Texas

At FRC, Texas Polygamy Revives Anti-Gay 'Slippery Slope' Argument

Family Research Council Vice-President Peter Sprigg devoted his op-ed on the Texas polygamy investigation to a defense of statutory rape laws, but he couldn’t resist a “slippery slope” attack linking marriage equality for gays to the fundamentalist sect’s polygamy and apparent abuse:

[T]he existence of such a large group of practicing polygamists within our borders reinforces the concern that some have (which I share) that redefining marriage for the benefit of homosexuals would put us on a slippery slope toward other redefinitions-including legalization of polygamy.

Alan Keyes In a Nutshell

It appears as if Alan Keyes’ presidential hopes have officially come to an end … at least for this year.

After launching a vanity campaign last summer, Keyes had high hopes for a solid showing in Iowa that never panned out. Keyes then relocated his campaign to Texas, where he pledged to deliver a major breakthrough that likewise never materialized.

Without apparently actually bothering to withdraw from the Republican Primary, the Keyes campaign went quiet before it emerged earlier this month to make a major announcement that he would be officially leaving the Republican Party to seek the Constitution Party’s presidential nomination.

The Constitution Party’s convention was held over the weekend and Keyes did not fare well:

Things aren't working out well for Alan Keyes. The perennial candidate with a worse electoral track record than Harold Stassen spent most of his adult lifetime in the Republican Party. He lasted in the Constitution Party for less than two weeks.

Chuck Baldwin -- a preacher, radio show host, and columnist who actually agreed with the Constitution Party's platform on the issues in question -- beat Keyes 3-to-1, a margin worthy of Barack Obama or Barbara Mikulski. Paleocons praised the Constitutionalists for sticking to their principles, which they did, but Keyes's odd notions about how to win friends and influence people also contributed to his drubbing.

Following his embarrassing defeat, Keyes granted an interview to "Missouri Viewpoints" where he expressed bitterness over being repeatedly stabbed in the back by every party he belongs to.  Recounting that he had been “invited in by the leadership of the Illinois party” to run against Barack Obama, he complained that the party then failed to support him and instead, as he put it, “tried to kill me.”  Keyes noted that there seems to be a pattern in all of his campaigns and activities where “people invite me in, and then they kill me; they invite me in and then they kill me; they invite me in and then they seek to kill me.”

But with his loss in seeking the Constitution Party’s nomination, Keyes finally has it all figured it all out and explains it as only he could:

The Lord shared with me that, Alan, the child that you are defending in the womb … in the act of procreation, people are joyfully, ecstatically, with great pleasure in every fiber of their being, saying "yes" to the coming of that new life. They invite the child in. And then in abortion, they kill it. So what, in point of fact my political career is, is the paradigm and pattern of that which I am trying to stop for the child. I kind of represent, in political terms, the abortion. You're invited in, but they kill you. You're invited in, but they kill you.

God Opens a Window for Vision America

For some time now, Vision America and its founder Rick Scarborough have been floundering about as they try to recapture the glory days of 2005-2006 when Vision America first burst onto the political scene and made a name for itself with its “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” and the “War on Christians and Values Voters” conferences.  Since then, its messaging has been, at best, confusing and its efforts to rally supporters have repeatedly run into problems, especially once his partner in the endeavor, Alan Keyes, decided to run for president.  

But it looks like things are starting to turn around for the struggling organization, at least according to the latest Rick Scarborough Report:

When Alan Keyes decided to make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in January, the decision effectively derailed our efforts to conduct weekly One Day Crusades to Save America--as our non-partisan efforts immediately took on a different appearance.  As a result we released several pending dates and began seeking the Lord about continuing the effort.  We did conduct a limited number of Crusades which we have reported on in this column.

Now we are again booking Crusades without Dr. Keyes.  Upcoming events include major efforts in Dallas and Lubbock, Texas, and Jefferson City, Missouri … Vision America received word this week that we were the recipients of a significant grant for voter registration and mobilization efforts for this fall.  We began hiring additional staff and gearing up for one of our most aggressive outreach efforts to date … God is opening doors faster than we can walk through them and we are constantly seeking His provisions.

Of course, the Lubbock “crusade” doesn’t take place until July and the Jefferson City event isn’t until October, so Scarborough has a lot of free time until then which he’ll presumably fill by headlining things like the Valley Family Forum’s “Salute to the Family” in western Virginia later this week.

Double Standards

Although it wasn’t surprising to see John McCain spend much of the past few years courting the Religious Right in advance of securing the Republican presidential nomination, he continued to pander even after his primary victory was all but finalized. Beginning with his speech to the right-wing activists at CPAC—which followed shortly after his main rival, Mitt Romney, dropped out—McCain seemed to step up his embrace of the fringe, picking up more and more endorsements, campaigning with apocalyptic televangelist John Hagee and “Patriot Pastor” Rod Parsley, and reaching out to the Council for National Policy.

McCain’s search for religious-right support might have raised a few flags. Hagee, for example, frames his support for Israel in terms of the end times, going as far as warning that any U.S. foreign policy decision that isn’t “pro-Israel” enough will result in God bringing a “blood bath” of terrorist attacks to America. Hagee also identifies the Catholic Church as the “great whore” of Revelation (a characterization he now denies) and said Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment on a sinful city.

When confronted with some of Hagee’s extreme views, McCain simply responded “all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.'’ After a lot of pressure from the Catholic League, McCain finally issued a bland statement: “I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee’s, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics.”

Indeed, McCain would have had difficulty criticizing Hagee any further—much less call the pastor out on his “profoundly distorted view of this country,” to quote Barack Obama’s critique of Rev. Jeremiah Wright—because McCain had sought out Hagee precisely for his extreme stance and the religious-right constituency he can reach.

Just as McCain sought out Hagee for his political clout, it was politics that brought McCain and Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley together on the campaign. When McCain brought Parsley on stage and called him a “spiritual guide,” that didn’t mean the senator had sent the Word of Faith preacher a financial “seed” in hopes that God would bolster his campaign contributions. Instead, McCain was embracing Parsley’s far-right political views and the political machine of “Patriot Pastors” he leads.

David Limbaugh, one of the many right-wing commentators who dismissed Obama’s speech on his pastor, claimed there was a “double standard” when it came to conservatives: “When the remotest connection can be inferred between a conservative and a bigoted supporter, there is always hell to pay.”

But in fact the opposite double standard seems to be in play: While Obama continues to be attacked for his personal relationship with a pastor whose controversial political ideology he’s rejected, McCain’s ongoing ideological relationship with the far Right—consisting, in essence, of him telling them he embraces their political views—remains unconnected to McCain’s political reputation.

The Confusing Rick Scarborough

Say what you want about Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, but when the man sets his mind to something, he sticks with it … at least until he’s had a chance to think about it and then changes course.  

From his inability to decide whether he liked Alexandra Pelosi's documentary “Friends of God” to his ill-fated and seemingly defunct “70 Weeks to Save America Crusade,”  Scarborough has a remarkable ability to announce grand plans one week only to watch them quickly collapse and to make bold declarations only to turn around a short time later and say the exact opposite.

For example, as part of his “70 Weeks" campaign, Scarborough planned on traveling Iowa in order to generate support for Mike Huckabee but had to reevaluate once his partner, Alan Keyes, decided to run for President.  So then Scarborough scrambled to put together a different tour with fellow Huckabee-supporter Janet Folger, but then that folded due to mechanical and weather problems.  

While many of the problems plaguing Scarborough’s operations appear to be beyond his control, his efforts to make an impact heading into November probably aren’t being helped by his tendency to constantly change his mind about just what those efforts ought to entail.

Back when the pundits were declaring Rudy Giuliani a lock for the Republican nomination, Scarborough was having none of it, declaring

And we should be ready to go outside the Republican Party if it refuses to give us such a candidate. Christians must always remember that we are followers of Christ, not pawns of a party which often wants to dance with us before the election but then ditches us right after the final vote count.

But then, when his allies on the Right started to suggest that they might actually ditch the GOP, Scarborough flipped and began chastising them, telling them to “Grow UP!!!”:

I for one do not intend to sit idly by and allow evil to triumph because good men choose to do nothing--or worse, do the wrong thing. I have often said in speeches to churches, “the only thing worse than not voting, is voting without a clue as to what you are voting for.” When it comes time for the ‘08 elections, we must be armed with truth and determined to vote our values. If enough of us do that, we will get a president who will make the right choice when it comes to nominating judges. In ’08, it’s all about the judges! … We may have to hold our nose as we vote in ‘08, but we must and we will vote.

But then, a short while later, Scarborough changed his mind again, proclaiming that his work was not about “winning elections. It’s about honoring Christ”:

“I am not going to cast a sacred vote granted to me by the blood of millions of God-fearing Americans who died on the fields of battle for freedom, for a candidate who says it’s O.K. to kill the unborn,” he said. “I just can’t.”

Shortly thereafter Scarborough signed on with Huckabee’s campaign, and while his efforts in Iowa didn’t quite pan out as planned, he did manage to stump with the candidate in Texas.  But then Huckabee dropped out of the race and Scarborough seemed to have dropped off the radar.  

But today he reappeared to assure us that his position regarding supporting the Republican nominee has now morphed from won’t, to will, to back to won’t, to finally back to will:

My message from now till the election will be--we have a two party system in America for better or worse.  Voting third party in my estimation is a waste of your vote, and we must never forget, every vote is two votes.  You are voting for someone and you are not voting for someone else.  That means that when you vote for someone you know cannot possibly win, you are adding strength to someone who will win and you may be withholding a vote for someone who could have won.

Politics is not church.  In church we search for doctrinal purity as best we understand it, but in politics compromise is often the reasonable solution short of war or division. It is better to get 80 percent of what you desire than to get zero percent--which is what you get when you don't participate or you participate ignorantly.

I cannot tell you how to vote, but I urge you to vote.  I urge you to be mindful that this is still a two party system and you and I must vote for the candidates and the party that best represent our values.  The time to discuss the pros and cons of a third party effort is on November 5th, right after the election, when there is time to actually make a difference.  I pledge to be at that meeting if it’s called, as it appears that both major parties no longer see conservative Christian as an asset--beyond getting their vote.

Do not lose sight of the goals which got us into this arena to start with: to end abortions in America in our lifetime; preserve marriage as the Bible defines it; preserve freedom by saving America as a sovereign and free nation; and increase the Kingdom of God on earth by being lights that shine in the midst of a crooked generation.

I am traveling every day to make that message known.  Later today, I will be speaking in Denver, Colorado.  Am I happy with the current field of candidates? Absolutely not!  But am I going to sit home and sulk?  Absolutely not!  Beyond the presidency there are U.S. Senate seats, U.S. House seats, state elections and judges to consider, and when the church stays home or acts foolishly everyone loses.

Scarborough prides himself on being a “Christocrat” who is not beholden to the Republican Party.  And nothing demonstrates that commitment to principle like incessantly waffling on whether or not to continue to support the GOP, and then deciding to do so while vaguely threatening to consider a third party option … but only, of course, after the election is over.  

McCain's Immigration Dilemma

Some GOP strategists are hoping that a John McCain nomination will bolster the party’s appeal to Hispanics after many Republicans jumped on the anti-immigrant bandwagon over the last few years. From the Washington Times:

Two years ago, Republicans fought over immigration and hemorrhaged Hispanic voters. Now they are poised to nominate the one man who can rebuild the Hispanic voter coalition that pushed President Bush twice to victory, the architects of that coalition say.

"I think the only candidate that Republicans have running for president who could retain those votes is in fact Senator McCain," said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., president of Esperanza USA, founder of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and a key player in helping Mr. Bush connect with Hispanic voters during his two runs for office.

While McCain did push for comprehensive immigration reform, in his quest to win over the right-wing base he largely abandoned his principled position, as even Cortes admitted. His new “image,” as the AP reports, is enforcement-only:

"He's focusing on enforcement, and in this community, enforcement means deportation, and that means separating more families, and more racial profiling and more of the incredible hardship that is affecting not just immigrants, but native-born Latinos," said Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza.

It appears McCain plans on walking a tightrope through November, with immigrants and the Hispanic community on one side and the Minuteman wing on the other. His own party may not be too helpful: while the GOP primary-caucus election in Texas on Tuesday may be pro forma, McCain will share the ballot with two anti-immigrant resolutions:

The first measure asks if local, state and federal officials should be required to enforce U.S. immigration laws "to secure our borders." Given the ongoing uproar over illegal immigration, the outcome seems pretty clear.

"I would be shocked if it didn't pass," said Kathy Ward, chairwoman of the Collin County Republican Party.

The second referendum, also related to illegal immigration, calls for legislation to require voters to show photo identification.

The measures won’t become law just yet; rather, they’re a way for the Republican Party to drum up support for anti-immigrant legislation later on:

"We generally look at things we believe the base of the party holds pretty dear," [Mary] Tschoepe [of the State Republican Executive Committee] said. "It gives us a big stick to take to the Legislature. We can say, 'Ninety-two percent of Republican primary voters think a voter ID in order to vote is an important issue. Let's get it done.' " …

Texas legislators are now studying an Oklahoma illegal immigration law that's considered the nation's toughest. People who shelter or conceal undocumented immigrants can be charged with a felony under the law passed last year.

McCain Be Not Proud

John McCain says he is "very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support" - just not proud enough to issue any sort of press release touting it, apparently. What's the deal? After all, he issued a press release when Gary Bauer endorsed him.

Readers: Be Prepared for Far-Right Politics

The governor of Texas has written a new book about the Boy Scouts, but parents expecting a positive, civic-minded story about personal development will be disappointed: instead, Rick Perry has apparently taken up a defense of the youth organization’s anti-gay policy.

Perry, like the Scouts, has made banning gays and atheists the Maginot Line of what he calls the “culture war” against the "virus of secularism." In a condensed interview with the New York Times Magazine’s Deborah Solomon, the governor lays out his explanation of why excluding gays is so important to scouting:

Let’s talk about your new book, “On My Honor,” which draws on your experience as an Eagle Scout and champions the values of the Boy Scouts of America, to whom you are donating your royalties. Yes, to their legal-defense fund.

Which has been fighting the A.C.L.U., to keep gays out of the scouts. Why do you see that as a worthy cause? I am pretty clear about this one. Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation.

Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual? Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they’re not there to learn about that. They’re there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.

But don’t you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty? The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?

No. Well, then why don’t they call it something else?

If scouting is “not about sex,” then why must the group interrogate its participants’ sexuality? If someone is gay, says the governor, then everything they do is sexual.

UPDATE (2/27/08): Boy Scouts of American spokesman Bob Bork, Jr. (son of the rejected Supreme Court nominee) praises Perry and echoes the same paradoxical logic:

"Since its inception in 1910, the Boy Scouts has believed that open homosexuality is inconsistent with the values it wants to communicate through its leaders," Bork notes. "Scouting parents and sponsoring organizations share that belief -- and the Boy Scouts of America has a constitutional right to provide a youth organization for families who share those values."…

Scouting is about camping out and having fun, says Bork, and not the appropriate place to delve into the issue of sexuality.

Huckabee’s Last Stand

While Mike Huckabee prepares for what may be his final stand in Texas, John McCain continues to make in-roads with some of the Religious Right leaders who purport to represent the values that Huckabee seeks to give voice to.

For instance, McCain recently received the endorsement of Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, a one-time Romney backer, is getting advice from one-time Fred Thompson supporter Richard Land, and has Sen. Sam Brownback out there wooing others on his behalf:

Brownback said his task remains crucial, even as the departure of other contenders has cleared the way for McCain to become the Republican party’s nominee. Many evangelical voters are still attracted to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and McCain cannot risk alienating a group that makes up about a third of the conservative voter base.

Earlier this month, Brownback met with Gary Bauer after the conservative Christian power broker endorsed McCain to discuss “what else might be done” to help McCain with social conservatives. He’s also had similar conversations with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Frank Pavone, head of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life.  

But that doesn’t mean that Huckabee is willing to throw in the towel or go quietly.  In fact, he seems to be making a last-ditch effort to highlight what he perceives as the key difference between himself and McCain by comparing abortion to slavery after meeting with James Dobson, throwing his support behind Colorado’s “egg as a person” constitutional Human Life Amendment, and daring McCain to debate him on the issues.

And while Huckabee is busy getting pastors involved in his efforts in Texas, he’s also campaigning in Ohio where he is being introduced by Janet Folger, who continues to release anti-McCain ads via her “RoeGone.org” front group (or, as her website mistakenly spells it, “John McCaine.”)  

For her part, Folger has picked up on Huckabee’s hope for a brokered convention by saying that “Gov. Mike Huckabee doesn't need to reach 1,191 delegates to win the nomination – all he has to do is keep John McCain from doing so.”  In fact, a brokered convention seems to be becoming the Huckabee campaign’s main goal

Huckabee's press secretary Alice Stewart said he is in the race for the long haul. "The race isn't over until someone receives 1,191 delegates, and no one has received that yet," Stewart said. "If he were to drop out he would basically be telling all those people in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, North Carolina and all the states that haven't had their primaries or caucuses yet that their votes don't matter. It's certainly possible to bring this all the way to a brokered convention and have it decided in Minneapolis."

According to a CNN news scorecard McCain has 971 delegates, Mitt Romney — who dropped out of the race — holds 286 delegates, Huckabee has 233 and Ron Paul holds 16 delegates. As of Feb. 19, the report showed 1,506 Republican delegates have declared their presidential preference, which leaves 874 up for grabs.

Lori Viars, a Warren County delegate and Huckabee supporter, said she likes her man's chances at a convention showdown because she believes delegates who currently support Romney will cross over to Huckabee.

While it is understandable that at this point in the primaries, the Huckabee campaign would have little choice but to pin its hopes on simply preventing McCain from securing the required number of delegates, what makes them think that, were they to head into Minneapolis, a brokered GOP convention would choose Huckabee as the nominee?  

After all, if Huckabee was popular enough among the GOP insiders who make up the convention, he wouldn’t have had to run his entire campaign whining about why they won’t support him and complaining about conspiracies.  In fact, if Huckabee could win the support of the Republican Party’s rank-and-file, he wouldn’t be getting crushed in the delegate count in the first place.  

And considering that Huckabee served as the chief anti-Romney attack dog, it is highly unlikely that his delegates at the convention would suddenly decide to support the one candidate whose primary role in the race seemed to be to undermine Romney’s electoral chances at every turn.

"Why Don’t They Call it Something Else?"

Texas Governor Rick Perry says that "homosexuality is about sex" - if it weren't, they'd call it something else.

Regnery on Judges

Human Events interviewed its publisher, Al Regnery, who has written a book of his own on movement conservatism. While everyone on the Right talks about so-called “activist judges”—a political theme going back to southern resistance to the 1954 Brown v. Board decision—not too many writers actually cite Brown or Chief Justice Earl Warren anymore. For Regnery, though, Brown is the first case of “judicial fiat”:

[Al Regnery] But, in terms of the reaction, there have been a lot of things that have been done by the left that didn’t reflect democracy, or republican values -- republican with a small ‘r’ -- which conservatives did react to.

I think case in point is, starting with 1953 with the elevation of Earl Warren, the chief justice in the Supreme Court, the things that the courts have done, by unelected people, which have been moving this country to the left, actually since the Roosevelt administration. That’s been somewhat corrected now, but there is a tendency of judges oftentimes to rule in ways that certainly would not be what the people want them to do. They do that by judicial fiat, and the normal thing of conservatives to do is to get together and react to it one way or another.

[Jed Babbin]: That leads to another point. One of the things, it seems to me, that differentiates between liberals from conservatives is that conservatives are more dedicated to personal freedom. And when you have the courts imposing limitations on those freedoms, conservatives are more apt to react negatively.

AR: Well, that’s true. In a broader sense, conservatives are also, really, more dedicated to the rule of law and due process. And even in cases where the result may not bother people, the way the courts went about it often sends conservatives up the wall. Case in point is, as I point out in the book, is the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1953 and ‘54, desegregating the schools. A lot of people thought, there’s nothing wrong with desegregating the schools, it’s the right thing to do. But what in the world are these nine unelected people in Washington telling us in Texas or Mississippi or wherever it may be how to run our school systems?

What could the federal government and the 14th Amendment have to say about militant segregation? If some states wanted to use police dogs and fire hoses to maintain their system of unequal education for blacks, who are we to judge? That appears to be Regnery’s relativistic question about the Supreme Court’s intervention in Brown. In the vestigial memory of the modern Right, apparently, it still comes down to states’ rights.

Huckabee’s Two-Fer

Amid a heated battle in the Wisconsin primary this week, Mike Huckabee took some time off for a side trip to the Cayman Islands to earn a little money before returning to the campaign trail, only to be summarily trounced by John McCain in the state’s primary.   

On the heels of this loss, Huckabee beat a path down to Texas where he is making a last stand, seemingly realizing that if he cannot win there, he might finally be forced to admit defeat and drop out.    

But just because Texas represents his last hope to keep his campaign alive doesn’t mean he can afford to pass up an opportunity to head to Colorado to make some money and, more importantly, meet privately with James Dobson:

Despite continuing to battle rival John McCain in his up hill battle for the Republican nomination, Mike Huckabee will be dropping off the campaign trail today to give his second paid speech in a week, Fox News has learned.

The former Arkansas governor will be speaking to the annual retreat for the Colorado-based group, Leadership Program of the Rockies, event organizers tell Fox.  Leadership staffers, nor the campaign would reveal the amount he will be paid for the speech. He will also be meeting behind closed doors with Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson, who recently endorsed Huckabee. It will be an informal meeting at the organization’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, according to Dobson aides.

Can Huckabee Endorse McCain?

To hear Mike Huckabee tell it, he is not staying in the presidential race to boost his profile, or out of vanity, or just because he has nothing better to do; it’s because he has principles and convictions that won’t let him step aside and refuses to bow to the "smug, elitist, arrogant attitude" of those in the GOP who feel he should step aside and allow the coronation of John McCain as the nominee.  As Huckabee repeatedly states, he is staying in the until McCain has won the 1,191 delegates he needs to lock up the nomination, even though it is mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win the nomination himself and his only hope is for a brokered convention.  

While McCain has won the last five Republican primaries by an average of 55% to 29% and continues to inch closer to the magic number, Huckabee continues to insist that he will not drop out,, claiming that he is playing an important role by ensuring that voices of the GOP’s right-wing voters “aren't shut out” and vowing to soldier on so that Republican voters can be given a “choice”:  

“One of the questions I get asked everyday…is why do you keep going? And I know that’s a question [to which] people try to come up with their own answers. And some have even suggested the reason I keep going is maybe just some ego trip. Let me assure you,” Huckabee said to reporters, “if it were ego, my ego doesn’t enjoy getting these kind of evenings where we don’t win the primary elections.”

“So, it’s gotta be something other than that, and it is. It’s about convictions, it’s about principles that I dearly, dearly believe in. It’s about believing that the message of pro life – standing firm and unflinchingly for a human life amendment – is an important discussion we must have in our Republican party and frankly must have in our nation.”

“We’re going to keep marching on, not just because of nothing else to do, but primarily because there is a message that still needs to be heard in this country, there are people who have a right to vote, there are states who have patiently waited while other states have gone in front of them, and they should have as much of a voice the process of selecting the nominee as have the states that win early.”

Of course, when voters have such a “choice” and continue to “choose” your opponent by overwhelming margins, most politicians see the writing on the wall and drop out.  But not Huckabee, who apparently believes that he must remain in the race because McCain is so insufficiently conservative that he is endangering the Republican Party as a whole: 

Those principles include giving as many voters as possible the chance to vote for a candidate with positions he feels are at odds with John McCain. “[McCain] does not support for example the human life amendment. He does support human embryonic stem cell research and I know our positions on immigration are significantly different,” listed Huckabee, adding, “doesn’t mean that his positions are bad, it means they’re different, and elections are about choices.”

"Not staying in the race hurts the GOP," he said. "It makes it like we're so weak that we can't have a debate and discussion. If this party is so completely incapable of discussing the issues that matter deeply to Republicans, then I'm not its problem. Its problem is that it doesn't have a message that it can run on and it wants to circle the wagons and act like it's all well. It's not all well."

Of course, the GOP is not really having a debate or discussion about these issues at all – Huckabee is talking about them while the McCain campaign is all but ignoring him on his way to winning primary after primary.  

So the question remains:  if Huckabee needs to stay in the race in order to save the Republican Party from itself and its voters from the dangers of a McCain nomination, will he actually endorse McCain once he has officially secured the nomination?  

Undoubtedly he will, since most of this is just self-serving rhetoric designed to make his continue presence in the race seem like a principled stand.  But if we are to take his rhetoric at face value, it stands to reason that if Huckabee believes that he must stay in the race because McCain does not represent the Republican Party’s core “principles,” then, as the self-proclaimed representative of those very principles, he would be expected to stand on them and refuse to endorse McCain at all.  

Either McCain is so unacceptable a Republican nominee that Huckabee feels he cannot in good conscience simply stand aside (in which case, how could he ever endorse him?) or McCain is a perfectly acceptable candidate that Huckabee will be only too happy to endorse (in which case, why is he still in the race?)

Huckabee’s Future

Over the weekend, Mike Huckabee jaunted off to the Cayman Islands to deliver a speech at the Young Caymanian Leadership Foundation’s awards banquet because … well, he needed the money:

“No taxpayers pay for me to have health insurance, to pay my mortgage, to pay my bills,” Mr. Huckabee said. “And so to me, it’s not just absurd, it’s beyond absurd — it’s insulting — to think that there’s something nefarious about my being here when nobody has raised the question about sitting U.S. senators taking their full paycheck and enjoying all the magnificent perks they get from the U.S. taxpayers.”

Obviously, Huckabee needs to earn money when and where he can, since his only job at the moment is running his long-shot presidential campaign, especially since he thinks that this very campaign just “may be killing my political career.” 

Of course, rather than “killing” his career, this quixotic endeavor has actually made his career.  After all, had he not run and managed to outlast much bigger names like Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani, nobody would be speculating as to whether he might be tapped to serve as John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee or to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  

On top of that, he has built up a large base of right-wing supporters that could easily propel him into a position as one of the nation’s leading, most high-profile Religious Right leaders once the race is over, much as Pat Robertson did following his own run for president.  

Far from hurting his political future, Huckabee’s campaign is still out there stumping with figures like Steven Hotze and continuing to rack up support from various right-wing leaders: 

"This is Texas," declared Rick Green, a Mike Huckabee supporter. "In Texas, we don't cut and run. In Texas, we don't give up and go home before the fight is over."

Although the Huckabee camp has worked to define its candidate more broadly as a tax-cutting economic populist, Monday's supporters made it clear why they were there.

"Protecting life and protecting the family," said the Rev. Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville. "We are to vote for the candidate who will best champion this cause of the Lord, this moral cause."

Brent Bullock, who works for a Christian nonprofit group, warned of corrosive "secular humanism and socialist ideologies."

Green works for Wallbuilders along with renowned pseudo-historian David Barton, while Bullock happens to run the America Bless God Campaign of Texas which seeks to “reestablish the Word of God as the moral standard in America”:

America's predominate population of Christians has been influenced by Secular Humanism and contemporary American culture, which has damaged the testimony of the church and the foundations of civil government.  We live in an age where each man does what is right in his own eyes, and there is a great struggle over the standards by which we should live.  Many lives are being damaged by man's immoral standards.  We believe that God's moral standard, as revealed in the Bible, should be the standard we live by; not my standard or yours.  Biblical standards, understood in the full contextual interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, provide for a blessed society.

Once his campaign is officially over, Huckabee will find himself well-positioned to join the ranks of high-profile Religious Right leaders such as James Dobson and Tony Perkins, should he so choose.  In fact he would probably be quite capable of not only joining them, but outright challenging them considering that the “values voters” they claim to represent have been flocking to his campaign while the leaders have been glaringly slow to embrace him. 

As Janet Folger, one of Huckabee’s biggest supporters, put it:  

There is something this political race is doing that nobody would have expected. Among conservative and pro-family leadership the sheep are being separated from the shepherds.

There are those in "leadership" in the pro-family movement who follow the pundits, the polls or the politicians instead of leading on principle. I could list them, but, well, you already know who they are. The ones sitting on their hands or convening to the candidate of compromise.

There are sheep, and there are shepherds. Sheep follow the pundits, the polls, political expediency and promised perks. Shepherds follow principle. Gov. Mike Huckabee is such a man. So are those who stand on principle with him.

McCain’s Delicate Dance

With John McCain seemingly poised to emerge from Super Tuesday as the de facto front runner in the Republican primary, the question will become just how much he intends to try and make nice with the Religious Right base that does not much like him.

As the McCain campaign admitted last year, his previous efforts to win them over were entirely half-hearted and purely political, but now that he might very well become the nominee, it looks as if some on the Right might be starting to warm up to him out of political necessity:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain today publicly thanked two prominent conservative Christian leaders who have rallied to his defense in recent days.

``I was very pleased to see comments made by people like Tony Perkins and Dr. Richard Land,'' McCain told reporters after a rally in Nashville, Tennessee. ``I appreciate the words that they have been using.''

Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a conservative public policy group, and Land, a leader in the 16- million member Southern Baptist Convention, have criticized McCain in the past. Perkins told the New York Times that he has ``no residual issue with John McCain,'' while Land told the newspaper McCain ``is strongly pro-life.''

But even in accepting this praise, McCain went out of his way to make it clear that it was not he who did the reaching out :

“I will continue to reach out to all parts of the party but I did not call anyone,'' the Arizona senator said today. McCain's acknowledgement that he is not proactively reaching out to conservative leaders comes a day after he told reporters that he doesn't listen to conservative Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

Should he win the GOP nomination, McCain will undoubtedly change his tune on this issue – but quotes like this won’t be easily forgotten

McCain seems distinctly uninterested when asked questions concerning abortion and gay rights. While campaigning in South Carolina, he told reporters riding with him on his bus that he was comfortable pledging to appoint judges who would strictly interpret the Constitution in part because it would reassure conservatives who might otherwise distrust him.

"It's not social issues I care about," he explained.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that right-wing activists who care only about social issues are attacking him, such as BOND’s Jesse Lee Peterson, Faith and Action’s Rob Schenck, Janet Folger’s RoeGone front group, and various others:

"Most Texans I know think that McCain is the second-least desirable candidate" among all those who ran this year and with Rudy Giuliani out, he's now officially the worst, says Cathie Adams, head of Texas Eagle Forum. "McCain's policies are awful."

"He is no conservative. Yes, maybe on the war, although many of us are not happy about the war," said Mitt Romney supporter Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation and a founder of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority. "McCain hates strong conservatives. McCain hates the religious right. Thus far he has made no overtures to us."

When it comes down to it, McCain needs the Right if he hopes to win the presidency – and some of the Religious Right’s political leaders seems to realize that they might have the upper hand at the moment, with Tony Perkins saying that what happens between McCain and the Right going forward entirely "depends on how bad he wants to be president. Really it does."

Who Will Console Rick Scarborough?

With the Republican presidential campaign seemingly narrowed to a race between John McCain and Mitt Romney, one wonders what will become of Mike Huckabee’s more high-profile Religious Right backers?  While Janet Folger appears busy starting up her own anti-Romney front group, Huckabee’s other most vocal and committed supporter, Rick Scarborough, seems to have been reduced to complaining and finger-pointing:

Scarborough was scathing in his assessment of U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who picked up Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement Wednesday (and might haul in the backing of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had supported Giuliani).

Scarborough told me: “We are left with a candidate for president who showed his disdain for the Christian Right in 2000 when he tried to salvage his candidacy by trashing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson while campaigning in South Carolina. He destroyed any attempt by (Senate Majority Leader) Bill Frist to end once and for all the unconstitutional requirement of 60 senators to affirm judicial appointments by joining the Gang of 14 (senators from both parties agreeing to avoid frequent partisan wars over judges) and his McCain/Feingold (campaign finance) bill was a direct assault on grassroots activism while McCain-Kennedy (an immigration act) revealed his true convictions about amnesty. Oddly enough, the ‘establishment’ candidate once threatened to leave the party he now will likely represent.”

Scarborough took issue with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney too, saying Romney “was wrong on every pro-family issue his entire career until he decided to run for the Republican nomination.”   

Scarborough rued: “The most visible Christian leaders in our movement decided that Huckabee was ‘unelectable,’ which became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am angered and frustrated by that reality, but secure in God’s sovereignty.”

It has been a tough campaign for Scarborough, who has been struggling from the very beginning to figure out how best to position himself in order to maximize his influence and visibility.  Initially, Scarborough sounded like he was supporting Sam Brownback and announced that he’d be launching a “70 Weeks to Save America” crusade to mobilize “100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women” – an effort that almost immediately put the organization deep in debt. 

Over the coming months, he went on to suggest that none of the top-tier candidates was going to be acceptable to the GOP’s Religious Right base and that they should consider leaving the party all together.  But then, when others began suggesting the same thing, Scarborough flip-flopped and told them to “grow up,” hold their noses, and support the Republican nominee for the sake of judges … only to flip-flop back again and say that his political work was not about winning elections but “honoring Christ.” 

He then got involved with the Values Voter Debate, where Mike Huckabee firmly established himself as the “David among Jesse’s sons" and soon he was serving on Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition and hard to work organizing pro-Huckabee get-out-the-vote rallies and joining the candidate at fundraisers.

But now that Huckabee’s campaign seems to be winding down, Scarborough is on the verge of being left without a candidate or a coherent set of principles on which to move forward.  What, oh what, is a Christocrat to do?

Delta Farce

Mike Huckabee is hoping to pick up Fred Thompson’s leftovers, but that doesn’t seem to be going so well. Aside from Gary Bauer and other religious-right leaders who still don’t like Huckabee, a number of Thompson’s backers have switched to Mitt Romney. And now an embittered former Thompson staffer has started his own campaign hitting Huckabee where it hurts most: his sidekick, Chuck Norris.

Huckabee may joke about his action-hero endorsement, but as we’ve noted before, he’s made Norris a very serious part of his campaign. And not just in terms of livening up his stage shows: Norris is aggressively raising money, hoping to provide $10 million for the cash-strapped candidate (one recent fundraiser netted $250,000).

Dennis Ng, founder of BoycottChuckNorris.com, says that makes Norris “fair game”:

Saying he's 'kicking Chuck Norris where it hurts – his wallet,' Ng explains he's starting the boycott because Norris endorsed a presidential candidate and supports ideas "far out of the mainstream."

Ng singles out Norris' endorsement of Huckabee – "a candidate who says that he does not believe in evolution," and "who called for the isolation of AIDS patients – long after the Centers for Disease Control determined that the virus was not spread by casual contact." …

Ng is asking visitors to his site to join him in boycotting products Norris endorses and companies that purchase advertising on reruns of his long-running CBS television series, "Walker, Texas Ranger." In the first category, Ng lists exercise-equipment manufacturer Total Gym, endorsed by the actor. Sponsors listed are KFC, Payless Shoes, Nutrisystem, Tylenol and Geico Insurance.

“Republicans long decried celebrities telling us how to vote,” says Ng. So, uh, is that why Ng’s own candidate, famous actor Fred Dalton Thompson, had to drop out?

Bruce Willis, Fred Thompson in Die Hard 2

Janet Folger's Anti-Romney Front Group

Yesterday, a new 527 organization called RoeGone.org announced that it would be "the conservative answer to MoveOn.org" and that its first order of business would be to run anti-Romney ads leading into Super Tuesday:
A new 527 group called RoeGone.org -- the conservative answer to MoveOn.org -- has produced a 60-second web ad responding to Gov. Mitt Romney's challenge to look to his record as governor as an indication of where he stands on the issues. "Governor Mitt Romney challenged voters to look at his record. RoeGone.org has done just that," said spokesperson Sharon Blakeney, a lawyer in Boerne, Texas. Blakeney said the group is raising money to place the ad on television in Super Tuesday states later this week. The group also plans to produce ads addressing other politicians' stand on similar issues, she said. RoeGone.org is a pro-life organization committed to the appointment of judges who will support overturning Roe v. Wade.
Blakeney appears to be a standard right-wing activist, with ties to the Federalist Society, Texas Justice Foundation, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the Center for Reclaiming America ... which just so happens to be where Janet Folger, co-chair of Mike Huckabee's Faith and Values Coalition, used to work. Oddly enough, guess what Folger's most recent WorldNetDaily column is about:
Finally, there is a conservative answer to MoveOn.org: RoeGone.org, as in Roe v. Wade – GONE. Nice, huh? What's even nicer is the ad they're launching to expose Mitt Romney's record. Be looking for secular conservative pundits and compromising pro-lifers to jump the Romney ship soon. No kidding. I predict this thing will signal the end of the Romney campaign.
What a coincidence! What is even more coincidental is the fact that Folger herself happens to narrate the new RoeGone.org ad (actually, it's not coincidental at all, considering that she is listed as the organization's president in the IRS filing): Folger has been backing Huckabee ever since she declared him the “David among Jesse’s sons" after he won the Values Voter Debate, which she organized. Since then, she has been busy penning preposterous columns about how only Huckabee can save Christians from being imprisoned and organizing pro-Huckabee get-out-the-vote rallies in Iowa. But with Huck's campaign fading, it seems as if Folger has decided to ramp up her activities and start a front group dedicated to attacking Mitt Romney.

David Barton at Work

We have written about David Barton, a right-wing political activist and self-styled historian, here many times pointing out that, for all of his claims to be dedicated to uncovering “America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built,” his primary functions appears to be using his supposed historical expertise as cover for run-of-the-mill Republican political activism.

This technique is most obvious in his 2006 DVD “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White” which he claims is designed merely to recognize “the forgotten heroes and untold stories from our rich African American political history,” but is, in reality, little more than a 90-minute effort to portray the Democratic Party as responsible for every problem that has ever plagued the African American community in America and imply that the Republican Party is the antidote.

As we noted in our report on Barton, he runs through a litany of Democratic sins, ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to segregation while praising the Republican Party as the party of abolition and civil rights until his history lesson suddenly ends after the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and makes absolutely no mention of the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake and the rise of the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy.”  The video concludes with Barton concludes telling his audience that African Americans cannot be bound blindly to one party or the other, but must cast their votes based on the “standard of biblical righteousness … the principles of Christianity … and an awareness that voters will answer to God for their vote” – and there is no doubt about which party he has in mind, considering that he served as vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party from 1998 until 2006.

Until now, there was little to no footage available of Barton delivering any of his “historical” lectures to religious audiences so it was difficult to know just how much his political work colored into his presentations.  But the remarks he recently delivered at the Rediscovering God in America Conference in Florida dispel any doubt there may have been about just how much more political than historical Barton’s work really is. 

After a half-hour of recounting the nation’s history to coincide with his preferred religious views, Barton segues into a lengthy political analysis of the importance of getting Christians to vote, delivering a presentation more befitting a Republican Party activist than a "historian":

Barton has carved out a niche for himself as the Religious Right’s favorite historian, regaling them with tales of the faith of our Founding Fathers and the central role their brand of Christianity played in the founding of this nation. But as this video makes clear, Barton’s “historical” presentations are really little more than thinly-veiled GOP get-out-the-vote efforts and thus it is no surprise that the RNC regularly pays him to deliver them around the nation during election years.

If a Keyes Falls in the Woods …

Now that Tommy Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Jim Gilmore, and even Fred Thompson have all dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, it is good to see that there are some candidates who have no chance of winning but still refuse to let reality get in the way of their personal vanity and desire to seem relevant … and no, we are not talking about Ron Paul, but rather Alan Keyes.

You would be forgiven for not knowing that Keyes is even running, but indeed he is, even though he can’t get into the GOP debates, has no money, and nobody is counting his votes. But to his credit, Keyes remains undaunted by such obstacles and is currently positioning himself for a major breakthrough:

On Tuesday, presidential candidate Alan Keyes began a six-week grassroots tour of Texas, originally his home state. Keyes is a 1968 graduate of Cole High School in San Antonio.

Although Keyes will make excursions outside Texas as needed, and will continue his nationwide radio blitz to counter the media's virtual blackout of his campaign, he plans to camp out in Texas until its primary on March 4. As most pundits agree, if Super Tuesday fails to produce a "presumptive" Republican nominee, Texas becomes all the more important as the last big prize of the primaries.

For all intents and purposes, the headquarters of the Keyes campaign has moved to Texas.

“For all intents and purposes,” the Keyes campaign appears to be a sham, with the majority of its expenditures going to “contribution refunds” which dwarf the $10,000 that has gone to a consulting firm linked to Keyes’ Declaration Foundation and Renew America organizations.  

At this point, Keyes’ only hope of securing the GOP presidential nomination is if every major Republican politician in the nation gets embroiled in a sex scandal, reducing the party to desperately seeking a D-list nobody to serve as a sacrificial lamb – a position for which Keyes is perfectly qualified.

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