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Bring out the tiny violin for the AmTaliban

Weyrich and Land are crybabies.

“We have very little to show for all these years of electing Republicans. If we don’t get a decent nominee, we’ve got to ask ourselves what we have been doing.”

— Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Moral Majority, and current chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.

“For President Bush, social conservatives and the senators they helped elect, the moment of truth has arrived.”

— Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention

“A lot of what they’ve gotten are soft benefits. They’ve gotten a place at the table,” Waldman said. “I think it’s made them feel less alone. But I’m not sure it has translated into progress on the key social issues they care most about.”

— Steven Waldman, editor in chief of, an independent multifaith Web site

Religious right wants its due from Bush, GOP. Hilarious ChiTrib article out today. The AmTaliban is starting to sweat. They aren’t sure whether Chimpy is going to let them down on their pet values issues. And they are whining.

For a quarter-century, a politically awakened movement of conservative evangelicals and moral traditionalists of other faiths has played an increasingly important role in Republican electoral successes. In campaigns, they have knocked on doors, stuffed envelopes and dependably performed the other mundane but essential work behind winning elections. At the polling place, they have provided a crucial bloc of votes.

Bush would not be in the White House today without their support. Half of his votes in the 2004 election came from religious traditionalists, according to a survey by the politically independent Pew Research Center. And heavy support from evangelicals gave him the margin of victory in such battleground states as Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Missouri.

Yet religious conservatives so far have not had much success on the issues that matter most to them. Reagan gave them hope but little in the way of action. President George H.W. Bush never seemed quite comfortable talking about their issues.

Abortion is readily available, with few legal restrictions. The gay rights debate has moved from employment discrimination to marriage equality. Pornography is more accessible than ever. Popular entertainment is full of sex-drenched shows such as ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” And the 10 Commandments were just thrown out of courthouses in Kentucky.

It is a source of frustration to some leaders of the movement.

The article gets one thing wrong — employment discrimination is still an issue. Many big companies and universities have non-discrimination policies; they know it’s bad for business and staff recruitment/retention to not value its gay market and employees. However, that’s small comfort to gays, lesbians and the transgendered that work for small companies without such policies – they can be fired. Still, the wingnuts are seething.

Religious conservatives heard Bush the candidate regularly tout Supreme Court Justices
Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as models for a judicial nominee. They understood that to mean someone who, like Scalia and Thomas, adheres to a narrow “strict constructionist” reading of the Constitution that does not find a basis for rights to abortion, homosexual sex or sale of pornography and allows a greater role for religion in public life.

Anything less, or any effort to split the difference by picking one strong conservative and one more-moderate candidate if conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist should resign this summer, “would be a grave error, a missed opportunity and a betrayal,” said Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum.

This president won religious conservatives and especially evangelicals in part through the fluent way he incorporates his personal faith into his public life. Perhaps no modern president has had as profound and overt adult religious experience as Bush, who turned to faith at least in part to overcome a problem with alcohol. He unabashedly cites as his favorite political philosopher “Christ, because he changed my heart.” His speeches make deft use of the language and imagery of the Bible. He draws on phrases that ring clear to the evangelical ear, such as the title of his autobiography, “A Charge to Keep,” taken from a Methodist hymn.

And he offers a worldview cast in spiritual themes: good versus evil, lightness against darkness.

The article goes on to rub in the Right’s faces all the tepid support Bush has given their causes, and some of his other constituencies have gotten more, faster. Makes you smile that they are writhing, doesn’t it?

In the win column for the AmTaliban:

* a ban on federal funding for stem cell research
* funding for abstinence-only sex education
* “faith-based” initiatives
* a regulatory stall on permitting over-the-counter sale of morning-after contraceptives.

In the loss column:

* Economic conservatives received big tax cuts and an easing of environmental regulations
* Envy: Neoconservatives got their war to topple Saddam

* not assertive-enough backing for a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union
* tepid support for private school vouchers.
* Chimpy hasn’t called for an outright for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade
* The federal ban on “partial-birth abortions” won’t fly without the appointment of wingnuts to the Supreme Court

The bible-beaters are wringing their hands that the even with one certain vacancy and another likely on the Court, it’s not enough. I’m just wondering — would these people be sick enough to whack a justice to get what they want? Oh, wasn’t that a movie plot? What was that?

The replacement of O’Connor with a justice who rules against abortion rights would not in itself be sufficient to overturn Roe vs. Wade, for which there appears to be a 6-3 majority among current members of the court.

But such an appointment seems necessary if the decision is to be overturned in the near future. The ailing chief justice votes against abortion rights anyway. Besides O’Connor, the only Roe supporter on the court who seems likely to leave soon is 85-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens. The others who vote to uphold Roe are much younger.

“When you look at the arithmetic and actuarial tables, if Mrs. O’Connor is not replaced by a strong, strict constructionist conservative, then it’s hard to see how the court will be turned around in this generation,” said the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding