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.
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 . . .
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.