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Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Fine Christian Con Man

This one kind of threw me for a loop. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson actively tries to shoot down former Sen. Fred Thompson's possible presidential bid.

US News & World Report:

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian -- someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word -- Christian -- to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

OK, so if you're not evangelical, you're not a christian -- sorry catholics, you don't qualify.

Newt Gingrich never struck me as especially christian. I guess if you talk about it, that makes it so. Newt does buddy up to the religious right -- he confessed his hypocritical affair during his drive to impeach Bill Clinton on Dobson's Focus on the Family radio show.

But Gingrich is a prime example of how the republican party has made huge promises to 'values voters,' then did jack to follow up. Newt's always been a money republican -- the banker's boy, not the church's. Look at his tenure as Speaker of the House. Not a lot of discussion of abortion, gays, or evolution there.

In fact, if you look at his Contract with America, you don't see much that would concern the religious right -- does Jesus really have an opinion on term limits or a Balanced Budget Amendment? Gingrich is the typical republican leader who plays the religious right for chumps.

It's hard to see what problem Dobson would have with Thompson. He's basically a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. The only reason I can think of is that he's on the radio. Fred Thompson is the standing fill-in for Paul Harvey. In fact, Thompson's widely assumed to be the man who'll replace Harvey. And, since Paul Harvey's three days older than the invention of water, that'll happen pretty damned soon.

Likewise, Dobson's on the radio. There's been some talk that Thompson's campaign that's not a campaign isn't serious, but a publicity stunt to boost ratings for his eventual radio career. Maybe Dobson's taking those rumors seriously -- there's only room for one conservative kingmaker on the dial.

But if Dobson's really backing Gingrich, it means he hasn't learned a damned thing. It's my opinion that a big part of the failure of evangelicals to turn the tide in the last elections was that they're tired of banging their heads against the wall. They voted over things like abortion and gay marriage and they got things like tax cuts and war. And it's been working that way for decades. It can't go on forever; sooner or later these people are going to wise up. They'll stop voting because of their primary concerns, reasoning -- correctly -- that neither party will address them seriously.

Which leaves them voting for their secondary concerns or not voting at all. And, if we look at what the secondary concerns of evangelicals are, we see that they aren't at all republican. They're things like the environment, poverty, the crisis in Darfur, opposition to torture, etc. Dobson's approach of kissing the party establishment's butt, while allowing that party to screw him over repeatedly, is rapidly becoming yesterday's brand of evangelical leadership.

Daytona Beach News-Journal:

James Dobson, the chairman of Focus on the Family, and two dozen other social conservatives asked the National Association of Evangelicals to oust Vice President Richard Cizik because of his "relentless campaign" against global warming.

In a letter, they said Cizik's obsession is moving evangelicals away from the "great moral issues of our time: notably the sanctity of life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children."

But the National Association of Evangelicals affirmed its stance of caring for the environment at a recent meeting.

People are following Cizik because other evangelical leaders like Dobson, Robertson, and Falwell have led them absolutely nowhere. The republicans aren't interested in addressing the issues that concern these guys, because solving these 'problems' would mean ending their incentive to vote GOP. Make abortion illegal, for example, and you lose those single-issue voters. It's much easier to string that voter along with false promises.

Which still doesn't explain Dobson, Thompson, and Gingrich. I'm guessing that Dobson thinks Thompson isn't going to run and may be a threat to his radio venture. Why this makes Gingrich his (admittedly unofficial) pick is beyond me. Newt doesn't stand a chance in hell -- he left office with an approval rating of 28%. Few pine for the heady days when Gingrich ruled the House, so there's no reason to believe that anyone's excited by the thought of him ruling from the Oval Office. In fact, his numbers have barely changed after all these years -- Newt's shot up a whopping 1% since 1997.

Whatever the reason, Dobson's out of touch with his own flock. They're sick of being led around in circles and have finally moved on. If he tries to force Newt Gingrich on them, don't expect Dobson to get much press in '09.


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