Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • Wisdom, Imprinted Agendas, Presidential Politics and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:00 am, November 30th 2009     &mdash      4 Comments »

    If you do not know who G.K. Chesterton is, you should. He is the greatest British popularizer of Christian faith, save perhaps for C.S. Lewis.  Chesterton’s writings are a source of great wisdom and quotations.  Speaking of which, I recently ran across this one from his book What’s Wrong With The World (p 22-23):

    It’s not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay a difference of creed unites men—so long as it is a clear difference. . . .  So a Tory can walk up to the very edge of Socialism if he knows what Socialism is. But if he is told that Socialism is a spirit, a sublime atmosphere, a noble indefinable tendency, why then he keeps out of its way; and quite right too. One can meet an assertion with an argument; but a healthy bigotry is the only way in which one can meet a tendency.

    As I reprinted that, it dawns on my that my Mormon readers may take exception to the appearance of the word “creed” and presume I am about to take a swipe at the Mormon lack thereof.  Not at all the case.  My intention in presenting this quotation is to point out that the source of much of the distrust between some Creedals and Mormons is because those Creedals have so little firm understanding of what they believe.  Because their faith has been reduced to a label or brand of some sort, they must defend territory instead of argue reasonably.   That, frankly is why I started with this blog – I knew that prejudice against Mitt Romney was a sign of the decline of my faith and I hope that by fighting it, my faith can be preserved.

    Unfortunately, those same people are pretty much the same way about the G.O.P.  Jon Meacham offered a pretty radical solution to that problem over the long weekend – nominate Dick Cheney for president.  Cheney is a great guy and a good man and would frankly make an outstanding president, but the idea is radical because he is more polarizing than Sarah Palin and therefore unelectable; and because as best as I understand it, he would be running serious personal risk given his various health maladies – something I would not ask any candidate to do no matter how good they are.

    But alas, I think we are in for more stuff like this . . .

    The Manhattan Declaration

    Last week saw the release of “The Manhattan Declaration.“  This is a statement of political principles and priorities, signed by almost all of the biggest names in Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical circles, as a joint statement of where we will draw the line on the key social issues of our time.  It’s a marvelous document and you may join the signers online — we urge you to.  As William Murchinson pointed out, it is sad and surprising that such a document is necessary in the United States of America.  But it certainly is something everyone seems to hang their agenda upon.

    Interestingly, as was pointed out by the biggest anti-Mormon loudmouth on the left in California (think Prop 8.) it has no Mormon signatories.  You would think that the fact that such a leftie loudmouth was pointing that out would be a clue that someone wanted to drive a wedge between Mormons and the rest of the Christian religious right – to the detriment of the concerns expressed in the declaration.  But some people just cannot help themselves, I guess.

    Based largely on the fact that the PR for the declaration is being handled by our friend Mark DeMoss’ (a prominent evangelical Romney backer last time around) firm, a number of what can only be described as the right’s very own nutroots have decided, despite the lack of Mormon participation, that the whole thing is a “front” for a Romney candidacy.  Consider this guythis guythis guy and this thread at Free Republic.  This in spite of the fact that David Frum thinks the thing is exclusionary for Romney.  (Frum’s comment must have been written under the influence of too much Thanksgiving cheer and with little thought – see my comments below Lowell’s)

    The claim that it is a front for Romney is so nonsensical that I am not entirely sure where to put a stake in to start arguing about it.  The holiday weekend has put a damper on things a bit, but we have put out a number of phone calls to contacts, many of whom were instrumental in the drafting of the document, or are major signatories.  I doubt seriously that a Romney candidacy even entered into the discussion, but we’ll confirm it.  As to DeMoss’ participation, that’s just silly.  If you want PR in the circles this thing is aimed at, you call Mark DeMoss – he’s the man in that area, it is no more complex than that.

    Oh, one more thing before we move on for now.  Many of the prominent signatories are people that we named as “bad actors” on the right in our summary of campaign ’08 series, most notably Joel Belz who wrote the only truly bigoted piece from the right through the entire campaign.

    Once we have heard from our contacts, we’ll likely put this thing to bed as the nut cases getting lose, but until then we’ll keep an eye peeled.

    Meanwhile, There Is An “Invisible Primary” Going On…

    Sarah Palin’s “anointing” is complete.  Yeah, she met Billy Graham.  Now here is what I am thinking about this.  Graham does not do candidates, has not since Nixon made him look the fool.  Even in his doddering years, Graham has not lost control of his faculties.  He did not “endorse” Palin in any way, but he is not seeing many people in his latter years either, so a lot of people are going to read this as his “endorsement.”  I think the opposite – I think for him to do this, he had assurances she was not going to run.  Just one man’s educated guess.

    But I think her book tour success explains this:

    MIKE HUCKABEE, on “Fox News Sunday,” told Chris Wallace that a 2012 presidential bid is “less than likely,” and depends on whether Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News, keeps liking his eponymous weekend talk show. “The reason I wouldn’t is that this Fox gig I’ve got is really wonderful, ” Huckabee said.

    Pawlenty is having a hard time finding political oxygen.  Heck in some circles with Palin’s book tour going on, even Obama is having a hard time finding political air.  But this idea, that Pawlenty wins by being “least offensive,” completely misreads the base at the moment.  That was last election and the base is just too angry for it to happen again.

    Finally, Romney is not polling that well at the moment.  I chalk it up to his actually, you know, working hard to elect other Republicans instead of posturing like Huckabee and media-grabbing like Palin.  Way, way too long until this gets serious to worry about it anyway.

    Is The Catholic Church . . .

    calling the shots in Washington? — Or Not?  Of course not – what they are doing is what they think is best on an issue-by-issue basis.  That’s the traditional stance for religious organizations in general, but I am beginning to wonder if they ought not get deeper.  In the end its the candidates that matter.  Should the church, any church, endorse?  Worthy of discussion as we move forward here.

    Lowell chiming in . . .

    I was wondering why the Manhattan Declaration included only Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox signatories, but we have an answer to that question.  In response to a direct question from Hugh Hewitt during Hugh’s show Monday, Nov. 23,  Chuck Colson said that the Declaration’s drafters did not invite Mormons or Jews to join in their efforts because of the doctrinal differences between those faiths and Creedal Christianity.  (No transcript available yet; the pod cast is here; subscription is required.)  The drafters, Colson said, knew that the Mormons and Jews could not sign the Declaration because of those differences, and did not want to “embarrass” them by inviting them to sign.  Having read the declaration, I see Colson’s point: at the beginning the document makes clear that the signers are trinitarian.  Neither Mormons nor Jews could ever sign, as much as they might agree with 95% of what the Manhattan Declaration says.  In short, its drafters decided that the Declaration needed to be a highly doctrinal statement.

    We are still learning about the Declaration, so I will reserve judgment on the question of whether it should have been broader-based.  Politically, having made it broader would have made all the sense in the world; but if a doctrinal statement was intended, then I see nothing exclusionary or conspiratorial about leaving non-Creedals out.

    John responds briefly: There is a group, particularly inside Evangelicalism, that thinks everything is doctrine.  They are a large part of the “take their ball and go home” contingent amongst the religiously motivated on the political right.

    Last cycle we saw a number of people get stuck on making sure we all knew the doctrinal distinctions with Mormons, Jews, and for some even Catholics, seemingly in preparation of saying “Mormons are cool politically; however,”  Although, that discussion never got off square one when Huckabee entered the picture.  My guess is trying to build a political coalition while delineating the doctrinal differences is what is at root here – making this only step one.  Regardless of a Romney candidacy or not, in the end, conservative Mormons and Jews have to a be part of the coalition for us to succeed, as Prop 8 so clearly demonstrated.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this all, in the end, plays out.  It may be that the “doctrine is everything” crowd will ally with Mormons only in a way analogous to how we allied with Stalin in  WWII.   We can do better because when it comes to politics, I do not think we need to be that distrusting of Mormons, but maybe it’s a “baby steps” thing.


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    Huck v Palin, The Left Can’t Take A Joke, Giuliani – All This and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:45 am, November 23rd 2009     &mdash      4 Comments »

    There is an amazing amount of news given that it is not even the end of the first year of the current president’s term, but also that it is just days until a huge holiday.  That said, there is so much it is tough to decide what to lead with, but we cannot resist the temptation . . .

    Huck v Palin

    Remember last week when we brought up a press release from one of the right-to-life groups assailing Palin’s pro-life bona fides?  Well, a blogger has identified the RTL group as Huck hawks.  And, when questioned, he got more evidence.  Prior to press time here, a debate over this question had broken out at another site -  examples here and here.

    There is a bottom line to all this – there may be no direct connection between Huckabee and those bad actors, or there may be, I have no idea – but Huckabee has relied upon and encouraged through a lack of admonition the tactics, slanders and viciousness of these groups.  As is pointed out above, his website links to them.  Like the comments on his old campaign site, it is what Huckabee does not do that is at issue here.

    Consider this:  Our current president has no direct ties to the Code Pink, Daily Kos wacko wing of the left.  But, during the campaign, he never chided them and their over-the-top antics either – he talked about bridges and “reaching out.”  Now he governs like he is from them, almost directly.

    Huckabee needs to repudiate these kinds of tactics if they are done on his behalf.  It is a matter of simple decency.

    The Left Cannot Take A Joke

    Admittedly, it is a joke that is in less than good taste, even if it does produce an initial chortle, but people like this really need to relax a little.  In case you don’t know what I am referring to, look up Psalm 109:8 and think Obama.  What is truly bothersome is that the left used rhetoric regarding Bush that was far more pointed and “threatening” than what they are all exercised about here.

    Political rhetoric has gotten out of hand, and civility is called for, but the left is clearly setting up for censorship here.  They really need to get over themselves.

    Giuliani . . .

    . . . Looks like he is going to run for Senate, not Governor of NY.  That’s great news, it puts the Dems in Congress on notice that they are making themselves vulnerable with their current actions, not to mention Rudy would make a fine Senator.

    However, this has led to a bunch of speculation that:

    Giuliani could use a Senate seat as a stepping stone to run for President in 2012 – rather than run for re-election to the Senate.

    Nah!  He blew it too badly last time.  Not to mention it was a self-inflicted wound.  Voters don’t usually give a second chance after something like that.

    But Really, It Has Continued To Be All Palin All The Time

    CNN looks at the question of whether she is after office or just making money.  That’s the right question to ask, but for the record, there is nothing wrong with making money – unless she sucks all the air out of the room for the serious politicians.  No danger of that yet, it’s too early.

    Politico reports on the fact that the Republican Governor’s Association is in a bit of a quandary about what she’s up to and how to react to her.   CNN looked at the same thing, with a tighter focus on the recent gubernatorial races.

    Chris Cillizza did the number of Palin’s book tours.  He points out that even if she is just after a career, she is doing reasonable politics.

    Of course, people also used the Palin blitz as an excuse to look even deeper.  Cal Thomas thinks she needs to study up a little, but that she has some formidable skills, and wonders what those skills portend for the future of the GOP.

    And Rod Dreher thinks most of us just do not get it – Palin or anyone else.  But then that is Dreher, and a significant bunch of younger religious conservatives.

    And before we leave the 2012 hopefuls completely behind us, our favorite wrote a great op-ed last week.

    But Speaking Of The Future Of The GOP:

    A recent survey shows:

    . . . most Republicans would rather see candidates who would have a poor chance of winning election as long as they agree with them on issues.

    That’s a huge problem if it holds.  One cannot build a coalition that way, and coalitions are how we win; how either party wins.  I am ashamed to say this, but much of the blame for that lies with Evangelicals.  In our community, as this blog’s audience knows, doctrine defines faith, doctrine defines what it means to be “a Christian.”  Therefore, doctrine must define politics as well – at least that’s how the thinking goes.  When you combine that with the fear that as Christians we are being victimized (see Cal Thomas above for more on this – it’s good stuff) and you can see the desire for a sort of political martyrdom to emerge.

    What’s sad is that such fails to realize that in America there is no need for martyrdom.  In America, our political process allows us to change things without such drastic measures.  It can be hard, hard work, but we can do it.  And as people of faith, we have a secret weapon – our faith is the best instrument available to change people’s minds if only we will use it as such.  You want to eliminate abortion – don’t worry about the law, worry about evangelism.  You convert enough people, and in America, the law will take care of itself.

    And speaking of serious politics, consider this from CNN:

    Representatives from some of the top 2008 GOP presidential campaigns gathered in Washington, D.C. Thursday to urge the Republican National Committee to lock in a 2012 primary calendar as early as possible to avoid the confusion that dogged the early stages of last year’s nomination contest. One campaign manager took his recommendations a step further and suggested ending the traditional first-in-the-nation statuses of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

    An RNC panel headed by party chairman Michael Steele invited the campaigns to share their views as it considers numerous possible changes to the process the party will use to nominate a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

    Something has to break here.  The ideological tendencies we just discussed are regionalized, and changing the primary schedule would reduce some of the regional influence and allow us to better build the coalition we need, regardless of who the candidate is.

    Religion at “War”

    As reported in the NY Times and the Washington Times:

    More than 150 leaders across a spectrum of conservative Christianity on Friday released a 4,700-word document vowing civil disobedience if they are forced to take part in “anti-life acts” or bless gay marriages.

    Called the “Manhattan Declaration,” the six-page, single-spaced document was drafted by Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, an evangelical, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George, a Roman Catholic, and included a bevy of Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox bishops, archbishops and cardinals as signatories along with dozens of clergy and laity.

    Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl is one of the signatories.

    “Throughout the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required,” says the document which cited civil rights icon Martin Luther King and his willingness to go to jail for his beliefs.

    This is to be applauded – this is not lying down and accepting martyrdom, like we looked at in the preceding section – this is using an effective political tool to change American politics.  It is also a particularly effective tool in this instance given the citation of its originator in the U.S. and our current President.  Note that it is also very specific.  This tactic has to be carefully targeted to be useful.

    “War” In Religion

    Phillip Yancey is a bit left for my taste, but this is good and it speaks for itself.

    And here is a guy we need to interview on the whole Mormon question thing.

    “War” on Religion

    Australia and Scientology.  I have always thought Scientology was a business hiding behind religious tax exemption laws, but that is easy to say and very difficult to parse legally.  I find the belief/behavior distinction in this piece a great place to start, and it is one Mormons should be more than passingly familiar with.

    Finally, more on “Christians caused the crash.“  Thankfully, I have not seen the story get much traction.

    Some added thoughts from Lowell . . .

    Well, Huck does seem to have a problem repudiating the unsavory acts and statements of his backers, which says much about both the man and many of his people.  About Huck, it says that he is . . . well, cowardly.  About his core followers, Huck’s “repudiation problem” shows that they are an unforgiving lot and he must toe the line or risk losing their ardent support. It doesn’t make the man seem very secure in his position at the head of that pack, does it? Then again, few politicians are.

    As for Rudy, I think he’s a better executive than a legislator, but having him in the Senate means one less Democrat there, which is important when they have a 60-vote majority.

    Sarah Palin:  What are we going to do with Governor Palin?  I think Dreher nails it:

    [S]he is so far from being capable of being president of the United States it’s not even funny. I know, I know, this isn’t news, but you’d think that if there was anything more to her in terms of intellectual seriousness and judgment than we saw last fall, she’d have brought it out in a memoir she had most of a year to write with the help of a professional writer. But there’s no there there. I’m not saying she’s a bad person — I don’t believe she’s a bad person at all — but I am saying she’s not a credible national political leader.

    I don’t mean to pile on.  Gov. Palin is an exciting, admirable and likable conservative politician.  The Left’s and the MSM’s reaction to her is primarily because of that, not because of faults in Palin.  She’s just not quite ready for prime time and probably won’t be.  As a Romney fan, I do hope he develops at least some of Palin’s ability to connect with an audience.

    John links above to a Deseret News article about Noah Feldman’s speech at BYU last week.  I found these paragraphs, about how Romney’s religious challenge was different from John Kennedy’s in 1960, compelling:

    . . . Feldman said Romney also had to address the issue of religion; however, because Romney wanted to appeal to values-based voters, he couldn’t, like JFK, say that religion was irrelevant in his public life.

    Romney declared his belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God but declined to discuss his LDS religion further, saying it would be a violation of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for public service eligibility.

    “The question (is) what alternatives (are there), either for Mitt Romney or for other politicians in the future who find themselves in a similar position of believing … that religion does matter in the public sphere?” Feldman asked.

    One answer is to increase awareness and religious understanding by engaging in the study of comparative religion, Feldman said. Such study requires members of a religion to momentarily set aside their beliefs and look for common, uniting bonds among belief systems.

    Although there may be some not ready or willing to do that, BYU and universities in general constitute an “unbelievable resource for generating conversation, and therefore generating certain kinds of change,” Feldman said. “People talking is crucial. So don’t wait. If you wait, it won’t happen.”

    (Emphasis added.)  The bolded language above summarizes exactly what this humble blog has been trying to do for over 3.5 years.  We’ll keep at it.  And yes, there is an interview with Noah Feldman in our future.


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    How Come No One Mentions Sarah Palin’s Faith?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:31 am, November 19th 2009     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Have you noticed, he asked tongue-in-cheek, that Sarah Palin’s book came out this week?  Haven’t seen a media blitz like this since Michael Jackson kicked the bucket.  And yet, in all the coverage there is little or no mention of her faith.  Well, there is one exception – this gang put out a press release questioning her pro-life credentials.  (I must also note that I saw her on Hannity last night and she talked like a Sunday School teacher. – more on that in a second) )And their claim to credibility is that they are responsible for “derailing” Romney.  It’s all about some internal fights in the various right-to-life organizations, and it points out the biggest problem inside religiously motivated conservatives today:  We take our infighting public.  We can’t find a news outlet that has picked up the press release, but you can bet someone on the left will when it works for them.  *SIGH*

    I’m hoping this stuff, which is all part-and-parcel of rebuilding the Republican party, gets a little more civil and soon.  Rod Dreher had an interesting comment on the fact that the infighting is leaving Joe Average Conservative a bit out in the cold.  There are some exaggerations in what he quotes and says, but I think there is something to the central idea.  Most people have little patience for this posturing, preening and deciding who is, and is not, “genuine.”  They just want a party that can clean up the mess that is rapidly gathering in the nation, courtesy the current administration.

    But back to the great Palin media blitz.  She says the POTUS job is “not on my radar screen.”  Yes, she leaves herself wiggle room in the rest of the statement, but those are strong words.  All the possibles are “focused on 2010″ but most will admit to “keeping their options open,” or some such formulation.  My problem is there is so little of political substance to the current media blitz, and her complete immersion in “evango-speak” on Hannity last night,  that it apparent the presidency is indeed, far off the radar.

    That said, Jim Geraghty thinks a media career would be wasting her talents.

    There’s a role for everybody in this world, but we’re at a moment where conservatism needs its best players reaching out to audiences beyond the friendly confines of the talk radio world or Fox News. Yes, Fox News has the largest audience of any cable news network – 2.7 million in prime time, while MSNBC’s second place is only 962,000. But the cable news audience is only a small portion of the audience as a whole; the nightly news audience recently measured from 6.3 million (Brian Williams) to 4.6 million (Katie Couric). Fox News is a treasure, but there’s a large audience beyond it that much more rarely encounters conservative ideas or perspectives.

    That is a heck of a point, and while her ability, at the moment, to command attention is enormous, does that alone make her one of our “best players?”  I’d like to see some substance here.  This little tidbit, obviously from the left, makes the point to an extent.  Romney is out there doing real stuff of substance, but he cannot catch much media at the moment.  Frankly, that’s fine at this stage of the game, what’s interesting is the author is at the old “two-fer” game, he manages to make Palin look silly and Romney petulant all in one bit of baseless speculation.

    Which is the real problem with media blitzes like the one Palin is currently on – they not only distract, but provide the other side with ammo to use against the more serious – which gets us back, obliquely, to Dreher and Geraghty’s point, the line between media and politics is becoming far more blurred than the line between religion and politics.  And given that media and religion are growing less distinct as well, it could get “weird.”

    Meanwhile, When It Comes To The Other Hopefuls…

    This guy is obviously a Huck fan.  It’s funny, the piece seems to proclaim Huckabee and Romney smart for how they handled NY23, but the headline is all Huckster.  Ahh, the tricks of the trade.

    And RCP, declares the list of GOP “dark horses.“  No Haley Barbour?  No Jeb Bush?  Not much of a list.

    But back to the Romney discussion we started while discussing Palin.  A leftie in England called Palin “Romney’s Useful Idiot.” (Please note the quotes there – not my words.)  It is a stinging variation of the theme of Huck and Palin splitting the religious right vote giving Romney room to drive up the middle like McCain did last time when Romney and Huck split the same vote.  We talked earlier than now about that possibility, but increasingly, I just can’t see Palin running.  Remember, last time Huckabee was running on a wing and a prayer and I was getting email from his people by this point in the process.   Palin is not even that well organized, at least as a campaign.  But it does raise an interesting question of how leading candidate can capture the Palin/Tea Party energy.

    It’s not going to be easy for Romney and the epithet “Romneyesque” seems to keep rolling.  Only now they are picking it up on the right and kicking Ambinder up a notch.  In the “Telling the Story” series to date we have shown how ill-ease with Romney’s Mormon faith became “Mormons lie” which was quickly discredited as the bigotry it plainly was.  But it was out there long enough to lend a certain energy to the “flip-flop” charge, (never forget the Vanderbilt study) which in post-election analysis has been more softly crafted as “inauthentic.”  Now it has become an adjective all its own with Romney’s name attached.

    What is intriguing to me is with everyone talking about how Palin just wants to be Palin, which while bright and intelligent, is not nearly as smart as Romney (no swipe that, few are that smart, myself included).  It seems like “authenticity” is rooted in being more or less “just like me.”  Whatever happened to wanting people smarter than us to lead us?  All Romney tired to do is reach out to people and since not everyone “speaks the same language” intellectually or culturally, he is pegged as “inauthentic” for trying.  That’s just not liking Romney for some reason and grabbing at straws – which takes us back to religious suspicions.

    Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both candidates that it looked like it might be cool to hang around with.  Clinton played cop when he should have played soldier and the World Trade Center went missing.  If Obama keeps it up, Nero is going to look good.  We’re electing a leader, not a friend.  If  “Romneyesque” means “someone a lot smarter than me trying to talk to me so I’ll elect him to lead me,” then I’ll take a Romneyesque candidate.

    And speaking of Romney, this is pretty funny.

    Catholics, Abortion, and the Health Care Debate . . .

    The LATimes does a reasonable job of reporting (yes, I said it, but it’s the exception, not the rule) on the role of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops played in the Stupak Amendment efforts; while Ramesh Ponnuru points out that other news outlets were a bit less respectful.  Of course, I am guessing the LAT was trying to set up the facts for the people that Ponnuru discusses to take a swing at.

    The real problem here is that the Church legitimately exercised its right to political action (and they are doing it, thankfully, again) and  many as using the fact that it is a religion to de-legitimize that action.  That is never what was intended as separation of church and state.    The idea is for one to influence the other, but neither exercises control of the other.  It’s really not that hard to understand, yet we seem to make it so.  Which brings us to . . .

    Rick Warren

    He was spotted in Washington this week and a couple of religion beat guys noted it in their blogs – Dan Gilgoff and Chuck Raasch.  Here’s the money quote, cited in both pieces, but quoted from Gilgoff:

    “I’ve noticed that reporters would rather talk about politics than anything else,” Warren said. “I’m not a politician. If I thought politics could change people’s hearts, I’d go into government. . . . But I don’t, so I’m not. I have no political aspirations and no aspirations to even influence public policy.”

    There is a deep, deep lesson and religion and politics and how they can compliment each other in that quote.  Politics, in a democracy like ours, follows the public will.  Religion tries to change it.  And that, in the end, is how religion does politics, by changing the public will.

    Think about it . . .

    Finally . . .

    We bring you a couple of pieces on religious motivations towards evangelism and political action.  One gives us some new insight into how to motivate people to religious conviction, and the other at the changes a lack of religious conviction causes in politics because of what we looked at just above.  Food for thought.


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    A New PAC: The Kitchen Cabinet

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 11:31 am, November 17th 2009     &mdash      1 Comment »

    The Kitchen Cabinet logo

    There’s a new traditional values-oriented conservative PAC on the scene, The Kitchen Cabinet. Full disclosure: My wife, Sonja Eddings Brown, is the PAC’s founder and I am a member of its advisory board. Drop in to the web site and take a look; I think a lot of Article VI’s readers will be interested in what The Kitchen Cabinet is doing.


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    The Invisible Primary Is Getting Less Invisible, Some Philosophy and more

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:30 am, November 16th 2009     &mdash      2 Comments »

    It has to be a sign that the punditry thinks Obama is ripe for the picking when you see all the press that is being spent discussing Republican hopefuls this early in the game.  Although I have to say that this AP dispatch may be the silliest, least informative thing on the topic I have ever read.

    Of course it does not hurt that Palin’s book pre-released last week so all the pundits got to talk about it.  So Palin might as well be where we dip our toes in first.

    David Frum did the numbers and decides that a Palin candidacy is a fantasy.  He calls her “one of the most unpopular figures in American life” which is not truly fair because in some circles she is one of the most beloved.  Therefore, I think the best term would be “polarizing.”  Polarizing is great media and lousy candidacy.  A candidate unites, not divides.  That is far more important than you might think.  Back to it in a minute.

    However, Matthew Continetti notes here numbers with independents and thinks she can mount a “comeback.“  I find his choice of words fascinating – most of her ardent “supporters” do not think she needs to comeback from anywhere.  I keep feeling a radio talk show in my bones – you know the Huckabee route.  I’d actually applaud that, she garners media audience without splitting the party in a run.

    Gilgoff wonders if her “beefs” with the McCain campaign reflected deeper culture war stuff.  I think there is little question that some of that was true on some level, and it is instructive.  Way too many conservative culture warriors are after home run victories, and that is at the root of the stuff that’s sort of ripping apart the party’s guts at the moment. (Now is the time to do it, but we are going to have to settle down soon.)  We have to think strategically and incrementally.  The fact that abortion became legal at the stroke of a pen is an aberration in how American politics is supposed to be done, and if we try to win back in the same manner, we are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    More on this in a minute because it is time to discuss . . .

    Tim PawlentyHe’s off to New Hampshire, not much of a surprise there.  But opinion seems to be that he is misstepping badly at the moment.  Talking Points Memo notes that his home staters would not vote for him as POTUS.  We hear that story about most candidates, big deal, someone always wins.  Andrew Romano at Newsweek wonders who’s afraid of him.  Look, his media presence and polling are not there right now, but it is very early.  Fact of the matter is, only he and Romney are doing what real candidates do; Pawlenty has to be taken seriously.  It’s the media hounds like Palin and Huckabee that we can overlook for  the moment.

    But there is a new meme out there that is a nasty one when it comes to TPaw.  Dan Balz used it first at his WaPo blog calling Pawlenty “Romneyesque.“  But Marc Ambinder came in the next day and headlined his post with the “accusation.“  Now there is the left-leaning press at its finest, managing to hammer the two leading GOP hopefuls at the same time, in the same sentence with the same charge.  Fact of the matter is the Pawlenty campaign is in the same place the Romney campaign was this time last cycle – and he is following roughly the same path.  But that’s not unusual; it’s a tried and true path and one that darn near got Romney the nomination, and has gotten the nomination for others before him.  This charge is pure political hackery disguised as punditry.  The MSM is going down in flames.

    Now, you want to talk fringey possible candidates, you have to talk . . .

    Ron Paul.  OK, well, not quite but his son is running for Senate in Kentucky and was interviewed by the WSJ’s Washington Wire last week.  There was this exchange:

    Washington Wire: What about Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney?
    Paul: I don’t know much about Tim Pawlenty. Romney, there’s a mixture of beliefs there.

    Hmmm.  You have to wonder about that “beliefs” crack.  To what is he referring?  Politicians don’t have beliefs, they have positions.  Religious people have beliefs.  But then people confuse that all the time, which is a huge problem.

    Which brings us, finally, to the very mainstream . . .

    Mitt RomneyCNN describes him as biding his time and building political capital.  It’s a great interview. Anthony Dalke at Race 4 2012 called it “pitch perfect.”   John J. Miller found him a big favorite in a group of some very smart young people. In fact, he is making a point of reaching out to the younger set. He is being so effective at it, and what he is saying when he does it, that the White House itself is striking out at him directly.  David Axelrod took a personal shot:

    In an interview taped Saturday from Singapore with CNN’s John King for “State of the Union,” Axelrod said: “I know that Governor Romney has never had responsibility for any decision akin to this, so he just may not be familiar with all that it entails.

    Axelrod apparently is completely unfamiliar with Romney’s resume, and otherwise ammo-less or he would have said something substantive.  If these people were not running the nation, that would be funny.

    Why not find out for yourself what Romney is all about?  If you are one of our many Southern California readers, he is speaking in Newport Beach in a few weeks. I’m going to be there, feel free to come up and introduce yourself!

    Republican Philosophy

    The effort to “purge” moderates from the GOP seems to continue in the wake of NY23.  There were even some swipes taken at “Big Tenters” from a branding standpoint.  The fact of the matter is that to win nationally, we have to get a majority into the tent.  It’s as simple as that.  Yes, we need an energized base to accomplish that, but if they are energized to the point of “my way or the highway” that majority can never be achieved.   (Here are some other thoughts along those lines, lousy solution, but interesting analysis of the problem.)  Which takes us back to our closing comments on Palin above.

    The country has indeed turned significantly left in my lifetime – but that is a key phrase – “my lifetime.”  It will take a lifetime to reverse that course.  All we accomplish by pushing out moderates is delaying the start of that lifelong reversal.  We need them to get ourselves in a position to start the journey.

    Rod Dreher wrote a post this past week on Evangelical prejudice towards Catholics.  He closes with this:

    It’s easy to write off megachurch Evangelicals as “stupid” because then we in the liturgical churches who have lost members to them don’t have to confront the possibility that maybe they had good reason to leave us. I’m not saying a lot of what goes on in megachurch culture isn’t stupid (I have had several Evangelical friends say as much to me). I’m saying that if we decide from the outset that the only reason anybody would go to those churches is because of some spiritual or intellectual deficiency, we’re closing our eyes to things we might well need to change in how we do things.

    It should go without saying that Evangelicals who falsely believe that the old liturgical churches are full of spiritually dead Christians who have nothing to teach us about faith are in the same boat.

    One of the places where I am sorely tempted to write off Evangelicals as “stupid” is the instant gratification aspect of their religious message.  Our becoming a Christian is the beginning of a journey, not the obtaining of a goal.  I believe this is something Mormons and the more orthodox share in their beliefs.  Yet, as the Evangelical version of “Saved, I’m done” gains in popularity, we see such thinking transfer to other areas.

    Of course, part of the problems with Evangelicals in politics reflects problems within Evangelicalism itself.  I found this editorial in Patrol magazine, a magazine specifically for “post-evangelicals,” absolutely fascinating. (HT: iMonk)

    The fight to define evangelicalism in its latter days also operates on the mistaken premise that an imagined theological purity or conformance to a “lost” orthodoxy, rather than an emphasis on ethics, spiritual discipline and mystery, will revive the power of the Christian church. It is astonishing that so many intelligent Christians seem to believe there is a deficit in emphasis on evangelism and scriptural literalism, and that, if the hatches are just battened down on a more solid “worldview,” evangelicalism can resume explaining the universe to new generations of believers. In this respect, evangelicalism’s true believers resemble the faction of the Republican Party that asserts with a straight face that returning to “core principles,” and not a radical restructuring of priorities, will bring waves of Americans back to the right wing.

    We need to exercise patience as we try to turn the nation around, patience with the goal, and patience with our fellow travelers who may not want to go the same distance we do – let’s at least be amicable traveling companions while we are on the same road.

    Finally . . .

    In the wake of the Ft. Hood massacre, there has been some interesting discussion of religion and society.  It is an important question.  We cannot tolerate religion to violence, but we must be as tolerant as possible.  A fine, fine line.  Here’s some of the more interesting stuff we read on the topic:

    And remember, if you are not following us on Twitter and Facebook, you are not getting the whole story.


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    Giving Honor, and far less important subjects

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:32 am, November 11th 2009     &mdash      2 Comments »


    veterans-day-2009-4Today we honor those that have served our nation in the military.  There is no higher form of service and no greater level of sacrifice than to knowingly put one’s life into harm’s way in defense of this country.  To such people we owe a debt that can never be repaid.

    A simple “THANK YOU” seems insufficient but it is all we have to offer.  It is offered with the deepest sincerity possible.

    QOTD – Is Huckabee Running?

    We have made well known here our opinion that Sarah Palin is not going to run – she lacks the organization; she does not have what is called in the political biz “a camp.”  She has fans, but that does not a campaign make.

    Over the weekend, similar questions began to swirl around Mike Huckabee.  We first heard them, in private, related to his obvious weight gain.  But then it got serious in the press.  Tuesday’s WSJ Political Diary (subscription required) had this to say:

    The latest Gallup poll shows Mike Huckabee as the Republican frontrunner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, but he sure isn’t acting like it.

    The poll found that 71% of Republicans say they would seriously consider voting for Mr. Huckabee, while 65% said the same about Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. That might sound worth celebrating, but Mr. Huckabee was apparently too busy seething yesterday in an interview with about how his two potential opponents are overshadowing him.

    Sarah Palin kicks off a book tour next week for her memoir “Going Rogue.” The tour’s already attracted obsessive media coverage, leaving little of the spotlight for Mr. Huckabee’s “A Simple Christmas,” which he has been promoting in a trip to 22 states. Griped Mr. Huckabee: “Some of the people who had excoriated me and really been very dismissive of me for views that I had taken, and labeled me anything from a populist to an ignoramus — the same people have been very defensive [of] and laudatory to Sarah Palin. . . . I’m glad she’s getting the props — I know I’m not nearly as attractive.”

    Then there’s Mitt Romney, whom some GOP opinion leaders and pundits already are calling the Republicans’ best shot at beating President Obama if the economy remains depressed in 2012. But Mr. Huckabee likened Mr. Romney to “the Kristen Wiig character on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” who is constantly making implausible claims for herself to upstage everyone around her.

    Apparently Mr. Huckabee’s meeting with Club for Growth President Pat Toomey in the spring didn’t help assuage his bad feelings toward Mr. Romney and the so-called Wall Street gang either. “[The meeting] wasn’t very productive. I realized then that these guys are just what I thought they were — they’re pay for play, and they do it anonymously on behalf of people who don’t want to be known as the funders of these hit operations. I find that repulsive,” said Mr. Huckabee about the Club for Growth.

    Everybody needs a role model. Mr. Huckabee’s seems to be the ever-resentful Richard Nixon.

    And Allahpundit at Hot Air looks at the same comments and concludes:

    Given that fiscal conservatives are the people Huck will have to win over to beat Romney, TNR calls this knock on CfG “the functional equivalent of Mitt Romney trashing evangelicals.” Exit question: Is Huck running or not?

    So, far be it from us not to hop on this bus.  Huckabee will run.  But, as last time, it will not be a genuine effort.  Last time, Huckabee lacked a serious organization, and he pulled any number of stunts that were “un-presidential” to say the least.  Who can forget his famous, “I’m not going to do what I am about to do to show you I can do it,” press conference?  Huckabee needs the appearance of candidacy for credibility, and he garnered way too much free publicity last time to not take a shot at it again.

    The real exit question is: Will people take him seriously enough this time, as they did last time, to affect the outcome of the primaries?

    Catholics In The Cross Hairs

    FoxNews reports on efforts by Catholic Bishops to get abortion funding out of the health care bill.  They do so because Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) [ed note: as a CA resident all I can say is *SIGH*} early in the day threatened the tax exempt status of the Roman Catholic Church and generally went on petulant anti-religious tirade quite reminiscent, absent the violence, of the petulance witnessed in the wake of the passage of Prop 8.  At The Corner John J. Pitney pointed out:

    Of course, Representative Woolsey is not the first Democrat to object to legislative advocacy by the clergy. Here is another:

    It is an attempt to establish a theocracy to take charge of our politics and our legislation. It is an attempt to make the legislative power of this country subordinate to the church. It is not only to unite Church and State, but it is to put the State in subordination to the dictates of the church.

    That was Senator Stephen A. Douglas (D., Ill.), on March 14, 1854. He was talking about an anti-slavery petition.

    I am increasingly of the opinion that we are reaching a crisis in this nation with regards to religious influence in politics.  As religious forces continue to be able to hold certain lines, the left has stopped attacking ideas and started to attack churches themselves.  It’s getting personal.

    We must resist the temptation to get personal back.  It’s a political loser and it is not loving as our faiths would define it.  Our religions can survive this assault because they take their legitimacy from other places – provided we can resist this temptation and cling to the place from which that legitimacy emanates.

    An Interesting Insight Into How Politics Is Done

    Ben Smith admits that it was Obama’s oppo research team that  was the source of the $400 dollar haircut story in re: Edwards.  He concludes:

    It’s also worth noting, when the pianos start falling on Mitt Romney, that a top Obama researcher, Shauna Daly, is now the DNC’s research chief.

    Indeed, worth noting.


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