Constitution

David Barton: America’s Greatest Historian

I mentioned the return of the Texas Restoration Project a few months ago and then promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, the folks at Talk 2 Action have a better memory than I do and actually attended the event and provide an inside report.  

Back when he was running in the GOP primary, Mike Hucakbee praised right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton as perhaps "the greatest living historian on the spiritual nature of America's early days."  But it seems that, since dropping out, his opinion of Barton has only increased because he is now calling him the "single best historian in America today": 

According to candidate Mike Huckabee, history revisionist David Barton is the best historian our country has to offer the nation. Barton's best seller, The Myth of Separation of Church and State, violates the basic tenets of the Baptist faith Huckabee was ordained into and is still a member. This view by Huckabee about Barton was uttered at the Texas Restoration Project meeting in Austin, Texas, October 9-10th. Helping to host and speak at the event were Barton, Huckabee and Governor Perry - the state GOP official. On a first-to-call basis, the pastors of the state's churches, as well as their wives, were invited to come and stay free of charge in a $250/night Hilton Hotel room. Over 1,000 showed up, and it was announced that several hundred more wanted to attend, but could not because there was no room for them. Perry sits atop a state platform that wants to pull the nation out of the U.N., abolish the U.S. Department of Education, appeal minimum wage and do away with Social Security. Not to mention the platform affirms giving state money to religious schools and wants to dispel the myth of separation of church and state.

Huckabee and good buddy David Barton were up next, and between sessions provided photo opts for admiring pastors. Huckabee said this was a spiritual, not a political meeting, and he preached to the crowd. In spite of the get out the vote drive and lamenting of the false concept of separation of church and state, the mixture of pulpit and ballot continued … Huckabee introduced his friend David Barton as a man God raised up for the moment. Mike knew of no other man in the country having such a great impact on the land.

Next, Barton did his Christian-nation thing and stated the Bible had something to say about minimum wage and estate taxes. Evidently, that meant the text was against them both. A common religious right position in voter guides is that minimum wage is immoral. Barton told several stories of heroic Revolutionary War pastors who left the pulpit and led the men of the church into killing English troops. He lamented that this is what is needed today to restore the nation: That is, motivated and active pastors who lead out. Barton then said that separation of church and state, which he stated - is not in the Constitution - and only applies to the state interference in the church - a common religious right position.

Voter guides from Barton's organization were placed at the tables where we sat. There was a sign-up sheet to list name, email and church information. Morning speakers reminded us that the glory of God has been lost in the nation, and the Bible and prayer have been expelled from schools. The key question was what the church would do about these things. Barton proceeded to defend his position that the two key issues of the election centered around abortion and gay rights. He said the Bible taught that these were the key priority issues and poverty, environment, justice, civil rights and the prospect of an unjust war all sat as minor ethical issues compared to the other two. He explained that in the past few elections, laws have been enacted by Christians to limit abortions. That was - he admitted - until the 2006 elections. He conceded pro-life forces lost ground. His conclusion was that a get out the vote effort in 2008 could reverse this. David stated that what a person believed about abortion defined how one would vote regarding all other legislative issues. Barton reminded the group that judicial appointments will define our culture. He then explained to the pastors that for the past 50 years government has told pastors what to say in the pulpit. The Texan then complained that the government did a terribly inefficient job of helping the poor. It would better for the churches to hand out this money and do drug and prison rehab. He restated, "The church has got to be involved in the election." 

We weren’t there so obviously we don’t know exactly what Barton’s presentation was like, but if you want to get a sense of how Barton typically uses his biased history of America to promote the Religious Right’s political and electoral agenda, you can watch him do so here.

Palin Says She and God are Being Mocked

Sarah Palin sat down the CBN’s David Brody over the weekend and Brody has now posted various excerpts on his blog.

Among other things, Palin tried to explain her infamous “I read all of them” response to Katie Couric’s question regarding which newspapers she reads by saying she was irritated that Couric wasn’t asking her about real issues and that it’s the sort of thing that only “the Washington elite and the media” care about.

She also defended the recent tone at various McCain and Palin events, saying that if she ever heard people in the audience say anything inappropriate, she “would call 'em out on that,” and likewise defended her efforts to link Barack Obama to William Ayers, saying “I would say it again.”

She then explained to Brody why she wasn’t doing press conferences or appearing on news programs to be interviewed – and it’s because they will just mock her:

Brody: Let me ask you a little bit about media scrutiny because some of the media networks...wonder why you don't go on some of the 24/7 cable networks. What is your response to that?

Palin: Well sometimes it just doesn't do any good. I mean you set yourself up just to continually be mocked, you know so sometimes that doesn't do any good, but what I have done in this campaign is in reaching out to the American voters through our rallies, through the one on ones, through the small meetings that we've had trying to get our message out, our plans for this country out there minus the filter of some of the filter of the mainstream media because, because that filter as, as we see every day when we turn on the news too often there is this, this opaqueness, there is this, this spin, this contortion of a person's words and intentions and that does more harm than good, so it's a greater challenge for me and for John McCain to try to get our message out there without that filter of I think some of the world's media.

And speaking of being mocked, it’s not just Palin that is being ridiculed, it’s also God:

Brody: There have been some shots taken at you…regarding your Christian faith…The Pentecostal stuff, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Do you want to clear up exactly what you believe in and so that the record can be set straight a little bit? Because there have been some editorials and others taking shots at you regarding --

Palin: Yeah, and I think the saddest part of that is that faith, not just my faith, faith and God in general has been mocked through this campaign, and that breaks my heart and that is unfair for others who share a faith in God and chose to worship our Lord in whatever private manner that they deem fit and my faith has always been pretty personal. I haven't really worn it on my sleeve. I haven't been out there preaching it. I've always been of the mind that you walk the walk. You just don't have to be talking the talk about your beliefs, so just wanting maybe my life to be able to reflect my faith. So it's always been pretty personal and that was kind of a surprise in the last couple of months that people would misconstrue and spin anything that has to do with my faith or anybody else's and turn it into something to be mocked.

Hmmmm … tell that to Barack Obama.

Finally, Palin weighed in on the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment and couched it, as she always does, in her own assertion that she not bigoted or judgmental:

Brody: On Constitutional marriage amendment, are, are you for something like that?

Palin: I am, in my own, state, I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that's where we would go because I don't support gay marriage. I'm not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can't do, should and should not do, but I certainly can express my own opinion here and take actions that I believe would be best for traditional marriage and that's casting my votes and speaking up for traditional marriage that, that instrument that it's the foundation of our society is that strong family and that's based on that traditional definition of marriage, so I do support that.

So she’s not for telling anyone “what they can and can't do” … unless they are gay, in which case Palin is all for telling them they can’t get married.

The Sarah Palin School of Non-Partisan Politics

It is now well-known that Sarah Palin won her first bid for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska due in large part to her willingness to turn a non-partisan election into a battle over abortion, gun, and religion:

But in the first major race of her career — the 1996 campaign for mayor of her hometown, Wasilla — Palin was a far more conventional politician. In fact, according to some who were involved in that fight, Palin was a highly polarizing political figure who brought partisan politics and hot-button social issues like abortion and gun control into a mayoral race that had traditionally been contested like a friendly intramural contest among neighbors.

Now, via Ed Brayton we see that the practice is spreading and has been adopted Tim Tinglestad, who is running for the Minnesota Supreme Court:

I am committed to preserving the people's constitutional right to choose their judges through meaningful, contested, non-partisan judicial elections.

Sounds good ... until you read on:

I believe that justice is served when judges fear God and love the people, and as a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, I will be impartial to the parties, while partial to the original intent of the Constitution.

And it only gets worse from there: 

“Truth is the only solid foundation upon which to build a life, or a nation. God’s Word is the Foundational Truth upon which our constitutional form of government was built. The Truth of God’s Word is the foundation which holds families together. Yet in our pursuit of personal freedoms, we have lost the Foundational Truth upon which those freedoms were built. Where there is Truth, there is hope.”

“God’s Word is the Light of Truth. As God’s Word has been removed from our public lives, the resulting darkness has led to our present social disorder and political divisions. The correction of these problems will only begin when the Light of Truth is returned to our land’s highest hills, the Supreme Courts. Until our highest courts return to an acknowledgment of the existence of God and His Truth, the people will continue to walk in the confusion of darkness.”

“Our State and Nation are in need of the next Great Awakening! Just as we awaken to the light of each new morning, it will be the Light of Truth, from God’s Word, which will again awaken us to a new day in our communities, our State, and our Nation. In the Light of this new day we will return to the path, which God has destined us to travel. The alarm has sounded, and it is time to wake up!

And then it gets even worse than that:

Justice is served when Judges fear God, and love the people. This is the reason that I have chosen to seek to become a Supreme Court Justice, serving the people of Minnesota. To serve the court with impartial justice, judges must possess great knowledge and wisdom. Judges must be God fearing men and women, because God’s Word tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom…” (Psalm 111:10)

To fear God means to love Him with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength. This is the greatest commandment given to man. This fear requires an awesome, reverential acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God over the affairs of man. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as our selves. When we fear God, the necessary result is that we love the people. (Matthew 22:37-39)

If justice is to be served in our courts, then we must use the correct standard in choosing our judges. God’s Word gives us this standard in II Chronicles 19:5-7, which tells us, “Jehoshaphat appointed judges throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Be careful what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord, and He is with you in the matter of judgment. So now let the reverence and fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking of bribes.”

The hearts of our judges are critical because, “A good man brings forth good out of the good stored in his heart. An evil man brings forth evil out of the evil stored in his heart. For it is out of the overflow of the heart that the tongue speaks.” (Luke 6:45) If we want the decisions of our judges to be good, then we must pray that the hearts of our judges are turned toward God.

Tingelstad is challenging incumbent Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson and, judging by the primary returns, doesn't seem to stand much of a chance considering that he only pulled in 22 percent of the statewide vote back in September.  So provided that John McCain doesn't suddenly pick him as his next running mate, this will hopefully be the last time we ever write about him. 

If At First You Don't Succeed, Invite Westboro Baptist

What happens when a local gay organization in Florida can't get any of the people working to pass the anti-gay marriage amendment to come and debate them? Well, if you are the Stonewall Legal Alliance at FIU College of Law, you go out and find some other anti-gay activists who will - in this case, members of the Westboro Baptist Church:

A church known for spewing anti-gay rhetoric and picketing military funerals is slated to debate a state marriage amendment at a forum next week at Florida International University.

The Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church accepted an invitation from the Stonewall Legal Alliance, a gay group at the FIU College of Law. The debate will focus on Amendment 2, the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would add Florida's existing ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution.

...

Jose Gabilondo, an associate law professor at FIU, plans to argue against the amendment, while two daughters of Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps will speak for it.

Westboro has gained national notoriety by picketing at gay pride events as well as funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq; it equates modern America with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Westboro members agreed to pay their own expenses to Florida.

"The message of Westboro is the message of Amendment 2," Gabilondo said.

Debate organizers said they invited members of a state coalition supporting the amendment, as well as several other groups, but they declined.

"That's the most heinous thing I've ever heard. They go to the most radical group," said Janet Folger, an Amendment 2 supporter who heads a more mainstream Fort Lauderdale-based group called Faith2Action. "It's a deliberate attempt to make the pro-marriage people appear to be something they're not."

Of course, if Folger is so concerned that her movement is being represented by a bunch of vicious bigots, perhaps she should attend the debate herself and explain exactly how her belief that gay marriage = end times actually differs from those espoused by the Phelps clan.

McCain's Non-Litmus Test "Litmus Test"

It looks like the Right finally got what it wanted when the issue of abortion worked its way into last night's debate and was tied to the issue of the future of the Supreme Court, to boot. 

Of course, John McCain stepped all over what should have been his golden opportunity to appease the Religious Right by immediately bringing up his role in the "Gang of 14," which is something for which they still have not forgiven him. 

But when he finally got back on track, he reverted to the standard Republican line that he would never have a "litmus test" for his Supreme Court nominees regarding Roe v. Wade but would instead find nominees with a "history of strict adherence to the Constitution and not legislating from the bench."

Since McCain refused to apply a "litmus test" to potential nominees, moderator Bob Schieffer logically took that to mean that he might be willing to consider someone who "had a history of being for abortion rights," to which McCain replied that he would do no such thing:

MCCAIN: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

So McCain could not appoint an abortion rights supporter because that would conflict with his commitment to naming judges with a "history of strict adherence to the Constitution."  Of course, the whole question of reproductive rights is whether or not such rights are protected by the Constitution.  McCain clearly doesn't believe that they are ... but by hiding behind the phrase "strict adherence to the Constitution" he gets to absurdly pretend that he's not applying a dreaded "litmus test" when, in fact, that is exactly what he is doing.  

McCain should at least be honest about it and tell the nation what he told Gary Bauer back in 2000 that led Bauer to endorse him over George Bush:

Somewhat surprisingly, McCain had the support of Gary Bauer, the social conservative, who had dropped out of the race by that time. “I wanted a commitment from either George Bush or John McCain that if elected he would appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court,” Bauer told me. “Bush said he had no litmus test, and his judges would be strict constructionists. But McCain, in private, assured me he would appoint pro-life judges.”

Of course, Bauer denies this now, saying that McCain merely promised him judges who would not be activist; a claim which is just as bogus as McCain's "no litmus test" dodge.

We Took a Poll and Now We Demand Satisfaction

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defense Fund, commissioned a poll of registered voters that found, lo and behold, that they would vote for an anti-gay marriage amendment:  

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia has released the findings of a new poll it commissioned on the issue of marriage in West Virginia.  The poll reveals significant support among West Virginia voters for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage.

“West Virginians want to define marriage for themselves,” said Jeremy Dys, the FPC’s president and general counsel.  “They do not want their government to set a policy – and they especially do not want a court to impose a system – that knowingly deprives children of a mom or a dad.  The results of this poll demonstrate that now is the time for a marriage amendment in West Virginia.”

The poll, commissioned by the FPC and performed in late July by Advantage, Inc., found that 73% of the more than 500 registered West Virginia voters surveyed say they would support an amendment worded, “Only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

The findings of the poll, available at www.familypolicywv.com, suggests that an additional 73% of West Virginia voters would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate who favored an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

It is pretty common for right-wing groups to commission polls that just happen to “prove” that the population at large shares their agenda.  But in this case, the FPC was so taken with the findings of their small poll that they are demanding action from the Governor … and now:

As the general election approaches, a Christian evangelical group has issued an ultimatum to Gov. Joe Manchin: call a special session to pass a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, or face the wrath of voters.

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia told the governor on Oct. 9 that he had until Wednesday to agree to call the Legislature into session. The conservative group, formed in March, cites polling it commissioned of around 500 registered voters that it says found 73 percent supporting an amendment defining marriage as a "union of one man and one woman.''

"The donors to this organization, as well as my board, are asking -- rather stridently -- that we release the poll to the public as soon as possible,'' Jeremy Dys, the group's president, said in a letter to the governor's office. "If he has determined that the timing is not right, the duty I have to our donors and the Board of Directors requires that I release this as soon as possible.''

Amending the constitution would also require a statewide vote. Dys said such a vote should take place next year, when no legislative seats are up for election, so "no politician should fear displacement from their current position, should that be of any concern,'' his letter said.

But Dys also called for a special session this year, arguing "the current legislature is a known quantity and our analysis shows strong support for the passage of such a resolution.''

“Female Soldiers … Would Not Have an Equal Opportunity to Survive"

Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about a man who had worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for 17-years and then lost his job when it was discovered that he had failed to register with the Selective Service.  He has now joined three other ex-federal employees in filing a lawsuit arguing that the Selective Service System violates the Constitution by discriminating against men.

You just know that in any article about women in the military, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness is going to be quoted saying something predictably reasoned and insightful, and she does not disappoint: 

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush opened a discussion on the gender issue, convening the "Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces." The commission was overwhelmingly against both forced military service for females or placing them in combat units.

"You don't draft anyone unless you need combat replacements," said Elaine Donnelly, a member of the commission and president of the Center for Military Readiness, a non-partisan group. "Female soldiers in direct ground combat situations would not have an equal opportunity to survive."

She criticizes feminist groups for making "unreasonable" demands on the military.

It is exactly that sort of expertise and commitment to equality that landed Donnelly on the cover of the last issue of Focus on the Family’s “Citizen” magazine and won her accolades from Robert Knight and Tom Minnery:

[I]t’s hard to run over Elaine Donnelly. She has credentials, and she knows her subject. In 1984, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger appointed her to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services; in 1992 Presi-dent George H.W. Bush appointed her to the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Her articles have been widely published, and she has appeared on many national news programs.

But hers is a small organization, and she needs reinforcements. She needs to know that she is not the only civilian willing to defend the Defense Department. Let me ask you to do three things:

1) Find excerpts of her testimony on the Internet and watch the nastiness leveled at her. It will make you mad, and that will get you energized for points two and three.

2) Find your way to her Web site, CMRlink.org, and read her testimony—all of it, including her highly-detailed footnotes, and you will get an expert’s analysis of the problem of homosexuality in the military as well as the growing reality of women in infantry combat units.

3) Make a generous donation to her Center for Military Readiness—it’s tax-deductible—and then keep on making them, and from time to time enclose a personal note about your pride in participating in this particular battle. It is one we must win.

Elaine Donnelly is indeed a hero to a lot of us at Focus on the Family, including Dr. Dobson. We’ve supported her work every way we know how, for a long time. Now it’s your turn to step up.

Right Beseeches Schieffer to Help McCain

For the last week or so, as the economy continues to dominate the news cycle and presidential election, the Right has been lamenting that their anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda has been relegated to the back burner and wishing that they could choose right-wing moderators to run the debates.  

But since they can’t do that, they’ve decided to do the next best thing and petition Bob Schieffer, the moderator of the final debate, to make sure their issues play prominent in tonight’s debate.  Earlier this week, Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, wrote an "open letter" to Schieffer decrying Tom Brokaw's failure to work their agenda into the last debate:

Mr. Brokaw’s choice of topics for the second debate robbed the American people of what was intended to be a look into the more personal and controversial aspects of the candidates. In that debate focusing on domestic policy, there was not a single question about the Supreme Court, gun control, abortion, gay marriage or immigration. It strains credulity to assert that of the more than 1,000 questions offered to Mr. Brokaw, he could not find any that spoke to these issues.

And now the FRC has followed suit. Declaring that “no issue our nation faces is more important than the protection of innocent unborn life,” the FRC has launched a petition to try and pressure Schieffer into asking questions designed to rally so-called “values voters” behind John McCain:

The American people face many crucial issues in this year's elections, including the state of the economy, immigration, health care, the environment, and foreign policy.  The first two presidential debates this year, however, have failed to include the most pressing social issues on the minds of values voters.  We the undersigned urge you to ask questions along the lines of those listed below, which discuss the future of marriage and the sanctity of human life.  These are questions that matter to all Americans, and you have the last remaining opportunity for the American people to compare the candidates' answers as they appear together for the final presidential debate of 2008.

* Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution contains a right for homosexuals to marry?
* Would you change the traditional definition of marriage contained in the federal Defense of Marriage Act?
* Do you support the Defense of Marriage Act's provision allowing states not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states?
* Have you ever opposed any ballot initiative seeking to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman?
* Do you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decision allowing the government to ban abortions that kill a partially born baby?
* Have you ever supported or opposed any law designed to protect the lives of babies that have survived an attempted abortion?

Moderating a debate is a great responsibility that rests on your shoulders.  We ask that you exercise that responsibility with great care to ensure that the American people have the chance to know where the candidates stand on every pressing issue. 

And just in case this effort doesn’t work out, FRC Action is doing its own part to support McCain by running anti-Obama ads in several battleground states:

Today, FRC Action PAC announced an initial $100,000 TV and radio ad campaign in key battleground states aimed at educating voters on Senator Barack Obama's promise to make the radical "Freedom of Choice Act" his top priority as President. The "Freedom of Choice Act" will overturn virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. The ad campaign is a response to the Matthew 25 initiative, which sought to mislead voters and downplay Obama's extreme pro-abortion views. The initial TV and radio ad buy will run this week in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Michigan, with additional television commercials airing in the Washington, D.C. market. The radio ads will target Christian radio stations that earlier this year carried the Matthew 25 campaign.

How To Feign Outrage, Fourteen Years After the Fact

For the last several days, the Right has been up in arms over this audio clip of Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner warning that the state was on the verge of being taken over by the Religious Right

"Next weekend, you're going to see a coalition that has just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state.

"And if they have their way, will take over state government, made up of the Christian Coalition, made up of right-to-lifers; but it's not just the right-to-lifers, it's made up of the NRA; but it's not just that, it's made up of the home schoolers; but not just that, it's made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of different views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to them and what it means to be an American.

Not surprisingly, it is being shopped around by Warner's opponent, Jim Gilmore,  who is currently getting crushed in the polls. 

So offensive were Warner's remarks, apparently, that the Family Research Council felt compelled to issue a statement:

Today, FRC Action decried comments made by Democrat Party Senate candidate Mark Warner. Warner, who served formerly as Governor of Virginia, was recently recorded speaking at a Democratic Party event. In his speech, Warner accused pro-lifers, homeschoolers, and members of the National Rifle Association, as threatening to "what it means to be an American."

...

"You have to wonder what Mark Warner finds so offensive about these groups," said FRC Action Executive Director David Nammo, "Is it the open practice of one's faith or the insistence on the right to bear arms that threatens Warner's America? The protection of innocent human life or the desire of parents to educate their own child? Perhaps Mark Warner should explain to the citizens of Virginia what parts of the Constitution he does agree with since it is clear he holds much of it suspect."

Oddly, nobody at the Family Research Council seems to know how to do any basic "research" - or understands the meaning of the words "recently recorded" - because, if they did, they'd realize that they probably should have issued this statement back in 1994 when Warner actually said it in relation to right-wing efforts to elect Iran-Contra criminal Oliver North ... or at least back in 2001 when the the RNC and Gilmore first tried to use the quote against him:

RADIO ATTACK AD DRAWS ANGRY DENIAL BY WARNER ; NATIONAL GOP SPOKESMAN DEFENDS COMMERCIAL
31 October 2001
The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Republicans launched a sharp-edged radio advertising attack on Mark R. Warner yesterday, saying the Democratic gubernatorial candidate views abortion foes, home-school advocates and "people of faith" as a threat to the nation.

Warner angrily denied the claim and demanded the GOP pull the commercial.

The 60-second ad is produced and paid for by the Republican National Committee, led by Gov. Jim Gilmore. It features a conversation between a man and a woman during which the woman suggests that Warner considers social and religious conservatives as "wanting to radically change American life, and said our views were threatening."

...

The commercial is based on remarks attributed to Warner seven years ago, shortly before Virginia Republicans met in Richmond to nominate Iran-contra figure Oliver L. North for the U.S. Senate.

North went on to lose to incumbent Democrat Charles S. Robb. At the time, Warner was chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

...

Referring to the expected nomination of North, a favorite of the Republican Party's conservative activists, Warner, according to a state GOP-supplied transcript, reportedly told the National Jewish Democrat Council on May 25, 1994:

"Next weekend, you're going to see a coalition that has just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state.

"And if they have their way, will take over state government, made up of the Christian Coalition, made up of right-to-lifers; but it's not just the right-to-lifers, it's made up of the NRA; but it's not just that, it's made up of the home schoolers; but not just that, it's made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of different views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to them and what it means to be an American.

Dubya's Judicial Victory Lap Marred By Memory Lapse

At the Federalist Society's "The Presidency and the Courts" forum yesterday in Cincinnati, President Bush took time to rally the troops and bask in their loving glow as he recounted his battles over the issue of judicial nominees and reminded his audience that, just as he had promised, he put two new justices on the Supreme Court who shared their right-wing ideology:

When asked if I had any idea in mind of the kind of judges I would appoint, I clearly remember saying, I do. That would be Judges Scalia and Thomas ... And I made a promise to the American people during the campaign that if I was fortunate enough to be elected my administration would seek out judicial nominees who follow that philosophy ... I have appointed more than one-third of all the judges now sitting on the federal bench, and these men and women are jurists of the highest caliber, with an abiding belief in the sanctity of our Constitution ... America is well served by the 110th justice of the United States Supreme Court -- Samuel A. Alito ... I was very proud to nominate for the Supreme Court a really decent man, and a man of good judgment, and that would be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

Bush then went on to lament the politicization of the confirmation process, pointing to the treatment of Miguel Estrada as a prime example, and blasting those who engaged in "harmful tactics and maneuvers to thwart nominees": 

Unfortunately, Miguel Estrada's experience is not an isolated one. Many other well-qualified nominees have endured uncertainty and withering attacks on their character simply because they've accepted the call to public service. Those waiting in limbo include: Peter Keisler for the D.C. Circuit, Rod Rosenstein for the Fourth Circuit, and dozens of other nominees to district and circuit courts across this country.

...

The broken confirmation process has other consequences that Americans never see. Lawyers approached about being nominated will often politely decline because of the uncertainty and delay and ruthlessness that now characterizes the confirmation process. Some worry about the impact a nomination might have on their children, who would hear their dad or mom's name dragged through the political mud. This situation is unacceptable, and it's bad for our country. A judicial nomination should be a moment of pride for nominees and their families -- not the beginning of an ugly battle.

...

The American people expect the nomination process to be as free of partisanship as possible, and for senators to rise above tricks and gimmicks designed to thwart nominees ... In Washington, it can be easy to get caught up in the politics of the moment. Yet if we do not act to improve the confirmation process, those who are today deploying harmful tactics and maneuvers to thwart nominees will sooner or later find the tables turned.

Oddly, he didn't mention the most high profile vicitim of this problem - Harriet Miers:

According to “WithdrawMiers.org,” a coalition formed by the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, Fidelis, and others for the sole purpose of opposing the nomination: “Miers’ … few published writings offer no real insight or assurance of a judicial philosophy that reflects a commitment to the Constitution.” And on issues where Miers had something of a record, WithdrawMiers.org was not impressed: “Ms. Miers fought to remove the pro-abortion plank in the American Bar Association platform, yet fought this Bush Administration in ending the ABA’s role in vetting judges which is known to be biased against judges whose judicial philosophies reflect a clear commitment to the Constitution. She donated money to a Texas pro-life group, yet helped establish an endowed lecture series at Southern Methodist University that brought pro-abortion icons Gloria Steinem and Susan Faludi to campus.”

Like WithdrawMiers.org, Americans for Better Justice sprang up simply to oppose the Miers nomination. Founded by ultra-conservatives like David Frum, Linda Chavez, and Roger Clegg, ABJ was unconvinced that Miers shared its founders’ right-wing views and began gathering signatures on a petition demanding Miers’ withdrawal: “The next justice of the Supreme Court should be a person of clear, consistent, and unashamed conservative judicial philosophy … The next justice should be someone who has demonstrated a deep engagement in the constitutional issues that regularly come before the Supreme Court — and an appreciation of the originalist perspective on those issues … For all Harriet Miers’ many fine qualities and genuine achievements, we the undersigned believe that she is not that person.”

The right-wing magazine National Review had, in many ways, led the charge against the Miers nomination from the very beginning. Its writers called Miers “a very, very bad pick,” declared her nomination “the most catastrophic political miscalculation of the Bush presidency” and complained that the Right had been forced to endure “an embarrassingly lame campaign from the White House, the Republican National Committee, and their surrogates.”

What caused this gnashing of teeth was the fact that, according to the National Review’s editorial board, “There is very little evidence that Harriet Miers is a judicial conservative, and there are some warnings that she is not … neither being pro-life or an evangelical is a reliable guide to what kind of jurisprudence she would produce, even on Roe, let alone on other issues.”

Others on the Right were just as dismayed by the nomination. American Values’ Gary Bauer explained: “[Harriet Miers] has not written one word, said one word, given a speech, written a letter to the editor on any of the key constitutional issues that conservatives care about and are worried about and want to make sure the court does not go down the road on."

The Wall Street Journal called the nomination a “political blunder of the first order,” lamenting that “After three weeks of spin and reporting, we still don't know much more about what Ms. Miers thinks of the Constitution.”

Stephen Crampton of the American Family Association said Miers is a “stealth candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court [and] is an unknown with no paper trail,” while the Christian Defense Coalition blasted the president, saying his supporters “did not stand out in the rain for 20 hours passing out literature or putting up signs for the President to have him turn around and nominate Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. A nominee in which there is no record of their judicial philosophy or view of the Constitution.”

Back when John Roberts was preparing for his confirmation hearing, Concerned Women for America was praising him as a “highly qualified nominee with extraordinary personal integrity who has proven himself worthy to sit on our nation's highest court.” CWA said “Senators should ignore the ridiculously inappropriate litmus tests and document demands of the radical left” and that Roberts “should receive overwhelming bi-partisan support and confirmation.”

This is in stark contrast to the stand CWA took on Miers: “We believe that far better qualified candidates were overlooked and that Miss Miers’ record fails to answer our questions about her qualifications and constitutional philosophy … We do not believe that our concerns will be satisfied during her hearing." In calling for her withdrawal, CWA revealed their real objection: “Miers is not even close to being in the mold of Scalia or Thomas, as the President promised the American people.” They demanded that the president give them a “nomination that we can whole-heartedly endorse.”

The JCN’s Million Dollar Mystery

Just last month I wrote about the Judicial Confirmation Network, a bogus grassroots organization set up by Jay Sekulow to help press for confirmation of President Bush’s judges back in 2005.

As I noted then, the JCN dedicated itself to fighting for the confirmation of the likes of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown in preparation for confirmation fights over Supreme Court nominees.  True to form, JCN was active in defending both John Roberts and Samuel Alito and ginning up right-wing support for their confirmations.  But then an interesting thing happened:  Samuel Alito was confirmed and the JCN all but ceased to operate.  

From January 21, 2006 when they issued this press release, they issued just a handful of releases over the next two years (8, by our count) until they swung back into action in August.  

And now, with the election gearing up, the JCN is back on the scene announcing a new million dollar ad campaign targeting Barack Obama on the issue of the courts by linking him to Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayers:

The Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN) today launched a $1 million first phase of a nationwide grassroots campaign, which includes television ads in national and targeted markets, to raise awareness and recruit activists on the critical issue of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The text of the ad:

Wendy: With the help of hundreds of thousands of Americans, the Judicial Confirmation Network fought for the nominations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Sam Alito. The next President may nominate 4 new Justices. So we'd like you to see this....

VO: Choosing the right Justices is critical for America. We don't know who Barack Obama would choose, but we know this: He chose as one of his first financial backers a slumlord now convicted on 16 counts of corruption. Obama chose as an associate a man who helped to bomb the Pentagon and said he "didn't do enough." And Obama chose as his pastor a man who has blamed America for the 9/11 attacks. Obama chose to associate with these men, while voting against these men.

Wendy: Please join the Judicial Confirmation Network. We need a Supreme Court that respects the Constitution and Justices who won't legislate from the bench. Judicial Confirmation Network paid for this message and is responsible for it.

Considering that the JCN had been all but defunct for more than two years while its two employees were busy working on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, it raises the question of just how they managed to raise a million dollars for ads despite seemingly doing no fund raising and only having re-opened their bogus front-group a little over one month ago.

James Dobson’s Special Election Message

Focus on the Family is getting involved in House and Senate races in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas, sending out scorecards in which Republican candidates are praised for their “consistently pro-life and pro-family records” and the Democrats are blasted for having “taken audaciously liberal positions – particularly on life and marriage.” 

The text of all the mailers are more or less the same, with the exception of the paragraphs about the specific candidates – here is the text of the one targeting the Minnesota Senate Race [PDF]:

It’s not every day that individuals find themselves in a position to significantly impact the direction of an entire nation, but that’s exactly where you are today. As a Minnesota voter, you are right in the middle of one of the most important and closely watched Senate races in the country.

The stakes in this contest could not be higher. If Barack Obama wins the White House—a very real possibility—the U.S. Senate will be the last defense against his liberal agenda on abortion and marriage. Sen. Obama has already promised to support the Freedom of Choice Act, which would overturn every pro-life law on abortion in the nation. He has also pledged to abolish the Defense of Marriage Act and to allow open homosexuality in our military. The only hope of stopping this radical onslaught will be a strong showing of commonsense conservatives in the Senate.

A conservative Senate will be no less important under a McCain presidency. If John McCain should emerge victorious in November, he’ll need every Senate vote he can get to confirm Supreme Court judges who will uphold the Constitution and restore sanity to our courts.

That’s why Minnesota’s Senate race is so critical. The contrast between the candidates is sharp. Norm Coleman has maintained a stellar pro-life record and a generally pro-family record in the U.S. Senate. Al Franken, on the other hand, has not only taken strikingly liberal positions since returning to Minnesota, but his comedic record in New York is an embarrassment to those who
care about family values.

Please take a careful look at the issue checklist to the right. It contains details regarding the candidates’ stands on life, marriage and the judiciary, as well as insights on other issues that are important to families—such as gas prices and the threat of higher taxes.

Furthermore, Focus has also customized each mailing … seemingly using backdrops leftover from the 1970’s:

The Gay Marriage Dirty Bomb

During the recent Values Voter Summit, Gary Bauer warned that a dirty bomb was going to be detonated in Washington, DC at some time in the future and only John McCain could prevent/respond to it. 

But apparently Bauer was too late, as the Traditional Values Coalition declares that one has already been detonated in California:

In a deliberate act of judicial tyranny, the California Supreme Court dropped a dirty bomb on our entire nation. And its shock-wave impact is absolutely devastating---especially to every state that doesn’t yet have a marriage amendment.

...

The impact of the homosexual marriage ruling in California will be devastating to every other state in the union without a marriage amendment in their constitution, if Prop 8 fails. The homosexual agenda is clear: They intend to use California as a staging area for an assault on the rest of the nation.

...

Think of all the unintended consequences that we cannot even foresee at this time. Where will it end?

It’s your children, your grandchildren, their beliefs, your beliefs, your money, and your liberties that are at stake this election. Let’s work together to protect them. Let’s restore marriage to its Biblical and Holy significance of 1 man and 1 woman.

Let this be a lesson to all of us - when we think that the Right's rhetoric cannot get any more paranoid or overwrought, we can always count on TVC to surprise us. 

FRC Uses the 9/11 Mastermind to Try to Score Political Points

I saw this article in the Washington Post yesterday about the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed at Guantanamo Bay in which he attempted to find out if the judges were fans of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson because he felt that, if they were, he could not get a fair trial:

Invoking names such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, probed the private opinions of the military judge who is overseeing his case Tuesday in a series of sometimes testy exchanges during a hearing on the judge's impartiality.

Mohammed, wearing a black turban, began by asking Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann about his religious beliefs and whether he had any association with the religious organizations of Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell.

"If you are in one of those denominations, you are not going to be fair," said Mohammed, who switched between Arabic and English when he spoke to the judge. The judge said he had not belonged to any congregation for some time but had attended Lutheran and Episcopal churches.

I didn't write about it because I felt it was crass to try and score political points off the ramblings of a man responsible for thousands of American deaths ... but then again, I don't work for the Family Research Council:

What was most offensive was the subject matter of this interrogation-namely, the judge's personal religious views. "We are well-known as extremists and fanatics, and there are also Christians and Jews that are very extremist," Mohammed said. "If you, for example, were part of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson's groups, then you would not at all be impartial towards us." He also asked if the judge read books by Billy Graham or Pat Buchanan and wanted to know what movies he has watched. Col. Kohlmann rightly declined to answer. But this line of questioning seemed to ring a bell. It is reminiscent of the questioning, now abandoned, of judicial nominees about their religious beliefs by liberal senators during their confirmation hearings. But the Constitution is clear-"no religious test shall ever be required" for public office. The charge that only a radical secularist can be impartial on the bench, or that conservatives and evangelical Christians can never be, must be rejected from any source.

Liberty Legal and "Troopergate"

As we noted earlier this week, right-wing Alaskan attorney Kevin Clarkson had waded into the "Troopergate" saga in Sarah Plain's defense and was working in conjunction with the Liberty Legal Institute, a right-wing legal organization based in Texas. 

Why a right-wing organization out of Texas that, by its own admissions, focuses mostly on cases dealing with religious freedoms, student's rights, parental rights, and the definition of family was taking the lead in a case involving an investigation into the dealings of the Alaska Governor was hard to understand.  But now Kelly Shackelford, head of Liberty Legal, is explaining just what they are doing there ... assuring impartiality:

Liberty Legal Institute says it has filed the suit on behalf of Alaska legislators and citizens who want to halt the investigation because those running it have lost the impartiality required under the Alaska constitution. The investigation stems from Palin's July 2008 firing of former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety Walt Monegan for insubordination.

Kelly Shackelford -- chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute -- says the investigation is being led by the Alaska Legislative Council and three Democratic state senators who are outspoken supporters of Barack Obama. "Those people have [made] contributions to Obama. They have public statements pro-Obama and anti-Palin. They have public statements prejudging the case before there's any evidence in," warns Shackelford.

"They have conflicts of interest with those in charge because of past and current relationships. So this is clearly an unconstitutional...political witch hunt which violates the very terms of their constitution."

That would be the same Kelly Shackelford who was recently on James Dobson's radio program crowing about how Palin was the answer to the right-wing movements prayers and explaining his efforts as part of the GOP's platform committee in drafting “the strongest pro-life platform ever in the history of the [Republican] party."

No concerns about impartiality or "conflicts of interest" there.

Right Issues Demands on SCOTUS

The Hill reports that even though John McCain has repeatedly and explicitly promised to nominate judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the Right is still a little unsure that they can trust him and so they decided to work explicit language into the GOP platform in order to send him a clear message:

Republican conservatives have given John McCain a warning on what kind of justices he may appoint to the Supreme Court as president.

Their message: no surprises.

Authors of the 2008 GOP platform have included specific language urging Sen. McCain (Ariz.), the party’s nominee, not to appoint “stealth nominees” to the court. That language was the result of lobbing by the conservative activists.

The platform makes clear that McCain should appoint jurists who have clearly defined views of constitutional interpretation.

It states: “We oppose stealth nominations to the federal bench, and especially the Supreme Court, whose lack of a clear and distinguished record leaves doubt about their respect for the Constitution.”

Conservative activists led by Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative leaders active on judicial matters, began pushing for the platform changes in May. It began a minuet between the McCain campaign and its conservative skeptics that eventually shaped the presidential platform.

The last time the Right was sending McCain explicit messages about what it expected from him, they were telling him that his choices of running mate were patently unacceptable, to which he responded by utterly capitulating and giving them everything they wanted in Sarah Palin.  In fact, it seems as if his caving to their demands on Palin has actually helped assuage their concerns about his willingness to do their bidding:

Conservative leaders who worked on the platform said the strength of the document and McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate eased concerns that lingered right up until the convention.

“The two combined changed everything,” said [David] Keene [of the American Conservative Union.]

The ADF’s Dangerous “Pulpit Initiative”

It looks like the Alliance Defense Fund is moving ahead with its efforts to potentially get dozens of churches stripped of their tax-exempt status

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

"For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church," ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. "It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It's not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."

Rather than wait for the IRS to investigate an alleged violation, the organization intends to create dozens of violations and take the U.S. government to court on First Amendment grounds.

"We're looking for churches that are serious-minded about this, churches that understand both the risks and the benefits," Stanley said, referring to the chance that they could lose their coveted tax-exempt status or could set a precedent.

Stanley said three dozen church leaders from more than 20 states have agreed to deliver a political sermon, naming political names.

"The sermon will be an evaluation of conditions for office in light of scripture and doctrine. They will make a specific recommendation from the pulpit about how the congregation would vote," he said.

"They could oppose a candidate. They could oppose both candidates. They could endorse a candidate. They could focus on a federal, state or local election."

Fortunately, the good folks at Americans United are all over this and have already released a brochure debunking ADF’s bogus line of argument:  

The free speech rights of religious leaders are already broadly protected by the U.S. Constitution. Clergy can and do address public policy concerns, ranging from abortion, gay rights and gun control to poverty, civil rights and the death penalty. They may support legislation pending in Congress or the state legislatures, or call for its defeat. They may endorse or oppose ballot referenda. Indeed, discussion of public issues is a common practice in religious institutions all over America.

The only thing houses of worship may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office or use their resources in partisan campaigns. This restriction, which is found in federal tax law, is not limited to churches and other religious ministries. In fact, it is applied to every non-profit organization in the country that holds a tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contrary to the claims of many in the Religious Right, the IRS is not singling out houses of worship for special regulation. Thousands of educational, scientific, charitable and literary organizations hold the 501(c)(3) status, and all must abide by the legal requirement barring involvement in elections.

Why does this rule exist? The answer is obvious upon a moment's reflection: Non-profit organizations receive tax exemption because their work is charitable, educational or religious. That tax benefit comes with conditions. One requirement is that tax-exempt organizations refrain from involvement in partisan politics. This is a reasonable rule, since tax-exempt groups are supposed to work for the public good, not spend their time and money trying to elect or defeat candidates.

McCain’s Life Easier After Saddleback

Christianity Today sat down with Marlys Popma, president of Iowa's Right to Life Committee, former deputy national political director for Gary Bauer’s 2000 presidential campaign, and current Evangelical outreach coordinator for John McCain.  During the discussion, Popma suggests that McCain’s appearance at the Saddleback faith forum was such a success that it’s actually made it less necessary for the campaign to openly court the Right:  

McCain just spoke at Rick Warren's forum, he met with Billy and Franklin Graham, and he met with evangelicals in Ohio. What is the campaign doing to reach out to evangelicals, other than these meetings?

Those meetings are less important than after Saddleback, but they were still important. It's very important that we touch leadership in groups or one at a time. We plan to make a visit with leadership in priority states. We also send regular e-mails to the individuals whom we have identified in our group. We recently put out a piece on John's faith. It's mostly getting John McCain's conservative message out to the grassroots.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the campaign is letting up.  In fact, Popma reports that whenever she meets with right-wing activists, the one issue she makes sure to drive home is judges:

When you talk to evangelicals about voting for John McCain, what's your pitch?

The first thing I talk about is judges. We need judges who believe in the original intent of the Constitution and show great jurisprudence, who do not legislate from the bench and are constructionists. We are one judge away from the reversal of Roe v. Wade. There are many other points: that John McCain has had a 24-, 25-year pro-life message. He stands for marriage between one man and one woman. He has a great compassion for individuals as a whole, not only in this country, but also abroad. He and his wife are extremely philanthropic. Cindy is involved with HALO and Operation Smile. I just think that as a team, Sen. McCain and his wife, Cindy, reach the heart of what an evangelical Christian is.

If McCain and his wife really do “reach the heart of what an evangelical Christian is,” that must come as a surprise to Rob Schenck, who just announced that McCain is not an Evangelical at all.  

But despite seemingly having the herculean task of selling McCain to the Religious Right, to hear Popma tell it, her job couldn’t be easier because McCain is the total right-wing package: 

We understand on this campaign that there are essentially two groups in which we look for evangelicals. One is what I call "movement conservatives." Those are individuals who have for years been working for the unborn and working hard to make sure that the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman. There is also a young emerging group of people who have broadened their scope. They haven't neglected marriage and life issues, but they've broadened them into a concern about global poverty and making sure the quality of life for individuals is one that a human expects and deserves.

The exciting thing about John McCain is that he hits on all cylinders. There's not any one of the things that evangelicals would be looking for — creation care, all of them — that John McCain has had in his agenda for years.

Will McCain Poke The Right in the Eye?

Ezra Klein predicts that John McCain will choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate and explains his reasoning:

For the Republicans, however, 2008 can't be [about] mobilization. Their half is too small. Their brand is too damaged. And they recognized that when they chose John McCain -- who's not a base mobilizing evangelical conservative anyway -- as their nominee … [Lieberman] lets McCain telegraph an ideological ambiguity and shift towards a policy agenda that's about process, about "reaching across party lines and getting things done," rather than about sops to the conservative base.

That may very well be true, but for this strategy to work one has to assume that the McCain camp would be willing to sacrifice nearly the entire Religious Right base in an effort to win support of moderates and independents because, as the Right has made abundantly clear, their now tepid support for McCain hinges almost entirely on his choice of running mate.  

Just last week, we were noting how the Right was nearly unanimous in their opposition to Lieberman and that, while they were just starting to warm up to McCain, their efforts at mobilizing their grassroots activists on his behalf came to a screeching halt when he suggested that he was open to the idea of naming a pro-choice running mate.  

Right-wing activists have been battling one another over whom best fills the McCain campaign’s need to appease the base for weeks now, a battle that continues even to this day:

Among those doing some soul-searching this week is Betty Kanavel, who lives in the tiny Monroe County town of Ida and will vote for no one who isn't anti-abortion. She would like McCain to pick Mike Huckabee, the charismatic preacher and former Arkansas governor who finished third in Michigan's primary.

The 56-year-old Kanavel, who works part-time at her church, also is concerned over Romney's religion.

"I probably shouldn't go there, but I will anyway: The Mormon religion is totally not the Bible," Kanavel said, adding: "It's very hard, but if he's the choice, OK. He is a good man."

But this is a debate that has raged over Mike Huckabee vs. Mitt Romney and is rooted in the fact that both are, at least nominally, pro-life.  Lieberman, for all his faults, is ostensibly pro-choice - a fact that will not be easily glossed over by the Religious Right: 

Let us be clear on this. Our values and our respect for the Constitution make clear that women must have the right to choose—and we will continue to fight for that right

When McCain floated the idea of a pro-choice running mate a few weeks ago, the Right went completely off the rails and leaders like Richard Land have been taking every opportunity to make absolutely clear just what such a decision would mean to McCain's campaign: 

If he picks a pro-life running mate, it will really cement evangelical support. If he picks a pro-choice running mate it will give oxygen to all those doubts, and deflate the momentum that has been building.

As James Dobson explained last month when he announced that he was changing his position from “never” to “maybe” on McCain, his support hinged in large part on McCain’s choice of running mate:

I don't even know who his vice-presidential candidate will be. You know he could very well choose a pro-abortion candidate and it would not be unlike him to do that because he seems to enjoy a frustrating conservatives on occasions. But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life
consistently and that's a fact.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, FOF’s Tom Minnery recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that Dobson is essentially waiting to see who McCain picks before officially endorsing him:

"Admittedly, for a lot of us, McCain is an acquired taste," said Tom Minnery, who leads the government and public policy division for Focus on the Family.

But if McCain chooses a strong social conservative for his running mate, Focus on the Family's leader, James Dobson - whose conservative radio broadcasts are heard by 200 million people worldwide - could endorse him.

"We'll wait to see who his vice president is before embracing him," Minnery said.

If the McCain campaign decides that a pro-choice running mate is what the campaign needs, it’ll be because it has concluded that he can with without the Right or, more likely, that the Right will put aside its principles because they have no alternative but to support the campaign regardless of his running mate.  But the Right is in no mood to be insulted in this manner.  As it stands now, McCain’s support from the right-wing base is tenuous at best and will likely collapse completely were he to fill out his ticket with a pro-choice candidate.

As Dobson explained it, McCain has a history of going “out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes” of the Religious Right – and choosing a pro-choice running mate would be the ultimate poke in the eye to the Right; one that would make it nearly impossible for them to support him.

How To Be a Right-Winger in 25 Easy Steps

All of those potential right-wing candidates out there who are searching for a ready-made agenda to run on are in luck, because today the Family Research Council unveiled a report entitled "25 Pro-Family Policy Goals for the Nation." As FRC explains, the report is designed to serve as a blueprint for candidates, though it'll work for pastors, voters, and plain-old citizens as well:
The document you hold in your hands can serve as a model for the platforms the Republican and Democratic parties will write this summer. It can also serve as a blueprint for how those we elect can promote and protect the family and its values in 2009 and in the years to come. The 25 goals we put forth here are grouped into eight main subject areas, ranging from Human Life to Marriage and Family to Religious Liberty to Culture and Media. Each page features a brief analysis of the issue, followed by one or more specific policy proposals which can help America meet that individual goal. Some involve action by Congress, some by the president, and some by state legislators or executive officials. If you are a candidate for office or an elected official, please consider adopting these proposals as your own. If you are a values voter, challenge those running for office as to their position on these issues, and weigh their response as you consider your vote. If you are a pastor or leader of an organization, consider making copies of this booklet available to your members. If you are simply a citizen who cares about the family in America, write to your elected officials and urge them to pursue these goals with vigor.
As one would expect, the FRC then proceeds to lay out its policy priorities on everything from marriage to abortion to judges. If you are looking for a concise collection of the issues that make up the Right's current political agenda, this new FRC report is one-stop shopping:
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Constitution Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 01/13/2011, 3:05pm
In a new fundraising letter asking for help to “restore our nation to its Christian roots,” the American Family Association asks its supporters to pray for House Speaker John Boehner, who AFA says is leading a war against the “powers of evil” – meaning pro-equality and pro-choice members of Congress. After recounting the biblical story of Moses relying on the help of Aaron and Hur to keep his arms raised and help the Israelites defeat Amalek, the AFA letter says this:   We are at war with the powers of evil no less than Moses was. In the physical realm of... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/13/2011, 12:02pm
There are few Religious Right leaders active today who can compete with the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer in terms of openly hostile bigotry against gays, Muslims, and all those who do not share his radical worldview: So it is bound to raise a few eyebrows that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty went on Fischer's radio program yesterday to promote his new book ... but it won't raise any eyebrows that Fischer used the opportunity to grill Pawlenty on social issues or that Pawlenty largely shared Fischer's right-wing concerns: Fischer: If you are asked the question "... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/13/2011, 12:02pm
There are few Religious Right leaders active today who can compete with the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer in terms of openly hostile bigotry against gays, Muslims, and all those who do not share his radical worldview: So it is bound to raise a few eyebrows that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty went on Fischer's radio program yesterday to promote his new book ... but it won't raise any eyebrows that Fischer used the opportunity to grill Pawlenty on social issues or that Pawlenty largely shared Fischer's right-wing concerns: Fischer: If you are asked the question "... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 01/12/2011, 12:05pm
Yesterday, it was announced that Jim Garlow, chairman of Newt Gingrich's Renewing American Leadership, would be participating in a protest against the Ninth Circuit's ruling that the Mt. Soledad Cross was unconstitutional: Said Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, and Chairman of Renewing American Leadership located in Washington DC, "These revisionist judges consistently confuse the historic recognition of the role that the Christian faith -- embraced by 90% of our citizens -- and Christian symbols have played and continue to play in our national life... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 5:48pm
Opponents of birthright citizenship have mobilized in Congress and in fourteen state legislatures to pass legislation that would reinterpret the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship. At a forum of state legislators who support scrapping birthright citizenship, Republican State Rep. Daniel B. Verdi of South Carolina compared illegal immigration to “the malady of slavery” and Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said such legislation would help “bring an end to the illegal alien invasion.” Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly praised their efforts in a column... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/10/2011, 6:26pm
Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison today. Apparently, people like Mike Huckabee. Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be joining Alveda King and other "Black prolife leaders" for a rally in New York. Harry Jackson tries to connect the President Obama-Michael Vick story to his shilling for energy interests.  Finally, Ken Blackwell tries to convince us that the Constitution did not condoned slavery. MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 01/10/2011, 2:22pm
After the news broke that Rep. Michele Bachmann was considering a bid for the Presidency, the Minnesota Congresswoman immediately found strong support in the GOP’s far-right base. While much attention has been paid to her leadership role in the Tea Party, as she chairs both the Tea Party and the Constitutional Conservative Caucuses, Bachmann is also one of the Religious Right’s most beloved members of Congress. She built her political career in Minnesota as a fierce opponent of the teaching of evolution, reproductive rights, and LGBT equality. Once elected to the House of... MORE