Iowa

Right Wing Round-Up

Values Voter Summit 2011 & America in 2013

As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong to say he was the favorite of the Values Voter crowd. It was up-and-coming candidate Herman Cain who won the loudest cheers (and took second place).

The two days of speeches from presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and Religious Right activists painted a clear picture of where they’ll try to take the country if they are successful in their 2012 electoral goals.  In their America, banks and corporations would be free from pesky consumer and worker protections; there would be no Environmental Protection Agency and no federal support for education; women would have no access to abortion; gays would be second-class citizens; and for at least some of them, religious minorities would have to know their place and be grateful that they are tolerated in this Christian nation. 
 
Here’s a recap of some major themes from the conference.
 
Religious Bigotry on Parade
 
In one of the most extreme expressions of the “Christian nation” approach to government, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has stated repeatedly that the religious liberty of non-Christians is not protected by the First Amendment.  More specifically, he says Mormons are not protected by the First Amendment.  For whatever reason, VVS organizers scheduled Romney and Fischer back-to-back on Saturday morning. 
 
Before the conference, People For the American Way called on Romney to take on Fischer’s bigotry, which he did, albeit in a vague and tepid manner, criticizing “poisonous” rhetoric without naming Fischer or explaining why his views are poison.  Getting greater media attention were comments by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who in his introduction of Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted on the importance of electing a “genuine” follower of Christ. Reporters who accurately saw this as a swipe at Romney’s faith asked Jeffress about it, and he labeled Mormonism a cult.  (Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians, including Southern Baptists, believe Mormon theology is anything but.)  Following Romney at the microphone, Fischer doubled down, insisting that the next president has to be a Christian “in the mold of” the founding fathers.  Fischer’s inaccurate sense of history is eclipsed only by his lack of respect for church-state separation and for the Constitution itself – even though he insisted that his religious test for the presidency was really a “political test.” Romney took only four percent in the VVS straw poll, even though he has been leading in recent polls of GOP voters.
 
Beating up on Obama
 
Religious Right leaders routinely denounce President Barack Obama, so it is no surprise that a major theme of the VVS was attacking the president and his policies.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about the president was Mitt Romney’s snide remark that Obama is “the conservative movement’s top recruiter.”    Among the nastiest came from virtue-monger Bill Bennett, who said, “if you voted for him last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot.” Rep. Anne Buerkle, one of the Tea Party freshmen, said flat out that the president is not concerned about what is best for the country. 
 
Health care and foreign policy were top policy targets.  Many speakers denounced “Obamacare,” and most of the presidential candidates promised to make dismantling health care reform a top priority. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Religious Right favorite who is leading a legal challenge to the health care reform law, said that if the Supreme Court did not overturn it, Americans would go from being citizens to subjects.  Just about every speaker attacked President Obama for not being strong enough in support of Israel, and repeated a favorite right-wing talking point by pledging to “never apologize” for U.S. actions abroad.
 
Gays as Enemies of Liberty
 
It is clear that a Republican takeover of the Senate and White House would put advances toward equality for LGBT Americans in peril.  Speaker after speaker denounced the recent repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces; many also attacked marriage equality for same-sex couples.  And many portrayed liberty as a zero-sum game, insisting that advances toward equality posed a dire threat to religious liberty. Rep. Mike Pompeo said “You cannot use our military to promote social ideals that do not reflect the values of our nation,” concluding his remarks with a call for the election of more Republicans, saying “ride to the sounds of the guns and send us more troops.”
Another member of the 2010 freshman class – Rep. Vicky Hartzler – attacked the Obama administration for “trying to use the military to advance their social agenda,” saying, “It’s wrong and it must be stopped.” Predictably, the AFA’s Fischer was the most vitriolic and insisted that the country needs a president “who will treat homosexual behavior not as a political cause at all but as a threat to public health.”
 
Loving Wall Street, Hating Wall Street Protesters
 
On the same day that moving pictures of Kol Nidre services at the site of Occupy Wall Street protests made the rounds on the Internet, Values Voter Summit speakers portrayed the protests as dangerous and violent.  Others simply mocked the protesters without taking seriously the objections being raised to growing inequality and economic hardship in America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the “growing mobs” associated with the protests and decried “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” (Too bad he didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the speakers).  Glenn Beck denounced “Jon Stewart Marxism” and warned that the protests were the sign of an approaching “storm of biblical proportions” in which “the violent left” would smash, tear down, kill, bankrupt, and destroy.  Pundit Laura Ingraham simply made fun of the protesters and held up her own “hug the rich” sign.  Rising star Herman Cain defended Wall Street, blaming the nation’s economic crisis on policymakers, not reckless and irresponsible financiers.  Nobody wanted to regulate the financiers; speakers called for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law. 
 
A number of speakers promoted Christian Reconstructionist notions of “Biblical economics,” with Star Parker declaring that “this whole notion of redistribution of wealth is inconsistent with scripture” and calling for the selection of a candidate with commitment to the free market according to the Bible.  Ron Paul also insisted “debt is not a political principle.”  The AFA’s Bryan Fischer said that liberalism is based on violating two of the Ten Commandments, namely thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Liberalism, he said, is “driven by angry, bitter, acquisitive greed for the wealth of productive Americans.” 
 
No Love for Libertarians
 
A major theme at last year’s Values Voter Summit, as at other recent Religious Right political events, was an effort to make social-issue libertarians unwelcome in the conservative movement by insisting that you cannot legitimately claim to be a fiscal conservative if you are not also pushing “traditional family values.”  The same theme was sounded this year by the very first speaker, Tony Perkins.  Another, Joe Carter, took a shot at gay conservatives, saying it was not possible to be conservative and for gay marriage – it simply made you a “liberal who likes tax cuts.”  Carter said “social conservative” should be redundant. Ingraham echoed the theme, calling for an end to conservative modifiers (social, fiscal, national security) and, echoing popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis, called for a commitment to “mere conservatism.”  There were far fewer mentions of the Tea Party movement itself at this year’s VVS, perhaps owing to the movement’s unpopularity – or to the fact that the GOP itself has essentially become one big Tea Party party.
 
Crying Wolf on Religious Persecution
 
Religious Right leaders routinely energize movement activists with dire warnings about threats to religious liberty and the alleged religious persecution of Christians in America.  William Bennett said liberals are bigoted against “people who publicly love their God, who publicly love their country.”  Retired Gen. William Boykin said Christians are facing the greatest persecution ever in America.   The American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow warned that the next president will probably select two Supreme Court justices, and that if it isn’t a conservative president, our Judeo-Christian values could be “eliminated.”  Crying wolf about persecution of Christians in America is offensive given the very real suffering of people in countries that do not enjoy religious freedom.  Several speakers addressed the case of a Christian pastor facing death in Iran.  That is persecution; having your political tactics challenged or losing a court case is not.
 
America is Exceptional; Europe Sucks
 
Republican strategists decided a couple of years ago that “American exceptionalism” would be a campaign theme in 2010 and 2012, and we heard plenty of talk about it at the Values Voter Summit.  Among the many who spoke about American exceptionalism was Rep. Steve King, who said “this country was ordained and built by His hand,” that the Declaration of Independence was written with divine guidance, and that God moved the founding fathers around the globe like chess pieces .  Liberals, said the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding, don’t share a belief in American exceptionalism or the American dream. Many speakers contrasted a freedom-loving, God-fearing America to socialist, post-Christian Europe.  Rick Perry said “those in the White House” don’t believe in American exceptionalism; they’d rather emulate the failed policies of Europe.  Gen. Boykin declared Europe “hopelessly lost.”
 
Smashing the Regulatory State
 
The anti-government, anti-regulatory fervor of billionaire right-wing funders like the Koch brothers was on vibrant display at the VVS.  Without the slightest nod to the fact that regulating the behavior of corporations’ treatment of workers, consumers, and the environment is in any way beneficial, a member of a Heritage Foundation panel said conservatives’ goal should be to “break the back” of the “regulatory state.”  Some presidential candidates vowed to halt every regulation issued during the Obama administration.  Michele Bachmann said her goal was to “dismantle” the bureaucracy.
 
Judging Judges
 
Many speakers criticized judges for upholding abortion rights, church-state separation, and gay rights. Newt Gingrich took these attacks to a whole new level, calling for right-wing politicians to provoke a  constitutional crisis in which the legislative and executive branch would ignore court rulings they didn’t like.  He called the notion of “judicial supremacy” an “affront to the American system of self-government.” Aside from Gingrich’s very dubious constitutional theory, the speech seemed out of place at a conference in which speakers had been calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
 
Deconstructing the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’
 
VVS speakers love quoting the Declaration of Independence, but some are clearly a little troubled with the notion that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right, one that might apply, for example, to happy, loving gay couples.  Rick Santorum said that the founders’ understanding of “happiness” meant “the morally right thing” and doing what God wants.  Steve King said the  pursuit of happiness was not like a tailgate party, but the pursuit of excellence in moral and spiritual development.  Michele Bachman has equated the pursuit of happiness with private property.
 
Notably weird speeches
 
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel gave a meandering address that moved from U.S. policy on Israel to the war on Islamic radicalism to an attack on the United Nations to denunciations of sexologist Alfred Kinsey and humanist/educator John Dewey for undermining western civilization. He warned against conservatives using rhetoric that might push the growing Latino population into the maw of the “leftist machine,” making an aside about Latinos whose names end in “z” having a special connection to Israel.
 
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up taking third place in the straw poll, seemed personally hurt that conservative evangelicals weren’t rallying around him given all that he had done for them and the price he had paid for it.  He whined, “Don’t you want a president who’s comfortable in his shoes talking about these issues?”
 
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that people who support marriage equality or legal abortion don’t do so because they have a value system supporting those things, but because they want to spite the Religious Right – “because they know it’s precious to us.”
 
Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck gave a trademark lurching speech contrasting visceral anger with his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s “with malice toward none.” The speech was long on mockery of Wall Street protestors and on the messianic narcissism that was on display at his Lincoln Memorial rally last year.  “We need to give America the same choice” that Moses gave Israel, he said: good or evil, light or dark, life or death, freedom or slavery.  He said America is in a religious war, a race war, a class war, and other wars.  In one breath he insisted that the nation “must return to God” and talked about the “country’s salvation” – and in the next he denounced the notion of “collective salvation,” which he has elsewhere attributed to President Obama and denounced as evil and satanic.
 

King: Marriage Equality Will Erode America's Foundations

Iowa congressman Steve King, who once claimed that gay rights will lead to children raised in warehouses, told the Values Voter Summit that marriage equality for gays and lesbians will lead to the downfall of civilization. King argued that progressives only want to lead an "assault" on marriage because of their hatred for moral values and later discussed his "bus tour" to remove Iowa judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality, arguing that LGBT rights activists are the "most unhappy people" he's ever met:

The Multi-Pronged Effort To Mobilize Millions Of Religious Right Voters

Ever since Rick Perry help his public prayer rally in August, we have been noting how organizers of that event have been hard at work promoting something called "Champion The Vote" which is a Religious Right voter mobilization effort designed to get "5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."

The Champion The Vote effort is of project of a group called United in Purpose, which is an organization that seeks to "mobilize 40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United States to vote" over the next decade.

United In Purpose was the group responsible for the Rediscover God In America conference in Iowa earlier this year which was organized by David Lane ... who also happened to serve as the National Finance Chairman for Perry's prayer rally.

Now United In Purpose/Champion The Vote is organizing an event called "One Nation Under God" to be held in November:

We’ve lost sight of our great heritage as a nation founded on Biblical truth, and the consequences are dire: schools are failing, the divorce rate is climbing, and our society is rife with scandal and corruption. It’s time to reclaim our Biblical heritage and bring God back to the center of American life. Where do we start?

On Saturday, November 12, United in Purpose presents One Nation Under God – a national, three-hour premiere event featuring top American thinkers and political leaders who will bring the truth about God and America to people gathered in homes and churches across the nation.

And you will, no doubt, be surprised to learn that Rick Perry is listed among the speakers:

Organizers are promoting the event with this video:

Boehner's "Tea Party" Challenger Is Really A Randall Terry Plant

Last week it was announced that a "pro-life/Tea Party activist" named David Lewis would be launching a primary against John Boehner. Since then, most of the press coverage has focused on the "Tea Party" aspect of Lewis' campaign and ignored the "pro-life" part ... even though it is the anti-choice activism that is really driving the campaign.

Back in 2010, anti-choice zealot Randall Terry discovered that he could get graphic anti-abortion ads to air on television by exploiting a loophole that prohibits broadcasters from refusing to run or censor campaign ads.  As such, he has been recruiting other anti-choice candidates to run for office, not because they have a chance to win, but simply as a means to air grapich ads on television.  In fact, Terry himself is running his own primary challege against President Obama for the same purpose.

Lewis quit his job last year to become a full-time anti-choice activist and admits that he has no chance of actually beating Boehner ... in fact, he doesn't even live in the correct district.  

That is Lewis, on the far left in the yellow, particpating in Randall Terry's "sit-in" outside of Boehner's office earlier this year:

So Lewis is running simply in order to run graphic ads

Lewis, the father of a 2-year-old girl, says he plans on running on a single issue - Boehner's support of a federal budget that provides funding to Planned Parenthood, which he calls "the largest killer of unborn babies in America."

Lewis tells the newspaper that he plans on running graphic anti-abortion ads against Boehner. He says that people will not reject abortion until they see abortion.

Lewis already has three graphic ads up on his campaign website ... so it is pretty obvious that his candidacy is not really a "Tea Party" challenge to Boehner at all but is simply the latest step in Randall Terry's campaign to get graphic anti-choice ads aired on television.

Perry's Prayer Rally, The AFA, And Champion The Vote

Not long after Gov. Rick Perry's "The Response" prayer rally ended, the American Family Association sent out an email to everyone who had registered to attend the event or watch it on line, urging them to support an effort called "Champion the Vote" which seeks to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."

We didn't know much about the Champion The Vote effort; only that it was an initiative of United in Purpose, which was the group responsible for the Rediscover God In America conference in Iowa earlier this year.

Today, the LA Times provides a bit more information about the organization and reports that United in Purpose is funded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists and Rick Perry supporters seeking to mobilize Christian voters:

The group operated largely out of public sight until last month, when Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Assn., sent an email promoting Champion the Vote to people who had registered to attend Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent prayer rally.

The Rev. Buddy Smith, American Family Assn.'s executive vice president, said that Wildmon was a friend of [donor Ken] Eldred's, one of the group's financiers, but that the association was not providing it with monetary support.

Eldred, who founded companies such as Ariba Technologies and Inmac, has donated $1.1 million to Republican candidates since 2005, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, and is now raising money for Perry's presidential bid.

But he said in an interview that Champion the Vote did not have a partisan agenda.

"I have the audacity to believe that we can be an influence on both parties," Eldred said. "I personally believe that someday we're going to stand before God, and he's going to pull out a ballot and say, 'How did you vote in this election?' And there are going to be people who say, 'Why do you care about that, God?' And he's going to say, 'Because I created that country and I put you in charge.'"

He declined to say how much money he was putting into the project, except to note: "It's not cheap, I can tell you that."

[Bill Dallas, chief executive of United in Purpose,] a former real estate developer who said his Christian beliefs deepened while he was serving time at San Quentin State Prison for embezzlement, declined to identify the other venture capitalists financing the project, but described them as "men of deep faith." He said the group had an annual budget in the millions of dollars.

Over the next 10 years, United in Purpose aims to mobilize 40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United States to vote. To locate them, the organization has assembled a detailed database that pairs voter registration records with consumer information that identifies, among other things, subscribers to faith-based magazines, members of NASCAR fan clubs and people on antiabortion email lists ... The organization has already seen some early success, registering 268,000 new voters in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado in 2010 by working with churches affiliated with the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, that group's president.

So the AFA paid for Rick Perry's massive public prayer rally and then used the mailing list generated by the event to generate support for Champion the Vote,  which is an effort that is being bankrolled by a donor who is currently fundraising for Rick Perry's presidential campaign ... but the prayer rally was "non-political," just as this entire enterprise is "nonpartisan"?

Pat Robertson Implies He Was Not Qualified To Be President

On The 700 Club today, Pat Robertson said that executive experience in government is “the only qualification for running for president,” arguing that President Obama made “mistake after mistake after mistake” because he never had the experience of a mayor or a governor, saying, “we put somebody in charge of America with no experience, not wise.” But Obama was far from the only presidential candidate who never served a mayor or a governor; others include John McCain, Barry Goldwater and…Pat Robertson.

Robertson ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, winning the Ames straw poll and coming in second place in the Iowa caucus. After Robertson dropped out, he founded the Christian Coalition, which became one of the principal forces in the Religious Right until he left in 2001.

Before he ran for president, Robertson headed the Christian Broadcasting Network and was the founder and chancellor of CBN University, since renamed Regent University. Robertson never served as a mayor or a governor, in fact, he never served in elected office before or after his run for the presidency.

We at Right Wing Watch would like to know if Robertson believes that he too should’ve been disqualified for the presidency:

If Dominionism Is A Liberal Conspiracy, Why Does It Have Conservative Critics?

Over the last week Kyle has been rebutting claims by some journalists and Religious Right activists that Dominionism, which contends that fundamentalist Christians must take ‘dominion’ over society and government, is nothing more than a liberal conspiracy. Dominionism has been gaining attention as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry’s close ties with outspoken propagators of the radical dominionist ideology come to light.

In a post today, Rachel Tabachnik takes on the Washington Post’s Lisa Miller’s much-discussed article dismissing dominionism. Tabachnik notes that Miller’s article quoted Mark DeMoss downplaying the prevalence of dominionism in the Religious Right - without noting that the DeMoss Group has ties to Bill Bright, the founder of the dominionist Seven Mountains ideology, and Gary DeMar, who is a chief proponent of the Christian Reconstructionism, a hardline dominionist ideology.

As Kyle noted last week, Pat Robertson denied knowing anything about Dominionism, even though he delivered a speech where he urged his audience to “get ready to take dominion!” and Matt Barber of Liberty University School of Law called it a “scary Christian monster that lives under liberals’ beds,” despite the fact the Liberty University School of Law sponsored DeMar’s conference last year, called "2010 Sovereignty and Dominion conference — Biblical Blueprints for Victory!" In fact, the Communications Director of Truth In Action Ministries, which until recently was called Coral Ridge Ministries, claimed that “dominionism is a sham charge-one reserved for Christians on the right,” even though prominent dominionist Janet Porter was once the head of a Coral Ridge Ministries affiliate. So if domininionism doesn’t exist and is merely a construct of the left, then why was Porter fired by two conservative Christian radio stations for promoting…“dominionism”?

Last year, Voice of Christian Youth America (VCY America) fired Porter because of what they called the “drift of [Porter’s] program toward ‘dominion theology.’” VCY America says it is dedicated to “featuring solid Bible teaching programs” and features conservative programming like ‘The Phyllis Schlafly Report’ and ‘Freedom’s Call,’ Liberty Counsel’s radio bulletin.

Listen to VCY’s decision on Porter’s firing, which states that “VCY America does not believe in Dominion theology or waging spiritual war for the establishment of an earthly kingdom of power, that is dominion theology and it is being promoted by many who are guided by their own dreams and visions and not necessarily the Word of God”:

VCY America also hosted Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group and the Herescope blog, who has worked to expose dominionism. Leslie is the former head of Iowa Right to Life, hardly a liberal activist, who talked to VCY America about the rise of Seven Mountains Dominionism:

VCY America wasn’t the only Christian radio station to fire Porter for promoting dominionism. Worldview Radio also dropped Porter for promoting “Dominion theology” and working “with the Dominion theory theology people” during her May Day prayer rally.

Surely, Barber can ask Porter herself why she was fired, since she was a featured speaker at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening 2011 and Liberty Counsel sponsored Porter’s How To Take Back America conference. Or ask Dominionism’s many conservative critics.

If you want a taste of what dominionism sounds like, watch Janet Porter preach with Cindy Jacobs about taking control of the mountain of government:

Did Michele Bachmann Destroy Feminism?

When Sarah Palin was chosen as the GOP nominee for vice president, Phyllis Schlafly hailed her as a role model of the non-feminist woman who by her very existence discredited the women’s movement. Feminists “are really spooked by Palin because she’s done everything and she is a success,” Schlafly said, “besides she is pretty and they cannot stand her.”

Now that Palin’s star has significantly subsided and she has become one of the most unpopular politicians in America, Schlafly’s niece Suzanne Venker is crowning Michele Bachmann as the new conservative woman who destroyed feminism. Venker, who co-authored The Flipside of Feminism with Schlafly, told James Dobson that women shouldn’t pursue challenging professions like brain surgery because it might prevent them from having children.

In an article for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today, Venker lauded Bachmann for showing the bright side of biblical “submission” and proving that the women’s movement has contributed nothing beneficial to society. Venker writes that for “the first time in decades, the liberal feminist establishment is up against something new: outspoken conservative women who undermine the feminist agenda.” But haven’t conservative women, like say, Phyllis Schlafly, been involved in politics for decades?

Venker argues that now Bachmann is being unfairly depicted as “a religious nut and a doormat,” and says a man would never be asked about biblical submission (not so). And even though Bachmann may be one of the easiest GOP candidates for President Obama to defeat, Venker says that she is actually making liberals run scared:

For 40 years, this country has endured a social movement that has been relentless in its goals. Women on the left believe the feminist movement is responsible for liberating women from constricted lives; women on the right see things differently. Feminists are consumed with their place in society; conservative women are not. They are especially uninterested in fighting a gender war. That's why the Submission Question could be asked only of a conservative female candidate. It's women on the right, we're told, who want to keep women in their place. Conservative women are anti-woman.

So what to do when faced with a female candidate who's conservative and popular? Why, portray her as a religious nut and a doormat, of course! Indeed, feminists know most women won't identify with that kind of woman. And they're right: they won't. Women on the left don't appreciate that traditional values, even Biblical values, are not at odds with female empowerment. No matter what you think of Bachmann or Sarah Palin, these women have proved this in spades. No one gets to their position by being oppressed or mousy.

For the first time in decades, the liberal feminist establishment is up against something new: outspoken conservative women who undermine the feminist agenda. Conservative women are supposed to stay home! Conservative women are supposed to lead nice, traditional lives: raise a gaggle of children, be subordinate to their husbands and stay out of the public sphere. Why are they asserting their independent minds?



The implication that Michele Bachmann is a Stepford wife in disguise was a pitiful attempt to bring down a female conservative candidate who has sinned in the worst way possible: She does not carry the feminist torch. And, yet, she still won the Iowa straw poll.

Perhaps feminism really is dead.

Bachmann: The American People Are Concerned About "The Rise Of The Soviet Union"

Michele Bachmann dropped by "Jay Sekulow Live" today to talk about her win last weekend in the Iowa Straw Poll and her presidential campaign in general.  During the discussion, Bachmann asserted that while the American people are very concerned about the state of the economy, they are concerned about other issues as well like abortion, defending marriage ... and the rise of the Soviet Union:

I would say it's a unified message. It really is about jobs and the economy. That doesn't mean people haven't [sic] forgotten about protecting life and marriage and the sanctity of the family. People are very concerned about that as well. But what people recognize is that there's a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward. And especially with this very bad debt ceiling bill, what we have done is given a favor to President Obama and the first thing he'll whack is five hundred billion out of the military defense at a time when we're fighting three wars. People recognize that.

Umm ... who exactly are these people that are concerned about the rise of the Soviet Union?  Because last time I checked, it went out of existence two decades ago.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Following a poor showing in Iowa, Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the presidential race.
  • Apparently, the fact that he had back surgery is somehow going to help Rick Perry attack healthcare reform ... or something.
  • Richard Viguerie hasn't liked any GOP candidate for a long time, but he likes Rick Perry.
  • WorldNetDaily, on the other hand, does not like Perry.
  • Barry Hankins, author of "Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America," does not approve of the portrait of Schaeffer constructed by Ryan Lizza's in his profile of Michele Bachmann.
  • Finally, Gary Bauer says that "the media’s war on faith — their continued attempts to force Christianity into the closet — is very dangerous for our republic."

The Ames Straw Poll Victors: From Robertson To Bachmann

Following Michele Bachmann’s triumph in the Ames Straw Poll, she was immediately crowned the frontrunner in the Iowa Caucus. While winning the Ames Straw Poll does not guarantee a victory at the Iowa Caucus (just ask Mitt Romney), it does show the strength of a candidate’s campaign operation and popular support. But most importantly, victory at Ames does not make a candidate a mainstream political figure. As Tim Murphy writes today in Mother Jones and consistently chronicled on RWW, Bachmann throughout her entire political career has seen herself and acted as an ultraconservative, Religious Right fanatic, and her victory at Ames makes her no more mainstream or less radical.

For example, Pat Robertson won the 1987 Ames Straw Poll, topping both George Bush and Bob Dole, who went on to win the Iowa Caucus. But defeating the Vice President and the Senate Republican Leader did not make Robertson a mainstream politician, in the same way Bachmann is still a right-wing extremist even after her straw poll victory. Their victories in Ames show the endurance and growth of the Religious Right base of the Republican Party.

Need a reminder of how out of the mainstream Robertson is? Just today on The 700 Club, for instance, Robertson explained how he performed an exorcism on a girl and “cast this demon out of her” before she tried to kill her mother:

So if Pat Robertson can win in Ames, is it any surprise that Michele Bachmann could too?

Imagine If Janet Porter Ran For President

Perhaps one of the most alarming realizations about Michele Bachmann is that even if she hand never a member of Congress and a Republican presidential contender, we would probably still be writing about her here on Right Wing Watch because she is, at heart, a hardcore Religious Right activist.

Tim Murphy of Mother Jones has a new profile of Bachmann which, I feel, perfectly demonstrates that point: 

There was one issue that seemed to consume Bachmann. The slow creep of the gay rights movement was, in her words, an "earthquake issue," with the potential to shake the foundation of society itself: the family. Taking a page from Schaeffer, who vilified the "rampant sexuality" and moral relativism of the Romans, Bachmann saw the gay rights movement as a secular ideology that posed a direct challenge to traditional marriages.

As she'd done before with the Profile of Learning, Bachmann embraced her role as a messenger. When EdWatch, as the Maple River Education Coalition was later known, invited her to deliver a speech at its 2004 convention, she unleashed a masterful presentation, mixing slides with self-deprecating humor, that hammered home the same urgent message that has since become familiar to a national audience: The forces working against you are bigger than you think.

Bachmann ripped into pop culture, telling her audience about a dangerous show she'd discovered called Sex and the City. ("It's received critical acclaim," she said, "so that tells you, 'Don't watch it.'") She warned that The Lion King soundtrack was potentially toxic to small children because it was written by Elton John, a gay man. She urged her audience to pray for Melissa Etheridge, suggesting that the lesbian songwriter's breast cancer diagnosis might be a wake-up call for her to turn away from her sinful lifestyle. To Bachmann, homosexuals had even usurped the English language. "It's part of Satan, I think, to say that this is 'gay,'" she said. "It's anything but gay."

The Bachmanns worked as a tag team. In 2005, they both participated in the Minnesota Pastors' Summit, a conference sponsored by the Minnesota Family Council that was designed to train religious leaders for the culture wars. Michele led a session on a state gay marriage amendment; Marcus, in a rare moment of public activism, moderated a talk called "The Truth of the Homosexual Lifestyle."

Imagine if Sally Kern or Janet Porter were not only running for president but winning the Iowa Straw Poll and being treated like a front-runner and you start to get an idea of just how truly amazing/terrifying this development is.

Tim Pawlenty's Short-Lived Post-Straw Poll Bravado

On Sunday, after a disappointing defeat in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty withdrew from the presidential race, saying that "the audience, so to speak, wanted something different." What Iowa Republicans want, at least according to the straw poll results, is Michele Bachmann, who many pundits agreed had bested Pawlenty in a harsh exchange at last week's GOP debate. Just hours before he dropped out of the race, Pawlenty's campaign emailed supporters with a claim that he was eager to continue the fight, a fundraising pitch, a new video title "The American Comeback Begins," and a bravado that seems to have lasted about 12 hours:

Hello Friends -

I want to congratulate Congresswoman Bachmann on her victory in today's straw poll. I'm also very proud of the work my campaign has done, and I appreciate their hard work. As I've said all along, we needed to show progress to do well, and we did just that. This is a long process to restore America -- we are just beginning, and I'm eager for the campaign.

I'm encouraged by our progress, and I'm so thankful for the thousands of Iowans who showed their support for my candidacy by voting for me in Ames. Don't miss my remarks at the straw poll earlier today including our latest video
 
We are now moving onto the next phase of our campaign. Over the coming weeks we will be visiting New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida while continuing to grow our already strong ground game in Iowa.
 
Mary and I will never forget your continued support, words of encouragement, and friendship. But we need YOUR help to take the message that resonated in Iowa to the rest of the country. Can I count on you for a special “Victory Contribution” of $25, $50, $100 or even $250, to commemorate our strong showing in Ames?
 
We’ve completed an important first step on the road to the Republican nomination and, ultimately, the White House.  We can’t do it alone, and I need your support to continue the journey.

 
Sincerely,


Tim Pawlenty

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Sarah Palin's "Hey, Please Pay Attention To Me" tour will suddenly resume, just in time for her to show up in Iowa this weekend.
  • FRC says Barack Obama is "a President who not only doesn't listen [but] doesn't care about what's on the minds of those in the Midwest."
  • It looks like Janet Porter has now added Dutch Sheets to her "Heartbeat Bill" rally next month.
  • Peter LaBarbera is going to be protesting Willow Creek Community Church's for ending its relationship with Exodus International." Hate Crime!
  • Finally, Christine O'Donnell reads from her forthcoming book, which makes her just about the only person who will actually read it.

Bachmann's Mentor Calls On Christian Leaders To Bring Biblical Law To America Or Face God's Judgment

Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has touted Oral Roberts University law professor John Eidsmoe as her mentor and guide, bolstering her already impeccable credentials with Religious Right voters. Profiles by writers such as Ryan Lizza and Michelle Goldberg offered further insight into how Eidsmoe shaped Bachmann’s thinking, and highlighted some of Eidsmoe’s more controversial views, such as his commitment to biblical government and belief that the abolition of slavery was devastating for African Americans. In an interview with Lizza, Eidsmoe said that he thinks Bachmann mirrors the political views he outlined, and Bachmann told an Iowa pastor conference that Eidsmoe was “one of the professors who had a great influence on me” who is “absolutely brilliant.”

In 1984 Eidsmoe wrote God & Caesar, which is essentially a manual to why and how Christians should work in politics and government. Eidsmoe dedicated the book to his children, “in the hope that their generation will more fully implement biblical norms and standards.” In the book, Eidsmoe finds that the biblical view and the conservative agenda virtually always coincide, while the liberal position represents the rejection of God and godly principles. No matter the issue, economic, social, family, law, and foreign policy, Eidsmoe finds that conservatives are always on the right side of the Bible while liberals are on the side of godlessness.

As Julie Ingersoll writes in Religion Dispatches, Eidsmoe is a proponent of Christian Reconstructionism, a philosophy designed by R. J. Rushdoony that wants America governed  according to Biblical law.

Eidsmoe frequently promotes Rushdoony in God & Caesar and his dominionist teachings about the role of “God’s Word” in the political field:

God’s Word has a lot to say about government, about crime and punishment, about abortion, about national defense, about war and peace, about the many political issues that face us daily. Paul declared that he had ‘not shunned to declare unto all the counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27). The fundamentalist who refuses to preach or consider what God’s Word has to say about politics is not declaring the whole counsel of God and has a serious gap in his ministry. R. J. Rushdoony put it well when he said,

Man must exercise dominion in the name of God, and in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness…. The world, moreover, cannot be surrendered to Satan. It is God’s world and must be brought under God’s law politically, economically, and in every other way possible. The Enlightenment, by its savage and long-standing attack on Biblical faith, has brought about a long retreat of Christianity from a full-orbed faith to a king of last-ditch battle centering around the doctrines of salvation and of the infallible Scripture. The time has come for a full-scale offensive, and it has indeed begun, to bring every area of thought into captivity to Christ, to establish the whole counsel of God and every implication of His infallible word. (p. 56)

Eidsmoe believes that God brings people into the political arena and then uses them to enforce his will. He cites right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly as one such leader that God used to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, and Texas activists Mel and Norma Gabler to “analyze and critique textbooks and expose humanist, anti-Christian, immoral, or anti-American content. I’m sure the Gablers never dreamed God would use them like that” (p. 60).

He goes on to say that America is facing “political and economic decline” as a result of “moral decay” and God’s judgment because of the government’s failure to embrace biblical law. Eidsmoe argues that unless Christians that follow his Reconstructionist positions enter politics, God will judge America in the same way he judged Judah before exiling the Jews to Babylon:

We should add that this political and economic decline is a natural and logical consequence, but it is also a supernatural consequence. It is the result of God’s judgment (Leviticus 26:14-29).

I believe the political and economic decline that grips America today is the result of moral decay. I believe God is calling upon believers today to lead the spiritual awakening that can overcome that moral lapse. That’s how believers can truly be the salt of the earth, preserving their nation from divine judgment.

After decrying the sin of Judah, their oppression and robbery, their vexation of the poor and needy and the sojourner, God declared in Ezekiel 22:30, ‘And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it.’

God is looking for believers today to ‘stand in the gap,’ to assert themselves in the political arena and transform America’s political institutions.

But I omitted the last four words of that verse: ‘…but I found none.’ The Lord continued in the next verse, ‘Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.’

God’s judgment indeed came upon Judah: seventy years of exile in Babylon.

That was true of Judah. I pray it won’t be true of America. Will you do your part, as others have done theirs? (p. 68)

Right Wing Round-Up

Barton: "Hang These Four Republican Scalps Over The Senate Rail" For Supporting Marriage Equality

Today on WallBuilders Live, David Barton and co-host Rick Green had the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher as a guest to discuss NOM’s efforts to defeat senators that voted for the marriage equality law in New York, especially the law’s four Republican supporters. Following Gallagher’s interview, Barton lauded NOM’s campaign and warned that unless those Republicans are defeated, “Ken Mehlman,” the former head of the Republican National Committee and Bush campaign chief who recently came out as gay, “and his kind [will] come in and start rewarding these guys for going against pro-family stuff.” Barton went on to say that “this is where you hang a bloody scalp over the gallery rail,” to intimidate other Republicans who consider supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians:

Barton: If you allow the Ken Mehlman kind of Republicans to come in, and Melhman’s the guy who ran the Republican National Convention, he’s the guy who came out, who’s openly homosexual, trained with Karl Rove and was an understudy to Karl, if you allow those guys to be able to facilitate the Republicans to turn on these issues and other squishy Republicans across the country will say, ‘hey I can take on these pro-family people,’ they’ll start doing the same thing. Then you’ll lose your opportunity to have at least one party that still has the ability to allow people to talk about biblical, moral issues. You just cannot let this happen. Here I sit in Texas, I’ll contribute to the campaign to take these guys out, I’ll send money from Texas to New York.

Green: It’s kind of like the Iowa deal, going after judges up there and the necessity to defeat them.

Barton: Hey, you think that didn’t scare a bunch of judges straight in other states? You bet it did. And I want to see pro-family guys scared straight that are squishy on this issue, and if we can’t take out these four Republicans and the Majority Leader in New York, we will have opened a huge door for Melhman and his kind to come in and start rewarding these guys for going against pro-family stuff, and you just can’t let that happen.



Barton: No disrespect to our Native American friends, but this is where you hang a bloody scalp over the gallery rail. You hang these four Republican scalps over the Senate rail and every other Republican senator looks up and sees those scalps and says, ‘my gosh, I’ll be hanging up there beside them if I don’t stay with this pro-family stuff.’ And that’s exactly what has to happen.

If You Love Roy Moore, Bachmann Is A Good Second Choice

When Bob Vander Plaats and Terry Branstad were locked in a tight race for Iowa's Republican gubernatorial nomination last year, it came as quite a shock with the influential Iowa Family Policy Council publicly declared that it would never support Brandstad if he won the nomination:

The public refusal of an influential social conservative group to support the eventual GOP nominee for governor is causing long-term damage to the party and could result in a second term for Gov. Chet Culver, Republican leaders said Tuesday.

At an event originally billed as a rally to oppose same-sex marriage, Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) chairman Danny Carroll announced the group’s endorsement of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats. While that news wasn’t a shock, Carroll’s announcement that the group would sit out the 2010 governor’s race if former Gov. Terry Branstad wins the party’s nomination caught many by surprise.

“[Gov. Branstad] has failed to boldly address the values that we embrace,” Carroll said Tuesday. “And even if he were to win the nomination, the Iowa Family PAC would not support him.”

Branstad eventually won the primary and the election while Carroll went on join Vander Plaats at The Family Leader where he served as a lobbyist.

Today, Michele Bachmann announced that she had secured Carroll's endorsement:

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann announced today that she has received the endorsement of former Iowa Family Leader Chairman Danny Carroll.

“I’m honored to have the support of Representative Carroll,” Bachmann said. “He has been a strong leader on issues that we hold near to our hearts – strong families, pro-life, and fiscal responsibility.”

Carroll is a former Iowa legislator from Grinnell who served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1994-2006, including two terms as Speaker Pro Tempore. He was also the Iowa co-chair for Mike Huckabee’s campaign in 2008.

“I have admired and respected Michele ever since I first met her back in the legislative session,” Carroll said. “The fact that she stood strong on the debt ceiling issue was a clincher for me. She was correct in her position on the debt limit and I appreciate the leadership she has demonstrated throughout the process.”

I am no campaign guru, but I have to imagine that courting an activist who is an avowed enemy of the sitting Republican governor might complicate Bachmann's efforts in the state.

And it should also be noted that Carroll is only supporting Bachmann because his first choice, Roy Moore, was just too much of a long-shot:

Republican Danny Carroll is no longer involved with the campaign of Roy Moore, a former Alabama judge.

“It didn’t feel like he was going to be able to raise the money necessary for a viable campaign,” Carroll said today. “He’s a great guy. I love him and respect him. He’s a hero, that’s for sure. And he’s an honorable person. I can’t say anything negative against Judge Moore. Just the reality of politics, I guess.”

I guess this makes sense - if you are looking for a more "electable" version of Roy Moore, Michele Bachmann seems like the logical choice.

Right Wing Round-Up

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