Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sullivan (and others) on Huckabee (and others)

Andrew Sullivan, commenting on how the Christian Right is biting the Rupublican ankles....hard...

It's amazing to me to watch Rich Lowry and Charles Krauthammer begin to panic at the signs of Christianism taking over the Republican party. Where, one wonders, have they been for the past decade? They have long pooh-poohed those of us who have been warning about this for a long time, while cozying up to Christianists for cynical or instrumental reasons. But now they want to draw the line. Alas, it's too late, I think, for Charles to urge an openness toward atheism or non-religion in a party remade on explicitly religious grounds by Bush and Rove. Who was it, after all, who cited Jesus Christ as the most influential "philosopher" in his life as part of his electoral strategy? Who reorganized his party to base it on churches? The man whom Krauthammer eagerly supported in two consecutive elections.

The theocon consensus that front-runners Romney and Huckabee both reflect is that religion is intrinsic to public life and public debate, that it is a necessary component of any political discussion - and that this does not merely mean rote invocations of Nature's God or Providence or the kind of inclusive, vague language that the Founders believed in. It means a very thick, constant and inviolable recourse to religious argument in secular politics. If you haven't noticed this development in the past decade, you have had blinders on.

Hat Tip to Cernig who put me on the scent.

Sullivan isn't all snark. He articulates serious and important ideas with the best of them. This is worth repeating...

...I certainly don't believe that opposition to torture depends on a religious base. Many, many atheists and agnostics have been heroes in the long history of outlawing torture. The two most influential on me, over the years, have been Camus and Orwell, two atheists whose sense of morality outshines that of many Christians.

This, to me, is the critical distinction between a Christianist and a mere Christian. One wants to infuse politics with religion; the other wants to respect both, separately, and to keep religion private. I should add I do not want to banish the word "God" from the public square. But I do want that invocation to be as thin and as empty and as formal as the Founders intended. The current Republican party has reinvented itself as a force on opposite grounds. The party of Huckabee and Romney, the party of Hewitt and Dobson, the party of Ponnuru and Neuhaus is emphatically not a secular party.
(More at the link)

As long as we're on the election, don't miss Peggy Noonan's truly delightful column yesterday.

Mike Huckabee is in the lead due, it appears, to voter approval of the depth and sincerity of his religious beliefs as lived out in his ministry as an ordained Southern Baptist. He flashes "Christian leader" over his picture in commercials; he asserts his faith is "mainstream"; his surrogates speak of Mormonism as "strange" and "definitely a factor." Mr. Huckabee said this summer that a candidate's faith is "subject to question," "part of the game."
He tells the New York Times that he doesn't know a lot about Mitt Romney's faith, but isn't it the one in which Jesus and the devil are brothers? This made me miss the old days of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," in which a candidate started a whispering campaign that his opponent's wife was a thespian.

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I'm just not sure he'd be pure enough to make it in this party. I'm not sure he'd be considered good enough.
This thought occurs that Hillary Clinton's entire campaign is, and always was, a Potemkin village, a giant head fake, a haughty facade hollow at the core. That she is disorganized on the ground in Iowa, taken aback by a challenge to her invincibility, that she doesn't actually have an A team, that her advisers have always been chosen more for proven loyalty than talent, that her supporters don't feel deep affection for her. That she's scrambling chaotically to catch up, with surrogates saying scuzzy things about Barack Obama and drug use, and her following up with apologies that will, as always, keep the story alive....
Politicians, that is, distort the debate, not because they care so much but because they care so little.
Hillary Clinton is not up at night worrying about the national-security implications of open borders in the age of terror. She's up at night worrying about whether to use Mr. Obama's position on driver's licenses for illegals against him in ads or push polls.
Just a couple of bonbons from this box of candy.

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