Back in 2006, right around the time Republicans were losing control of both the House and Senate, a minor conflict erupted between the economic and social conservative wings of the GOP’s base. It began when Dick Armey lashed out at James Dobson and his allies in the Religious Right, saying that “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies” and that “being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid.”
Dobson didn’t bother to respond personally at the time, but Focus on the Family responded with an article in which members of Congress defended Dobson and bad-mouthed Armey. Then Armey responded with a column calling Dobson a power-hungry egomaniac, and Focus on the Family responded with another article featuring proxies criticizing Armey and praising Dobson. Eventually Dobson felt compelled to speak up for himself, penning a column entitled “Mr. Armey, You’ve Become a Bitter Man,” that basically accused Armey of selling out and trying to make a name for himself, to which Armey quickly replied with his own accusations that Dobson and his ilk were harming the conservative movement with their incessant harping and ill-informed statements.
And then it ended.
Now, two years later, it looks like another feud may be brewing – not between the differing factions of the GOP’s base represented by Dobson and Armey, but between two allies in the social conservative movement: Dobson and World Magazine.
Earlier this week, Alisa Harris wrote a post from World’s blog entitled “Religious Right Flip-Flops” that chronicled Dobson’s constantly-shifting pronouncements on the upcoming election:
Baffling, but Christian Right guru James Dobson has flip-flopped, too [see Focus response below]. First, Dobson said he would vote for a third party candidate if neither party nominated “an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life.” Then Dobson said he would vote for (but not endorse) either Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. After Romney dropped out, Dobson endorsed Huckabee — too late to make a difference.
The GOP nominated a candidate with an unimpeachable pro-life voting record, but Dobson still isn’t happy. He backed off his threat to vote third party and said he wouldn’t vote at all this November. Then he changed his mind and said he will vote, despite the fact that McCain supports embryonic stem cell research.
In what is becoming standard operating procedure for Dobson, he did not respond personally to the insinuation that he is being a hypocrite, but instead dispatched Focus on the Family Vice President Gary Schneeberger to defend his honor:
Dr. Dobson has spent 35 years “in the arena,” as Theodore Roosevelt said, defending the value of all human life and the importance of traditional marriage as a building block of society. He’s taken his fair share of hits from the media (even the Christian media, including World) for the stands he’s taken. Those positions spring not from expediency, but from conscience and principle. It is an honor to serve such a man, because he is the antithesis of a flip-flopper. He is guided by deeply held biblical convictions — and is unafraid to defend his beliefs against those who would mock or misrepresent them.
It remains to be seen if this will escalate into a Dobson/Armey-like tiff, and that probably depends on whether or not World tries to defend itself (and surely, they are aware of what happens to those who dare to criticize Dobson.)