My favorite unhinged right-win would-be theocrat, James Dobson, has an op-ed in the New York Times today threatening to take his flock--I use the sheep metaphor advisedly--out of the Republican Party if they don't nominate someone he deems acceptably opposed to abortion, The Gays, and whatever else freaks these people out. Referring to a meeting last weekend of "pro-family" leaders in Utah, the man I like to call the Christatollah writes:
After two hours of deliberation, we voted on a resolution that can be summarized as follows: If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous.
The other issue discussed at length concerned the advisability of creating a third party if Democrats and Republicans do indeed abandon the sanctity of human life and other traditional family values. Though there was some support for the proposal, no consensus emerged.
Speaking personally, and not for the organization I represent or the other leaders gathered in Salt Lake City, I firmly believe that the selection of a president should begin with a recommitment to traditional moral values and beliefs. Those include the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage, and other inviolable pro-family principles. Only after that determination is made can the acceptability of a nominee be assessed.
The other approach, which I find problematic, is to choose a candidate according to the likelihood of electoral success or failure. Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles. In the present political climate, it could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades. Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.
This has been interpreted, probably correctly, as a shot across the bow of Rudy Giuliani, the Republican hopeful who has argued that conservatives should support him because, first, he's the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton, and second, whatever vitriol he lacks toward gays and women who shtup outside of marriage (which is what this is really about), he more than makes up for regarding Muslim Evildoers.
As there's no candidate I personally deplore more than Giuliani (though Senator Clinton herself isn't too far behind him), his misfortune is my pleasure. Without both sides of the Republican coalition--the rich elites who enjoy Golden Ages of Profitability whenever a Bush sits in the Oval Office, and the angry religious voters who evidently get gratification from hearing coded hymns or Bible verses in State of the Union addresses--they can't win nationally. Indeed, a new Rasmussen poll shows that in a three-way race between Clinton, Giuliani and a far-right third party candidate, Sen. Clinton wins easily with 46 percent of the vote; Rudy gets 30 percent, and "Gary Bauer" (hey, let's have some fun with this) gets 14.
What I wonder, though, is why the Dobsonites wouldn't just get behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. I've thought for awhile that Huckabee is the strongest general-election candidate the Republicans can muster anyway: he is, to paraphrase his own words, "conservative but not angry about it," an ordained minister, a public official of clearly superior competence than the Bush crowd (faint praise, but still), and solidly in line with the rightists on substance, and somewhat on style. He's a much better "retail" politician than Giuliani, and probably better than Mitt Romney or John McCain, and he's got enough economic populist credentials to run against a corporate pseudo-Dem like Clinton from the left on some issues.
I suppose the reason why the Dobsonites haven't gotten behind Huckabee is that doing so could risk a deeper schism with the Norquist wing of the Republican Party than merely sitting out next year's race, which many think the Democrats are certain to win anyway. Huckabee has taken fire from the small-government/anti-tax extremists for such sins as increasing state spending during his tenure and supporting levies such as a three-cent gas tax increase, four cents for diesel, so the state could make infrastructure improvements. The horror! Though he did eventually sign Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge, in March of this year, and he claims to support the thoroughly idiotic "Fair Tax" proposal,they likely still don't trust him. Remember that these guys both want low or no taxes and bad government--because every time FEMA bungles a Hurricane Katrina, it reinforces their core argument that the public sector is useless--and Huckabee was, as far as I can tell, a reasonably effective governor.
But in a Republican field where nobody has caught fire and a big chunk of the voting power is threatening to walk away, it seems strange to me that the rightists wouldn't get behind the candidate who both comes closest to their views and is generating the most buzz on the stump. Maybe it's not enough to be a conservative; maybe you really do have to be angry about it. In that case, there's always Alan Keyes...