Monday, October 16, 2006

The GOP and the religious right

By Heraclitus

Following on Michael's earlier post about David Kuo's new book (and following also, of course, on all the other coverage it's gotten), I add the following two cents, inspired largely by this post by Amanda at Pandagon. I can't help but think that all of this is going to greatly strengthen the hand of the religious right in the Republican Party. If, as people seem increasingly confident predicting (note that it's all Stickings), the Democrats score a significant victory in these midterm elections, and the religious right sits out the election because they feel betrayed and insulted by the GOP leadership, I expect that this circumstance will be the most common explanation of the Republican loss. It will look like a replay of 1992, when Bush the Elder lost because "the base" either stayed home or voted Perot. W. learned the lesson, and bent over backwards to appeal to or appease that base, hiring Karl Rove, speaking at Bob Jones "University," dropping religious-right codewords all over the place, and generally running the Bible-thumpin'est primary campaign ever. If I were a member of the religious right, I would view Kuo's book as, well, a Godsend.

Granted, it's looked for a while, at least to some people, as if much of the country has been "trending" Democratic or blue. Less optimistically, the Republicans have been shooting themselves in the foot, with ever larger guns, for some time now. It may well be that the Republicans would have lost in any case, or that the religious right would have been turned off by things like Foleygate even without Kuo's book. But, to be perfectly honest, if I were a Republican strategist, I wouldn't bet on any of that. I wouldn't even consider it for more than a few seconds. Unfortunate for those of us who don't much care for the religious right's agenda, but I think those are simply the facts.

And this raises the question of whether this book was designed to do just this, to torpedo the Republicans' campaign so as to teach them once and for all who their daddy is (and yes, I meant for that to sound as creepy as possible). To be honest, I don't see Kuo as being that kind of hard-boiled politico. Based on the quotes I've read, I actually find his
naïveté touching. There's this explanation for why he wrote the book, for instance (these quotes are taken from this post by Pam Spaulding, also at Pandagon):

“I have this burden on my heart that the name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics. I felt like I had to write this…People are being manipulated. Good well-meaning people are being told, ‘Send your money to this Christian advocacy group or that.’ And that’s the answer. It’s just not the answer. It’s not the answer.”

It turns out that the GOP power-brokers in Washington have nothing but contempt for the hicks back in the Bible belt who put them into power (and who will end up paying for so much of their tax-cut-and-spend class warfare). You have to be a little amazed at Kuo's amazement, but it seems genuine. Even more touching, in my opinion, is his apparent guilelessness regarding the true concerns of his allies on the religious right.

Part of the problem, he says, was indifference from “the base,” the religious right. He took 60 Minutes to a convention of evangelical groups – his old stomping ground - and walked around the display booths, looking for any reference to the poor.

You’ve got homosexuality in your kid’s school, and you’ve got human cloning, and partial birth abortion and divorce and stem cell,” Kuo remarked. “Not a mention of the poor.”

This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda - as if this culture war is a war for God. And it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics. And that’s a huge difference,” says Kuo.

Reading this, I can only think of the words of the Athenian ambassadors to the Melians, "We bless your innocence, but do not envy your simplicity." David Kuo seems like a genuine Christian, someone more concerned with living the Beatitudes than with grabbing as much political and economic power as possible, but it's unfortunate that his book will most likely aid those very allies he has repudiated in the name of God.

Bookmark and Share


  • Yeah, but it's always me quoting or citing other people. I wouldn't want to go too far out on a limb and predict anything myself. I've been disappointed too often in recent elections.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 4:17 PM  

  • If the WH has set realistic goals for the Faith Based initiative and honored those goals. There would have been no book for this young man to write.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:30 PM  

  • Just came across your interesting posting and have a thought --I'm not as convinced of Kuo's naivete as you indicate. Please recall Kuo's background (an odd one-year stint with CIA and bona fides as a GOP Chrisitan conservative operative, most especially his relationship with Ralph Reed--Kuo ghosted Ralph's book ACTIVE FAITH and then joined Ralph's lobbying firm Century Strategies, back in 1997 when Karl Rove parked Ralph with Enron to keep the lad flush while working the runup to GWB's run for President in 2000. This covering the period Reed & Century went to work with Jack Abramoff. Such connections gave Kuo entree to Bush via Karl back in the Austin days. The man is no feckless wren in the garden.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:26 PM  

  • Hi, mreyn, thanks for reading. I actually thought, as I read the various quotes from Kuo, that he couldn't sound more like an honestly aggrieved Christian if he tried. Although I do tend to give him the benefit of the doubt, you're certianly right that there is room for scepticism, especially given the facts you mention.

    By Blogger ., at 6:39 PM  

  • My thoughts on the Godbots:

    People who believe that the earth was made in 7 days and that Rapture is coming will believe anything, including that Bush is a true Christian.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 PM  

  • Godbots. I love that.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home