Sunday, September 30, 2007


Don't even let yourself hope for this -- it's not worth the inevitable disappointment:

Alarmed at the chance that the Republican party might pick Rudolph Giuliani as its presidential nominee despite his support for abortion rights, a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop him.

The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that "if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate."

Oh, wow, that's forceful -- they're going to "consider" doing this. They couldn't even work themselves up to "seriously consider." And even at "consider," not everyone was on board.

And if this does happen -- if these guys get all huffy and persuade, say, Alan Keyes and Judge Roy Moore to run -- no one will vote for them. The reason can be summed in two words: Hillary Clinton. Righties would crawl through ground glass to beat her. Voting for a pro-choice guy in a dress would be nothing.

Republicans have plenty of litmus-test religious conservatives to pick from. Sam Brownback. Duncan Hunter. Mike Huckabee. Now Alan Keyes. All of these people, however, are losing badly. Why? Because Republicans -- you know, the voters whose party will have controlled the White House for 20 of 28 years once Bush's term ends -- are more desperate to win this one than Democrats are. They're always desperate. Even when they control all three branches of government, as they did for six years (and as, arguably, they still do, thanks to the filibuster), they feel besieged. They always think we run everything.

So forget it. This isn't a real plan. It's just an attempt to derail Rudy, and I doubt it'll even accomplish that.

Oh, and by the way, this is just silly:

Richard Land, the top public policy official of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said that nominating a Republican candidate who supports abortion rights would make white evangelical votes "a jump ball" between the Republicans and Democrats, with other issues taking the fore.

Uh, Richard? She's Hillary Clinton. The vast majority of your followers hate her more than they hate Satan. Much more.


UPDATE: Steve Benen does have a point, however:

...there's some self-preservation at play here. Dobson & Co., not to mention their loyal followers, believe they have enormous influence in Republican circles, and can dictate the party's direction. If the Republicans nominate a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-gun control, thrice-married serial adulterer who wants to invest in stem-cell research, the religious right's masquerade will be over.

...So, what happens next? Watch for two things to happen: one, the religious right may have no choice but to coalesce around a single, credible candidate, if only to block Giuliani. And two, watch for Dobson & Co. to take the gloves off and go after Giuliani relentlessly. These guys don't want to bolt for a third party; they'd much prefer to stay where they are with a nominee they can live with.

But all the other A-listers -- Mormon ex-moderate Mitt Romney, former fundie-basher John McCain, non-churchgoer Fred Thompson -- are also seen by the religious right as flawed. And Thompson supported McCain's campaign finance reform plan, which the religious right loathes. And backing a B-lister who goes on to lose badly would make them look like big losers, too. So I have my doubts about the coalescing -- though I think they'll try to keep the pressure on. And that may mean we'll learn what paper tigers they really are.

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