paul Weyrich award winners were Media Person of the Year: Glenn Beck; New Media Person of the Year: Andrew Breitbart and Erick Erickson; Courageous Citizen of the Year: ACORN investigators Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe; National Legislator of the Year: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.); Local Elected Official of the Year: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Business Person of the Year: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Solantic Chairman Rick Scott; Faith Community Leader of the Year: pro-family leader Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church; Conservative Hall of Fame - Lifetime Contribution: Phyllis Schlafly; Youth Leader of the Year: Students for Life executive director Kristan Hawkins; and Benefactor of the Year: mutual fund executive Foster Friess.

Is The Right Suffering Collective Amnesia?

You really have to hand it to the Right: when it comes to hypocrisy, they seemingly know no limit.

Take this newest "Washington Update" from the Family Research Council demanding to know whether Sonia Sotomayor gave some sort of assurance to the White House about her views regarding reproductive choice:

In a 2007 debate, Obama said he "would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right of privacy." After bobbing and weaving over the past few days, the White House now apparently believes it must make public its confidence that Sotomayor views abortion on demand as settled law. But that is exactly what Roe is not. The sweeping decision unsettled the nation's conscience in 1973 and caused a firestorm that continues to this very day.

It's imperative now that Judge Sotomayor address how the White House obtained its assurance about her views ... Does Sotomayor pick and choose what she regards as settled, and how and to whom did she give assurances?

If they are trying to gin up some sort of outrage, maybe first they could explain why, back in 2005, even before George Bush had nominated Harriet Miers, Karl Rove and others from the White House were explicitly reaching out to people like James Dobson to assure him that Miers opposed abortion:

Dobson also said he learned that President Bush was looking only for a woman to appoint to the position, which eliminated many of the top names that Washington observers had bandied about in the days leading up to Miers' nomination.

"But I was not gonna be the one to reveal this. I knew that people would eventually be aware of some of that information, but I didn't think I had the right to say it. And so, I made my comment," Dobson said.

"What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn't reveal," Dobson explained. "Well, it's what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life."

"In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision," Dobson concluded.

It didn't work, ultimately, because the Right eventually forced Miers to withdraw based largely on its concerns about this very issue.

This sort of amnesia seems widespread, judging by this Bobby Eberle piece lamenting the fact that Republicans didn't put up a big enough fight to get Miguel Estrada confirmed:

If Judge Sotomayor is confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, and Obama, the media, and the left-wing establishment are making sure everyone knows it ... All of this talk sends a sad reminder to me of how things could have been had Republicans stood up and fought for Miguel Estrada, one of President Bush's first judicial nominees. Estrada would have been the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The nomination was seen as a potential stepping stone for Estrada (not Sotomayor) to be the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While it is quite possible that Estrada may have eventually ended up on the Supreme Court, this sort of finger-pointing and teeth-gnashing willingly ignores the fact that Bush wanted to name the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court by nominating Alberto Gonzales, but the Right would have none of it and essentially pre-emptively killed his nomination, as we chronicled in this report back in 2005:

Newsweek correctly states that “Gonzales is the only A-list contender who religious conservatives pledge, upfront, to fight.” The article quotes Tom Minnery of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family saying outright about a potential Gonzales nomination: “We'd oppose him.”

In the same article, Manuel Miranda, head of the recently formed coalition of extreme conservative groups called the “Third Branch Conference” and a former Frist staffer fired for unethically reading internal Democratic judiciary staff communications, warned that a Gonzales nomination could doom the Republican Party in upcoming elections: “If the president is foolish enough to nominate Al Gonzales, what he will find is a divided base that will take it out on candidates in 2006.” Miranda went on to threaten retribution against Florida Governor Jeb Bush, if he decides to run for president. “We're not Republican patsies,” he said. “Jeb Bush can go sell insurance.”

The New York Times reported similar opposition to Gonzales: “Late last week, a delegation of conservative lawyers led by C. Boyden Gray and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III met with the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to warn that appointing Mr. Gonzales would splinter conservative support.”

Elsewhere in the article, the Times reported that Paul Weyrich was warning “administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales would fracture the president's conservative backers.” Weyrich also claimed to have held a conversation with Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman to “let the administration know through whatever channels we have that Gonzales would be an unwise appointment because of the opposition of some of the groups.”

In the same article, Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime radical and extreme right leader, said “Bush was very clear, and certainly his constituents believed him, when he said he would appoint justices like Scalia and Thomas. We are not in favor of Gonzales.” One of the reasons for the intensity of the opposition to Gonzales is that the Right feels that they were betrayed by President Reagan with his nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor who was, according to Schlafly, “a terrible disappointment.”

The National Review made its opposition to a Gonzales nomination clear in an editorial entitled “No to Justice Gonzales”: “[The] president has to know that conservatives, his supporters in good times and bad, would be appalled and demoralized by a Gonzales appointment. It would place his would-be successors in the Senate in a difficult position, forcing them to choose between angering conservatives by voting for Gonzales and saying no to him. If Democrats attack Gonzales... conservatives will not rally to his defense.”

Robert Novak wrote a similar piece called “No, not Gonzales!”: “Gonzales long has been unacceptable to anti-abortion activists because of his record as a Texas Supreme Court justice. Beyond pro-lifers, he is opposed by organized conservative lawyers. Ironically, the same Bush supporters who have been raising money and devising tactics for the mother of all judicial confirmation fights are in a panic that Gonzales will be named. With the president's popularity falling among his conservative base as well as the general populace, a politically disastrous moment may be at hand.”

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council also voiced his opposition to a Gonzales nomination during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country”: “I think what you would hear would be [what] sounds like slashing the tires of the conservative movement, because this has been a moment in time that has been anticipated for over a decade. And if there is someone who . . . appears along the same lines of an O’Connor, an unknown or someone who has a judicial philosophy that is less than a Scalia or Thomas, it`s a problem. There is no question about it.”

Is Dobson Calling for the Right to Disengage?

Yesterday, I wrote a post, based largely on this post from Dan Gilgoff, about James Dobson and company lamenting their relative inability to influence the political culture at the moment, now that Democrats are in control of both the White House and the Congress.

There is certainly a sense of panic gripping the Religious Right at the moment, but I think that Gilgoff is reading a bit too much into Dobson's admission that his forces can't stop things like hate crimes legislation and urging his followers to simply pray:

[I]t's important to note that Dobson is entirely serious about prayer as a real strategy to effect change, as are tens of millions of other American Christians. That's why I wrote that Dobson has surrendered politically for the moment, not that he's surrendered entirely.

But to encourage Christian disengagement from politics, at least until Republicans return to power in some branch of the federal government, is no small thing. That's especially true because evangelicals had been politically disengaged for much of the 20th century. Their return to the political arena in the late 1970s was a hard-won victory for culture warriors like Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell.

To encourage evangelical Christians to sit on the political sidelines until a better day arrives sounds like a call to return to that previous era, when the public humiliation of 1925's Scopes "monkey trial" scared evangelicals out of politics for the next half century.

...

Is he just facing the facts about the Democrats' monopoly in Washington? Or has he given up too easily?

Dobson is, if anything, a political realist and while I suspect that he is genuinely alarmed by the current political environment, he's not about to give up - and he certainly isn't calling for his followers to "disengage" from politics.  In fact, he has made that abundantly clear in recent weeks, and his organization's action center is still working on everything from hate crimes to executive nominations.

It must be remembered that, during the eight years George W. Bush was in office, Dobson was hailed as king of the "values voters," he was hobnobbing with Senate leaders like Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, his organization had easy access to the White House, and he was being personally courted by the administration when it came to things like generating support for Harriet Miers.

Once upon a time, Dobson had a seat at the right hand of the President of the United States:

But those days are over and now, with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, Dobson's influence in Washington DC has plummeted, he's being shut out of events he used to control, and he's reduced to sharing his program with right-wing back-benchers like Reps. Louie Gohmert and Steve King.

Dobson realizes that his influence, and the influence of his movement as a whole, is at its nadir at the moment and that, given the lack of allies they have in power, all that they can really do is pray.

But this is not any sort of call for "disengagement" on the part of those who share his views, a point he made very clearly just a few weeks ago when the last round of "is Dobson calling it quits?" punditry was taking place:

It would not be accurate not to admit that we lost the White House, we lost the House, and we lost the Senate, and we probably will loose in the courts, and we lost almost every department of government with this election. But the war is not over - pendulums swing and we'll come back. We're gonna hang in there and, you know, it's not going to be a surrender.

It was, after all, just two years ago that Gilgoff himself was writing about "how James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are winning the Culture War."

As a person who has spent years covering the Right, Gilgoff ought to know better than anyone that Dobson is not the kind of man who throws in the towel on these issues, no matter how dire the prospects may seem at the moment.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Peter LaBarbera weighs in on the decision to include Eugene Robinson in the Inauguration ceremonies, calling it a "tragic departure from America's godly, Judeo-Christian heritage" while Tony Perkins calls Robinson "divisive," saying the move was "designed to placate angry liberals." For his part, Rick Warren applauded the decision.
  • Just weeks after passing an anti-discrimination ordinance, the Kalamazoo City Council has rescinded it after an outcry from the American Family Association.
  • Speaking of the AFA, they have launched a boycott against Pepsi for its donations to the Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ... though they had no complaints last month when Pepsi partnered with Liberty University.
  • Today's episode of Dr. Phil featured "expert" advice from Focus on the Family's Glenn Stanton and the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality's Joseph Nicolosi - Good as You and Queerty have more.
  • Finally, despite the fact that he passed away last month, Paul Weyrich still seems to be penning columns for Townhall.

Conservative Icon Paul Weyrich Passes Away

Paul Weyrich, widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement, has passed away:

Paul M. Weyrich, 66, who helped found the Heritage Foundation and at one time was one of Washington's most visible conservatives, died this morning. At his death, he was president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

Heritage announced this morning: "Paul M. Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and first president of The Heritage Foundation, died this morning around 1 a.m. He was 66 years old. Weyrich was a good friend to many of us at Heritage, a true leader and a man of unbending principle. He won Heritage’s prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Award in 2005. Weyrich will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, including son Steve, who currently works at Heritage."

You can see all of our past coverage of Weyrich here.

“Pompous, Self-Serving Son of a Bitch” Endorses McCain

Earlier this year, right-wing luminary Paul Weyrich announced that, if John McCain secured the Republican presidential nomination, he’d be voting for a third party candidate:

Paul M. Weyrich, national chairman of Sixty Votes Coalition PAC, says if the November choice is between Hillary Clinton and McCain, he would then look for a third party candidate whom he could back. This is no small matter. Weyrich has only one vote like the rest of us, but many conservatives would at least take his views into consideration when making up their own minds before casting their ballots.

 "I will not vote for him [McCain]," Weyrich told this column in an interview. "I can't" ... Weyrich could live with other prospective GOP nominees — in a couple of cases, hopefully gaining some concessions to the conservative position. But McCain — never.

It was no surprise that Weyrich refused to support McCain, considering that the two have a long history of mutual animosity:

Weyrich told National Journal earlier this year that he questioned whether McCain had the temperament to be commander in chief because he was too hot-headed.

McCain has been equally scathing. "Weyrich possesses the attributes of a Dickensian villain," he wrote in his 2002 book, Worth the Fighting For. "Corpulent and dyspeptic, his mouth set in a perpetual sneer as if life in general were an unpleasant experience, he is the embodiment of the caricature often used to unfairly malign all religious conservatives." McCain added: "I like to think I know a pompous, self-serving son of a bitch when I see one."

But, of course, like just about every other right-wing leader who once declared McCain utterly unacceptable, Weyrich has changed his tune:

They only started speaking again after nineteen years.  Both have been quite open in saying why they held one another in “minimum high regard.” Their animosity toward each other is well known in national political circles.

But Paul Weyrich, one of the godfathers of the modern conservative movement, put all of that aside last week when he strongly endorsed John McCain for President.

And how did this come about? Because McCain once again realized it suited his political interest to grovel:

After he nailed down the Republican nomination, Weyrich [said], the Arizonan “came to my office to see me.  We talked things over and he asked for my support.”

Apparently McCain decided that what his campaign desperately needed was the support of at least one more “corpulent and dyspeptic … pompous, self-serving son of a bitch.”

Weyrich Duped Again?

Not too long ago, Paul Weyrich complained that he was duped into signing an anti-Mitt Romney letter and now he is complaining that he was duped into endorsing the Bible Literacy Project: "When I was made aware of the 'Bible Literacy Project' I rejoiced, thinking that this was a way for students to study religion in the Godless public schools. I endorsed the Project. Now that I have been made aware of what this Project is really about ... I hereby withdraw my endorsement. Once again liberals stole what began as a worthwhile initiative. This is worse than public schools without God. This may well cause young impressionable young people to lose their faith and to be contemptuous of those who have faith."

Right on Voter ID: Those People 'Should Not Be Voting Anyway'

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Indiana’s partisan voter-ID law, like other recent cases with conservative outcomes, received generous praise from the Right. “This victory continues conservatives’ good run of Supreme Court decisions dating back to last term,” wrote Human Events columnist Sean Trende, who called the case evidence that John Roberts’s appointment as Chief Justice “mark[ed] a sea change” in pulling the court “rightward.”

Paul Weyrich praised the Court and called objections to the law—which closes access to the ballot box for many otherwise eligible voters, primarily minorities and the elderly, in pursuit of the phantom threat of voter fraud—“overblown and sensational,” adding, “We do not compel people to vote.” (As Weyrich said in 1980, “I don't want everybody to vote. … [O]ur leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”)

And Gary Bauer boldly asserted that “all citizens have photo I.D.s, and the only people who don’t are illegal aliens, who are, by definition, not allowed to vote. The only ones disenfranchised by the photo I.D. requirement are those who should not be voting anyway.”

Of course, by the time Bauer sent that remarkable claim out to his e-mail list, the AP was already reporting on some of these people he said “should not be voting”:

About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow sister because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph. …

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back within the 10 days allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Weyrich Repents, Again

Things have not been going very well for Paul Weyrich lately.  First, he endorsed Mitt Romney for President, but when Romney was forced to drop out, he threw his support behind Mike Huckabee.  Then, when Huckabee too dropped out, Weyrich apparently had a crisis of conscience and confessed his sins to his allies on the Right at a meeting in New Orleans last monthy: 

Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, "Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong."

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

In what was perceived to be a public act of penance for his earlier support of Romney, Weyrich signed on to an ad warning John McCain that the idea of naming Romney as his running mate was “utterly unacceptable” and that doing so would destroy the GOP’s long-standing ties with its right-wing base.

And that seemed to be the end of it … until The American Mind reported that Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation had quietly sent out a press release trying to distance Weyrich from the anti-Romney ad: 

Recently I received a phone call from someone asking if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be Arizona Senator John McCain’s selection for Vice President of the United States.

I said, “No” because I did not think this was the best path for Romney right now; nor was it, in my view, the right fit for McCain. My understanding was that this was to be a personal letter to the Senator; it was not clear to me that this was to be an advertisement.

Thus, I now request that my involvement in this effort be disregarded as this effort to influence the Senator moves on.

If Weyrich is to be believed, he either didn’t read the letter or didn’t know that it was going to be made public.  Of course, even if that was the case, the text of the ad, with Weyrich’s signature attached, was made public a few days before it ran, giving him plenty of time to disavow it or demand that his name be removed.  He did neither, choosing instead to furtively issue a press release to a conservative blog begging that his role in this entire imbroglio simply be "disregarded."

Paul Weyrich’s Penance

Back in the Fall of 2007, Gov. Mitt Romney was riding high, having barely won the Values Voter Summit’s straw poll and positioning himself as the candidate favored by both Religious Right Beltway-insiders like Jay Sekulow and outsiders like Lou Sheldon and Bob Jones.   In fact, Romney was being pitched as the only alternative to unacceptable Rudy Giuliani, the unelectable Mike Huckabee, the unexciting Fred Thompson, and the unforgiven John McCain.

Romney’s efforts to position himself as the Right’s candidate of choice received a significant boost when, in November, he secured the endorsement of right-wing icon Paul Weyrich:

Today, Paul Weyrich, Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, announced his support for Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign to be our country's next President. Paul Weyrich is one of the premier leaders in the conservative movement, having founded the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

"As he travels across the country, Governor Romney has outlined a blueprint to build a stronger America rooted in our common conservative principles. With a clear conservative vision to move America forward, he will strengthen our economy, our military and our families. More importantly, he already has an exceptional record of putting conservative values to work. Because of his experience, vision and values, I am proud to support Governor Romney," said Paul Weyrich.

But over the coming months, Romney’s campaign failed to catch fire and he eventually dropped out of the race and Weyrich threw his support to Huckabee, whose campaign likewise failed to generate significant support and folded.

Since then, Weyrich appears to have done some soul-searching and has come to regret his support of Romney at the expense of Huckabee:

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

The extent of Weyrich’s remorse appears to be even deeper than anyone could have imagined, as he has now joined a group of former-Huckabee backers and other right-wing activists in warning McCain that picking Romney as a running mate would be “utterly unacceptable”

National Right to Life Endorsement of Thompson Called Selling Out

Rounding out a spate of recent right-wing endorsements of Republican presidential candidates, Fred Thompson has secured the support of the National Right to Life Committee. While not as far-fetched as Pat Robertson’s Giuliani endorsement, the pairing ought to raise some eyebrows, and not just because of Thompson’s rejection of major NRLC priorities such as the Human Life Amendment and federal intervention in Terri Schiavo’s case, or the candidate’s warning that a national abortion ban could lead to putting girls in prison, a notion Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America called “insulting.”

In his cornpone video message to NRLC’s annual convention last summer, Thompson played up his kinship with the group and his “100 percent” anti-abortion record in the Senate, but Thompson’s signature accomplishment in Congress was passage of campaign-finance reform, a bill hated by anti-abortion groups (as John McCain discovered) and arguably by no one more than NRLC.

In fact, Thompson’s campaign-finance hearings in the late 1990s specifically targeted NRLC, subpoenaing its and other groups’ financial records in search of evidence of electioneering. As recently as 2003, Thompson wrote an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the law’s regulation of “sham issue advocacy by non-party groups”—a point decided by the Court this year, in favor of “sham issue advocacy,” in a case involving NRLC affiliate Wisconsin Right to Life. (NRLC’s continuing disdain for campaign-finance regulation is also implied by its neglect to mention in its press release that the endorsement is actually by NRLC’s affiliated PAC.)

The odd endorsement led conservative-movement stalwart Paul Weyrich to suggest that the group had been bought off. "I think in all probability the Thompson people were engaged with the National Right to Life people in financial dealing," he said.

Robertson to Endorse Giuliani?

That is what the Politico and the Washington Post are reporting:

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, will announce his support for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid this morning in Washington, D.C., according to sources familiar with the decision.

Robertson's support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions on abortion and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee.

It also slows any momentum for Mitt Romney within the social conservative movement. Romney had recently secured the backing of conservative stalwarts Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III -- endorsements that seemed to strengthen his bid to become the electable conservative alternative to Giuliani. Romney had made no secret of his desire for Robertson's endorsement and has to be disappointed this morning.

The other major effect of Robertson's support for Giuliani is that it will quiet talk in social conservative circles that nominating Giuliani would lead "values voters" to abandon the Republican Party. The stamp of approval from Robertson should assuage the doubts of many (although certainly not all) of the rank-and-file social conservatives.

Of course, back in 1992, Robertson addressed the Republican National Convention where he attacked Bill Clinton for his support for reproductive choice, saying the Right could not allow America to be run by a man who “wants to give your 13-year-old daughter the choice without your consent to destroy the life of her unborn baby” and was running on a platform that “never once mentions the name of God:” 

Since I have come to Houston, I have been asked repeatedly to define traditional values. I say very simply, to me and to most Republicans, traditional values start with faith in Almighty God … When Bill Clinton talks about family values, I don't believe he's talking about either families or values. …The campaign before us is not just a campaign for an office, but for the destiny of America. We will not rest until there is a new birth of freedom in America … until we restore the greatness of America through moral strength.

Apparently, times have changed.

Meanwhile, Sam Brownback will reportedly endorse John McCain:

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), meanwhile, plans to announce his surprise endorsement of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president on Wednesday, a campaign official told Politico.

The endorsement is to be announced in Dubuque, Iowa.

The alliance gives McCain — once a front-runner, now struggling — a crucial bridge to social conservatives, an important constituency that has remained suspicious of him despite his opposition to abortion.

Last month, Family Reseach Council President Tony Perkins was predicting that their Values Voter Summit would help the Right coalesce and narrow the field, if only by achieving agreement not to support Giuliani.  That turned out not to be the case, and if these two announcements are any indication, the Right’s hopes of unifying behind a single candidate are fading fast. 

Who's Who At the Values Voter Debate

Below are short biographies of those who have been mentioned as participating in tonight's "Values Voter Presidential Debate" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

Joseph Farah

Farah, designated to moderate the Values Voter Debate, is publisher of WorldNetDaily.com, a right-wing web site that provides a home for a large stable of infamous and lesser-known commentators, such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Roy Moore, Jerome Corsi, and Jonathan Falwell (son of the late Jerry Falwell). In his own column, Farah accused Bush of being involved in the “War on Christmas,” said Democrats opposing the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown were “racist to the core,” and started an early anti-Giuliani pledge.

In 1992, Farah founded the Western Journalism Center to counter supposed liberal media bias. The group went on to sponsor Christopher Ruddy’s lengthy “investigation” of the Clinton Administration, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster.

Phyllis Schlafly

Schlafly first made a name for herself in right-wing circles with her pro-Barry Goldwater book  “A Choice Not An Echo” in 1964 and then firmly established herself as a bona fide force by almost single-handedly leading the campaign to kill the Equal Rights Amendment

In 1974, she established the Eagle Forum, an organization that focuses on a wide variety of issues, ranging from standard right-wing concerns such as reproductive choice and “judicial supremacy” to more arcane topics like open hostility to various international treaties, including the Genocide Convention, and opposition to mandatory vaccination. Recently, Schlafly has become increasingly concerned about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which she and many others believe is part of a conspiracy to create a North American Union that will usurp US sovereignty. 

Schlafly has long been an ardent anti-feminist, defending the notion that men should not marry career women, despite the fact that she possesses a Masters degree and  a law degree, runs one of the most influential right-wing organizations in Washington, DC, has testified before more than 50 congressional and state legislative committees, has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention nearly ten times, has thrice been elected President of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women, and was twice a candidate for Congress from Illinois.

Schlafly has a long history of making outrageous claims, as evidenced by her statements in the last year blaming the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech on the University’s English Department and claiming that married women cannot be raped by their husbands.

Judge Roy Moore

Moore, former Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court was ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for his refusal to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse despite orders from a federal court judge to do so.  Moore quickly became one of the most popular figures in Alabama and an icon among the Religious Right who paid for Moore and “the Rock” to tour the country visiting churches and conferences of conservative Christians in at least 31 states.

Moore considered challenging President Bush as a third party candidate in 2004 but instead decided to focus his sights unsuccessfully on the governorship of Alabama in 2006. 

Moore writes a column for Worldnetdaily on issues ranging from decrying proposals to expand pre-kindergarten programs as an attempt by “liberal elites” to “indoctrinate our youth,” on par with the formation of the Hitler Youth to linking the conviction of Cheney aide Scooter Libby on perjury charges to the removal of 10 Commandments Monuments in courtrooms across the country. 

Moore is currently Chairman of the Foundation for Moral Law, a nonprofit legal group that represents individuals in religious liberty cases and works to education the public on the necessity of acknowledging God in law and government.  They most recently represented the three protestors arrested for disrupting a Hindu prayer in the Senate.

Rick Scarborough

Scarborough is president of Vision America and a pioneer in organizing “Patriot Pastors” to get out the vote, a model of religious-right electoral activism designed to supplant the waning Christian Coalition. The Texas-based former Southern Baptist pastor, a long-time ally of Tom DeLay, formed the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration with stalwarts such as Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly to oppose “activist judges.” Scarborough organized a “Judicial War on Faith” conference following the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005, and a “War on Christians and Values Voters” conference in 2006.

In the summer and fall of 2006, Scarborough concentrated his efforts on opposing a stem-cell research initiative in Missouri and a referendum in South Dakota that repealed an abortion ban. Scarborough toured both states with Alan Keyes, warning of a dystopian future of clone slavery, not to mention the wrath of God, if the measures succeeded, which they did.

Scarborough has already begun holding church political rallies in anticipation of 2008. His “70 Weeks to Save America” tour, featuring Keyes and ex-chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, is designed to “enlist 100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women” right up to Election Day. As he explained at the first of a planned “One Day Crusades,” quoting from the “Rick Scarborough Version” of the Bible: “He who hath the most votes wins.”

Gordon James Klingenschmitt

Klingenschmitt has only recently become a high-profile right-wing activist, thanks to his relatively high-profile fight with the US Navy over what he claims where attempts to prohibit him from praying in the name of Jesus, though in reality he was discharged for violating rules against wearing his uniform at political or partisan events. Klingenschmitt’s attempts to portray himself as  a martyr has been so over-the-top that it even prompted his former commanding officer to set the record straight:

“I was the dishonored ex-chaplain’s supervisor for the past 2 years. I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus’ name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus’ name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer.”

Klingenschmitt spoke at last year’s “The War on Christians and Values Voters,” hosted by Vision America, where he went so far as to compare himself to Abdul Rahman, the man who faced a potential death sentence for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan. Since his discharge from the Navy, Klingenschmitt has again teamed up with Vision America and is taking his tale of persecution around the country as part of the “70 Weeks to Save America Crusade” where he has joined Rick Scarborough and Alan Keyes. 

Don Wildmon

Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light. 

Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox.  AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.

Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer. 

Mat Staver

Staver is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, as well as the Dean of Liberty University School of Law, both of which are directly tied to the late Jerry Falwell.  Liberty is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family” which routinely files lawsuits and argues cases claiming religious discrimination against Christians. 

Last year, Staver offered public school teachers advice on how to sneak discussions of Christianity into “literature class, art class, music class, whatever course it is” by subtly turning the discussion toward the “Judeo-Christian influences on the subject matter.”  He was also active during the last election, urging pastors to “put their toe right on the line” and endorse candidates from the pulpit, claiming that tax laws prohibiting such things were unconstitutional. 

Staver was also featured on the recent CNN series “God’s Warriors” where, along with Jerry Falwell, he made clear that the Right’s ultimate goal is complete control over the Supreme Court, saying that he is training future generations of lawyers at Liberty University to "keep fighting at the Supreme Court until we have a new day. We never ever, ever give up."

Staver is also the author of several books, including “A Complete Handbook for Defending Your Religious Rights,” “Take Back America,” and “Judicial Tyranny.”

Paul Weyrich

Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation has been one of the foremost right wing strategists for 35 years and is often referred to as the father of the Religious Right.  He helped draft Rev. Jerry Falwell to head the Moral Majority, and helped to start several other groups that have become pillars of the right-wing movement, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council and the highly secretive Council for National Policy.  He is currently the president of the Free Congress Foundation.

He was quoted in 1984 describing his efforts as a departure from strategies pursued by traditional conservatives:  "We are different from previous generations of conservatives…We are no longer working to preserve the status quo.  We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country." 

Weyrich was also one of the first to recognize the political potential of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.  Opposition to abortion was one of the biggest factors uniting the coalition of disparate groups known as the “New Right” that elected Ronald Reagan president in 1980.

According to Media Transparency, ' Weyrich was one of the earliest commentators to advance the idea that the United States is engulfed in a cultural civil war."  Describing this "cultural civil war," Weyrich once said, "It may not be with bullets, and it may not be with rockets and missiles, but it is a war, nonetheless. It is a war of ideology, it's a war of ideas, it's a war about our way of life. And it has to be fought with the same intensity, I think, and dedication as you would fight a shooting war."

Weyrich strategic vision is matched by his aggressive promotion of grassroots activism. He pioneered America's Voice (formerly known as National Empowerment Television), a cable network designed to rapidly mobilize Religious Right followers for grassroots lobbying.

Weyrich’s most recent efforts include the Arlington Group, the newest coalition of the leaders of Religious Right groups brought together by Weyrich and Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, to coordinate activities. The group is widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put marriage protection amendments on the ballot in 11 states in the 2004 election.

Star Parker

Parker, founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), is the author of such books as “Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats” and “Uncle Sam’s Plantation,” denouncing social service spending as a form of racism against blacks. She’s been a featured speaker at right-wing events such as CPAC, the Christian Coalition’s Road to Victory, and Mayday for Marriage.

Aryeh Spero

A former rabbi and radio talker, Spero has generally been on the periphery of the Right, although he has been involved with groups such as Rick Scarborough’s Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration (a group opposed to “activist judges”), Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (4 or 5 people organized by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to protest the supposed “war on Christmas”), and Stop the Madrassa (organized to protest an English-Arabic school in New York). Spero’s own group is Caucus for America, although the Values Voter Debate program lists him as part of Jewish Action Alliance, a New York City-based outfit formed after the Crown Heights riot.

Spero styles himself one of the first Jewish leaders to endorse Ronald Reagan in 1980, although by 2000 he was an advisor to Pat Buchanan’s Reform Party bid.

Richard Thompson

 

Thompson, a former Detroit-area prosecutor known for dogging Jack Kevorkian, co-founded the Thomas More Law Center with Domino’s Pizza magnate Thomas Monaghan. The Center frequent argues, files briefs on, or simply opines about cases or laws involving abortion (unsuccessfully suing Planned Parenthood to make them hype a supposed connection to breast cancer, for example), gays (e.g., opposing adoption by gay couples), and religion (e.g., school prayer). In the group’s most famous case, they unsuccessfully defended the Dover, Pennsylvania school board’s policy promoting “Intelligent Design” creationism.

Brent Bozell

Bozell is Founder and President of the Media Research Center, which has worked since 1987 to make “liberal media bias” a household term.

Bozell is also a founder of the right-wing online news service CNSNews.com and the Culture and Media Institute (CMI), which describes its mission this way: “to thwart the efforts of the liberal media to subvert America’s culture, character, traditional moral values, and religious liberty.”

Bozell is founder and Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Committee (CVC), an independent multi-candidate political action committee that has helped elect dozens of right-wing candidates over the past ten years.  He was National Finance Chairman for the 1992 Buchanan for President campaign, and Finance Director and later President of the former National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).

Bobby Schindler

Schindler is the brother of the late Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman whose feeding-tube removal sparked a fierce nationwide debate in 2005.  He now tours the country speaking at anti-choice and anti-euthanasia events.

Schindler endorsed Sen. Sam Brownback earlier this year and accompanied him on a “Pro-Life, Whole Life” tour of Iowa.  He is currently the Executive Director of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.

Tom Scott

 

Scott is President and CEO of Sky Angel Television Network, a Christian and family direct-to-home satellite television service has been on the air for 10 years and currently provides 36 channels of Christian TV and radio, family entertainment, and 24-hour news channels.  Satellite channels include the Liberty Channel from the campus of Liberty University, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the most watched faith channel, and FoxNews, among other.  Sky Angel will be broadcasting the Value Voters Debate.

Vic Eliason

Eliason is the founder and head of VCY America, a religious broadcast ministry based in Wisconsin. In 2006, Eliason signed on to a letter blasting Rick Warren for inviting Senator Barack Obama to speak at an AIDS event held as his church because of the latter’s position on abortion.  The letter, signed by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly, Janet Folger, Peter LaBarbera, and others called on Warren “to rescind his invitation to Senator Obama immediately. The millions of silent victims who have died because of the policies of leaders like Senator Obama demand a response from those who believe that life is a gift from God.”

In 1995, Eliason agreed to pay Julie Brienza, a former United Press International reporter, $255,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after he led a successful radio campaign to get her fired because she was a lesbian, proclaiming that “Christianity has triumphed” when her employment was terminated. [Associated Press, 5 April 1995]

The Right Weighs In On Iraq

It looks as if the Right has taken some time out of its never-ending war against gays, abortion, and the secular culture to issue a “Declaration” calling on the US to stay in Iraq and warning of “catastrophic consequences” should US forces withdraw.   

Operating under the name The Forgotten American Coalition, Gary Bauer, Don Wildmon, Pat Robertson, Paul Weyrich, John Hagee, Lou Sheldon, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Janet Folger, Rick Scarborough, Wendy Wright, Morton Blackwell, Gary Cass, Star Parker, Mathew Staver and other have issued the following Declaration:

Some on Right Wary of Candidate Thompson

While Fred Thompson’s presumptive candidacy for president has been bolstered by right-wing activists dreaming of finding a perfect match in the “Law & Order” star, some in the conservative movement are taking a skeptical look at his political career, and chinks in his image are emerging to match those of the other leading Republican contenders.

First, James Dobson came out early on to say of Thompson that “I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression” (a statement he later tried to back away from). Then, a video clip from his Senate campaign was released in which he appears to show support for abortion rights. And the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down a provision of campaign finance reform – FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life -- reminded many anti-abortion activists of his critical role in passing the legislation that they strongly oppose, as well as his investigative subpoenas into the finances of interest groups, which raised hackles among religious-right groups targeted.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that, when he worked as a lobbyist in Washington, Thompson took a job from a pro-choice group to convince the first Bush Administration to lift the “gag rule” on federally-funded clinics mentioning abortion. A former colleague called Thompson’s denial of pro-choice lobbying “absolutely bizarre.”

And yesterday, the Times reported more on right-wing outrage at Thompson during his campaign-reform days, not only from McCain-Feingold and his subpoenas – which James Bopp, a lawyer who represented the groups back then and who now works for Mitt Romney’s campaign, called an unconstitutional “fishing expedition” – but also for failing to dig up dirt on a supposed fundraising scandal involving President Clinton. Larry Klayman – founder of Judicial Watch and a key figure seeking Clinton’s impeachment -- put the Tennessee senator on a “wanted” poster.

Longtime conservative movement activist Richard Viguerie is calling on the Right to “Beware Fred Thompson”: “Fred Thompson plays a tough guy in the movies and on television, but in real life he is a marshmallow who would pose no threat to the Big Government Establishment that continues to dominate Washington.”

At the same time, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come to Thompson’s defense on the lobbying charge, and he received an enthusiastic response at a Young Republicans this weekend.

“With all the [candidates] who keep changing their minds on abortion, that's got to be unsettling,” Paul Weyrich said of these reports on Thompson and abortion. But Thompson’s star power and personality will likely allow him to keep pace with the other leading GOP candidates, who have their own issues with the finicky right-wing base. For example, while John McCain’s campaign reform work has apparently made him a permanent enemy of the Religious Right, former Sen. Rick Santorum said that he and others might forgive Thompson for the same because, unlike McCain, Thompson has not “made a career of poking conservative colleagues in the eye.”

Standard Operating Procedure

As we have noted repeatedly over the last several years, the Right has developed various means to defend controversial Bush administration nominations against those who raise concerns about a nominee’s views by accusing anyone who might voice such concerns of being in some way a bigot. 

As we noted recently, the Right has routinely accused those who opposed nominees such as Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, and Janice Rogers Brown of being, respectively, anti-Latino, anti-woman, and straight out racist. 

Perhaps the most common accusation is that those who raise concerns about a nominee’s views are motivated by anti-religious bias, which is a charge they’ve thrown around multiple times, most notably regarding opposition to William Pryor and John Roberts.  

And they are at it again, this time in defending Dr. James Holsinger, President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, who has exhibited an open hostility to homosexuals.

Paul Weyrich levels the accusation:

In spite of his qualifications, radical homosexual activists are intent on defeating his nomination, in blatant violation of Article VI of the Constitution, because of his religious beliefs

So does Al Mohler:

In other words, Dr. Holsinger's opponents are not directing their attention to his medical experience or qualifications, but to his beliefs and responsibilities as a Christian and a member of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church.

The nomination of Dr. James Holsinger promises now to be a defining moment in American history. Will it now be necessary for a nominee to deny the teachings of his or her own church in order to be confirmed by the United States Senate?

It seems that, for the Right, any criticism of a nominee is out-of-line if the views for which the nominee is being criticized are, in some way, rooted in his or her religious faith, thereby allowing them to ignore the issue at hand, which is the nominee’s actual writings and record. 

But for some reason, the Right seems to have a different standard for Democrats and feels free to openly disparage not only their views, but their respective faiths directly.  

For example, not too long ago, the National Clergy Council openly declared that “[Sen. Barack] Obama's Christianity woefully deficient.” 

Or what about Don Feder’s recent broadside:

Democrats are to traditional religion what Islam is to tolerance.

It's not that Democrats aren't religious - rather that they practice a religion alien to both Christianity and Judaism.

Its doctrine includes support for abortion on demand, hate crimes legislation, the Kyoto Treaty, driver's licenses for illegal aliens, multiculturalism and a socialism of property and values.

Its priesthood is feminists, environmentalists, gay-activists and radical secularists, presided over by its college of cardinals --Rosie O'Donnell, Bill Maher, Barbra Streisand and Al Franken.

It calls for atonement for the sins of sexism, homophobia, the religious right, the gun lobby, pharmaceutical companies, big oil, Guantanamo, Halliburton and trans-fatty acids.

Its vision of Kingdom Come looks a lot like San Francisco on a Saturday night.

Or what about Paul Weyrich himself, who once attacked John Kerry, Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin for being “nothing but hypocrites” who were” trying to take advantage of their Catholic faith when its suits their purposes on the campaign trail, but shirking the obligations that really come with that faith” and called on the media to differentiate between “politicians [who] have taken stands in accordance with their faith and are therefore ‘observant,’ true Catholics and which ones are non-observant, only claiming to be Catholic.”

Apparently, for the Right, opposing a Bush nominee is proof of blatant religious bigotry, whereas directly denigrating the faith of Democrats is perfectly acceptable.   

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Paul Weyrich Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 12/17/2015, 4:43pm
As we noted earlier this week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins recently helped lead an effort to get Religious Right leaders to rally around a single Republican presidential candidate in order to maximize the movement’s ability to get a nominee to their liking. Earlier this month, dozens of Religious Right leaders agreed to back Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many Religious Right activists in 2008, wasn’t even a finalist. The National Review’s Tim Alberta reports that Mike Huckabee is disappointed by the development: “For... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 10/16/2015, 3:52pm
Politico’s Shane Goldmacher reported this week that Ted Cruz is planning a major rally on “religious liberty” at Bob Jones University in November.  Even though it has been clear for a while that framing opposition to LGBT equality, abortion and contraception as religious liberty issues is a core strategy of right-wing culture warriors like Cruz, Bob Jones is still a stunning choice. After all, the “religious liberty” Bob Jones is most famous for defending was its long insistence that its segregationist policies were mandated in the Bible. Of course Cruz... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 09/24/2015, 2:04pm
Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida. These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 11/05/2012, 1:56pm
The lower the turnout tomorrow, the better Mitt Romney will do. It’s always been this way for Republicans. Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the video below.  The media frequently reports on right-wing and GOP voter suppression efforts, but they rarely acknowledge the root cause – Republicans do better when fewer people vote. This is the driving force behind the GOP’s draconian voter ID laws and efforts to limit early voting, voter registration drives, and provisional voting.   The right wing and GOP have whipped up hysteria around voter fraud, which is... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 12/07/2009, 12:51pm
Speaking of Bishop Harry Jackson, is seems as if he was recently honored at the first-ever Paul Weyrich Awards Dinner, along with a gaggle of other right-wing activists:  Well over 230 conservative leaders and guests gathered Thursday evening to celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Weyrich, a colossus in the conservative movement, who perhaps now in death even more than in life reminds conservatives that while they hold a diversity of views, a real bond exists uniting them into one conservative coalition. Fiscal conservatives, pro-life and pro-family leaders, foreign policy and... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 05/29/2009, 4:26pm
You really have to hand it to the Right: when it comes to hypocrisy, they seemingly know no limit.Take this newest "Washington Update" from the Family Research Council demanding to know whether Sonia Sotomayor gave some sort of assurance to the White House about her views regarding reproductive choice:In a 2007 debate, Obama said he "would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right of privacy." After bobbing and weaving over the past few days, the White House now apparently believes it must make public its confidence that Sotomayor views abortion on demand as... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 05/15/2009, 3:46pm
Yesterday, I wrote a post, based largely on this post from Dan Gilgoff, about James Dobson and company lamenting their relative inability to influence the political culture at the moment, now that Democrats are in control of both the White House and the Congress.There is certainly a sense of panic gripping the Religious Right at the moment, but I think that Gilgoff is reading a bit too much into Dobson's admission that his forces can't stop things like hate crimes legislation and urging his followers to simply pray:[I]t's important to note that Dobson is entirely serious about prayer as... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 01/13/2009, 6:45pm
Peter LaBarbera weighs in on the decision to include Eugene Robinson in the Inauguration ceremonies, calling it a "tragic departure from America's godly, Judeo-Christian heritage" while Tony Perkins calls Robinson "divisive," saying the move was "designed to placate angry liberals." For his part, Rick Warren applauded the decision.Just weeks after passing an anti-discrimination ordinance, the Kalamazoo City Council has rescinded it after an outcry from the American Family Association.Speaking of the AFA, they have launched a boycott against Pepsi for its... MORE >