Right Wing Marks Katrina Anniversary

New Orleans after KatrinaTwo years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other stretches of the Gulf Coast. At the time, the response by many on the Right was to blame the victims and/or social-service programs, and to take advantage of the “golden opportunity” to advance a far-right economic agenda. Remember Pat Buchanan, who criticized the “failure” of the “character and conduct” of the population of New Orleans, who “waited for the government to come save them” and “screamed into the cameras for help”? Then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) called for “tougher penalties” for those who were stranded when the storm hit and the city was flooded. Bill O’Reilly saw video footage of the tragedy as an ideal object lesson for young people: “If you refuse to learn, if you refuse to work hard, if you become addicted, if you live a gangsta-life, you will be poor and powerless just like many of those in New Orleans.” (Watch the video.)

Ailing Televangelist and Religious-Right Pioneer Retires

D. James Kennedy

D. James Kennedy, who built up Fort Lauderdale, Florida megachurch and television empire over the last half-century, has officially retired, eight months after he was first hospitalized following a heart attack. Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has nearly 10,000 members, and his broadcast ministry claims 3.5 million listeners and viewers, but he is best known as one of the founding figures of the Religious Right in the early 1980s, known as the “Ivy League Jerry Falwell.”

Kennedy, who once said that “the diabolical mission” of People For the American Way was “to crush the influence of the Christian religion in American society,” became active in political issues from battling pornography, “secularized” education, abortion, and civil rights for gays to supporting Reagan administration policies like SDI, Iran-Contra, and the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. His involvement grew in the 1990s and 2000s, as he organized national conferences for religious-right activism and expanded his influence in Washington.

The 76-year-old Kennedy’s retirement comes just a few months after the death of Jerry Falwell, and again heralds the inevitable passing of the older generation of religious-right leaders -- Falwell, Kennedy, 71-year-old James Dobson, 69-year-old Don Wildmon, and others who built the infrastructure and set the pattern for fundamentalism-charged politics.

Much more on D. James Kennedy’s political career below.

Gonzales Resignation an Opportunity to "Confront" Democrats

"Confront the Democrats, don't 'reach out' to them," says Richard Viguerie. "Confronting the Democrats and rallying the conservative base is also a way for Bush to raise his approval ratings from the 30s, perhaps even into the 50s. And that would help him and Congressional Republicans on their entire agenda."

Cause or Effect?

Wayne Slater, writing in The Dallas Morning News, says that while Rudy Giuliani might not be much liked by the Republican Party’s social conservative, right-wing base, he might not be totally unacceptable either, especially if they are faced with the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee:

As the most powerful movement in American politics for several decades, conservative Christians insisted that above all else, their candidates adhere to their positions on social issues, particularly abortion and gay marriage. But as their movement changes, many are placing the fight against Islamic extremism at the top of the list as well.

For the last several years, the “fight against Islamic extremism” has never been a key issue for the Right.  While it has been an issue they’ve mentioned occasionally, its importance has always paled in comparison to their primary goals of fighting for restrictions on abortion, passing a federal marriage amendment, and controlling the federal judiciary.  As a matter of fact, the issue of terrorism was nowhere to be seen on last year’s Congressional scorecard [PDF] put together by the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, which claimed to be a “compilation of significant votes representing a cross section of issues affecting the family.”

So what could explain this relatively sudden rise in the importance of national security issues and terrorism for the Right?

Trouble for “Justice Sunday” Preacher

Back in the 2005 and early 2006, the Family Research Council hosted a series of “Justice Sunday” events timed to coincide with important developments in the political battle over judicial nominations.  

The first event, titled “Stop Filibustering People of Faith,” claimed that some of President Bush’s appellate court nominees were being filibustered because of their religion and was designed to pressure Senate Republicans to deploy the so-called “nuclear option.”

Justice Sunday II: God Save the United States and This Honorable Court” was held some months later and timed to coincide with the beginning of John Roberts’ confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court while “Justice Sunday III: Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land” was timed to coincide with the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito.

The events featured a wide array of right-wing leaders and members of Congress such as Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Richard Land, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and Zell Miller.  Among the lesser known speakers was Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church which hosted the “Justice Sunday II” event, who boldly declared:

“Number one, it's a new day.
Number two, liberalism is dead.
Number three, the majority of Americans are conservative.
Number four, you can count on us showing up and speaking out.
And number five, let the church rise.”

Presumably, this isn’t what he meant by the church being on the rise:

The Rev. Jerry Sutton, a prominent Southern Baptist pastor who lost a bid to become president of the denomination, is now facing an upheaval in the megachurch he leads, including complaints that he spent church money on his daughter's wedding.

[S]ome Two Rivers members are accusing Sutton of failing to abide by church rules and punishing those who question his authority.

"We have a fractured fellowship. Somehow, with the Lord's help, we need to put this church back together," Harry Jester, who's been in the congregation for 32 years, said at a church meeting July 28.

One of Sutton's former administrative assistants has also said Sutton looked at pornography on his church computer and had an affair with a church staff member — charges that the church denies. The church's executive pastor, Scott Hutchings, said human resource officials at the church investigated those charges and found no evidence that Sutton had looked at porn or had an affair.

About 600 members attended the July 28 meeting, which was organized by the church so that rumors and allegations could be addressed publicly. Sutton also attended, but did not respond to the allegations.

At the meeting, Hutchings relayed the accusations brought against Sutton, including charges that Sutton used church money to pay for his daughter's wedding reception and has kept members in the dark on church spending.

Hutchings defended the church budget and acknowledged that the church paid about $4,300 for a reception for Sutton's daughter that was open to all church members. He said Sutton personally paid for another separate reception outside the church.

Nobody Can Question Romney’s Commitment to Winning Meaningless Polls

A few weeks ago, after it was announced that both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani were not going to be participating in the Iowa Straw Poll, Mitt Romney’s campaign decided to scale back its own operations in the state:

"I think initially we planned to bring in a very large number of folks from across the state for the straw poll," Romney told reporters. "We've cut back on our target from that standpoint to a level where we think we can win, but we're not trying to overwhelm anybody."

Romney said it is important to keep showing his commitment to the straw poll and "engage our base of supporters so that by the time the caucus comes along we'll have our structure in place and our team members that are tried and tested.

"But we have pulled back the level of investment financially that we're making, in part, to recognize that Mayor Giuliani and Sen. McCain have decided not to participate, and apparently Sen. Thompson as well."

Romney said the straw poll is "not going to be as intense of an event as it would have been had the other front-runners decided to participate."

If that is indeed that case, Romney sure had a strange concept of “pulling back the level of investment” his campaign planned to make in the winning the poll, reportedly outbidding his rivals for on a prime location for his tent, sending out expensive mailings, and spending millions on television ads and other material.  As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Religious Right Claims Others Can't Be Christian, Have Values

The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal politicians “are spouting God-talk” in order to “confuse people of faith” and hide their “true agenda.” Invoking the Religious Right’s recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency – as well as the “Swift Boat” campaign of 2004 – the so-called “Values Voters for Truth” campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals – and, obviously, Democratic candidates – as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking a conspiracy to “deceive and split values voters.” From a recent fundraising letter from FRC Action:

Our relentless effort to reveal the facts about the Left’s true agenda is already under way. It will not stop until the last vote of the 2008 election has been cast. The Values Voters for Truth campaign will partner with organizations in all 50 states—and at the national level. We will mobilize values voters, engage them in the war of ideas, and keep them informed and involved.

We will rally churches to the cause. And by God’s grace, we will neutralize our opponents’ deceptive tactics.

As an example of this supposed “fraud,” the letter cites a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke of his “belief in Christ” and also supports civil unions for gay couples. Similarly, the letter warns that a candidate noting a “biblical call to feed the hungry” also voted against an anti-abortion bill. A third candidate is denounced for the “hypocrisy” of wanting to let gay couples adopt children. According to FRC, these supposed contradictions indicate that Democrats discussing their faith and values is merely “lip service,” part of a “campaign of deception” that led directly to the Democrats winning control of Congress in the 2006 elections.

Idaho Congressman: Hindu Prayer, Muslim Rep Will Doom America

Echoing the sentiments of religious-right activists who last month decried a Hindu guest chaplain giving the opening prayer in the Senate, Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) warned that “the protective hand of God” could be lifted. Sali also cited the threat of his Muslim colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), but unlike comments last December by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) linking Ellison to immigration and 9/11, Sali warned that Ellison’s presence, like the Hindu prayer, would displease both America’s founders and God.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

Sali, with the backing of the Club for Growth and a following of social conservatives, won a divisive Republican primary in his GOP district last year, despite warnings from fellow Republicans that Sali was “an absolute idiot.”

Protesters associated with Operation Save America/Operation Rescue disrupted the prayer by Rajan Zed on July 12, attempting to shout the Hindu chaplain down.  Other religious-right activists rushed to their defense and attacked the prayer as “idolatry.” Janet Folger said the protestors “are heroes” and “may be what spares us from the judgment of God.” Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries warned that “When Israel went straying and worshiping other gods, very, very serious consequences came down upon her,” adding “America is at a turning point” and can expect a “major” terrorist act this summer.

And back in December, as some on the far Right were asserting that newly-elected Rep. Ellison should not be able to pose for a photo op after his swearing-in holding the Koran – or even to serve at all – Rep. Goode joined in, warning his constituents that “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” Goode later expanded on his commentary, explaining that “we were not attacked by a nation on 9/11; we were attacked by extremists who acted in the name of the Islamic religion.” Pat Robertson warned in March that Muslim politicians like Ellison want to “take over” and “institute Sharia.”

Right-Wing Coalition United against SCHIP (Mostly)

While the conservative movement coalition of the economic right and social right has shown some small cracks in the last year, one bill in Congress has them singing the same tune: a proposal to expand the coverage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The Religious Right is complaining that the bill defines “children” beginning with birth, rather than conception. According to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, making “unborn children” ineligible to sign up for insurance “is a calculated move to open the door to federal taxpayer-funded abortions.” (FRC’s David Christiansen clarified: “The federal dollars wouldn't necessarily be used to do the abortion, but it's freeing up states to perform these other services, including abortion, with their own state money.”)

Meanwhile, National Right to Life Committee asserted that the bill would lead to Medicare “rationing” and thus “involuntary euthanasia.” “They have attacked the sanctity of life both at the beginning and the latter stages of life,” cried Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaking of “the Democratic leadership” in Congress.

In addition, the Religious Right warns that the bill renews funding for abstinence education, but doesn’t restrict it to abstinence-only programs. “They’re simply giving states more money to fund Planned Parenthood and the programs that teach our children to have sex,” complained Linda Klepacki of Focus on the Family. “Comprehensive sex education will once again have a monopoly on your school systems.”

Meanwhile, economic-right activists are warning that expanding SCHIP is “a step towards socialism.” In this, they find welcome support from Perkins, who – despite his warnings about abortion – wrote that the “[m]ost important” aspect of the bill is that “its expansion represents a direct attack on private insurance, pushing Americans closer to what many Democratic leaders have long advocated--government-run, taxpayer-funded, universal health care, managed with the same efficiency and customer care as your local DMV.”

Both the Heritage Foundation and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform have trashed the bill. But as Robert Novak reports, they are having some trouble on the details, arguing with each other over right-wing amendments offered by Republicans.

Huckabee under Fire before Ames Straw Poll

With the upcoming straw poll in Ames, Iowa a make-or-break moment for second-tier GOP presidential candidates – and for Mitt Romney, the only major candidate not to skip the event – tensions at the bottom are flaring up. The Club for Growth -- a group known for translating its strict economic conservatism into large cash expenditures in Republican primaries to weed out so-called “Republicans in Name Only” – has made its first TV ad of the 2008 campaign, spending $85,000 in the Des Moines/Ames market to accuse former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee of “a willingness to slap a tax increase on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.”

New 'Patriot Pastors' Group in Virginia?

The Family Foundation of Virginia, a group that organized support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2006, is putting together a “Pastors Issues Summit” that appears to be modeled on the recent “Patriot Pastor” organizing in Ohio, Texas, and other states.

According to the group’s brochure, Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Republicans, will join a representative of the right-wing legal group Alliance Defense Fund to speak on topics such as “Your role as a pastor in Civic Government” and “The political environment in Virginia.” Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is apparently invited – but if this event resembles the “Patriot Pastor” events in other states, it will be a partisan crowd.

Gingrich Not Ready to Cede Spoiler Spot

As if it wasn’t hard enough for Republican presidential candidates – and potential candidates – seeking the right-wing mantle, two undeclared contenders may spar over who gets to be the dark horse.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose background makes him unlikely to gain widespread support, has spent months hinting that he may enter the race if no suitable candidates emerge, all the while attempting to build a kind of grassroots structure. He recently called the GOP’s crop of candidates a “pathetic” bunch of “pygmies.”

But the likelihood of a run by “Law & Order” star Fred Thompson, who also plans a late entry, has stolen much of Gingrich’s thunder. Thompson’s rising star "would appear to shade some of the sunlight" from Gingrich, as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform put it.

Gingrich let it be known that he’s not impressed by Thompson. "I'm excited to see whether Fred turns out to be as decisive a front-runner as John McCain, or better," he said, referring to the apparent collapse of McCain’s campaign recently.

In fact, Gingrich is still making preparations, according to an article in the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine (available to subscribers):

Those close to Gingrich said that he has concluded that all of the GOP candidates, including Fred Thompson who has not yet announced his bid, would fail to ignite Republican voters and drop way behind in any race against Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Gingrich plans to let Thompson announce his candidacy over the next six weeks and gauge reaction, particularly in the Southern states.

Indeed, with Thompson expected to announce his candidacy after Labor Day, Gingrich has apparently pushed back the possible date when he would launch his campaign from September to “mid-October.”

Supreme Court's Rightward Lurch Will Motivate Right in 2008

The Supreme Court’s past term made clear its lurch to the right following the appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, as outlined in a recent People For the American Way Foundation report. Awareness of this fact has spread from legal analysts to the general public: A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows less than half of Americans think the Court is balanced, and 31 percent think it’s too conservative – up from 19 percent two years ago. This was the context for Sen. Chuck Schumer’s speech at the American Constitution Society last week. “There is no doubt we were hoodwinked,” he said of the confirmation hearings.

Nevertheless, right-wing activists maintain that, despite their victory in confirming Roberts and Alito and the obvious rightward tilt of the last term, the Supreme Court remains a “bastion” of liberalism. "After decades of liberal judicial activism on so many issues, the court's position remains decidedly on the left,” said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Spitting in the Face of the Facts

It appears as if the Senate Republicans and their right-wing allies are gearing up for a battle over judges, primarily over the nomination of Leslie Southwick to a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A few weeks ago, Sen. Arlen Specter met with representatives of more than a dozen right-wing organizations -Including Concerned Women of America, the Family Research Council, and the Judicial Confirmation Network -  to complain that he was “fed up” with the Democrats’ supposed failure to confirm enough judges and to urge these groups to get involved in pressing for more confirmations.

And that is just what they have done. 

Today, the Committee for Justice and nearly 60 other right-wing groups released a letter [PDF] they sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasting Democrats for making it “it impossible for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent in good faith.” 

The letter claims that failure to confirm Bush’s judges is at least partially responsible for Congress’ low approval rating and warns that the issue will play a role in upcoming elections.  

It then proceeds to make a series of strikingly hypocritical claims: 

The American people are equally unsympathetic to the claim that certain nominees cannot get a hearing because of the Judiciary Committee’s arcane “blue slip” policy. That policy is rightfully perceived as serving senators rather than the public. Because the policy exists entirely at the discretion of the committee chairman, blame for the resulting delays cannot credibly be laid outside the committee.

President Bush fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating the outstanding men and women who await action in the Judiciary Committee. We respectfully request that you allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent, by ensuring that each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee for consideration by the full Senate in a timely manner. If you cannot support a particular nominee, vote him or her out of committee without a positive recommendation, or vote against confirmation. But please do not deny the nominee a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, we ask only that you do your job by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.

Of course, back when President Clinton was in office, the “blue slip” policy was used routinely by Republicans to block his nominees but was unilaterally changed when Republicans took control of the Senate under President Bush in order to prevent Democrats from doing the same to Bush.  Now that Democrats are back in control of the Senate, these groups seem to think that the “blue slip” policy switch orchestrated by Sen. Orrin Hatch should still be in place in order to benefit President Bush’s nominees. 

As for the claim that Democrats must ensure that “each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee” … well, let’s just say that is not how Republicans operated under President Clinton either.

Then, just for good measure, Concerned Women for America, despite having signed on to the above-mentioned letter, issued its own press release defending Southwick by accusing those who oppose his confirmation of “spitting on the reputation” of Iraqi War vets.     

"Judge Southwick is a brave, considerate, intelligent American hero -- just the type of person that we need on the federal bench," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.  "Yet liberal special interest groups have unfairly smeared a good man -- a war veteran -- for doing his constitutional duty of upholding the law and serving in the war.

"Some Democrat senators have followed their lead, in effect spitting on the reputation of this honorable judge and Iraq war veteran.  Is this what other Iraq War veterans will face when they return home?  Will their sacrifice, courage and honor be besmirched by people who put their interests above the welfare of our country?"

Normally when it comes to judges, the Right just tends to accuse its opponents of being sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted – so accusations that they are also hostile to our troops is a new, though not surprising, development.  

The Return of Blackwell?

Ken Blackwell’s far-right campaign for Ohio governor in 2006 was structured around intensive “Patriot Pastor” church organizing, but nonetheless failed by a large margin. Since then, Blackwell has joined the ranks of right-wing activists at the Family Research Council, the Club for Growth, Ohio’s Buckeye Institute, and

Now, there’s a rumor that Blackwell is eyeing a future Senate run. The next Ohio Senate election is in 2010, but the incumbent is a fellow Republican, George Voinovich. A primary challenge is not out of the question, though: Blackwell’s associates at the Club for Growth specialize in right-wing challenges to “Republicans in Name Only,” and he has a history of disagreement with Voinovich.

Some on Right Wary of Candidate Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneff is Eneff

After nine months, Janet Neff has been confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.  As we’ve chronicled here several times, Sen. Sam Brownback opposed her nomination simply because she attended the commitment ceremony of a family friend who is a lesbian back in 2002.

Over the past nine months, Brownback’s explanations as to why he was delaying her nomination, as well as the demands he made in order to let the nomination move forward, have been constantly shifting and “possibly unprecedented.”

But yesterday, with Neff scheduled to receive a vote on the Senate floor, Brownback took one last opportunity to make his opposition known: 

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff going onto the bench for a lifetime appointment. I have met directly with her. I have been present for two hearings where she has spoken on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, which we all agree should be decided by legislative bodies and by the people, not by the courts. She has an activist view on this issue. She participated in a ceremony herself. Then, when asked about her view toward same-sex unions, she said she considers it a continuing legal controversy. Her words: I really don't have an understanding of it, concerning the Michigan law. In Michigan, the State has defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, both by the legislature and the people. She says it is not entirely settled. Here is an activist on a core issue, a difficult issue, one I think we all believe should be decided by legislative bodies and not by the courts. She would be one who would have a tendency to rule from the bench.

I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff.

Exactly four Senators voted against Neff – all Republicans: Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Kyl (R-AZ), Martinez (R-FL).  

It is extraordinarily rare for any Republican to vote against any judicial nomination made by President Bush, especially to the lower-profile district court seats.  But apparently, for these four Republican Senators, anti-gay hostility runs deeper than the tradition of defending and supporting their own President’s judicial nominees.

Poll: GOP Base Not So Far Right on Wedge Issues

While the national Republican Party, with the help of right-wing interest groups, has largely purged itself of moderate politicians in recent years, a new survey finds the Republican voters have not necessarily followed. GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio surveyed 2,000 self-described Republicans and found that 77 percent said employers should not have the right to fire an employee over their sexual orientation; nearly half would let gays serve openly in the military. While 61 percent called themselves “pro-life,” only 28 percent want to ban all abortions, and 72 percent said the decision should be up to the woman, her family, and her doctor, not the government. Overall, 60 percent said they would be likely to vote for a presidential candidate whom they disagreed with on abortion but who agreed with them on most other issues.

Fabrizio’s poll also showed that the economic wing of the GOP has shrunk by two-thirds in the last ten years – replaced by those concerned primarily with foreign policy and national security. Marc Ambinder has more details.

Religious Right Hopes African Americans Will Help Defeat Hate Crimes Bill

Bishop Harry Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition ran an ad in the D.C. newspaper Roll Call last week to oppose the Hate Crimes Prevention Act under consideration in Congress. Raising the tired right-wing canard that “prosecutors and anti-Christian groups will use loop holes in this proposed legislation to muzzle the church,” the ad sought to drive a wedge between blacks, who are covered by federal hate-crimes law now, and gays, who seek the same protection against violent crime motivated by hatred:

High Impact Leadership Coalition ad in Roll Call

We are African Americans, though we represent thousands of Christian leaders of all races. We understand more clearly than most that racially motivated violence can be a form of internal terrorism.

The Black community needs a free pulpit. Indeed, ALL Americans need free pulpits.

(View a higher-resolution PDF of the ad.)

As PFAW has explained – the Hate Crimes Prevention Act only addresses violent crimes causing “bodily injury” – not speech, not preaching. Nevertheless, Jackson claims that the bill, backed by “the evil one,” will “shut [the church] down.”

Jackson has been a frequent ally of the Religious Right, especially in efforts to combat equal rights for gays – he wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic.” He wants black churches to end their acceptance of gay members. The D.C.-area pastor has often claimed that African Americans are at home on the far Right, from opposing “tax-and-spend policies directed at the poor” to focusing the church on abortion and gays, and he’s also urged blacks to vote for Republicans such a George Bush, whom he endorsed in 2004.

Jackson has also leant his support to right-wing efforts to push Bush’s extreme judicial nominees. At “Justice Sunday II,” a televised rally put on by the Family Research Council, Jackson explained that, because the law targets blacks unfairly, he supports right-wing judges, who will ensure “that justice will be administrated without partiality.”

Several other names on the ad are familiar from religious-right events. Herb Lusk hosted “Justice Sunday III” at his Philadelphia church. Bill Owens started a group called the Coalition of African American Pastors that emerged to support the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Ken Hutcherson rallied with James Dobson for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution – just before the 2004 election.

DeLay Loves Gingrich, He Loves Him Not

In his recent book "No Retreat, No Surrender,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about Newt Gingrich:

DeLay admits that the Republican leaders empowered by the 1994 elections -- comprising himself as majority whip, Gingrich as speaker and Armey as majority leader -- "were not a cohesive team, and this hindered our ability to change the nation." He puts most blame "at Newt Gingrich's door."

In describing Gingrich as an "ineffective Speaker," DeLay writes: "He knew nothing about running meetings and nothing about driving an agenda." He adds: "Nearly every other day he had a new agenda, a new direction he wanted us to take. It was impossible to follow him."

DeLay also declares that "our leadership was in no moral shape to press" for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Writing well before Gingrich's admission for the first time last week, DeLay asserts: "It is now public knowledge that Newt Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer during the entire impeachment crisis. Clearly, men with such secrets are not likely to sound a high moral tone at a moment of national crisis."

It is not particularly surprising that DeLay would criticize Gingrich in this manner – he did, after all, seek to topple Gingrich from his position as House Speaker back in 1997 in a coup that failed miserably.

But apparently that decade-old betrayal, as well as the recent attacks contained in his book, are mere bygones – at least for DeLay, who is suddenly heaping praise on Gingrich:  

Whatever else can be said of Newt Gingrich, he is not a typical politician.

He applies to public policy a knowledge of history that is simply unmatched in professional politics today. It's cliché to say someone's brain is like a sponge, but in Gingrich's case it applies doubly so -- not only does he absorb and retain almost every piece of information he encounters, but he can, with the slightest squeeze, blurt it back out at you in a different way from which it came in.

He's the closest real-world comparison to the "West Wing's" President Josiah Bartlet -- quirky, unpredictable and almost impossibly brilliant.

His presence in a debate up against the trite, over-rehearsed pabulum of his opponents will quickly propel him to the top tier of the field. I think he'll be a fantastic presidential candidate; he'll run circles around the other guys in the debates (and it's a deep Republican field, remember).

DeLay even desperately attempts to recast his own criticisms of Gingrich as strengths. Whereas just months ago, DeLay said Gingrich was so incompetent that he couldn’t run a meeting or drive an agenda, it turns out that Gingrich’s real problem was that he was just too brilliant:

[His] hyperkinetic brain of his generated more ideas than the Republican conference could manage at once. Sometimes Newt's Next Big Idea would change three times in a week. They'd all be brilliant, they'd usually be good, but the unpredictability left many Republicans unsure as to where he was leading us.

With Gingrich toying with the idea of his own presidential run, it sure seems as if DeLay is trying to get on his good side, maybe in hopes of getting a plum job with his administration.  Or maybe he’s just trying to lay the groundwork in case he ever needs a pardon

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republicans Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 11/09/2010, 1:08pm
Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our fourth candidate profile is on Florida's Allen West: In one of the Tea Party’s biggest victories, Florida’s Allen West defeated incumbent Democrat Ron Klein in a rematch of their 2008 race. West, an Army veteran, became a YouTube sensation by criticizing “this tyrannical government” and crying out: “if you’re here to stand up to get your musket, to fix your bayonet, and to charge into the ranks, you are my brother and... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 11/09/2010, 10:54am
Jim DeMint Far-Right: Radio talkshow host Michael Savage wants DeMint to run (NewsMax, 11/8). Book: Authors new book, “The Great American Awakening” (PoliticalWire, 11/8). Mike Huckabee Religious Right: Marquee speaker for Iowa Family Policy Center event (IDA, 11/8). Alaska: Solicits help for Joe Miller’s legal effort (TPMDC, 11/6). Sarah Palin GOP: Congressman blames Palin for Senate losses (The Hill, 11/8). Economy: Plans to criticize Fed Reserve at trade convention (LA Times, 11/8). George Pataki Palin: Stresses his own political experience over Palin’s... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/08/2010, 6:41pm
The audio from last week's conference call with Jim Garlow, Newt Gingrich, and David Barton has been posted online. What kind of criminal uses someone else's credit card to donate $4000 to John Hagee? Mike Pence will decide if he is going to run for President early next year. Dutch Sheets and Lance Wallnau are launching a "Congress on Reformation." Larry Klayman credits WorldNetDaily and Fox News for the Republicans' electoral victories. Finally, did you know that the Big Bang was created by God just like fireworks were created by man? MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 11/08/2010, 5:40pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our third candidate profile is Mississippi state senator and self-described “crusader” Alan Nunnelee. Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers was a prime target for the GOP the moment he took office after a special election in May, 2008 in a seat that Republicans had held for 14 years. One of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Childers opposed health care reform and abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted with his party less often than... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/08/2010, 11:58am
Every time the Republicans lose in national elections, we see all sorts of articles about how this signals the end of the Religious Right ... articles which are the followed up some time later with other articles noting the sudden "resurgence" of the Religious Right. On the flip-side, whenever Republicans win national elections, we see columns like this one from Ed Messe crowing that the conservative movement is now unified and ready to remake America: The conservative movement won a resounding victory Tuesday. Not only did many conservative candidates win, the American people... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 11/05/2010, 12:53pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our second candidate profile is on a hero to Idaho's Religious Right and Tea Party movements, Raul Labrador: In the Republican primary to see who would face off against Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, Raul Labrador ran to the right of his very conservative opponent who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and the NRCC. Labrador rallied support from Religious Right and Tea Party groups in order to upset Republican Vaughn Ward, whose campaign imploded, and he went on to... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 5:36pm
Gary Bauer is very excited by the idea of Chris Christie running for president in 2012. Um ... who cares what Peter LaBarbera has to say on the issue of gerrymandering? Are we back to this already? So it's having a candidate that is good at selling a message that wins elections?  Wow, thanks for that brilliant insight. You have got to love that Randall Terry is looking for candidates in 2012 "who will show aborted babies in their television ads." That is his sole criteria.  Brian Fischer puts the GOP on notice that they are now the enemy... MORE