Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Sharks Are Circling

They smell blood in the water and are getting into attack position. Religion has become a hot topic all of a sudden. Everyone is writing about it.
The Rove Da Vinci Code - New York Times: "But for all these betrayals, Dr. Dobson and Company won't desert the Republicans come Election Day. If Mr. Rove steps up his usual gay-baiting late in the campaign, as is his wont, maybe the turnout of those on the hard-core right will eke out a victory for the party that double-crossed them not just on cultural issues but also on secular conservative principles (like fiscal responsibility and immigration-law enforcement). If so, they'll promptly be Da Vinci'd yet again. A Republican retreat on stem-cell research is already under way. If there's electoral fallout from the South Dakota Legislature's Draconian abortion ban — the Republican governor's job-approval rating fell from 72 percent to 58 percent in a single month after he signed it — the pro-life checklist in Congress will suffer as well.

Whatever happens in November, the good news is that the religious right leaders most stroked by Mr. Rove, many of them past 70, may no longer command such large blocs of voters anyway. As Amy Sullivan writes in the latest New Republic, Mr. Rove has reason to worry about 'another group of evangelicals: the nearly 40 percent who identify themselves as politically moderate and who are just as likely to get energized about AIDS in Africa or melting ice caps as partial-birth abortion and lesbian couples in Massachusetts.' The bad news is that no sooner does the religious-right base show signs of cracking in a youthquake than the Democrats trot out their own doomed Da Vinci strategy.

This idiocy began the morning after Election Day 2004, when a vaguely worded exit-poll question persuaded credulous party leaders that 'moral values' determined their defeat (as opposed to, say, their standard-bearer's campaign). Their immediate response was to seek out faith-based consultants not unlike those recruited by Sony, and practice dropping the word 'values' and biblical quotations into their public pronouncements. In the House, they organized, heaven help us, a Democratic Faith Working Group."
And having pretty much the same reaction. My favorite part was the end. Great snark.
But that hypothetical, easily duped voter may no longer exist. Like the Bush era, the cynical Rove strategy of exploiting faith-based voters may be nearing its end. For proof, just take a look at the most craven figure in American politics: the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist. To flatter the far right, this Harvard-trained surgeon misdiagnosed Terri Schiavo's vegetative state from the Senate floor, and justified abstinence-only sex education in AIDS prevention by telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he didn't know for certain that tears and sweat couldn't transmit H.I.V. But increasingly it's not only liberals who see through him. One of his latest stunts, a proposed $100 gas-tax rebate, provoked Rush Limbaugh to condemn him for "treating us like we're a bunch of whores."

When senators as different as Mr. Frist and Mrs. Clinton both earn bipartisan ridicule for their pandering, you have to believe that there's a god other than Karl Rove watching over American politics after all.
Why wasn't anybody concerned a year ago? Two, four or six years ago? Isn't one of the Ten Commandments "not to take his name in vain"? That doesn't just mean cussing, it means using it and not meaning it. Religion is a personal issue and should be about how you live your life, not how you can force everyone to meet your rules. The Amish keep to themselves, why not the religious right?

Frank Rich continues to point out the inconsistencies, but telling me the boat is sinking when my feet are already wet really doesn't help. Could we move a little faster before this country sinks under it's own weight?

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