Back in 2000, John McCain solidified his “maverick” reputation by lambasting the Religious Right, labeling Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell “agents of intolerance” and decrying the Right’s role within the Republican Party:
They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.
Since then, McCain has been working hard to get back in their good graces, though the Right has been openly skeptical and their support for him has been lukewarm at best. But all of that changed with his decision to name relative-unknown Sarah Palin as his running mate.
I can say without exaggeration that, in all my years of watching the Right, I have never seen them as excited about anything as they are about the Palin nomination. Nor, for that matter, have I ever seen a prominent politician more blatantly capitulate to their demands:
James Dobson, Focus on the Family: “A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.”
James Dobson: “[A]n outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base of his party.”
James Dobson: I have only endorsed one presidential candidate in my life and that was George Bush in the second term after I had watched him for four years … So I’m very reluctant to do that … But I can tell you that if I had to go into the [voting booth today], I would pull that lever.
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: “Senator McCain made an outstanding pick.”
Connie Mackey, FRCAction: “I am elated with Senator McCain’s choice.”
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel: “Absolutely brilliant choice.”
Richard Land: “Governor Palin will delight the Republican base.”
Rick Scarborough, Vision America, “I’m elated. I think it’s a superb choice.”
Ralph Reed: “They’re beyond ecstatic. This is a home run.”
Gary Bauer, American Values: “[A] grand slam home run.”
Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum: “She is the best possible choice.”
Janet Folger, Faith2Action: “[T]he selection of Sarah Palin is more than ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Electrifying!’ and ‘Energizing!’ The selection of Sarah Palin will lead to words like: ‘Rejuvenating!’ ‘Victory!’ and ‘Landslide!’”
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America: “Governor Palin will change the dynamics of the entire presidential race.”
Janice Shaw Crouse, CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute: “She is an outstanding woman who will be an excellent role model for the nation’s young people.”
David Barton, Wallbuilders: “The talk won’t be about, ‘look at Sarah Palin’ as much as ‘look at what McCain’s choice of Palin says about McCain’s core beliefs.”
Jonathan Falwell: “John McCain made it very clear that his administration was going to be a pro-life administration, and he proved that’s his belief and his passion today with the choice of Sarah Palin.”
Jerry Falwell, Jr.: “I think it’s a brilliant choice.”
Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life: “And then when [Palin] was announced — it was like you couldn’t breathe. [We] were grabbing each other and jumping up and down.”
Gary Marx, Judicial Confirmation Network: “I can tell you that this pick tells millions in the base of the party that they can trust McCain. More specifically that they can trust him with Supreme Court picks and other key appointments’”
David Keene, American Conservative Union: “The selection of Governor Palin is great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country. I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket.”
In eight years, John McCain has gone from attacking the Right’s “corrupting influences on religion and politics” to answering James Dobson’s prayers. Absolutely remarkable.